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The Heron's Cry

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Ann Cleeves is on the fast track of being the UK's Queen of Crime. She knows how to build relatable characters, subtly twisted plot lines and real life relevancy. The Heron's Cry was no exception. If you can't get enough of British Police Procedurals with emotionally challenged DI's, this book will not disappoint.
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Thanks to NetGalley & Macmillan for providing a digital ARC in exchange for a an honest review.

This was my first Matthew Venn novel; I only recently got into Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series, which I've been devouring book by book, but I missed the first one in this series (will have to go back & read it). Venn is certainly a departure from Vera, but not necessarily a bad one. He seems very repressed, which I guess makes sense when one considers his background in The Brethren, which sounds cultish almost to the point of Scientology. Jonathan, Venn's husband, provides a nice counterpoint to his seriousness, and it's really nice to see a gay couple in a loving relationship portrayed as normal, well-adjusted people (maybe I'm reading the wrong books since I feel like I don't see much of this!). 
The story is fairly complicated, as is the norm in Cleeves' books. It took me a little bit to warm to Venn, but I got there. He is a pleasantly humble character who has some self knowledge that I think is probably rare in policing, and in most humans. I will say that the plot kept me guessing the whole time, which is always a good thing. One odd thing about this series is that I feel like I got just as much of the inner lives of Venn's subordinates as I did of Venn's. I suppose that happens in The Vera series as well, with Joe and to a lesser extent Holly, but it felt more pronounced in this book.
All in all, I enjoyed the book and I expect it'll be another successful series for Cleeves.
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Although this is the second book in the Detective Matthew Venn series, my favorite character is Detective sergeant Jen Rafferty, a single mom who enjoys the more than occasional drink. She’s been invited to a party where she meets Nigel Yeo, a physician who is the director of a patient advocacy group. He’s currently looking into the suicide of a young local man. Jen is so drunk, she brushes off the doctor’s questions and feels guilty when he is found dead the next day. Her superior officer is Matthew Venn and they are assigned to the case and another death is added to their case load when a local man is found dead. The investigation leads them to suicide advocacy groups, an unexpected advocate of death by suicide and eventually to the murderer. The characters are complex and while the plot seems a little farfetched, it was an enjoyable mystery.
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I had never read Ann Cleeves until The Long Call and was instantly hooked. Book two in the Matthew Venn series was just as good. You just keep turning pages because you HAVE to know what is going to happen next.

The characters are perfectly real and flawed. We all know the perfectionist who has to have their clothes ironed to the nth degree and the co-worker who is always looking higher and higher. Jenn may drink too much and feed her kids too much take-out but I don’t find that odd in her line of work.

I also took time to listen to the audiobook and oh my dreamy stars the narrator is fantastic. He has the perfect voice to fall asleep to but the story prevents that from happening.

If you like Louise Penny then you have to try Ann Cleeves. I am told her Vera series is really smashing.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed above are entirely my own.
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The second in the Two Rivers series by Ann Cleeves takes us back to the North Devon coast with the non-profit arts center, the unique mix of gentrifiers and the longstanding community.   The first death is brutal and occurs in the artist's studio in a private estate. The owner offers below market rent to artists that he wants to help.  The community seems to get along well but the murder opens up the conflicts and issues. 

Our lead detective Detective Matthew Venn grew up in a Quaker like community and this affects how he moves and interacts and adds another layer to the detective mystery. Ann Cleeves combines a diverse group of characters in this small community - disabled, famous actors, financiers, farmers, artists, medical activists.  Matthew Venn and his group take us to an unexpected conclusion.
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I received a reviewer copy of The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves from the publisher Minotaur books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

CW: Suicide, Suicide Ideation, Murder, Encouraging Suicide, Online Suicide Forums

What It’s About: This is the second book in a new series by Ann Cleeves following DI Detective Venn in this case, there has been a murder at a local artist commune with a beloved doctor found murdered and of course Detective Venn's husband happens to be friends with the victim's daughter. 

What I Loved: These books are really well written police procedurals and Detective Venn is an intriguing lead. This book focuses a bit more on his sergent Jen who is a  bit of a drinker who is in Devon trying to start fresh after an abusive relationship. The writing is great and very cinematic. Like Cleeves' other work this will make excellent TV. 

What I Didn't Like So Much: Ultimately I didn't find this mystery as interesting as the first one. I also think these books are kind of slow pace and at times can be hard to keep up with. However, there's no denying that Cleeves can spin a tale. I just have trouble keeping track of all the characters but maybe this is an inherent issue with the audio. 

Who Should Read This: People who love police procedural. People who love atmospheric books. People looking for a series to start that is still relatively new. 

