All of the books!
Who is Ann Cleeves?
Ann Cleeves is a famous English author famous for her crime series, especially The Vera Stanhope novels that have been dramatized as the TV detective series Vera and the Jimmy Perez novels as the series Shetland.
Before the Vera Stanhope series and the Shetland series, Ann Cleeves also wrote George and Molly Palmer-Jones and the Inspector Ramsay series.
Ann Cleeves Books in Order:
George and Molly Palmer-Jones Books in Order
George Palmer-Jones, a retired birdwatcher, and his wife Molly are amateur detectives. These are their stories.
- A Bird in the Hand (1986) – Young Tom French was found dead, lying in a marsh on the Norfolk coast, with his head bashed in and his binoculars still around his neck. One of the best birders in England, Tom had put the village of Rushy on the birdwatching map. Everyone liked him. Or did they? George Palmer-Jones, an elderly birdwatcher who decided quietly to look into the brutal crime, discovered mixed feelings aplenty. Still, he remained baffled by a deed that could have been motivated by thwarted love, pure envy, or something else altogether.
- Come Death and High Water (1987) – A routine weekend visit by the Gillibry Bird Observatory Trust is made memorable by the owner’s announcement that he is going to sell the island. A sale would mean the end of the Observatory…and of all that, for some of them, made life worth living. A fire in Charlie Todd’s cottage added to their distress. And when, next morning, after a fierce storm, they found Charlie dead in a bird hide, their pleasant September weekend assumed a dangerous new face. Charlie Todd’s murder can be seen as the deed of any member of the Trust. And it falls to one of their own, George Palmer-Jones, to unravel the identity of killer within their midst.
- Murder in Paradise (1988) – Newlyweds Jim and Sarah were welcomed home from their honeymoon to the Scottish island of Kinness with a huge celebration, and the whole island was present to witness the bitter end. But did Jim’s younger sister Mary fall? Or was she pushed? George Palmer-Jones, retired birdwatcher and amateur detective, suspected the latter, but proving it would be difficult – no one wanted to upset the balance of the island’s ancient relationships.
- A Prey to Murder (1989) – The huge and powerful hawk dominated the scene. Its talons pierced the woman’s flesh and the beak pointed towards her eyes . . . The sight is a particularly horrible shock for George Palmer-Jones, ornithologist and amateur detective, as he was an old friend of the victim Eleanor Masefield. George and his wife Molly are staying at Eleanor’s family run hotel, and whilst George believed Eleanor was a beautiful and charming widow, Molly has other ideas.
- Sea fever (1991) – On a bird-watching trip aboard the Jessie Ellen, George Palmer-Jones and the other avid crew members achieve every bird-watcher’s dream when they sight a sea bird which has never before been recorded. In the subsequent excitement, however, no one notices the sudden absence of the most fanatical birder of them all…. Later, Greg Franks’ corpse, the head bludgeoned, is found floating in the sea.
- Another Man’s Poison (1992) – Ever since the death of her husband, Ursula Ottway has lived alone in Back Rigg Cottage, high up on the fells. Her landlord, the ambitious politician Marcus Grenville, wants his property back. After months of harassment, Ursula discovers that the illegal use of poisoned bait on Grenville’s land has killed not only a rare bird of prey but her two beloved cats. When her niece, Molly Palmer-Jones, arrives at Ursula’s house, it is to find her body slumped lifeless on a sofa. It soon becomes clear that hers was a very convenient death. The Palmer-Joneses embark on a murder investigation….
- The Mill on the Shore (1995) – Meg Morrissey refuses to believe that her husband James committed suicide. James was in high spirits because he’d finally completed his long awaited autobiography. He didn’t leave a suicide note. But even more suspiciously the record of his life’s environmental achievement, his magnum opus, has gone missing. Troubled, Meg calls in amateur sleuths George and Molly Palmer-Jones to investigate.
- High Island Blues (1996) – Old college friends Rob, Oliver and Mick reunite on a bird watching tour to America. It is the first time in twenty years the three have been together – since the fateful holiday to America during which they met the enigmatic Laurie . . . The tour party is hoping for spectacular sights at High Island on the Upper Texas coast, but as the rain pours down and the birds descend, Mick is discovered dead. Back in Britain PIs George and Molly Palmer-Jones are working on a minor fraud case with name of Brownscombe Associates attached. So when George receives a desperate transatlantic call from his friend Rob, he is on the first plane to Texas.
Inspector Ramsay Books in Order
Like Vera Stanhope, Inspector Stephen Ramsay is a detective from Northumberland.
- A Lesson in Dying (1990) – Who hanged the headmaster in the playground on the night of the school Hallowe’en Party? Almost everyone in Heppleburn either hated or feared the viper-tongued Harold Medburn. Inspector Ramsay is convinced it was the headmaster’s enigmatic wife but Jack Robson, school governor and caretaker, is determined to prove her innocence. With the help of his restless enthusiastic daughter, Patty, Jack digs into the secrets of Heppleburn, and uncovers a cesspit – of lies, adultery, blackmail and madness.
