This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
‘When Jem Rosco – sailor, adventurer and local legend – blows into town in the middle of an autumn gale, the residents of Greystone, Devon, are delighted to have a celebrity in their midst.
‘The residents think nothing of it when Rosco disappears again; that’s the sort of man he is.
‘Until the lifeboat is launched to a hoax call-out during a raging storm and his body is found in a dinghy, anchored off Scully Cove, a place with legends of its own.
‘This is an uncomfortable case for DI Matthew Venn. He came to the remote village as a child, its community populated by the Barum Brethren that he parted ways with, so when superstition and rumour mix and another body is found in the cove, Matthew soon finds his judgement clouded.
‘As the stormy winds howl and the village is cut off, Venn and his team start their investigation, little realizing their own lives might be in danger…’
In The Raging Storm, by Ann Cleeves, we’re reunited with Matthew Venn and his team as they investigate the murder of faded celebrity adventurer Jem Rosco off the coast at Greystone in Devon.
Greystone is an unattractive, self-contained town, where many of the residents are members of the Barum Brethren religious community, and have long-established connections with the area and one another. Rosco himself grew up in nearby Morrisham, but developed his talent for sailing in Greystone.
Venn and his colleagues Jen Rafferty and Ross May have their work cut out gathering pertinent information and unravelling the mystery of Rosco’s life and death.
Cleeves has an impressive track record of creating thrillingly claustrophobic settings with closed-off groups of characters, and Greystone and its people are a worthy addition to this. Intense weather and local superstitions serve to heighten this tense and unsettling atmosphere.
What’s more, you can practically feel the resentment many of the residents radiate towards the police for invading their town and digging into their business. For Venn, this discomfort is multiplied by the fact that he grew up in a Brethren family, but later lost his faith and left the sect.
As the team gradually manage to extract information from the sizeable pool of distinctive locals, all sorts of lines of inquiry open up as long-running alliances and enmities are revealed. I very much enjoyed watching the detectives follow these threads, not just locally but further afield.
The mystery at the heart of the story doesn’t just concern who killed Rosco and why, but who he was as a person.
We find out that he was a troublemaker with a chip on his shoulder at school, but a charismastic TV personality; that he was from a poor family, but came into some money that funded his first sailing expedition; that he kept a luxury apartment in Morrisham, but actually lived elsewhere; and that he was in a relationship, but still held a candle for his first love. Any one of these facets of his fascinating character could be behind his murder.
As ever, it was a pleasure to reconvene with thoughtful Matthew, down-to-earth Jen, and happy-go-lucky (if slightly maddening) Ross, as well as supporting characters such as Matthew’s husband Jonathan, and waitress Lucy. I always feel like I’ll miss them when I finish the book, and look forward to following them again.
The Raging Storm is an atmospheric, tense, and multi-layered story from one of my favourite crime novelists.