Quick Summary: A mystery where a man with seemingly no enemies is murder and the motive and suspects remain unknown.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Ann Cleeves for this ARC. I had read The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) so I was very excited to read The Heron's Cry (Two Rivers #2). Matthew Venn is a brilliantly written detective by the master of mystery Ann Cleeves. A frightening murder of Dr. Yeo sets up a race to find out what really happened... and it will hit Matthew a little too close to home. Beautiful background of Devon!
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Set in Devon, this second in Ann Cleeves new series moves relentlessly illuminating the environs and examing the dynamics between locsle snd the peoplecwho live there. The detectives melding into a team, albeit not without stresses. Matthew Venn may be bottled up and controlled, but he is lightened by his mattiage to Jonathan, an outgoing  artsy sort. Jen Rafferty, a workaholic single mother of teens who likes to party, is earning his respect for persistence and insight in spite of what may be a slight problem with booze.  Many subplots build and coalesce in the unraveling of the murders starting with the death of an unlikely gentleman stabbed in his daughter's glassblowing studio with a shard of one of her creations.While I certainly enjoyed the first book, the second book has me hooked on the series and anxiously awaiting the next book.
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DCI Matthew Venn and his team are called to the scene of a brutal murder of a middle-aged man (Dr. Nigel Yeo) who was found in the workshop of his artist daughter.   The area is an artist community and Dr. Yeo seemed to have no enemies and also the good doctor had been to a party the night before as well as Jenn a member of Matthew's team.   There were a large group of people at the party so it will be tough job to sort through since there were a large number to have been the last to see Nigel right before he was murdered.   Before long another body will turn up and they also attended this party and were a possible suspect but now a victim.   The team will have to put their personal lives on hold and work around the clock before the killer decides to take another life.

This was an enjoyable and solid detective story with the team racing all over to discover why and who the killer was.   The story allowed glimpses of the teams personal lives but not enough to take away from their non-stop police work..   It was fun and entertaining trying to figure out who the killer was and why, so there were quite a few unexpected turns and a few twists that kept my attention.   I enjoy reading books by Ann Cleeves and I will look forward to reading more written by her in the future.

I want to thank the publisher "St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books" and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel and any thoughts and opinions expressed are unbiased and mine alone!

I do recommend this book and have given a rating of 3 SOLID 🌟🌟🌟 STARS!!
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I absolutely loved The Herons Cry. The writing was superb; Ann Cleeves has created multi-dimensional characters, a scenic backdrop, and a twisty, complex plot. I gobbled up this story, trying (and failing) to catch a murderer. But it was so much more than a who-done-it. It was a gripping mystery, perfect for fans of Elizabeth George.
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Two Rivers #2.  DI Matthew Venn returns when a man is murdered in a small artist colony in rural Devon.  Once again we have an unusual murder surrounded by intriguing characters with mixed motives and secrets, shifting relationships, and disconcerting ties to Matthew's husband Jonathan.  The setting has its own part to play, the detectives' personal lives can't help but intersect their professional ones from time to time, and murder rears its ugly head yet again.  The plot indeed thickens, thickens to a rich, tasty, satisfying stew.  Every bit as good as the first and equally complex.  Highly recommended.
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The Heron's Cry is the second release in Ann Cleeves' Two Rivers series, following DI Matthew Venn and his team. The first book in the series, The Long Call, was a standout Mystery for me in 2019, so I was highly anticipating this next installment. 

Unsurprisingly, Cleeves did not disappoint. This woman could teach a master class on writing an engaging Police Procedural. This particular Mystery kicks off when Venn is called to a crime scene at a rural home occupied by a group of artists. A man has been killed, stabbed in the neck with a shard from one of his glassblower daughter's vases.

Dr. Nigel Yeo, the victim, is a dedicated public servent, a loving father and valued member of his community. It's perplexing as to why anyone would want him dead. His daughter, Eve, the glassblower, is particularly distraught, as is Venn when he discovers Eve is actually a good friend of his husband, Jonathan. Of course, sometimes it seems everybody knows everybody in a small community.

The detectives discover a line of inquiry Yeo was following with regards to his work for the health ministry. It involved the suicides of two young men and the possible failure of the health system in providing them appropriate care. Could someone have been meaning to silence him?

When another body is discovered, killed in the same fashion, Venn and team fear they may have stumbled across something larger than they initially anticipated.

I really enjoyed my time with this novel. Being back with DI Venn and learning more about him and his team, it felt comfortable. Cleeves has created a great cast of main characters for this series. I enjoy how she includes a few different perspectives.

The coastal community in North Devon provided an insular, small town atmosphere, which I tend to enjoy in my Mysteries. I loved learning all about the town's secrets; the underbelly of an otherwise picturesque place. Every community has things they would prefer to keep from the outside world.  I also enjoyed how this story incorporated a group of artists, randomly thrown together into a sort of communal living situation. That whole subculture feel was quite interesting.

