Ann Cleeves

A great advocate and supporter of libraries, the best-selling writer Ann Cleeves was awarded an OBE in the 2022 New Year Honours List ‘for services to Reading and Libraries.’ Typically modest, this author of more than 30 novels responded to the nomination by saying, ‘I’m delighted that this honour highlights the importance of reading and libraries and celebrates the skilled staff who work in the field.’

Throughout her long career Ann has created a number of enduring characters whose exploits have made the transition to television, including Vera Stanhope, of the eponymous series Vera, Shetland’s Jimmy Perez and mostly recently an adaptation of The Long Call, the first in Ann’s new series set in North Devon featuring Detective Matthew Venn.

In 2017 she was presented with the Diamond Dagger of the Crime Writers’ Association, the highest honour in British crime writing, for her excellent writing and contribution to the crime writing world. In 2006 Cleeves was the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland series. In addition, she has been short listed for a CWA Dagger Awards – once for her short story The Plater, and twice for the Dagger in the Library award, which is awarded not for an individual book but for an author’s entire body of work.

We have picked out a selection of titles from Ann’s long career – for the full list of books, eBooks and aAudiobooks by Ann Cleeves we have available to borrow, please visit our website.

In true Agatha Christie style, Cleeves once again pulls the wool over our eyes with cunning and conviction.

Colin Dexter

Sea Fever

Amateur sleuth, George Palmer-Jones, and his fellow bird-watchers on the Jessie Ellen catch sight of a rare sea bird. When one of the party goes missing and is found floating in the sea, Palmer-Jones must find out who murdered the man.

Murder in My Back Yard

When a proposed housing development results in uproar and murder, the pressure is on Inspector Ramsay to find the killer. Just as he thinks he is nearing a conclusion, disaster strikes again and Ramsay must test his measure as a detective.

The Crow Trap

At the isolated Baikie’s Cottage, three very different women come together to complete an environmental survey. The three women each know the meaning of betrayal. So when people begin to mysteriously die, DI Vera Stanhope is sent to investigate.

The Glass Room

DI Vera Stanhope is not one to make friends easily, but her hippy neighbours keep her well-supplied in homebrew and conversation so she has more tolerance for them than most. When one of them goes missing she feels duty-bound to find out what happened. But her path leads her to more than just a missing friend.

Raven Black

The murder of teenager Catherine Ross sends shockwaves through a small Shetland community, and most of the fingers of blame point to loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But Catherine’s vicious and sudden demise has thrown a veil of suspicion over everyone who knew her, and one local detective is keeping all options open.

Blue Lightning

Shetland Detective Jimmy Perez knows it will be a difficult homecoming when he returns to the Fair Isles to introduce his fiancée, Fran, to his parents. When a woman’s body is discovered at the renowned Fair Isles bird observatory, Jimmy must investigate the old-fashioned way.

Too Good to be True

When young teacher Anna Blackwell is found dead in her home, the police think her death was suicide or a tragic accident. After all, Stonebridge is a quiet country village in the Scottish Borders, where murders just don’t happen. But Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez soon arrives from far-away Shetland when his ex-wife, Sarah, asks him to look into the case.

The Long Call

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too. Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region.

The Heron’s Cry

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. His daughter Eve is a glassblower, and the murder weapon is a shard of one of her broken vases. Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved, though, to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband. 

Behind the Bookshelves

Ali Archer, Stock Services Technician

What is your role and what do you like about it?

My job title is Stock Services Technician and I’m based at our Stock Support Services hub in Winchester.  Day to day I co-manage the stock services team at Bar End (in Winchester), who ensure that all the behind-the-scenes work such as sending out reading group sets and approving invoices is done.  I also develop county-wide promotions to ensure our book stock reflects current trends and affairs. Recently we created shelves on Borrowbox showcasing the work of Ukrainian writers in both fiction and non-fiction, we also included books about Ukraine in these shelves.  All of which has proven very popular with our readers.

What do I like about my role?  So many things! I’m part of a small, supportive, and friendly team where I get to talk all things books and libraries. I think my favourite thing about this role is when I can be creative with promotions and have to research books – it gives me the perfect excuse to read lots, my to read list is continually being added to!

What did you do before you came to Hampshire Libraries?

First and foremost, I am a mum. It’s a role that I’ve had the pleasure to hold since 2001, I have four children, and all share my love of reading.  I was lucky enough to be able to stay home for the first few years of my children’s life and then I had several retail roles – I especially enjoyed working at a well-known high street store as their staff shop meant I often came home with a cut price caterpillar cake!  After that I was self-employed as a seamstress.  I created bespoke clothing and accessories using vintage patterns. My favourite makes were relaxed boho style wedding dresses, prom dresses and clothing for vintage events. I still sew, but now it’s just for myself and family.

What made you want to work at Hampshire Libraries?

I realised that I was missing the hustle and bustle of working with more than one person at the time, my youngest child was about to start infant school and I wanted to do something that would be for me but would also where I was helping others – that’s when I noticed the job advert for Romsey Library.

I’ve always been a reader, as a young child I remember making sure that the landing light was on when I was sent to bed so I could carry on reading – I devoured the Malory Towers and St Clare’s books by Enid Blyton before moving on to What Katy Did books by Susan Coolidge and the Green Gables books by L. M. Montgomery. As a teenager I loved Judy Blume – Tiger Eyes will always have a special place on my bookshelf at home. Libraries have always been a big part of my life; in fact I think walking to the library on my own was one of my first tastes of freedom as a young girl.  As I’d always felt so at home in libraries, working for Hampshire Libraries seemed a natural move to me.  I’m so glad I applied, being surrounded by books all day is just heaven!

