The Glass Room

By Ann Cleeves. The fifth book in the Vera Stanhope series doesn’t disappoint.

I first saw Vera Stanhope when watching British crime mysteries on television. I love them, and “Vera” is one of my favorites. After learning it was based on a series of books, I knew I had to read them.

Ann Cleeves is an award-winning writer, earning the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Best Crime Novel and the Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger, which is the highest honor in British crime writing. A prolific writer, she also writes other series and short stories.

“The Glass Room” is the fifth book in the Vera series, and I especially enjoyed it because the murder took place at a writer’s workshop in remote North England. A small group of writers in a dark and stormy place is the perfect setting for a mystery. Pulling on her Agatha Christie roots, Ann has all of them together in one small bed and breakfast, but no one saw anything. When her hippie neighbor’s wife goes missing, Vera does a little detective work and finds the runaway at the writer’s conference. However, she also finds a body along with her neighbor, who’s holding a knife. Knowing she’s too close to the main suspect, Vera calls in her whole team to help her solve this one.

Vera has an array of suspects who have reasons to hate the victim, a well-known book critic who can make or break a writer’s career. One by one, the straightforward Vera and her group of detectives and forensic specialists go through the questioning and backgrounds of the writers. There’s a former policeman, a one-time best-selling author who is now running the B&B to pay bills, a professor who’s working with the writers but has a past with the victim, a new writer who has been in prison, and it just gets better and better as Vera digs deeper into all of their lives.

Ann is especially adept at pulling you into the story on the first page and keeping you reading until you find out who did it—and rarely do I guess correctly about who the murderer was. I’ve read one of Ann’s standalone novels, and I was surprised at the end of it, too.

Rest assured I’m going back to book one of the Vera Stanhope series. The stories don’t match with the television show, so it’ll be like having double the enjoyment. If you enjoy mysteries from the other side of the pond, check out Ann Cleeves and “The Glass Room.”