I'm not sure if there are going to be more books in this series, but I truly hope there will be. I could picture this one running for a long time. If that's the case, I will be so happy that I got in on it early. If you haven't had a chance to check out this series yet, and you love Police Procedural Mysteries, you really should. Now is the time!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am definitely looking forward to more Ann Cleeves!
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4.5 stars.

The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves is a multi-layered mystery with an incredibly well-developed cast of characters. This second mystery in the Two Rivers series can be read as a standalone but I HIGHLY recommend the first book well.

Detective Sergeant Jen Rafferty is enjoying an evening gathering at her friend Cynthia Prior’s home when she is approached by Dr. Nigel Yeo. She enjoys their chat but she knows she has had too much to drink to have a serious discussion with him. Unfortunately, Jen will regret this discussion when Nigel is found murdered the next morning by his artist daughter Eve. The murder weapon seems to point to something personal, but why would anyone want to kill Dr. Yeo?

Detective Inspector Matthew Venn finds it difficult to keep this investigation from spilling over into his personal life. His husband, Jonathan Church, is friends with Eve and he wants nothing more than to comfort the grieving young woman. And although the current investigation is barely underway, Matthew is also still struggling with his strained relationship with his mum and his exit from a cult-like religion.

A second murder muddies the investigation somewhat but there is no mistaking the same person is responsible for both deaths. Nigel worked as the director of an advocacy group for patients of the NHS. He was currently trying to find answers about the suicide of a very troubled young man. As Matthew follows Dr. Yeo’s footsteps over the few days before his murder, he makes a shocking discovery. But how does this new information fit with the second murder? And after a stunning disappearance, Matthew, Jen and overly ambitious Detective Constable Ross May are in a race against time to save this person’s life.

The Heron's Cry is a compelling mystery with complex characters and an engrossing storyline. Matthew is a work in progress as he continues to consciously change some of his embedded behaviors. Jonathan is a breath of fresh air who is caring, laid-back and quick to forgive. Some elements of the investigation give Jen reason to reflect on certain aspects of her own life. The close relationships, oppressive heat wave and small-town setting add tension to the investigation. With unanticipated twists, Ann Cleeves brings this suspenseful mystery to a pitch-perfect conclusion. Old and new fans of the  Two Rivers series are going to absolutely love this latest installment.
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The Heron's Cry is very well-written--- the story flows, the mystery is intriguing and the characters well developed. My only quibble is that Matthew Venn does not read convincingly as a gay man.

Not to say he has to wear a rainbow flag, but most of his background angst has to do with coming from that religious sect, not from any kind of sexual identification, if that makes sense. He treats his "husband" like a straight guy would treat a wife. He never seems to worry about  how others will perceive his orientation.
If he has an "outsider" perspective, as many LGBTQ detectives do, it's because of religion, not sexual identity.

I've communicated with Ms. Cleeves on Facebook, and here's what I suggested to her.

First, my impression of Matthew is that he is a very self-contained individual-- something caused by his religious upbringing. How did he make the connection with Jonathan in the first place? Maybe you have indeed dealt with this, somewhere, but did they meet online, at a party, etc. Did he have any uncertainty about approaching Jonathan-- for example, how good was his gaydar? Did he recognize an approach by Jonathan? These are experiences that are common to gay men that would show us how his sexual orientation affects his character. 

Also, even in the most open and accepting communities there is still some prejudice. Does he hear one man call another "Faggot" on the street, perhaps think it's directed at him? How would he react? As a cop-- is this second man in danger, perhaps of gay bashing? Maybe the two men are just joking, but it still electrifies him in some way. I think these minor sort of points are a way to show how his sexual orientation has affected him as a human being, and as a cop.

But don't let my comments deter you from reading what is otherwise a fine book.
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With The Heron’s Cry, Ann Cleeves returns to her recently launched Two Rivers series. In many ways, all of Cleeves’ books feel like ensemble pieces, but this new series in particular, celebrates all the characters equally. Yes, Matthew Venn – as the head of the investigation team – anchors the novel(s), but the development of each major player is well thought out and keeps readers invested.

Longtime readers of Ann Cleeves will know that her characters are always multi-dimensional, allowing incidents in each of the books to help shape and mold them. Even with the newness of the Two Rivers series, this same principle holds true in The Heron’s Cry. The North Devon community that serves as the setting is quaint and tight-knit, so naturally many of the characters are linked – be it as friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Naturally, this makes any investigation of crime more complex, but its also rewarding to see that Matthew and his team encounter major players from the first novel, during their canvasing endeavors in this book.

Work/Life balance is an important theme in The Heron’s Cry. Readers witness how the high stress job of policework intrudes on each of the character’s personal lives. Ann Cleeves is never one to give easy solutions, so this is a struggle we will continue to witness as the series continues.

