Select language, opens an overlay
The Darkest Evening

The Darkest Evening

Book - 2020
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"On the first snowy night of winter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets off for her home in the hills. Though the road is familiar, she misses a turning and soon becomes lost and disorientated. A car has skidded off the narrow road in front of her, its door left open, and she stops to help. There is no driver to be seen, so Vera assumes that the owner has gone to find help. But a cry calls her back: a toddler is strapped in the back seat. Vera takes the child and, driving on, she arrives at a place she knows well. Brockburn is a large, grand house in the wilds of Northumberland, now a little shabby and run down. It's also where her father, Hector, grew up. Inside, there's a party in full swing: music, Christmas lights and laughter. Outside, unbeknownst to the revelers, a woman lies dead in the snow. As the blizzard traps the group deep in the freezing Northumberland countryside, Brockburn begins to give up its secrets, and as Vera digs deeper into her investigation, she also begins to uncover her family's complicated past"--
Publisher: New York, NY :, Minotaur Books,, [2020]
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9781250204509
Branch Call Number: M CLEE
Characteristics: viii, 372 pages ; 25 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 20, 2021

Grabbing the latest book in this series is a no-brainer for a couple of reasons. First, I know I’m in for a well written, twisty murder mystery. Second, I get to spend time with the wonderful Brenda Blethyn. Ever since I saw her portrayal of Vera Stanhope, she’s become the voice in my head as I read these books. And that’s no bad thing.

The story begins when Vera ends up with a baby. But not the usual way. In the middle of a blizzard, she comes across an abandoned car with a tiny person inside. Their only hope is to make it to the nearest house which just happens to be the ancestral home of her father’s estranged family. Awkward.

And so Vera is reunited with snooty matriarch Harriet, her daughter Juliet & son-in-law Mark. She hasn’t seen this side of the family since childhood & it sets up an interesting dynamic. But any chit-chat will have to wait as Vera calls in reinforcements to deal with the baby, the car…..wait, where is the mom? By the time help arrives, there’s another more pressing question: who is the dead woman in the back yard?

And we’re off. Joe, Holly & all the regulars are back as the team tries to identify a killer who is hiding in plain sight. Motive is key to solving the case & as Vera digs with her typical persistence, family secrets & hidden ties are revealed. Appearances can deceive & even the happiest families have fault lines, soft spots that must be protected to maintain a facade.

The plotting is excellent & there are several credible “killers” to choose from. But what elevates the story is the addition of Vera’s personal history & present day interaction with long lost relatives. As local connections are uncovered, she has to wonder if her family knows more than they’re telling. They remember her as the awkward, frumpy daughter of the family’s black sheep. She may still be all those things but now she’s also an intuitive cop with the power to sort through & air their dirty laundry.

Picking up one of these books is like bumping into old friends. I love Vera & enjoy watching as criminals underestimate her at their own expense. Joe continues to be her long suffering righthand man while Holly’s character & relationship with the boss is further developed.

The pages fly by driven by a steady pace, clever dialogue & well rounded characters. By the end, the woman’s death is not the only mystery solved as Vera gains new insight into her father that may help put some of her personal demons to rest.

Apr 04, 2021

In the charming district of Northumberland, two horrible murders occur. It is up to Vera, the officer in charge, to solve the murders. She is an unflappable, middle-aged Brit, and a wonderful example of a strong women who doesn't care a whit what people think of her. I look forward to meeting her again in another Ann Cleeves novel.

Mar 21, 2021

This was my first encounter with this author. I found her story quite intriguing and paced well.
Vera Stanhope is a tough talking female cop who runs her division with no nonsense. At first, I could not figure out if the murder was an accidental crime of passion or a well-planned encounter with the victim. Who would purposely go out in a blizzard to murder another person? And, why did the victim leave her small child in the car with the door open? It took me almost to the end to figure out who was the murderer. I would read more from this author and I did not know it was also a TV series.

Feb 28, 2021

This was the perfect book to read this past month with the frigid temperatures and snow-covered landscape because that was the setting of the book. This was the first Vera Stanhope book that I had read, although I knew about the British miniseries. It was excellent. I am a fan of mysteries and tend to favor the big country house world of Agatha Christie. But this book has wonderful characters and a mystery with a satisfying ending. Highly recommended!

Feb 09, 2021

As usual another brilliant book...I hope Ann Cleeves is starting another Vera book....enjoy this one it’s great....just like the others...📚

Jan 21, 2021

Read 2020

Dec 28, 2020

I have read several of Ann Cleeves books in The Shetland Series as well as the The Vera Stanhope Series. I also have watched both series on television and have enjoyed them. This book, The Darkest Evening, is my favorite. Two things stand out for me, one is that Vera has a personal involvement as the the Stanhope family is central to the story, this made Vera more alive to me. Secondly Vera, although still tough as nails, starts to soften her attitude toward her female officer, Holly. The story line is complex enough to be interesting but not so complex that it is hard to follow. You probably will not guess the murderer ( I never try) but it will make sense, not someone just added in at the end. If you enjoy an occasional mystery I highly recommend The Darkest Evening.

Dec 16, 2020

The story has a winter setting which added to my enjoyment of reading this novel during the dark cold winter days. The story is chock full of characters - all used as red herrings until Vera finally discovers the motives for the real murderer. Cleeves writes great "Vera" police procedurals. Although Vera and Joe are the main members of her team, Holly plays a major part in this novel, quite a foil to Vera. The novel could be read as a stand alone as the characters are all explanatory and readers don't need to be familiar with their back story. If you like the "Vera" stories on PBS TV, you'll enjoy this novel. In this novel, I pictured Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera in the TV series, as Vera was driving her land rover, having difficulty walking uphill wearing her wellingtons, floppy hat and long winter coat, or while sitting in her rustic kitchen while chatting with Joe, and then ending her sentences while interviewing suspects with the word, "pet". This novel was a most enjoyable read.

Dec 07, 2020

The Vera Stanhope books are a comfort read for me. Rather than an action-packed, rollercoaster ride full of twists and turns, the stories take you by the hand and slowly build up steam. Ann Cleeves is a master storyteller who brings the settings to life and makes you feel like you are part of the community. I would absolutely love to go on a "Vera" tour, visiting the areas where the stories take place. The mysteries themselves always leave you guessing until Vera finally reveals "whodunnit" and when she lets you in on the details, there's usually a whole lot more to it than you think. I also really enjoy the fact the stories continue on for a few chapters, so you don't feel left out or abruptly tossed aside once the mystery is solved. You get to spend a little extra time with Vera and that's always a treat. This is a fantastic series and one of the few that I will re-read from time to time.

Dec 03, 2020

Seemed slower, a lot slower.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings

APL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top