Ann Cleeves Books in Order of Their Release or Publication

The best approach to getting into Ann Cleeves’ novels is to read them in order. The intriguing thrillers by this fantastic English writer are ideal for curling up for a nice read on a cold winter night. More so, Cleeves is best known for her Vera Stanhope and Shetland Island series. However, apart from her popular series, there are many additional Ann Cleeves books that are stand-alone novels and are also as interesting as those in her popular series lineup.

How Many Books Are In Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope Series?

Ann Cleeves
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Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope series is a collection of 10 detective novels that follow Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope’s life and cases. Stanhope has made it her mission to solve some of Northumberland’s most difficult crimes and another novel is about to join the book series.

Some of the books in the Stanhope series include:

  1. The Crow Trap (1999)
  2. Telling Tales (2005)
  3. Hidden Depths (2007)
  4. Silent Voices (2010)
  5. The Glass Room (2012)
  6. Harbour Street (2014)
  7. The Moth Catcher (2015)
  8. The Seagull (2017)
  9. Frozen (2020) – (A short tale produced in partnership with Forum Books of Corbridge)
  10. The Darkest Evening (2020)
  11. The Rising Tide (Expected: September 6, 2022)

Stanhope Book Series in Order of Publication

If you want to read the Ann Cleeves books in order, here is a brief overview of the Vera Stanhope series for your reading pleasure. You would not want to miss out on this riveting series, so make sure you pick up these books.

1. The Crow Trap

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 560 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1999
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250122742
  • Series Highlight: Murder of Bella Furness
  • Nominations/Awards: No.1 Sunday Times bestseller

This Ann Cleeves book has been named a No.1 Sunday Times Bestseller and it unfolds the events that transpire as three very different ladies gather in the remote Baikie’s Cottage on the North Pennines to do an environmental survey. One thing these three women have in common is that they have experienced betrayal in one form or another.

The project is hereby an ideal opportunity for team leader Rachael Lambert to regain her confidence after a double betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Botanist Anne Preece, on the other hand, sees it as an opportunity to practice her own deception. For Grace Fulwell, she is a bit odd, as well as an uncommunicative young woman with plenty of secrets she does not want to reveal.

After several turns of events, Rachael is shocked to find the body of her friend Bella Furness when she gets to the cottage. Bella looks to have committed suicide, which Rachael finds difficult to believe. Detective Vera Stanhope is now saddled with the task to piece together the facts from these women’s interwoven lives to solve the case.

2. Telling Tales

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 416 pages
  • Original publishing date:2005
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250122773
  • Series Highlight: Murder of Abigail Mantel
  • Nominations/Awards: Winner of crime writers association diamond dagger award

Jeanie Long has been charged with the murder of 15-year-old Abigail Mantel however, 10 years down the line, residents in Elvet, East Yorkshire, are now troubled by new evidence that proves Jeanie’s innocence. The assailant of Abigail is now on the loose and Emma Bennett is haunted by the revelation which brings back memories of her bright best friend, as well as that terrifying winter day when she found her body frozen in a ditch.

Tension rises as Inspector Vera Stanhope conducts new investigations on the peninsula and residents are dragged back to a moment they had hoped to forget. As the Inspector revisits each person’s story, he suspects that some dangerous secrets are about to be revealed. Are the residents of Elvet more terrified of the killer than of their own sins? Find out in this book.

3. Hidden Depths

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 384 pages
  • Original publishing date: 2007
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250135179
  • Series highlight: Murder of Luke Armstrong and Lily Marshis

The Northumberland coast is experiencing a scorching summer. Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her kid has passed away – Luke was drowned after being strangled and wildflowers were draped on him. This sophisticated murder scenario piqued Inspector Vera Stanhope’s interest.

Then a second body – that of Lily Marshis, a lovely young teacher, was also discovered in a flower-strewn rock pool. Vera must track down the dramatist and murderer who is turning death into art.

As evidence from individuals who knew Luke and Lily arrive slowly, Vera is instantly drawn to the curious group that discovered Lily’s remains. What ties these four men and one lady together? Are they the dependable, close-knit group they claim to be? As local inhabitants are forced to share their private lives, sinister secrets progressively surface. However, the assailant is still at large and possibly hatching another crime.

