“This bestselling and critically acclaimed series has been made into the hit series Vera, starring Brenda Blethlyn, and is available in the U.S. through Hulu, Amazon Video, iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
So, cards on the table first. I grew up on the North-East coast where many of these books are set and still have family and friends living there who I visit (when we’re allowed to travel). I love the TV series – not just because I like seeing familiar places on the telly but because the North-East has seen a much-needed boost to tourism – called the Vera effect – as a result of this. I love the gobby, impatient, take no nonsense Vera character and the way the series emphasises not just the region’s heavy industry past, but the beauty and diversity of the region as well. I therefore was always going to be favourably disposed to this series of books.
My mother – who lives in the same town as the author – had over a variety of Christmases and Birthdays bought me several of the Vera books. Many of which were signed. I promised myself I’d get round to reading them ‘one day’. I commute on the London underground and a kindle is therefore much easier and more convenient to read than a fairly large paperback which can’t be read one-handed. However, it struck me a few weeks ago, that as we were in lockdown in the UK, I could sit and read with an actual, physical book on my lap with no problems so I dived in.
The books are written in a clear and unambiguous style which is very easy to read and get into. We hear Vera’s own internal monologue on occasion which reveals that she is less secure and sure of herself than her TV counterpart (though she never reveals that to the outside world and doesn’t let it affect her decision-making). The author is extremely good at portraying the realities of police work and reveals that it is (as we probably suspected) as much art as strict procedure. She is also very good at conjuring up atmosphere and mood – and her Gordian Knot-like plots with myriad interrelations between the various suspects are complex enough to keep fans of the genre guessing all the way through the book. This isn’t my usual genre so I was always surprised how the solution was revealed out of apparently thin air at the end (I’m much more familiar with fantasy tropes and plot devices).
I wouldn’t call these great books but they are very good and well worth investing the time in reading them if you are a fan of this genre. They deserve notice just because the lead character is such an unlikely heroine.
Added 29th May 2020