- Murder in My Backyard (1991) – No one in Heppleburn has a bad word to say about Alice Parry . . . but here she is, murdered in her own backyard on a bitter St. David’s Eve. And when detective Stephen Ramsay starts asking questions in the village, a more ambiguous picture begins to emerge. Yes, old Mrs. Parry was loved by everyone, but sometimes her kindness had caused trouble. Yes, her two nephews were devoted to her, but they didn’t really want her interfering in their rather complicated personal lives. Even among her neighbors, Alice Parry’s helpfulness had sometimes misfired; and after her death, tension tight as a clenched fist grips the uneasy village.
- A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy (1992) – For vicar’s wife Dorothea Cassidy, Thursdays were special. Every week she would look forward to the one day she could call her own. But one Thursday in June was to be more special than any other…. As the small town of Otterbridge prepares for its summer carnival, Inspector Stephen Ramsay begins a painstaking reconstruction of Dorothea’s last hours. It is not until a second body is discovered that Ramsay starts to understand how Dorothea lived – and why she died.
- Killjoy (1993) – The youth theatre cast are in their places but Gus Lynch’s female lead is missing, that is, until she’s found in the boot of his car . . . Detective Inspector Stephen Ramsay and Sergeant Gordon Hunter are assigned to head the murder enquiry, meanwhile violence is escalating on the Starling Farm Estate as police battle to contain the latest outbreak of joyriding. Is the death of Gabriella connected to the events at Starling Farm?
- The Healers (1995) – News of the murder came to Inspector Stephen Ramsay early on Monday morning and he fears this case will not be simple. In his experience, most murders are straightforward: an explosion of family pressure, the loss of control in a fight. But Bowles seems to have kept himself to himself and had lived alone since his mother’s death. A seemingly unconnected women is then found strangled too, surely two such killings in the same locality are more than just chilling coincidence?
- The Baby Snatcher (1997) – Fifteen year old Marilyn turns up alone and frightened on Inspector Ramsay’s doorstep so he takes the young girl home to the isolated coastal community known as the Headland. And in the Howes’ dark and cluttered kitchen they find Kathleen safe and apparently well, though acting rather mysteriously. Six months later, Ramsay has more or less forgotten the strange incident, busy as he is on the trail of a local child abductor. Until he receives news that Mrs Howe has disappeared once more. And for the second time he is drawn into the strange relationships of the families living on the lonely Headland.
Vera Stanhope Books in Order
Vera Stanhope is a Detective Chief Inspector working for Northumberland & City Police. She is known for being obsessive about her work, using her calculating mind to identify killers. Driven by her own demons, she’s also known for her irascible personality. For more details, go to the full reading order.
- The Crow Trap (1999)
- Telling Tales (2005)
- Hidden Depths (2007)
- Silent Voices (2011)
- The Glass Room (2012)
- Harbour Street (2014)
- The Moth Catcher (2015)
- The Seagull (2017)
- The Darkest Evening (2020)
Shetland Books in Order
The story is set in the isolated Scottish Shetland Isles and follows Detective Inspector Perez and his police colleagues investigations as they become entwined in the island community. They investigate mysterious disappearances, murders and the darkest secrets of Scotland’s most northerly isles. For more details, go to the full reading order.
- Raven Black (2006)
- White Nights (2008)
- Red Bones (2009)
- Blue Lightning (2010)
- Dead Water (2013)
- Thin Air (2014)
- Too Good To Be True (2016; novella)
- Cold Earth (2016)
- Wild Fire (2018)
Two Rivers series in Order
The new series from Ann Cleeves about the investigations of Detective Matthew Venn in North Devon.
- The Long Call (2019) – In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. On the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too. Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
- The Heron’s Cry (2021) – North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder – Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases.
- The Sleeping and the Dead (2001) – Detective Peter Porteous is called to Cranwell Lake where the body of a teenager has been discovered. After trawling through the missing persons files, he deduces that the corpse is Michael Grey, an enigmatic and secretive young man who was reported missing by his foster parents in 1972. For country prison officer Hannah Morton it is the shock of her life. Michael had been her boyfriend, and she had been with him the night he disappeared. The news report that a body has been found brings back dreaded and long buried memories from her past . . .
- Burial of Ghosts (2003) – Twenty-five-year-old Lizzie Bartholomew has had more than her fair share of struggles. Abandoned as a baby, she spent her childhood moving between foster homes. Now she is running away from her past . . . A holiday in Morocco seems to be the perfect escape. Especially when she meets Philip, a fellow tourist who distracts her from her troubles. After a brief affair, Lizzie returns to England, to a solicitor’s letter. Philip Samson has died. In his will, he has left Lizzie a gift of £15,000. But there are conditions attached to this unexpected legacy that will soon force Lizzie to confront terrifying secrets from her past life . . .