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VINE VOICEon 1 February 2011
Jenny Lister was perfect - a caring mother, a committed and principled social worker and, when DI Vera Stanhope opens the door to the steam room at a fashionable health club, perfectly dead. Vera doesn't believe in perfect people - and she's not that keen on social workers.

The investigation oscillates between the semi-private world of the health club and the Tyne Valley village of Barnard Bridge, where Jenny lived. Both communities are hives of gossip, rumour, snobbery and infighting, but is there anything that would justify murder? And is there any connection with the death of six year old Elias Jones, the boy Social Services was supposed to protect?

This is by far the best Vera Stanhope novel to date, with the same strengths and none of the weaknesses. Vera is now well established as the sharp-witted, sharp-tongued detective who is not above using Miss Marple's tactic of a cosy chat over a nice cup of tea ("if you're putting the kettle on, pet"), even if she would prefer whiskey.

Once again, Cleeves maintains a brisk pace, using a well crafted blend of narrative and dialogue. She has a strong sense of place and a feel for the way in which landscape shapes the lives of the inhabitants of England's most sparsely populated county. This is used to dramatic effect in a final race against time when even the forces of nature seem determined to thwart the police as they close in on the killer.

If you haven't read any of the other Vera Stanhope novels, you could do worse than start with "Silent Voices".
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on 28 December 2011
This has been my favourite 'Vera' so far. Wonderfully real characters as usual and no way of guessing whodunnit. The interweaving lives of a small community with the coincidences and chance-meetings are absolutely believable and tantalising. And Vera,a bit more sympathetic in this one I thought, and a bit more appreciative of her team, but not so much that we lose the curmudgeonly reluctance to actually praise them. The usual red herrings of wierdos are cheek-by-jowl with long-buried secrets and skeletons in cupboards, with Vera eventually teasing all the threads into rather a sad conclusion that leaves you thinking about the characters left behind.
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Ann Cleeves has a fine feel for the dynamics of families and often writes about the consequences of family breakdowns. "Silent Voices" fits into that category--maybe bringing definition to it. Estimable protagonist Vera Stanhope, Detective Inspector in a northern English county, often deals with her own family issues as she dives into a case involving the murder of a social worker who is connected to the much-publicized killing of a child under the supervision of her services office. As DI Stanhope's investigation of the woman's murder broadens, a moderately large cast of walking wounded characters is added to the mix, each with some motive for the crime. A second murder removes one of the suspects, but doesn't immediately resolve the first killing. Resolution eventually comes down to the mysteries and pitfalls of parenthood and their potential for invisible damage to hapless offspring.

This is a deftly written story with characters that outweigh the storyline in importance and interest. The intrepid Vera is onstage virtually every page, and while her own preoccupations with her less than stellar appearance are close to excessive here, her integrity and humanity compensate for the frequent self-absorption. This a good read with only the occasional red herring/false note to annoy fans of the genre. Cleeves is a terrific writer who is definitely up there with the best in the field.
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I first met Vera Stanhope in the television series, 'Vera', played by Brenda Blethyn. I liked this series annoy because of the bedraggled Vera, who is large and obese, and knows it, and doesn't give a darn. She has her trusted colleagues who follow her ,and who know she is the best detective they will ever work with, even if she is annoying at times.

In this novel, Vera has been told by her new physician she must exercise or some unwanted, awful thing will befall her. She knows it is the right thing to do and joins an exercise club. She swims, and on this day decides to have a steam bath. Instead she finds a dead woman in the steam bath, and her new case begins. The woman, a social worker, has led somewhat of an exemplary life, but there are many other characters who knew her who have unsavory pasts or things to hide.

I like Ann Cleeves writing, the characters come to life and are very believable. . Vera seems to be able to run her investigation as she pleases, which does not seem to be the real life of a detective. Vera is very clever, she knows how to get under the skin of the people she talks to, and she knows when to be kind and motherly. She calls everyone, Pet, which conveys several meanings, and you have to be able to pick the one that fits the situation. The conclusion is smartly done, and since much of Vera's life revolves around food, the final chapter is at the Inn where thevmurder took place in the dining room. Vera and her colleagues celebrate their good choices.

