Ann Cleeves’ Bookshelf

Ever wondered what your favourite authors are reading? This week, we find out what Ann Cleeves has on her bookshelf!

Where’s your bookcase located and what does it look like?

There are bookcases all over the house, but this one is in my kitchen.  There are two sets of shelves built on either side of the chimney breast and the light comes in through the glass doors into the garden.  Underneath the shelves are the toys and books belonging to my grandchildren.  This is the room where we cook and eat and where the children play when they visit.  It’s a good room for parties.

What’s in it?

Some of the books are double-shelved so it’s hard to get a clear picture.  There are classics left over from my student days.  A set of ancient novels of Smollett, given to me by friends for my twentieth birthday.  Some poetry.  But mostly crime fiction.  The green Penguin paperbacks that first brought me to the genre.  And the translated crime fiction, which has been my reading passion for the last ten years.  I notice too that some of my husband’s natural history books have encroached into my space…

What kind of books will definitely not be found in your bookcase?

There will be very few books with pink covers. 

What’s your favourite place to read?

Anywhere!  On trains and buses and planes.  Always in bed before I go to sleep.  And here in the kitchen, sitting in the rocking chair by the window.

What book impressed you the most?

Ah, this is so difficult.  Perhaps I’ll go back to my teenage years.  It’s wonderful to be impressed when you’re a teenager. I loved Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain Fournier, which I read in French in school.  It’s a perfect book for an adolescent.  It has everything –first love, atmosphere, loss.

What book did you read more than once?

If I’m miserable or ill I return to Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.  It’s real comfort reading – not a great detective story, but the relationship between Harriet and Peter is beautifully written.  And it reminds me of Oxford.  I go to the St Hilda’s Crime and Mystery Conference there every summer and play at being a student.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading Peter Robinson’s latest novel Before the Poison.  He and I will be in conversation at the Richmond Book Festival later this month, so I wanted to catch up with his most recent work.  I’ve just started it, but it’s a stand-alone novel with the feel of a ghost story.

What book did you give last as a present and to whom?

A couple of days ago I gave a copy of Paul Magrs book 666 Charing Cross Road to a close friend of mine.  She’s going through a hard time and I thought it would cheer her up.  It’s a wild and witty adult fairy tale, set in New York and London, with witches and vampires.  Great fun.

The latest book by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves is Silent Voices, the fourth novel-length adventure of her brilliant but erratic detective DI Vera Stanhope, now available in paperback. It finds Vera in a most unexpected location, the sauna room of her local gym. At first she thinks that the room’s other occupant is just relaxing, but soon she realises that even here, she has stumbled across a murder! The Bookseller praised Silent Voices for its “ingenious plotline” and “thrilling and unexpected finale.” Silent Voices, adapted by Gaby Chiappe, will be televised as the third film of the new series of VERA.