Harbour Street is the sixth book in Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope series, featuring the sharp and unorthodox detective inspector who solves crimes in the Northumberland countryside. In this novel, Vera investigates the murder of a well-respected woman, Margaret Krukowski, who was found dead in her home on Harbour Street.
As Vera delves into the investigation, she discovers that Margaret was a respected nurse, but she had a complicated personal life that involved a number of secrets and hidden relationships. As she interviews Margaret’s friends and colleagues, Vera begins to piece together the events leading up to her death, and uncovers a tangled web of lies, deceit, and betrayal.
One of the strengths of Harbour Street is the way in which Ann Cleeves creates a sense of place. The novel is set in the coastal town of Mardle, and Cleeves’ descriptions of the town and its inhabitants give the reader a real sense of the community and its idiosyncrasies. The harbor and its fishing boats, the narrow streets lined with colorful houses, and the local pub all contribute to the atmosphere of the novel.
The character of Vera Stanhope is also well-developed. She is a no-nonsense detective who is not afraid to break the rules to get results. She is also dealing with her own personal demons, including her strained relationship with her father, a former criminal who is now in a nursing home. Vera’s personal struggles add depth to the character, and make her more than just a typical police procedural protagonist.
The suspects in the case are also well-drawn characters, each with their own motives and secrets. Cleeves does a good job of keeping the reader guessing as to who the killer might be, and there are several twists and turns before the final reveal. The way in which the clues are woven into the story is also well-done, and it’s satisfying to see how everything comes together in the end.
Another theme of the novel is the way in which people’s pasts can come back to haunt them. As Vera investigates Margaret’s murder, she discovers that many of the people involved in the case have secrets from their past that they would rather keep hidden. The novel explores how these secrets can affect a person’s present and future, and how they can ultimately lead to tragedy.
Harbour Street is another well-written and engaging murder mystery that will appeal to fans of the genre. The setting is unique and well-drawn, the characters are well-developed, and the plot is full of twists and turns. Ann Cleeves is a skilled storyteller, and her Vera Stanhope series is a great example of classic British crime fiction. Buy a copy of Harbour Street here.