Recommended. prisrob 07-24-14
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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2012
Had I known that this was about missing children it would not have been my choice of reading - a subject I tend to steer clear of. Yet once I had begun reading I was gripped. Vera is a strange woman and a strange detective with many "issues" emanating from her poor relationship with Hector her father and her own guilt and Hector's resentment that she is alive and her mother dead in childbirth. Hector is alongside her most of the time. She is unable to free herself from him and his cruelty with birds especially is a constant recurrence with her. That said her concentration on crime-solving, whilst not totally attentive, brings results with the help of the long-suffering Joe Ashworth. This story opens when Vera, an unlikely member of a gym club, finds the body of Jenny Lister, a social worker. Vera has no time for social workers but becomes involved with another, Connie, and thus begins so many twists and inter-relationships resulting in an unexpected denouement. I just love the way she "pets" everyone. Only someone so non-pc could get away with it. She's lovely. So sad she's never had a man - or a woman. Love has eluded her.
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Poor old Vera, she has at last listened to her doctor and has taken up exercise. What could be nicer than a swim and some time spent in a steam room? Of course she wants to keep it quiet from the team so has gone a little out of her way so she doesn’t get seen, but the inevitable happens, Vera finds a dead body in the steam room, and it looks like murder.

With a dead woman on her hands Vera has to call in the team and try to hide that she goes to the place for a little bit of exercise. With thefts happening at the place though is the thief also the murderer? As the team get to work the life of the victim is looked into as well as Vera trying to find who the thief at the spa is. The victim is a social worker who worked on a high profile case resulting in the sacking of one of her staff, so could this be a revenge killing?

With a number of suspects Vera and the team need to do a lot of sifting, especially as more people look to be in danger, but as we all know there are many different reasons for killing someone. With loads of twists and turns, and cases being pulled up from the past there are also secrets and pride that hamper this case, so will Vera ever manage to join the dots and come up with a motive, means and opportunity for murder?

As is usual the story here pulls you straight in and holds your attention right through to the very end with Ann Cleeves creating very believable characters, and bringing to life the landscape of the whole area. If you enjoy a good crime novel that you can really sink your teeth into then this is a must have.
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i like Vera. I think she's been cleverly created. Middle aged, fond of a drink, overweight, dressed in a shapeless overcoat, an eye for the younger man and a brilliant detective in a completely random, cranky way. With Vera this author has taken all that's familiar and popular from a huge crop of fictional male detectives, TV and literature, and housed them in a female persona. You wonder why Vera feels so completely familiar?. You've met up with her many times before through the likes of Inspector Frost. That's a really clever thing to accomplish.

I'm a fan of the quirky relationship between Vera and her sidekick Joe Ashworth. Two people couldn't be any more different and yet; he understands her and they gel. It's that connection that comes into play in Silent Voices and helps drive the plot forwards.

The plot's quite basic, nothing wrong with that, a social worker is murdered and the police investigation into her death uncovers a series of random clues. Evidence seems to point back to the murder of a child she might have been professionally involved with. The heart of the investigation twists and turns upon Vera's ability to uncover the clues Not so easy when the evidence seems to point in different directions. Ann Cleeves fully involves the reader in the investigation and the police procedure is nicely handled and believable.

There's little in the way of action but enough of a building mystery to keep the reader hooked. As always, with Vera, it's the characterisation that's strongest and that's certainly the key to enjoying the story.

Well worth paying for this download and I enjoyed the story.
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on 25 August 2014
Having never watched the tv series but heard good things about it, decided to try one of the books. This is one of those occasions where the tv is better I think. Don't like the characters, the storyline was boring. Got to the point where I didn't care who done it.
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on 6 June 2011
Fantastic new novel from Ann Cleeves. Really love Vera, I had read all the Ann Cleeves novels before they were televised and really enjoyed them all, not just the 'Vera' ones. Keep writing Ms Cleeves, I am ready for the next one and thank you.

Wendy K
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on 14 October 2014
Inspector Vera Stanhope is played to perfection in the TV series by the wonderful Brenda Blethyn and thus I was interested in reading this book when offered on the kindle daily deal. Vera is not like other detectives who tend to have affairs and problem home lives. By her own admission she is large and shambolic with bare legs and blotchy skin and never wears makeup. There is a comical, even touching scene when Vera interiews the main suspect in the murder of social worker Jenny Lister, and there is a stirring of lust within her...."He smiled again and sat on the floor facing them. The movement was fluid, very graceful, and it came to Vera, unbidden, that he'd be very good at sex. The physical stuff. Was that part of his attraction? She felt a moment of panic, of the old regret that time was slipping past. Then something close to lust."

The story however is somewhat stilted and apart from this wonderful portrayal we are reduced to chapter upon chapter of police procedural as the team gathers together suspects in an attempt to find not only the murder of Jenny Lister but teenager Danny. DI Stanhope is helped in her investigation by Sergeant Joe Asquith a colleague she is jealous of with his settled home life and trendy "Ikea" furniture.

I believe this story would have been more attractive if greater attention had been paid to the unravelling of the main characters and their flaws together with a better use of the setting...the beautiful rugged Northumbrian coast.
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