Long-time friends often know everything about each other--ideally offering love, despite past histories. But sometimes those secrets can grow into a seething hatred, as Ann Cleeves (The Heron's Cry; The Long Call) so persuasively depicts in The Rising Tide, her superb 10th novel in the Vera Stanhope series.
The novel's title refers to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the mainland on England's northeast coast for hours daily. For five-year intervals during a span of half a century, a group of friends has gathered at a convent turned guesthouse, the place they met as teenagers during a school retreat. Divorces and other life changes have dwindled the group to five. After a delicious meal and much drinking on the first night of the latest reunion, Rick Kelsall, who lost his BBC hosting job over sexual misconduct allegations, is found hanging from a rafter. Vera and her Northumbria Police team soon learn Rick was murdered, even though the death at first appears to be a suicide. Although it seems unlikely any of the sexagenarians could hoist Rick up to the rafters, Vera and her team uncover myriad secrets, exacerbated by a book Rick was writing about his friends, the complications behind his firing and another death that occurred at the first reunion.
The engrossing plot delves into the friends' reminiscences, which seem innocuous but possess an underlying menace. Vera--blunt, intelligent, frumpy and obsessive yet deeply affectionate toward her team--continues to prove her investigative mettle. A visit with Vera--whether in the series or via the television adaptation, now in its 11th season--is always welcome. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer