Review of Harbour Street by Ann Cleeves


Seventy-year-old Margaret Krukowski is murdered on the Metro, shortly before the Christmas holiday. Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie are on their way home in the same Metro car when the murder occurs. Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope welcomes the murder investigation since she’s not at all looking forward to the Christmas festivities. But when town prostitute Dee is also murdered, Dee’s ties to Harbour Street tells Vera that there’s much more going on than meets the eye. Will feisty Vera get the townspeople to reveal what they know about the murdered women?

I enjoy the PBS Vera series so when I saw several of the author’s books on the library shelf I decided to go with a story I hadn’t already seen. First off, I found that the books are different from the television series in that Vera isn’t exactly the sweet and loveable character in the books as she is on television. I HATED the way the author made so much about Vera’s weight. There was absolutely no reason to hammer the fact home that Vera is overweight. I could have counted the number of times the author used the word ‘fat’ to describe Vera and a few of the other characters. I found this extremely off-putting.

The story definitely dragged on and on. I grew bored several times and almost gave up, but I wanted to find out who the murderer was and why he or she killed the women. I honestly can’t say that the story was compelling, nor were any of the characters particularly likeable. In short, by the end of the book I just didn’t care that much.

I guess this is a case where the television series is much better than the books. Actress Brenda Blethyn really brings so much to Vera’s character. And, I honestly don’t remember anyone mentioning Vera’s so-called weight issue in the TV show. From now on, I think I’ll just stick with watching Vera on PBS.

2 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton