I’ve mentioned Ann Cleeves’ The Crow Trap before in this blog; it is the first one in the Vera Stanhope series set in the North east of England. A dramatized version is due to be shown on ITV this Sunday in the series Vera. I’m not sure why they are showing them in this order, but it so far has been an interesting series, if a little dark. Husband has been calling out suggestions for the locations it has been set in, having objects thrown at him as a result…
The Radio Times suggests that the tv film tells a different version of this story than in the novel. Certainly the plot line that I’ve read doesn’t seem true to the book, but we will see.
I’m usually quite keen on tv adaptations because they usually lead to more people (if only me!) reading the book. Obviously there are going to be differences. South Riding
was a good example of a good tv series based on a really big, great book. I probably would not have read it if it had not been shown on tv, but found that the book was far, far better in terms of content and characterization. The obvious problem was the short series which could not hope to capture more than the main themes of the book. I’m not sure that will be the case on Sunday, although it is a complex plot.
The book, The Crow Trap, is an interesting, complex read. It is written from different viewpoints, which while enabling a really clear view of the events of this multiple murder mystery, is also a little disorientating. I have seen it done before, but each section has been in a very different style, where this sits solidly in the third person.It also leads to a certain amount of repetition, which means that it is an easier read than some modern mystery novels where missing one clue is crucial. I thought that the descriptions of the landscape were effective, even speaking as a reader who has not been northern enough for long enough to recognise the area.The characterization is good, each character being given a distinct voice and personality. Most of the significant characters are female, which is a interesting situation for a novel, and the characters are well differentiated. It is a complex plot, with red herrings and elements swirling round.
It is not a comfortable book, or a particularly easy read, but one that is difficult to put down because it is so well written. I think that it could do with losing a few pages because it does tend to repeat the facts, and I think (though not a great reader of modern murder novels) that there are a few too many characters. My favourite has to be Edie, a hippy single mother, whose grown up daughter frequently cringes with embarrassment at her over enthusiasm for talking things through and being accepting of whatever anyone gets up to (within reason). I would recommend this book as a not too brutal murder mystery, with interesting themes, good characters and a well worked through plot. Husband has read the first Shetland series book, and seemed to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to reading more Cleeves!