Is there anything that surprised you about working for Hampshire Libraries?

I wasn’t prepared for the incredibly variety of library customers. A library plays such a rich and diverse role in a community – it’s not just books as I naively thought!  What surprised me most is how much I miss being around the public now that I’m not in a public facing role anymore, especially running events such as Time to Talk coffee mornings and organising the craft after a story time session. 

When I joined Stock Services, I was amazed at how much work is done behind the scenes to ensure the libraries have everything they need. Learning more about the publishing industry has been incredibly interesting, who knew that the pandemic would have a negative impact on the paper pulp industry which in turn has affected the book supply chain!

If you had to live out the rest of your life on a lonely space station overlooking the planet, which three books would you bring and why?

Firstly – why am I on a space station? I’m not sure I’d have gone through choice – I’m a little scared of the idea of space travel!  But…If I must be there then my first choice is Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery, I’ve already mentioned it as being one of my favourite childhood books.  It’s much like a comfort blanket as I’ve read it so many times now, we should all be a bit more Anne, she’s fun, a little a bit naughty and cares deeply about the people and things important to her. My children have also enjoyed this book, so it would be a link to my family whilst living in space. Secondly, I’d take Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut by Samantha Cristoforetti. I’ve always enjoyed reading memoirs and this one is a fascinating account of a young woman’s journey to becoming an astronaut.  She spent 200 days on board the International Space Station, so I’d dip into this book whenever I needed a boost to get through the lonely days. Finally, I’d take Taste: my life through food by Stanley Tucci. I really enjoy cooking; I love a cocktail (or three – Margaritas are my current favourite 🍸) and I adore all things Italian.  This is the book equivalent of a lazy afternoon spent in an Italian piazza with delicious coffees and pastries… and on that note I think I’ll start planning a holiday!

Find out more about Ali by signing up to our Digital Readers Book Club. The group which selects one book to read on BorrowBox each month is free to join. From this month Ali will be the online host of the group’s online discussion – on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue to the read/listen to for March.

Powerful poetry: 7 must read contemporary poetry books

Poetry comes in all different shapes and sizes. From flowery language mixed with rhyme and rhythm, to plain speaking pages that confess something profound (and everything in between). Discover your favourite kind of poetry with these varied recommendations to get you started.

Everyone sang: a poem for every feeling by William Sieghart

This collection of writers new and old is an amazing way to find poems that connect with you. Everyone Sang is a wonderful selection of accessible poems that are arranged to help us map out our emotions. Chosen by the creator of the bestseller ‘The Poetry Pharmacy’, William Sieghart, and brought to life by illustrator Emily Sutton. The collection includes Maya Angelou to A.A. Milne, Lemn Sissay, Jackie Kay, Carol Ann Duffy, Joseph Coelho, Kae Tempest, W.B. Yeats, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, and many others.

If you’re a fan of Joeseph Coelho, you’ll love our interview with him on the Love Your Library podcast.

The actual by Inua Ellams

A symphony of personal and political fury. Sometimes probing delicately, sometimes burning with raw energy. In 55 poems that swerve and crackle with a rare music, Inua Ellams unleashes a full-throated assault on empire and its legacies of racism, injustice and toxic masculinity. In just 80 pages Ellams shows us the many faces of contemporary poetry and how we can use it to understand the world.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

While Bluets narrator sets out to construct a sort of ‘pillow book’ about her lifelong obsession with the colour blue, she ends up facing down both the painful end of an affair and the grievous injury of a dear friend. Winding its way through depression, divinity, alcohol, and desire, visiting along the way with famous blue figures, including Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Yves Klein, Leonard Cohen and Andy Warhol.

bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward

Raised in Chorley in the north of England, Yrsa Daley-Ward’s work draws on her early life and her Jamaican and Nigerian heritage. The first collection from a ground-breaking poet, bone looks at identity, race, mental health, and femininity. With celebrity fans from Beyoncé to Florence Welch, this isn’t a collection to be missed.

Hold your own by Kae Tempest

Hold Your Own is a rhythmic retelling of the Tiresias myths set-in modern-day Britain. Kae Tempest’s first full-length collection takes a close look at class and gender in this ambitious multi-voiced work. A vastly popular and accomplished performance poet, Tempest commands a huge and dedicated following on the performance and rap circuit.

Grief is the thing with feathers by Max Porter

Part novella, part sound-poem, Max Porter’s debut depicts a wild and unruly grief embodied by the character Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. In a Nanny McPhee-like series of events, the sentimental bird visits a grieving family after the loss of their mother and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months, and the physical pain of loss gives way to memories, the family begin to heal.

Citizen: an American lyric by Claudia Rankine

Through essays, images, and poetry, Claudia Rankine’s book recounts mounting racial aggressions in 21st century daily life and in the media. The accumulative stresses that come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform and stay alive. Taking a close look at how racism has impacted the lives of Serena Williams, Zinedine Zidane, Mark Duggan and others.

Remember, there’s no wrong way to read poetry, but reading poems in different ways can be great for finding out how they can create different feelings. Why not try reading a poem as fast or as slowly as you possibly can and see whether it changes the sense of meaning you get from it? Lots of poets like to play with how words sound too, so you could even ask a friend to read a poem aloud to you. It’s a great way to discover more about poetry and share your favourite reads with those closest to you.