Three mystery, suspense, police procedurals that I enjoyed very much. All wonderful and enjoyable audiobooks.

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Serpentine (Alex Delaware, #36) by Jonathan Kellerman, John Rubinstein (Narrator)

Published February 2, 2021 by Ballantine Books, Random House Audio

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Serpentine is the 36th installment in the Alex Delaware series. You do not have to read them all to enjoy this story, I have only read 21 of these books and have had no problem following any of the stories. This book finds Milo (police detective) and Alex teaming up once again, this time to solve a cold case. Ellie Barker is rich and has questions. She wants the police to reopen the case of her mother, Dorothy Swoboda, who was murdered in Los Angeles 36 years ago. Ellie never knew her mother and she wants to know more about her as well as see the murderer brought to justice. Milo, with a near perfect solve rate, is tapped to deal with this case, so when Milo has a difficult case he calls on his friend, LAPD consulting psychologist Alex Delaware, and they mount a fresh investigation into the death.

This is a police procedural and much of the story is made up of interviews, research, driving around and discussing the case. I enjoy these parts of book as I find it quite interesting how they put things together, but some readers might find this slow and tedious. We also see Alex’s life as a child psychologist and with his wife and dog. The friendship between Milo and Alex is wonderful, they are more like brothers with the comfortable way they are together. As they investigate, they face many roadblocks trying not only to find out who killed Dorothy, but why. Some of the original investigators have died, records are missing and even locations have been altered. There were plenty of twists and red herrings as well as plenty of characters, some good and some bad. They must find out who is telling the truth and who is trying to lead them astray. In the past, every time the police have looked into the case, someone has had a suspicious and unusual accident leading to their death. As Alex and Milo delve deeper into the murder, it becomes clear that someone in the present day doesn’t want the case solved. There are so many twists and turns and an ending I didn’t see coming, but Milo and Alex are able to turn a cold case into a closed one. John Rubinstein narrates this audiobook and has the perfect voice for this story. It gives it a bit of a noir, hardboiled detective sound which I enjoyed. I enjoyed this story and recommend it to those who enjoy a good police procedural.

The Long Call and The Heron’s Cry are the first two books in Ann Cleeves’ new Two Rivers series. They are police procedurals set in North Devon, with Detective Matthew Venn the lead investigator. Matthew has his own baggage to deal with and we gradually get to know more about his past throughout the books. I read these books in order, but that is not absolutely necessary. Having said that, there are recurring characters that make an appearance in both books. Each of these books had a different narrator and I enjoyed them both.

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The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves, Ben Aldridge (Narrator)

Published September 3rd 2019 by MacMillan Audio, Minotaur Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have been told for a few years that I needed to read Ann Cleeves, so when I saw that she was writing a new series, I figured it was a great time to start. In The Long Call, we meet police detective Matthew Venn. Venn, is an ex-member of the religious sect the Brethren and is is mentioned throughout the book. He was disowned by his family and this story opens with his estranged father’s funeral. He and his husband Jonathan live in a fixer upper on the shore in North Devon, and Jonathan works nearby at The Woodyard, a renovated warehouse that serves special needs individuals and community members with counseling, art lessons, and finely cooked foods. Matthew takes a call about a body of a young man on the beach not far from his home and duty calls.

The Long Call is definitely a character-driven police procedural. Matthew is an interesting and complicated character. He is smart and analytical, but has baggage from his past that I hope will gradually be brought out into the open and eventually sorted. Venn’s partners, DS Rafferty and Constable Ross May bring different skills and personalities to the team. Rafferty has recently been transferred to North Devon to escape an abusive husband. I really like her character. She has a calm presence about her and is able to get witnesses to share information that they either didn’t remember previously or didn’t think was important. I love the gentle way she questioned the young woman with special needs. May is the one I’m not sure about. He is a bit of a whiner and jumps in before thinking or where he should hold back. The plot unfolded at a non-hurried pace but was steady enough to keep me interested. The story is told from the POVs of Matthew, Jen, and the elderly Maurice Braddick. Braddick’s daughter, Luce, is wonderful. She has more information than she realized, and is an integral part of the plot. The murder investigation is a complicated one. There are two abuctions of the Woodyard’s clients, one after the other, that seem to be unrelated, but need to be investigated. Are these abductions connected to the murder, or is something else going on in this tight knit community? I was not sure who was responsible, but as more clues were uncovered, I was led to a satisfying conclusion. The audiobook was narrated by Ben Aldrige. I enjoyed his performance and thought he was the perfect choice. He narrates at an easy pace and provides subtle changes to voices for regional accents. His tone was fitting for these stories and listening adding to my enjoyment. I enjoyed this story and am ready to jump into The Heron Cry, book 2 in the series. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book. The rating and opinions shared are my own.


The Heron’s Cry (Two Rivers #2) by Ann Cleeves, Ben Aldridge (Narrator)

Expected Publication September 7th 2021 by MacMillan Audio, Minotaur Books

4.5 Stars:

It’s June in North Devon and residents and vacationers are in the village visiting the shops and local artisan shops. Frank Ley is a local economist, who made a lot of money and wants to help others. He owns a large estate and rents rooms and cottages to local artists for a low rate. When one of the artists, glassblower, Eve Yeo finds her father, Dr. Nigel Yeo, dead in her studio she is stunned. To make matters worse, he was stabbed with a shard of glass from a vase she made. No one knows what could have happened, he had no enemies. This book showcases DS Jen Rafferty who was introduced to Dr. Nigel Yeo the previous evening. He was bothered by something, but they never met before he was found dead. DI Matthew Venn will be investigating, but it is complicated. When another craftsman is also killed in the same manner, it all points to Eve. Venn’s husband, Jonathan, is the director of the community arts center and has connections to the dead men. The deaths are brutal and not at all in line with a community that treasures the arts. Can they solve these murders before anyone dies?

The Heron’s Cry gives nothing away. As the investigation is conducted, Eve shares that her father works for an advocacy group that represents patients’ interests. At the time of his death Nigel was helping a family whose teenage son had committed suicide. The Mackenzies feel their mentally ill boy was let down by the health trust that oversees North Devon hospitals, and Nigel was looking into the matter. Did this have anything to do with his murder? Ann Cleeves drops a few clues, but does not give away who the killer is. As the team investigates both of these mysteries, some disturbing information comes to light. Once again, I loved DS Rafferty’s style and questioning techniques. She is once again able to get witnesses to share information that she puts together like a puzzle. As both storylines begin to converge upon one another, the suspense increases. This is not a fast paced crime read, it is more rooted in the characters, location and a community. The setting is perfect for a moody murder mystery. This is another well written, character driven, difficult to solve mystery. I had no idea who the murderer was, yet the ending tied up everything well. I am enjoying this series and am looking forward to seeing what is next for Matthew Venn and his team. Although Jack Holden took over the narration of this series, I didn’t notice much of a change in the sound and feel of this book. I enjoyed his voice, tone and expression and hope that he will continue with narrating the Two Rivers series. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.