Ann Cleeves, Harbour Street (2014)

I’ve never been to Newcastle, but the way Ann Cleeves describes it is not quite a Tourist Board advertisement. This book (an earlier installment in the series) is set in fictional Mardle, in the eponymous (and also fictional) Harbour street, a working-class suburb of Newcastle. In a rather dreary landscape, one house has managed to rise to the status of a cosy B&B, where literary salesmen and professors are staying on a regular basis. On the top floor of this pension lives an elderly woman who seems a bit too classy for the neighborhood: Margaret Krukowski. On a crowded afternoon before Christmas, she takes the train but is stabbed to death, and nobody has noticed anything.

I enjoyed this mystery (it comes right after The Glass Room, which I’d read years ago) because I love Vera Stanhope and her team. She’s grumpy and a bit harsh. She’s overweight and not stylish (probably a lot less than actress Brenda Blethyn on TV), but she has the proverbial heart of gold and a deep understanding for people’s weaknesses and motivation. This book’s plot is a bit on the slow side, and the ending seems to be coming out of the blue. Not sure it’s the series’ best but I was happy to be taken for a ride in Northumberland.

If setting is as important to you as it is to me, you’ll have fun with this site: The Book Trail, following the path of Vera’s investigation throughout this particular book. There are a few comments on which real places are represented by fictional places. And I was very glad to learn that Vera’s favorite book shop, The Lit and Phil Library (established in 1793!), is indeed a real place!

After all, Ann Cleeves doesn’t do a bad job as a Tourist Board supporter, what do you think?

4 thoughts on “Ann Cleeves, Harbour Street (2014)

  1. Pingback: SoloBloPoMo: Books for each Season | Smithereens

  2. Pingback: SoloBloPoMo: Transportation Novels | Smithereens

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