All of this talk of character in no way shortchanges the plot. Ann Cleeves is meticulous in crafting intricate webs, luring readers down one alley only to reveal an unexpected dark corner that leads to another route. The Heron’s Cry begins with the death of Dr. Nigel Yeo – stabbed with a shard of glass from a vase his artist daughter created. This leads Matthew and the team to focus on a multi-artist residence home, which also has ties to Matthew’s husband Jonathan. A second death, with similar MO, will cause the team to take a step back to reassess.

The theme of artistic achievement is another that links this novel to The Long Call (the first in the series). With the prominence of The Woodyard artist compound to this community, this is likely to be an ongoing thread throughout the series. However, Ann Cleeves is not going to allow this case to be that straightforward, so a recent controversy in the healthcare sector also makes Dr. Yeo a target of those colleagues. The way Ann Cleeves is able to weave such disparate topics into a realistic Gordian Knot reaffirms her role has master storyteller.

The Heron’s Cry works perfectly well as a stand-alone, but readers will find the experience more rewarding if they start the Two Rivers series at the beginning. Already, readers are witnessing major shifts in character behavior confirming that the slow burn of these books is intentional, implying that the series arc is likely to be both radical and rewarding. Ann Cleeves has no shortage of fans who will follow her anywhere. Here’s hoping that The Heron’s Cry – and the Two Rivers novels – grows that legion even larger.
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  DI Matthew Venn is a hero with lots of layers that make him the fascinating character that he is.  The same experiences that shaped him make him an excellent detective in a very unstated way.  His police station in Devon is also populated with complex and very real people.  Everyone has flaws and warts as do the people with whom they interact as they investigate the murder of a lovely man who just wanted to do the right thing.  But finding the killer proves more challenging because no one is one dimensional.  When the second murder and then third death occurs, with a shockingly similar modus operandi, the police feel like they are getting no closer to a resolution.

They are chasing after one line of inquiry until they realize they have missed the right “turn” and they are searching in the wrong direction.  With themes suicide, mental health care, social guilt and acceptance, it is hard to tell the good guys from the bad.  It makes for a cracking good mystery with the villain revealed only at the end.  It kept me guessing and following the leads the same as the police.  I felt like I was right there, with them.  

Five purrs and two paws up.
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Ann Cleeves is not just one of the most prolific but also one of the best current mystery writers. This second in her new Two Rivers series is full of solid, very human characters and, as always, with Cleeves' vivid sense of place. I reviewed it in print and online for the Sat. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sept. 12.
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Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and Anne Cleeves for providing an ARC in exchange for my review.

In the second book of the Two Rivers series, Matthew Venn returns to crime solving after the death of Nigel Yeo, the father of a local artist. The case perplexes Matthew and his other detectives as there could be so many possible murderers. The story branches off into finding reasons for two suicides of young men in several years.

I thought this book was okay but not as good as the first in series. There was a lot of repetition in the book and the pace was slow. There was a lot going on but did not connect with me to be a truly enjoyable book. With that being said, I am still interested in the series and the development of Matthew’s character.
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I was a bit apprehensive when I began this book.  The first in the series, A Long Call, left me feeling I had missed something, or the author thought I knew more than I did, or I wasn’t smart enough to keep up with Matthew Venn.  But this second book had me from the first page, and I was right in the mess of things with Matthew and his team.

I am sure there were subtle points I missed along the way, but with Ann Cleeves’ genius with tempo and plotting, I stayed on board for the ride she takes her readers on.  A ride, which should not be missed.
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Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a farm/artist retreat where Dr. Nigel Yeo has been killed. He's found dead in his own daughter's glassblower studio, stabbed with a shard of one of her vases. Dr. Yeo seems like a nice man: adored by his daughter and a public servant, working to help bring understanding between the public trusts. When a second body is found--killed in a similar way--Matthew realizes that he must dig deep into the secrets and lies of his community to find a killer.

I adore this series and the fact that Detective Matthew Venn, our lead, is a gay man. As with all of Cleeves' books, this is an excellent, solid mystery, with an interesting plot and a team whom you can easily become invested in. Each of her characters is well-written, strong, and original. It's so refreshing, honestly, to read a tale without a crazy unreliable narrator but instead one that simply relies on a strong story and excellent characters. There is a slate of people who could be potential suspects, and we also get backstories for our various detectives: Matthew, Ross, and Jen. Everyone is entwined in this small town (and honestly, if I were them, I'd be a bit worried how many people seem to die there! Cabot Cove, anyone?).

This book kept me guessing the entire time, which I love. I was constantly second guessing myself and wondering who killed whom. It was filled with twists, but nothing wild or unbelievable. This is easily becoming one of my new favorite series.
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