A hot summer on the Northumberland coast, and Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son murdered. Luke has been strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers. This stylized murder scene has Inspector Vera Stanhope and her team intrigued. But then a second body - that of beautiful young teacher Lily Marsh - is discovered laid out in a rock pool, the water strewn with flowers. Now Vera must work quickly to find this dramatist, this killer who is making art out of death. Clues are slow to emerge from those who had known Luke and Lily, but Vera soon finds herself drawn towards the curious group of friends who discovered Lily's body. What unites these four men and one woman? Are they really the close-knit, trustworthy unit they claim to be? As local residents are forced to share their private lives and those of their loved ones, sinister secrets are slowly unearthed. And all the while the killer remains in their midst, waiting for an opportunity to prepare another beautiful, watery grave . . . Hidden Depths is another classic, traditional crime novel in a contemporary setting by Ann Cleeves, winner of last year's Duncan Lawrie Dagger... The story follows each of the main characters in turn, but it is fat, lonely Vera, awkward with her staff and unaware that they are frightened of her, who makes the biggest impression in this skilfully crafted mystery Sunday Telegraph Ann Cleeves improves with every book. Her previous novel, Raven Black, was a deserved winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger for best crime novel of 2006... Hidden Depths is a subtle, nuanced book and Cleeves draws her characters with care and compassion. The landscape of rural Northumberland is vividly evoked and Inspector Stanhope - overweight, fallible and driven by personal demons - is a terrific central character' Tribune

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