Vera author sets new novel in home town of Whitley Bay

Author Ann Cleeves. Picture by Micha Theiner
Author Ann Cleeves. Picture by Micha Theiner

Award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves is about to launch her latest novel, which is partly set in her beloved home town of Whitley Bay.

The Seagull is the eighth instalment in the popular DI Vera Stanhope series.

The front cover of Ann Cleeves' new Vera novel, The Seagull.

The front cover of Ann Cleeves' new Vera novel, The Seagull.

The book focuses on police corruption deep in the heart of a community, and on fragile, and fracturing, family relationships.

A cold case takes Vera back in time and very close to home – forcing her to dig deeper into her late father, Hector’s, murky reputation.

Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present.

A visit to her local prison brings DI Stanhope face-to-face with an old enemy; former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a part in his downfall.

Filming of Vera at the Corn Exchange, Alnwick

Filming of Vera at the Corn Exchange, Alnwick

Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren.

He tells her that Marshall is dead, his body buried close to St Mary’s Island. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.

Reflecting on the book, Ann said: “I love the fact that this book is set in Whitley Bay. It was such fun to write.

“The book is dedicated to the regulars in my local pub, The Rockcliffe Arms.

“I was sitting there listening to their stories and some of them triggered some the plot lines in the book.”

The Seagull is being published by Macmillan on Thursday, September 7, in hardback, priced £16.99.

It isn’t the first time that Ann has used the North East to inspire her stories. Indeed, her bestselling and acclaimed Vera series is famously set in the region – sweeping across the rural villages to the rugged coastline with its post-industrial backdrop.

She has also written a murder mystery exclusively for The Alnwick Garden, which will be staged there next month. Visit alnwickgarden.com for more details.

Her Vera novels have been adapted into an ITV drama series, with scenes being filmed in the region.