A Vera Stanhope Mystery by Ann Cleeves
Review: It is the Christmas Holiday season in Newcastle, England. The streets and shops are crowded with people buying gifts. Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter, Jesse, out shopping have squeezed onto a jam-packed Metro heading for home. Before the last station a breakdown occurs and everyone has been told to leave the train. Jesse notices an elderly woman has not moved from her seat. At first she thinks the lady has just gone to sleep, but when Joe goes to wake her, he discovers she had been stabbed and was dead, in Harbour Street, the sixth mystery in this series by Ann Cleeves.
Joeís boss Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope is called to the scene. She finds out the lady was seventy years old went by the name of Margaret Krukowski, and lived in a third floor small attic room in what was once a large old boarding house on Harbour Street. The house had been turned into a B&B now owned by Kate Dewar. The investigation, undertaken by Vera and her small team starts in Margaretís small room, leading them to the church, the streetís boat yard, and the local pub and on to the Haven, a nearby hostel for homeless women. Margaret had been very helpful to Kate, both in assisting with the wants and needs of the roomers and acting as stand-in grandmother to Kateís two children. Although she was reticent about her past, some guessed that she was an abused child or wife because she not only supported the Haven, she worked with the women as often as she could. And although some of the women thought of Margaret as a friend she remained silent about her past. At the pub Vera finds a man who had loved Margaret many years ago before she married and moved to Poland. When she came back he still loved her but she had no feelings for him. As many people as Vera and her team question, information as to why anyone would want to kill Margaret is not forthcoming. It becomes worse after one of the women who Margaret was trying to help had been made to leave the Haven. She was found dead in her small room in an old boarding house. Two murders and no significant clues. Vera and Joe begin to delve deeper into Margaretís life before Harbour Street in order to put together Margaretís story and find a motive for her death.
The entire cast of characters, from the recurring ones to those new to this book, are complex and richly drawn, as becomes more evident as Vera and Joe learn about each of the lives in Margaretís sphere of influence. Harbour Street is like a small city with a close knit group of people who know each other fairly well, but no one seems to know anything at all about Margaret. Or they are unwilling to say. There are many twists and turns in this well-structure story and the ending comes as a shock to the reader. Harbour Street is another exceptional entry in this fine, long-running series.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Harbour Street.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Harbour Street for this review.
Review Copyright © 2017 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Harbour Street: England
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Harbour Street by Ann Cleeves — A Vera Stanhope Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: December 2015
List Price: $25.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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