Ann Cleeves is back with another offering forming part of the Two Rivers series and she manages to pull off a riveting thriller – yet again! The bestselling author and the creator of Vera and Shetland makes a desolate, windswept, isolated, quaint but intriguing location of Greystone, Devon the most unusual setting for an enthralling and engrossing murder mystery.
The residents of Greystone are pleasantly surprised when on a wind-blown morning, Jem Rosco manifests – in a literal sense – himself in the village. Arriving announced, lugging a big bag containing all his temporary possessions, Rosco makes his way to the Maiden’s Prayer, the only pub in the village for a couple of ciders and a cheery banter. Rosco, a surfing legend is a household name, courtesy his accomplishments involving the sea as well as the accompanying media blitz. Hence the village of Greystone is agog with excitement to have a celebrity in their midst.
The excitement at Greystone soon transforms into a veritable horror when within a few days of his arrival, Jem Rosco’s dead body is found curled in a dinghy anchored in a secluded part of the sea away from the coast and in the near vicinity of a cove named Scully’s. Mary Barton, the helmswoman of the lifeguard boat receiving the distress call, retrieves Rosco’s body.
Detective Inspector Matthew Venn is called into action and along with his support force, sergeant Jen Rafferty and officer Ross May, quickly deduces that Rosco’s death has been a meticulously planned murder. An original part of both Greystone as well as its secretive religious organisation called Barum Brethren – before breaking away from the group as well as from the village – Venn knows there would arise uncomfortable moments and uneasy scenarios as the investigations unravel.
However even Venn fails to anticipate the twists and turns that face his team every step of the way during the investigation, making matters extraordinarily complicated. A cold and conservative schoolteacher, and her affable husband who owns a taxi service, a magnanimous woman who makes over her entire fortune to a kindred soul in a jiffy, the overtly exuberant owner of the Maiden’s Prayer and a much-venerated figurehead of the village all have secrets to spill and stories to withhold.
Will Venn succeed in his endeavour to crack open the case and provide a closure to Jem Rosco? Or would he be thwarted in his endeavours by both the coincidences of nature and the contrivances of human beings?
“The Raging Storm” – a breezy read!