4. Silent Voices

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 352 pages
  • Original publishing date: 2010
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250219824

Vera Stanhope, DI, discovers a woman’s body in the sauna room of her local gym. She briefly considers whether it is a natural death. However, ligature marks around the victim’s throat have been discovered which cancels out the possibility of natural death.

Vera gathers her team and instructs them to interview the victim’s coworkers and family members. Meanwhile, Sergeant Joe Ashworth collaborates with Vera to figure out what’s going on.

Joe is attempting to strike a balance between his family and work obligations, while Vera relishes her return to the command of the investigation. However, as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear that they are linked when Vera discovers that the victim worked in social services and was involved in a tragic case involving a young child. Things, however, are not always as they appear.

5. The Glass Room

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 384 pages
  • Original publishing date: 2012
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250135728

DI Vera Stanhope has a hard time making friends. Her hippy neighbors, on the other hand, keep her well-supplied with homebrew and chat, making her more open to them than others. She feels bound to find out what occurred when one of them goes missing. Her search, however, uncovers more than just a missing friend.

Finding the young woman at the Writers’ House, a country retreat where aspiring authors congregate for the workshop and work through their novels is a simple task. When a body is discovered and Vera’s neighbor is seen with a knife in her hand, things get difficult.

Vera knows she should delegate the investigation to someone else because she is too close to the key suspect. The inquiry, however, is alluring, and she’s never been one to follow the rules. She begins her search for a murderer who is both artistic and deadly, working with Sergeant Joe Ashworth.

At first, there appears to be no reason for the crime and in addition, the crime has no meaning. After another body is discovered, Vera suspects that someone is trying to get her attention. Somewhere, a killer has taken murder off a script and turned it into a reality.

6. Harbour Street

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 400 pages
  • Original publishing date: 2014
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250135728

The shouting and laughter of Christmas revelers break the muffled calm as the snow falls heavily on Newcastle. Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie are dragged into the Metro by the throng.

When the train comes to a halt owing to terrible weather and the other passengers vanish into the whirling snow, Jessie discovers an elderly lady who hasn’t exited the train: Margaret Krukowski has been fatally stabbed while sitting on the crowded train.

Furthermore, nobody, including the policeman himself, sees the stabbing take place. Margaret’s murderer is seemingly invisible; her killing is motiveless. Why would anyone want to harm this reserved, elegant lady?

Arriving at the scene, DI Vera Stanhope stands on the silent, snow-covered station platform, she feels a familiar buzz of anticipation, sensing that this will be a complex and unusual case. Soon, Vera and Joe are on their way to the south Northumberland town of Mardle, where Margaret lived, to begin their investigation.

7. The Moth Catcher

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 400 pages
  • Original publishing date: 2015
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250144690

Valley Farm, a small Northumberland village, appears to have it all but a startling discovery breaks the silence. The owners of a large country estate hired a house-sitter, Patrick, a young ecologist, to care for the property while they are away. Patrick, on the other hand, is discovered dead by the side of the valley lane.

DI Vera Stanhope and her detectives Holly and Joe arrive on the scene. She discovers the body of a second man while searching the attic of the enormous house, where Patrick has a flat. The only thing the two victims have in common is a love of moths and catching these lovely, unusual animals.

More so, the people in the Valley Farm complex have their own secrets: Annie and Sam’s daughter are about to be freed from prison whilst Nigel observes silently from his window every day – which is quite weird. Vera learns that there may be dangerous secrets held here as she is lured deeper into the confined realm of these increasingly mysterious people.

8. The Seagull

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 416 pages
  • Original publishing date: 2017
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250193322

When DI Vera Stanhope visits the local prison, she runs into an old foe: former detective superintendent and now inmate – John Brace. Brace was found guilty of corruption and murdering a gamekeeper, and Vera was a vital figure in his downfall.

Brace now offers Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a known wheeler-dealer who vanished in the mid-1990s, in exchange for her keeping an eye out for his daughter and grandchildren. Marshall is dead, he tells her, and his body is buried at St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. When a search squad arrives, authorities discover not one, but two skeletons.

Vera is transported back in time, to when Brace and Marshall, as well as a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof,’ were close friends of her father, Hector. They were the ‘Gang of Four,’ and they were regulars at The Seagull, a posh nightclub. One of the last individuals to see Marshall alive was Hector. Vera battles her prejudices and uncomfortable memories to find out the truth as the past collides dangerously with the present.

