New ‘Vera’ case The Moth Catcher is different to anything the detective’s worked on before
Life seems perfect in Valley Farm but then when a young ecologist is found dead while house-sitting a big country house nearby, investigations reveal another body.
It appears to Vera and her sidekick detectives Holly and Joe that all the two men had in common was a fascination with moths. But as they are drawn into the claustrophobic lives of ‘the hedonists’ club’ it soon becomes clear that the three couples living there have secrets – and they could be deadly.
As the seventh instalment in the popular ‘Vera’ series, currently being filmed for ITV starring the celebrated actress Brenda Blethyn, Ann makes her scruffy sleuth as shrewd and endearing as ever.
“I started with moths as they are a nice metaphor, my husband is a big birder but I thought that was a bit obvious so the moth reference was a good way of linking it all together,” she said from the home she shares with husband, Tim, in Whitley Bay.
Although she is now an acclaimed bestselling author of 29 titles, it wasn’t until she won the Gold Dagger for best crime novel, which came with a £20,000 cheque, that she could devote herself to fiction full-time.
“This was a new case that was different to anything Vera had ever worked on before. Two bodies, connected but not lying together. And nothing made her feel as alive as murder” – Ann Cleeves, The Moth Catcher
“For the first 20 years of being a published writer I could not afford to give up the day job,” explained Ann who is a former probation officer and bird observatory cook.
She now alternates between penning crime novels around ‘Vera’ and ‘Shetland’ which has also been tuned into a successful television series starring Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez.
“Brenda Blethyn is very glamorous in real life and my Vera has become a bit like Brenda’s Vera, in that I hear her voice when I write and I think of witty put downs I think she’ll enjoy saying.”
Her heroine was inspired by the strong women Ann knew in her youth. “I grew up with women who had lost men in the war or had come into their own in the war. They always wore dreadful clothes and didn’t care much what they looked like.”
Ann, who last year was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Sunderland University, said that as soon as her books are handed to a television producer or appear in a bookshop they are no longer her own. “I’m not precious about them, things that work on the page don’t always on screen. The Moth Catcher is being filmed right now and they’ve changed the gender of one of the victims. By the time it get out there it’s not my book any more, readers bring their backgrounds and their imaginations to it.”
A future plotline could take Vera back to the beginning and explore her early life and Ann is now touring on her first major book tour.
“I’ll keep writing the books while I’m still enjoying it,” she added. “I love telling stories, there’s nothing better than that.”
The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves is published today by Macmillan in hardback, priced £16.99