Ann Cleeves is the author of the brilliant DI Vera Stanhope novels.
Vera Stanhope, an overweight, middle-aged woman who looks more like a bag lady than a detective, was born out of Ann Cleeves’ frustration with central female characters who were young, fit and beautiful. At times bad-tempered and shambolic, Vera is also witty and authoritative – a truly three-dimensional character who is believable and relatable.
Ann Cleeves’ novels have also been adapted by ITV, with Brenda Blethyn starring as Vera.
We can’t get enough of both the books and the show – if you’re yet to discover Vera Stanhope, you’re certainly in for a treat!
Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope books in order:
Three women come together at isolated Baikie’s Cottage to complete an environmental survey. Three women who each know the meaning of betrayal. Rachael is still reeling after a double betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Anne sees the survey as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own. And Grace, a strange, uncommunicative young woman, is hiding plenty of her own secrets.
Rachael is the first to arrive at the cottage, where she discovers the body of her friend, Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide – a verdict Rachael refuses to accept. When another death occurs, a fourth woman enters the picture – the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope.
Ten years after Jeanie Long was charged with the murder of fifteen-year-old Abigail Mantel, disturbing new evidence proving her innocence emerges in the East Yorkshire village of Elvet. Abigail’s killer is still at large. For Emma Bennett, the revelation brings back haunting memories of her vibrant best friend – and of the fearful winter’s day when she had discovered her body lying cold in a ditch.
Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope makes fresh inquiries, and the villagers are hauled back to a time they would rather forget. Tensions begin to mount, but are people afraid of the killer, or of their own guilty pasts?
A hot summer on the Northumberland coast and Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers.
This stylized murder scene has Inspector Vera Stanhope intrigued. But then another body is discovered in a rock pool, the corpse again strewn with flowers. Vera must work quickly to find this killer who is making art out of death.
As local residents are forced to share their deepest, darkest secrets, the killer watches, waits and plans to prepare another beautiful, watery grave…
When DI Vera Stanhope finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she’s uncovered a simple death from natural causes. Then Vera spots ligature marks around the victim’s throat – death is never that simple.
Vera revels being back in charge of an investigation again, working with Sergeant Joe Ashworth to find a motive. While Joe struggles to reconcile his home life with the demands of the case, death has never made Vera feel so alive. The duo investigates the victim’s past and discovers a shocking case involving a young child. Probing the secretive community, they try to stop a killer in the present who can’t seem to let go of the past.
When one of Vera Stanhope’s neighbours goes missing, her path leads her to more than a missing friend.
Vera tracks the young woman down to the Writer’s House, a country retreat where aspiring authors work on their stories. Things get complicated when a body is discovered and Vera’s neighbour is found with a knife in her hand. When another body is found, Vera suspects that someone is playing games with her.
Somewhere there is a killer who has taken murder off the page and is making it real…
In Newcastle, Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie travel home on the busy Metro. The train is stopped unexpectedly, and Jessie sees that one woman doesn’t leave with the other passengers: Margaret Krukowski has been fatally stabbed.
Searching for a lead, DI Vera Stanhope heads to the quiet Northumberland town of Mardle, where the local residents know more than they are letting on: a killer is among them. Just days later, a second woman is murdered. Vera finds herself searching deep into the hidden past of this seemingly innocent neighbourhood, led by clues that keep revolving around one street: why are the residents of Harbour Street so reluctant to speak?
Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they’re away. But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane into the valley.
Vera and her team look round the attic of the big house – where Patrick has a flat – and find the body of a second man. All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths – catching these beautiful, rare creatures. As Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of the increasingly strange Valley Farm community, she realises that there may be deadly secrets trapped here…
When prison inmate and former police officer John Brace says he’s willing to give up information about a long-dead wheeler dealer in return for protection for his family, Vera knows that she has to look into his claims.
But opening up this cold case strikes much closer to home than Vera anticipates as her investigation takes her back in time to The Seagull, a once decadent and now derelict nightclub where her deceased father and his friends used to congregate.
As Vera’s past collides dangerously with the present, she will have to confront her unwanted memories and face the possibility that her father was involved in what happened. The truth is about to come out but is Vera ready for what it will reveal?
There you have it – Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope books in order! How many have you read? Let us know in the comments below…