THE CROW TRAP – Ann Cleeves (Review By Condorena)

A crow trap is a large wire mesh cage with a funnel inserted into the top. Inside is placed a live large tame crow, which dances and flutters about, inviting any other crow to come in and defend its territory. Once in through the funnel there is no way out.  Since crows are territorial they need to be moved around a bit.

On a windy April day three women, all of whom are scientists meet for the first time at Baikie’s Cottage in the  North Pennines. This cottage had once been owned by a naturalist and illustrator Constance Baikie who had once walked through the hills in search of inspiration but obesity soon restricted her to an armchair and only drawing the birds, plants and insects she could see from her window. Her work sold for s quite large amounts. She received many visitors. In her will she launched a charitable trust to encourage environmental education and research and donated the cottage to that end.  Rachel was an expert in bird life, Annie was a botanist and Grace was a zoologist.
Their purpose in the cottage is to a survey for an environmental concern because a developer wants to buy the land to put in a large quarry. The land is next to a farm known as Black Law Farm. Rachel has visited Baikie’s cottage often and is very close to Bella who lives on Black Law Farm On this occasion when she gets to the cottage she finds that Bella has committed suicide and left a note. Rachel cannot accept this suicide because she thought she knew Bella. She realizes there must be more going on and she wants to find out what is going on.  Before long there is another murder and Inspector Vera Stanhope enters the case. Vera is a native to this part of the country and she is unlike any police Inspector these women have ever seen. As a matter of fact she knew the original Constance Baikie and attended Bella’s funeral. When she did so the women all took her for a bag lady.
These women all have more in common than they realize. Life has treated none of them gently; more specifically men in one way or another have betrayed them all. But they are all intelligent and can see through facades more easily than others now. Vera Stanhope is very good at her job, and while she lacks for romance in her life she always gets her man in the police sense of the word.
Vera theorizes that if the women stay at the cottage the murderer will bill drawn back, they will be bait like the crow in a trap. Is she doing the right thing? Rachel recognizes the ploy right away; after all she is an expert on the avian psychology.
 There are many current swirling below the surface. Some locals don’t want the quarry.  The local landowners have dirty little secrets, as is always the case. Bella, the suicide victim is not at all what she seemed, Annie had secrets, and Annie’s husband had secrets, Grace had secrets and Rachel’s mother had secrets.
Ann Cleeves has been writing clever mysteries with birds as a backdrop since the mid 1980’s. She stated with George Palmer-Jones who was an amateur bird watcher in Surrey, England. I still have a few of those although they are yellowed and dry.
Better known are Cleeves’ excellent Shetland Island Jimmy Perez series of which there are four and I recommend highly
There are four in the Vera Stanhope series. The second is TELLING TALES followed by HIDDEN DEPTHS and SILENT VOICES, which just came out.
The TV series VERA will be available on DVD fore the US in late August. From the pictures it looked like they cleaned Vera up a little. I suppose the bag lady, homely eczema ridden Vera just couldn’t make it on TV.
One thing is always guaranteed. Ann Cleeves can tell a wonderful believable story.
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1 Response to THE CROW TRAP – Ann Cleeves (Review By Condorena)

  1. Pingback: AUTHORS A – D ( A Good Place To Start) | MURDER by TYPE

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