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  • The Long Call

    A new serialized novel by Ann Cleeves, exclusively for AARP members


    A new serialized novel by Ann Cleeves, exclusively for AARP members

Dear Reader,

This is a new character and a new series. Having worked with Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez for so long, I feel nervous introducing Matthew Venn to you, almost like a teenager bringing a new girlfriend or boyfriend home for the first time. I hope that you’ll like him, despite his lack of confidence and his awkwardness in company.

The Long Call takes me back to North Devon, where I spent much of my childhood. It grew out of a visit to a schoolfriend, walks round old haunts, discussions about the people we knew. I’d forgotten quite how beautiful the place is, but sometimes beauty is skin deep, and it’s that contrast which interests me most. As with Shetland and Northumberland, there’s so much to reveal about the area and the people who live there.

Creating a new character and a new setting is always challenging and I hope that you will come to love Matthew and North Devon as much I have enjoyed creating them.

Thanks and all best wishes, 


A Slow-Burn Mystery

Serialization — releasing a book in sequential installments, often in magazines and newspapers — has been used to build suspense for hundreds of years. For The Long Call, serialization takes advantage of the natural chapter arcs — and helps build the mystery before unraveling it.

Every day two new chapters will become available here, culminating with the release of the final three chapters of the novel on Oct. 22. Click on the table of contents below to see the upcoming schedule and scroll down the page to see a brief introduction of the chapters that are available to read now.


book jacket ann cleeves the long call with sketch of author

Ann Cleeves Delivers Suspense and Secrets 

British crime author brings readers a new series, set of characters in 'The Long Call'

watercolor painting of a dead body lying on the ground

Chapters 1 & 2

The day they found the body on the shore, Matthew Venn was already haunted by thoughts of death and dying.  Continue reading

the last call chapters 3 and 4

Chapters 3 & 4

The woman had the door of the toll keeper’s cottage open almost before they’d got out of the car. There was something hungry, desperate, about her need for information.  Continue reading

watercolor of a building with a woodyard centre sign hanging

Chapters 5 & 6

When the police left, Gaby went  back to the kitchen and poured herself another glass of wine. She needed to pull herself together, to get her story straight before Caroline came in. Continue reading

3 candies labeled monday, tuesday, wednesday

Chapters 7 & 8

Maurice Braddick had got into the habit of watching television at breakfast time. When he was working there’d been no time for anything but a quick cup of tea ... Continue reading 

phone message machine I told you I would escape

Chapters 9 & 10

The Woodyard was a monument to Jonathan’s confidence and competence and Matthew regarded it with a mixture of pride and envy.  Continue reading 

glass being topped off at bar with soda water

Chapters 11 & 12

In the Woodyard kitchen, the working day was nearly over, the pans clean, the stainless-steel surfaces scrubbed. Continue reading

a sandwich on a table

Chapters 13 & 14

Matthew was in his office early the next morning. The sun was shining again on the mound of Castle Hill, making the grass look new and impossibly green. Continue reading

for sale sign in front of a home

Chapters 15 & 16

Maurice Braddick had decided he’d keep Lucy at home until [the] killer was caught. The police obviously believed the Woodyard was involved in some way in the murder ...  Continue reading

bird flying in sky carrying a key

Chapters 17 & 18

When Matthew left his mother and Susan in the damp little cottage by the marsh, he drove back to Barnstaple and parked outside the police station. Continue reading

street with buildings on the right

Chapters 19 & 20

After the evening's briefing in Barnstaple, Matthew was discouraged. He felt the old insecurity biting at his heels, telling him he was useless, an imposter in the role ...  Continue reading

hand on doorknob opening door

Chapters 21 & 22

Matthew was visiting Rosa Holsworthy and her parents when news came through that Jen had been right about Simon having another home of his own.  Continue reading

a man and woman at a dinner table with wine glasses

Chapters 23 & 24

Matthew left Jen in the hospital with Christine and started back to the police station. He would have liked to stay with the woman ...  Continue reading

a man with his hands out stretched

Chapters 25 & 26

Jen Rafferty was in the hospital. It was evening and the lights had been switched down. Christine had had a barrage of tests.  Continue reading

a hand hand on an envelope

Chapters 27 & 28

Jen Rafferty sat in the Shaplands' small, dark cottage, which seemed to have grown out of the marsh, listening to her boss’s husband ... Continue reading

three people walking on a beach with a bird flying overhead

Chapters 29 & 30

Gaby had agreed to spend the afternoon with Caz and her father, Christopher Preece. Gaby still wasn’t quite sure how she’d allowed herself to be talked into it.  Continue reading

many black fingerprints on a blue background

Chapters 31 & 32

On Saturday morning Matthew woke early. He’d gone to bed before the others and, wandering into the kitchen, he saw that they must have stayed up to load the dishwasher, clean the surfaces. Continue reading

a person walking down a busy city street

Chapters 33 & 34

Jen Rafferty had been enjoying her time at home with the kids. When they’d been younger she’d found it hard to deal with them after she’d been away at work for a while. Continue reading

a hand holding a pen signing a check

Chapters 35 & 36

Jen Rafferty sat in the Shaplands' cottage near the creek and eased her way carefully into a conversation with Christine and her mother. Continue reading

a green armchair with a purple jacket laying on it

Chapters 37 & 38

Matthew was surprised when he returned to the police station, to find that only forty minutes had passed. Continue reading

stormy clouds over a beach

Chapters 39 & 40

Jen moved along the dark lane, only aware of Ross because she could hear his footsteps. She'd never lived in a place ... Continue reading

a voice recorder

Chapters 41, 42 & 43

Jen Rafferty sat opposite Edward Craven in the interview room. It was chilly — the heating must be on a timer at weekends ...  Continue reading