MYSTERY

The Moth Catcher: A Vera Stanhope Mystery

Minotaur: St. Martin's. Oct. 2016. 400p. ISBN 9781250105424. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250105431. M
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The seventh in Cleeves's series starring Vera Stanhope (after Harbour Street) brings the mystery close to home for the detective inspector. Not far from the isolated Northumberland estate in which Vera lives a lonely life, a body of a young man is discovered on the side of the road. In short order, as the police search the manor where the victim was house-sitting, another corpse is found. The only tie between the two victims seems to be their fascination with moths. Vera's detectives, Holly and Joe, vie for her approbation as the search for the killer progresses. While Joe is married, both Holly and Vera are single and reflect upon the social impact of their independence. Vera's moodiness is a hallmark of the series, and here her isolation infuses the plot and most of the characters. When the murderer is identified, the motive seems plausible—if a bit from out of left field. However, the author does not provide enough background for readers to come to that conclusion without the new information provided during the denouement.
VERDICT The way that Cleeves brings the rural English landscape to life will appeal to readers who appreciate the atmospheric mysteries of Ruth Rendell and Elly Griffiths. Fans of psychological mysteries or procedurals solved by introspective and curmudgeonly detectives (albeit a woman this time around) will also enjoy this series. [See Prepub Alert, 4/10/16.]

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