I have finished the 103rd book for the book challenge. It was The Glass Room featuring Vera Stanhope by Ann Cleeves.
This mystery has Vera Stanhope involved in a murder that implicates her hippie neighbor Joanna. Joanna is participating in a seminar at the Writers’ House, a writers’ retreat nearby that features tutorials by published authors for aspiring writers.
Joanna is found holding a knife, standing in a room where one of the tutors has been found stabbed to death. Miranda, the owner of the Writers’ House, has found Tony Ferdinand, the tutor, and is screaming. Joanna is taken into custody and Vera is there already since she is looking for Joanna who has gone missing from her home that she shares with Jack. Vera is careful not to get too involved with Joanna since they are neighbors. But they find out that the knife Joanna is holding is not the knife that killed Tony Ferdinand.
The team questions the other writers at the Writers’ House–Lenny Thomas, Mark Winterton, Nina Backworth. Giles Rickard is also present, a friend of Joanna’s former husband. And the owner Miranda and her son Alex. Tony Ferdinand made promises to writers of getting their works published. But he didn’t make good on these promises.
Nina Backworth is one of the tutors. It is found that her sleeping pills were used to drug Tony Ferdinand before he was killed. She is now a suspect. She is horrified. She is published by a small publisher. She worked with Tony but had no love for him.
Vera learns that Joanna was abused when she was married to her former husband. She was also being treated for depression. She recently stopped taking her medications but has since resumed them. She has written about the abuse for the writers’ seminar.
The writer’s week continues and they give a reading of their works at a dinner. Jack arrives and disrupts the dinner. The reading continues.
Nina Backworth goes out to the patio the next morning. She sees the patio set exactly like she has describes it in a short story she has written for a crime story. And Miranda is dead. Her throat has been slashed.
The writers are questioned and allowed to go. Nina goes home to her house. One night, she hears footsteps in her house. She screams and hears a siren outside. The intruder leaves but leaves behind a bowl of apricots. He gained access by obtaining a key from her downstairs neighbor. She changes the locks.
Alex is also worried now that his mother has be killed. He goes into the chapel on the grounds of the Writers’ House and finds his mother’s cat dead with a knife in its stomach and a robin dead as well.
There is to be a memorial service for Miranda at the Writers’ House. Nina will say a few words and a book with the works of the writers is to be launched that night. All the writers will be there. In the meantime, Vera goes to the library at St. Ursula’s College where Miranda worked and where Tony also worked and where Nina works and makes some investigations of the writers.
At the end of the evening, Nina is taking the box of books to the chapel. She is confronted by the murderer. He is bent on killing her, too. But Vera and Joe are trying to break into the chapel to prevent the murder. Luckily, Holly is already there.
I won’t tell you who it is. Ann Cleeves, as usual, leaves us wondering until the very end who the murderer is. It isn’t obvious at all. Ann doesn’t give us all the clues, so we can’t solve the mystery for ourselves. But of course, Vera does. But Vera is almost too late to prevent the last murder.
This is a compelling read, very entertaining. There are a number of red herrings and false leads that are interesting. Ann Cleeves is a master of mystery.