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Flow was Up and Down and the Beginning Was Boring

Telling Tales - Ann Cleeves

Not too much to say about this one. It was fine. I was bored though for the first 1/3 until we get Vera interacting with characters. Any time Cleeves away from her I found myself bored. The ending was very good though and a surprise. I liked how it was wrapped up.


"Telling Tales" takes a very long time to get moving. We start off with a young housewife, Emma Bennett who sits around having fantasies about the local potter, Dan. Things change one day when her husband James comes home on the news that the woman (Jeanie Long) who went to jail for murdering her best friend (Abigail Mantel)10 years ago has committed suicide. And to make things even worse, it appears that Jeanie didn't do it. Enter Vera and Joe who have been asked to look into this case and figure out who the first investigation got things wrong. This leads to Vera turning over some rocks and bringing things that haven't been said or thought of in a very long time to light.


Emma is a drip. She lives in a fantasy world and has daydreams of having an affair, but stands by her husband even if she finds him less exciting. It seems at times that maybe Emma is suffering from post-partum. She also has a huge issue with her parents. We find out that Emma's father was a very successful architect, but one day suddenly quit his job, and moved his family to the village of Elvet where he focuses on being a probation officer as well as making religion more of a focus of their family life.


Emma's husband and brother are both harboring secrets, though Emma's brother Chris has an obsession with Abigail and can't seem to move on from her murder.

We also follow Jeanie's father who is a broken man after realizing that his daughter was innocent and he didn't see her or defend her. He and Vera end up making an unlikely friendship I thought with him doing what he could to help her out on the case, and Vera trying to not get too irritated with him.

We also follow up with the original investigator and another officer on the case and we find out how their lives changed too. 


I thought the writing and dialogue got much better when Vera was on the scene. We have people reacting to her and her questions. Cleeves also does a great job with Vera and how she systemically picks things apart. We get some reveals I wasn't expecting and thought they were greatly done.

The flow though was not good. The first part of the book drags beyond belief. It was hard to get into and then things picked up. I think jumping from person to person didn't help.

The setting of Elvet seems a lonely and desolate place. Emma's parent's home seems cold and empty which was a perfect metaphor for what was going on with a lot of people.

The ending was a surprise, and I did wonder about the fallout for certain characters. I wonder if Cleeves ever mentions characters again in future works.