Book Review: The Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope #1) by Ann Cleeves

Originally published in 1999, The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves is the first book in the Vera Stanhope series. At the isolated Baikie’s Cottage on the North Pennines, three very different women come together to complete an environmental survey. Three women who, in some way or another, know the meaning of betrayal…

When team leader Rachael arrives at the cottage, she is horrified to discover the body of her friend Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide – a verdict Rachael finds impossible to accept. Only when the next death occurs does a fourth woman enter the picture – the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, who must piece together the truth from these women’s tangled lives…


As a huge fan of the TV series, I thought it was about time that I finally read one of the books, so what better to place to start than with the first book, The Crow Trap.

At over 500 pages long, it is a very dense book, heavy with background and detail. It takes a good while before we even meet Vera, so I did find it slow to get into. But you can easily see why Cleeves’ writing made for such a great series to adapt on-screen, as there is so much depth that you can easily get to know every single character.

While the heavy detail sometimes works as a weakness, it’s also what makes this book such a fantastic detective mystery, leaving no stone unturned and every character a suspect. Although I didn’t love this first book, Cleeves has created a brilliant character who was made for TV and I definitely intend to read more instalments in the future.

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