9. Frozen (short story)

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 16 pages
  • Original publishing date: 2020
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250800718
  • Nominations/Awards: New york times bestseller

For once, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope is managing to have a good day off. While strolling around town, she ducks into a new bookshop in a renovated chapel. As she enters the chapel, a skeleton is discovered in the old baptismal font. Soon, a decade-old mystery is revived, and Vera must uncover secrets long buried before this case once again goes cold.

10. The Darkest Evening

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 384 pages
  • Original publishing date: 2020
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781250204516

Driving home during a swirling blizzard, Vera Stanhope’s only thought is to get there quickly. However, with the snow driving down heavily, she becomes disorientated and loses her way. Plowing on, she sees a car off the road ahead of her. With the driver’s door open, Vera assumes the driver has sought shelter, but when she inspects the car she is shocked to find a young toddler strapped in the back seat.

Afraid they will freeze, Vera takes the child and drives on, arriving at Brockburn, a run-down stately home she immediately recognizes the house – her father Hector grew up in it. Inside Brockburn a party is in full swing, with music and laughter to herald the coming Christmas. Whereas outside in the snow, a young woman lies dead and Vera knows immediately she has a new case. Could this be the child’s mother, and if it is, what happened to her?

George and Molly Palmer-Jones Series

This series takes place in Norfolk, England. The first novel in this series was Ann Cleeves’s debut and marks the beginning of her career as an author.

George and Molly Palmer-Jones are an elderly couple who spend most of their time traveling around the English countryside bird watching. However, in the first book, their quiet and peaceful trip becomes a mystery as criminal activity increases around the Norfolk coast.

11. A Bird in the Hand

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 224 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1986
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781509856237

Tom French, a young man from Norfolk, was discovered dead in a swamp with his head battered in and his binoculars still around his neck. Tom, one of England’s greatest birders, had helped place Rushy on the birdwatching map.

George Palmer-Jones, an elderly birdwatcher who decided to investigate the horrible crime privately, uncovered a plethora of contradictory facts. Even so, he was perplexed by an act that may have been inspired by unrequited love, or sheer envy.

12. Come Death And High Water

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 208 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1988
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781447289067

Gillibry, a beautiful privately owned island off the coast of North Devon, turns out to be the ideal location for a murder. The owner’s revelation that he is selling the island makes a typical weekend visit by the Gillibry Bird Observatory Trust remarkable. A sale would be the end of the Observatory, which made life worthwhile for certain birders.

The misery was exacerbated by a fire in Charlie Todd’s cottage and when they discovered Charlie dead in a bird covert the next morning after a violent storm, their delightful September weekend took on a terrifying new hue. Any Trust member could have been responsible for Charlie Todd’s death. It’s up to one of their own, George Palmer-Jones, to figure out who the killer is among them.

13. Murder In Paradise (1988)

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 192 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1988
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781447289074

When the groom’s sister slips and tumbles to the hazardous cliffs below, the happy celebrations take a terrible turn…

Jim and Sarah were greeted with a great party as they returned from their honeymoon on the Scottish island of Kinness, with the entire island present to witness the occasion. However, it seems that Jim’s younger sister Mary was coerced to attend the function and when she slips and tumbles down the cliff, the happy celebration takes a terrible turn.

George Palmer-Jones, a retired birdwatcher, and amateur investigator suspected the incident was not an accident. However, to prove it would be difficult because no one wanted to upset the island’s delicate balance. There were obviously secrets being kept buried, and George, with Sarah’s help, began piecing together a tragic tale he hoped he’d never heard – Kinness was a paradise that has actually vanished.

14. A Prey To Murder

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 184 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1989
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781447289081

The scene was dominated by a massive and strong hawk. Its talons punctured the woman’s skin, and its beak pointed in the direction of her eyes. George Palmer-Jones, an ornithologist and amateur investigator, is particularly shocked by the sight, as he was an old friend of the victim, Eleanor Masefield.

George and his wife Molly are staying at Eleanor’s family-run hotel, and while George thinks Eleanor is a lovely widow, Molly has different ideas. Is Molly envious? Or was Eleanor more like a black widow, a cunning manipulator of those trapped in her web? Will Molly be able to prove it in time to save another life? Find out in this mystery novel.

