DCI Vera Stanhope returns in The Darkest Evening, the ninth novel in Sunday Times bestseller Ann Cleeves’ enduringly popular series.
Driving home during a swirling blizzard, Vera Stanhope’s only thought is to get there quickly.
But the snow is so heavy; she becomes disoriented and loses her way. Ploughing on, she sees a car slewed off the road ahead of her. With the driver’s door open, Vera assumes the driver has sought shelter but when she inspects the car she is shocked to find a young toddler strapped in the back seat.
Afraid they will freeze, Vera takes the child and drives on, arriving at Brockburn, a run-down stately home she immediately recognizes as the house her father Hector grew up in.
Inside Brockburn a party is in full swing, with music and laughter to herald the coming Christmas. But outside in the snow, a young woman lies dead and Vera knows immediately she has a new case. Could this woman be the child’s mother, and if so, what happened to her?
A classic country house mystery with a contemporary twist, Ann Cleeves returns with a brilliant Vera novel to savour.
Lorna lifted Thomas from his high chair and held him for a moment on her knee.CHAPTER ONE
(@panmacmillan, 3 September 2020, 384 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)
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I’ve read a few of the Vera books now and have really enjoyed them. I knew I had to read this because I loved the title and the image on the cover of a car going through a snowy wood shining headlights. The poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost is referenced many times in the book, especially the last two lines, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep. This poem is a good fit for the setting of the book, especially the first chapter when Vera discovers a baby in an abandoned vehicle in the snow and later a woman is found dead on the grounds of a grand estate. This book contains more of Vera’s background than other books when you learn the grand estate belongs to the Stanhope family and is the house where her father grew up before he was disowned by the family, a place Vera visited as a child. Vera, as ever, is top of her game, doing her thing, asking questions, probing and poking until the pieces start to fit together. I was engrossed throughout. I didn’t know who the killer was until this is revealed a couple of chapters from the end.