Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Glass Room

The success of the first ITV series of Vera has prompted the powers-that-be in television land to commission more shows, which will be appearing on our screens before long. The only snag is that, until now, there have only been four novels about DI Vera Stanhope, so there is a strong demand for more material. And now Ann Cleeves has obliged with a fifth Vera book, The Glass Room.

I’m pleased to report that the latest novel is as smoothly written and entertaining as anything Ann has ever produced. It’s her 25th novel, in fact, but she shows no sign of drifting into complacency as a result of success. I’d rank this as one of the best books she’s written.

To some extent, this judgment may be influenced by the fact that the novel is about writers and writing, subjects very dear to my heart, and the story-line is in some ways closer to the traditional whodunit than some of Ann’s other books – a conscious decision on her part, I suspect, and one that has paid off. As usual, she shifts viewpoint regularly, but not in a way that is distracting. In fact, her mastery of technique, developed over more than two decades, would be worthy of study by anyone starting out as a writer of popular fiction.

The eponymous “glass room” is a first floor conservatory in a place called The Writers’ House, where a group of would-be writers are receiving guidance from literary experts. And then one of those experts is found stabbed in the glass room. The prime suspect just happens to be Vera’s neighbour and friend, but Vera fixes things so that she can still lead the investigation. The plot thickens from there, with information cunningly doled out in small, teasing snippets to keep one glued to the page. The result is an excellent balance of puzzle, character and setting that makes for first rate entertainment.

6 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I'm very glad to hear this one maintains the high quality of Cleeves' other work. Thanks for the fine review.

seana said...

Sounds like a very intriguing premise.

lyn said...

I'm looking forward to reading this. I've only read one other Vera novel but I enjoyed it very much & I loved the Shetland Quartet. I hope we get to see Vera on Australian TV some time.

Dorte H said...

A new Vera Stanhope is great news. I think one of the things Ann has done right is beginning a new series occasionally. Many writers of popular series seem to plod on forever, and the most faithful fans will buy their books no matter what, but often they might have done better if they had stopped after five or ten books.

Sarah said...

I am really looking forward to this book Martin. I'm glad you think it is up to her usual standard.

crimeficreader said...

I so want to read this one but I am now in intensive Creasey judging reading mode. All I can say is that has a wonderful opening. It's understated in many ways but immediately draws you in. I was so sorry to have to put it to one side for now when those submissions really started to roll in...