15. Another Man’s Poison

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 208 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1992
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781447289005

Molly Palmer-Jones comes to her aunt Ursula’s house one morning to see her lifeless body slumped on the sofa. Prior to this incident, her landlord, politician Marcus Grenville, wants Ursula Ottway’s lovely cottage so he may turn it into a vacation home. When Ursula learns that the illegal use of poisoned bait on Grenville’s land has killed not just a rare bird of prey but also her two beloved kittens, she dashes over to his house and swears vengeance.

Molly and her husband George are shocked and heartbroken to discover Ursula’s body the morning after the conflict. They decide to piece together a picture of Ursula’s final days. During the course of the search, it becomes evident that her death was incredibly handy for many on the estate.

The Palmer-Joneses start an investigation into a murder, but even their professional knowledge isn’t enough to prepare them for what comes next because before this killer can be brought to justice, a lifetime’s worth of secrets must be revealed.

16. Sea Fever

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 192 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1993
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781447288992

A rare and unrecorded sea bird catches everyone’s interest as the most ardent birder of them all vanishes right in front of their eyes. Greg Franks’ body is later discovered floating in the sea, with his head bludgeoned. Amateur detective George Palmer-Jones would not have gone on the bird-watching expedition in Cornwall in the first place if it hadn’t been for Greg Franks.

Greg Franks’ worried parents had engaged him to persuade their prodigal son to return home. George would have politely declined the case, but the offer of a free weekend of bird watching was too good to pass up. He now has the unenviable task of determining why the young man was slain.

17. The Mill On The Shore (1994)

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 224 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1994
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781447288978

Meg Morrissey is adamant that her husband James did not commit suicide.
James was ecstatic because his long-awaited autobiography had finally been completed. He didn’t leave a note of suicide, even more curiously, his greatest opus, the record of his life’s environmental success, has vanished. Meg is concerned, so she enlists the help of amateur detectives George and Molly Palmer-Jones.

The detectives quickly discover that life in the Morrissey household is not as lovely as it appears — Meg’s relationship with ex-wife Cathy is not as cordial as she claims, and James appears to have fallen in love with another woman. Did he unearth a secret so dangerous that someone was willing to kill for it? To figure out who would have wanted James dead, George and Molly must piece together the missing bits of information in this mystery drama.

18. High Island Blues

  • Genre: Mystery
  • Paperback volume: 240 pages
  • Original publishing date: 1996
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN: 9781447289036

Rob, Oliver, and Mick reunite as old college friends on a bird-watching trip to America. It’s the first time the three have been together in twenty years, since their tragic trip to America, where they encountered the mysterious Laurie. The tour group is looking for great views at High Island on the Upper Texas coast, but Mick is discovered dead as the rain pours down and the birds descend.

Back in the UK, private investigators, George and Molly Palmer-Jones are working on a minor fraud case involving Brownscombe Associates. However, when George receives a desperate international call from his friend Rob, he jumps on the first plane to Texas. His investigations got even more complicated when a second body is discovered.

Inspector Ramsay Books in Order

Another interesting collection by the brilliant English writer is the Inspector Ramsay book series which is set in the English county of Northumberland. The series begins when Inspector Ramsay is investigating the murder of the village’s headmaster: Harold Medburn. Suddenly, the village seems unfamiliar and uncomfortable. The first story would eventually birth several other thrilling cases Inspector Ramsay would have to handle in Ann Cleeves’ subsequent works:

The order in which the books were released are:

  • A Lesson In Dying (1990)
  • Murder In My Backyard (1991)
  • A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy (1992)
  • Killjoy (1993)
  • The Healers (1995)
  • The Baby Snatcher (1997)

Shetland Island Books in Order

The story takes place in the remote Scottish Shetland Isles. Detective Perez and his colleagues are involved in investigations that lead to them becoming entwined with the island community. They are investigating mysterious happenings, murders, and the secrets of Scotland’s most northern community.

The books in this series include:

  • Raven Black (2006)
  • White Nights (2008)
  • Red Bones (2009)
  • Blue Lightning (2010)
  • Dead Water (2013)
  • Thin Air (2014)
  • Cold Earth (2016)
  • Wild Fire (2018)

Shetland Island Non-Fiction Book

This book is an illustrated companion to the popular series of novels. It takes readers through a year on Shetland, learning about its past, meeting its people, celebrating its festivals, and seeing how the flora and fauna of the islands changes with the seasons.

