After ranting about Tana French, I got back to a classic whodunnit, in the traditional setting of a confined location with a small group of people who all have reasons to murder the victim. Wanna play Cluedo, anyone? (Wikipedia tells me it’s called Clue in the US)
Here, it’s not the Colonel Mustard who has been killed in the library with a candle stick, it’s a literary critic who has been stabbed in the glass room of a writing retreat. Setting the crime in a writing retreat where aspiring writers are taught about crime fiction is a nice tongue-in-cheek idea. There are a lot of considerations (perhaps Cleeves’ own) about the publishing process and why people want to write. Vera Stanhope, not a big book lover herself, is at first baffled that anyone would be killed over a book, but we know better, right?
The plot is classic, à la Agatha Christie (every suspect is reunited near the end, I was nearly expecting Vera to explain the case in front of everyone like Poirot would, except there was a last twist), but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to guess. I found the pace rather mellow, but as I enjoyed the characters and the police team I was in no hurry to finish.
I have discovered Inspector Vera Stanhope’s adventures thanks to DVDs, and I quite enjoyed Brenda Blethyn’s interpretation, so it was only natural that I’d get back to her creator and books. I’m slowly learning UK’s geography thanks to crime fiction, and the Northumberland coast seems pretty familiar to me (although it seems pretty cold and wet, so I’m not sure we’d go there for a holiday but who knows?). It seems like the perfect setting for a writers’ retreat and it made me consider it with envy.
The Glass Room is my first read by Cleeves, although it’s not the first in the series (I rarely respect series order, because I take whatever the bookshop / library has), but it definitely won’t be the last!