  • Ann Cleeves’ Shetland (2015)

Two Rivers Books in Order

Ann Cleeves
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In her latest series, Ann Cleeves introduces readers to Detective Matthew Venn. The detective thought he had left the evangelical community of his childhood behind for good, but he finds himself back home to attend his father’s funeral in the first book: “The Long Call”. The account of Venn’s stay, extended when a case requires him to investigate a dead body that washed ashore on a nearby beach which turned into a powerful series debut.

  • The Long Call (2019)
  • The Heron’s Cry (2021)

More Ann Cleeves Books in Order

Below are other books by Ann Cleeves that do not fall in the aforementioned series:

Standalone Novels

  • The Sleeping and the Dead (2001)
  • Burial Of Ghosts (2003)

Short Stories

  • A Winter’s Tale (1992)
  • The Harmless Pursuits of Archibald Stamp (1995)
  • Sad Girls (2001)
  • The Plater (2001)
  • A Rough Guide to Tanga (2002)
  • Games for Winter (2003)
  • Owl Wars (2004)
  • The Midwife’s Assistant (2005)
  • Basic Skills (2006)
  • Going Back (2007)
  • The Soothmoothers (2010)
  • Beastly Pleasures (2010)
  • Hector’s Other Woman (2011)
  • Mud (2011)
  • The Habit of Silence (2011)
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous (2012)
  • The Harmless Pursuits of Archibald Stamp (2013)
  • Secrets of Soil (2013)
  • The Spinster (2014)
  • The Pirate(2014)
  • Stranded (2014)
  • The Writer-in-Residence (2014)
  • The Starlings (2015)
  • Dreaming of Rain and Peter Lovesey (2016)
  • The Queen of Mystery (2017)
  • The Return (2017)
  • Moses and the Locked Tent Mystery (2018)
  • Written in Blood (2020)
  • Wild Swimming (2021)
  • The Girls on the Shore (2022)


  • The Library Book (2012)
  • The Starlings & Other Stories (2015)
  • Crime Writers: A Decade of Crime (2016)
  • Bloody Scotland (2019)
  • Many Deadly Returns (2021)

Who Is Ann Cleeves?

Ann Cleeves
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Cleeves is a British mystery fiction author who was born in 1954 in England and grew up in the countryside. What makes her so special is her ability to keep her readers intrigued and wanting to learn more. Her literary abilities have been demonstrated numerous times since the publication of her first novel, “A Bird in the Hand”, in 1986.

It is also gathered that Cleeves met her husband while working as a cook at a bird observatory on Fair Isle. They became the only residents of Hilbre, a small island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary, after their marriage. However, she is currently widowed and lives in the serene environment of Whitley Bay in North-East England. Ann also has 2 daughters from her marriage.

From what was gathered, Cleeves turned to write as she had a lack of interest in birds and was in seclusion during her days with her husband in Hilbre. Her passion would eventually turn into a full-blown career. She has since written 32 novels, with over five million copies sold. More so the Criminal Writers’ Association awarded Cleeves the Diamond Dagger, the highest honor in British crime writing, in 2017.

Are There Ann Cleeves Books Adapted Into Movies?

Ann Cleeves’ works have been adapted for television several times. The first of her books turned into a movie was “Vera”, which is adapted from her Vera Stanhope series. There are 10 seasons, with the 11th currently in progress.

Her “Shetland Island” novels have also been made into a television show with 6 seasons completed and a 7th in the works. Shetland is the short title by which the how is known. More so, The Long Call”, the first book in her “Two Rivers” book series, has been adapted for television. In October of 2021, the first season premiered and other interesting sequels might just follow suit.

Other Recognition Ann Cleeve Has Garnered

Apart from her books being turned into movies, Cleeves has gotten other several top-notch recognition. She won the prestigious Ducan Lawrie Dagger in 2006 for her brilliant work in “Raven Black”. More so, in 2015 as she got shortlisted for the author’s body of work in the British libraries for the Dagger courtesy of the Library UK Crime Writers’ Association Award.

Cleeves also received the Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2017 from the Crime Writers’ Association for her excellent crime fiction. In 2022, the prolific English writer was honored by being appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Tyna G
Tyna G
Tyna is passionate about sharing authentic news and giving her readers great content. Apart from writing, she is a music enthusiast who enjoys watching good movies


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