Ann Cleeves’ books make for a great read, and the best way to get into her novels is by reading them in order. She writes awesome and atmospheric thriller books which are ideal for a cold and cozy winter night with a book and a cup of coffee by the fire.
Cleeves is most famously known for the Versa Stanhope and Shetland Island series. However, she has written much more than just these two series, and there are plenty of books she may have written that you have never heard of. Today, we are going to talk you through a full list of all the books written so far.
About Ann Cleeves Books
Before we get into detail about Ann Cleeves and her books, knowing more about the author is always beneficial. Ann Cleeves is a British author who is best appreciated for her crime fiction works. Born in England back in 1954, she grew up in the English countryside.
Her work is best appreciated for keeping readers hooked, interested, and intrigued, wanting to learn more. This is part of what makes her and her writing unique. Her writing has been proven to be brilliant repeatedly since the release of her first book.
Cleeves met her husband at a bird observatory, after their marriage they became the only live-in residents on a natural reserve on a small island in the Dee Estuary. Living in near total isolation and with little interest in birds, she started writing.
Since then, she has written 32 books and sold over 5 million copies. Her books have even received TV adaptations. The first is Vera which was adapted into a TV series from her Vera Stanhope series to which there are 12 seasons.
Her Shetland novels were also turned into a TV show, simply titled ‘Shetland’. Then, the first book of the ‘Two Rivers’ series she published has also been adapted under its book title ‘The Long Call’. The first season of ‘Two Rivers’ premiered in late 2021.
Ann Cleeves also has received awards for her writing, including the ‘Diamond Dagger’ from the Crime Writers Association. This has to be the tallest honor in crime writing in the United Kingdom and speaks volumes for her writing.
Vera Stanhope Book Series
The series ‘Vera Stanhope’ by Ann Cleeves is a detective novel series that follows the cases and life of Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope.
Vera Stanhope has made it her life mission to take on some of the most challenging cases of crime in Northumberland. This series is a fan favorite and probably the most popular of all Ann Cleeves series.
- The Crow Trap
- Telling Tales
- Hidden Depths
- Silent Voices
- The Glass Room
- Harbour Street
- The Moth Catcher
- The Seagull
- The Darkest Evening
- The Rising Tide
- The first popular series by Ann Cleeves gives insight into her writing style.
- Gripping series, a favorite by many crime-thriller fans.
- A TV adaptation is available.
- TV adaptation available – Some may prefer TV over the books.
- Long series, 11 books in total.
Palmer-Jones Book Series
The Palmer-Jones series is set in Norfolk in England. The first novel in this series actually was the debut for Ann Cleeves (even though most of us would think it would be the ‘Vera’ series.) and her career as an author started here.
This series centers around Molly and George Palmer-Jones, who are an older couple that enjoys spending most of their time traveling the English countryside watching birds.
Yet, their first quiet and peaceful trip ends up a mystery as the Norfolk coast sees a rise in criminal activity. This is a very popular series amongst Ann Cleeves fans as it is seen as the beginning of her life as an author.
- A Bird In The Hand
- Come Death And High Water
- Murder In Paradise
- A Prey To Murder
- Another Man’s Poison
- Sea Fever
- The Mill On The Shore
- High Island Blues
- A mix of bird watching and murder.
- Unique series.
- Authentic characters and a good mystery.
- The series starts quite slowly.
- A lot of ‘birding’ information inside the story.
Order For Inspector Ramsay Books
This series, Inspector Ramsay, is set in the Northumberland County in England. It starts off when Inspector Ramsay begins the investigation of Harold Medburn, the village’s headmaster.
But, all of a sudden, the village becomes uncomfortable and unfamiliar. This series is a favorite of many fans due to its uniqueness from Ann Cleeves’ other series.
- A Lesson In Dying
- Murder In My Backyard
- A Day In The Death of Dorothea Cassidy
- The Healers
- The Baby Snatcher
- Suspenseful storytelling.
- Unique and clever plot.
- Perhaps not as gripping as the Vera and Shetland series.
- Some readers find the end of the series less gripping than the start.
Order For Shetland Island Books
The Shetland Island books take place on the Scottish Shetland Isles. The story is told through the involvement of Detective Perez and his colleagues in a series of investigations that lead them into deep intertwining with the community of the island.
They work hard to investigate a series of mysterious occurrences, secrets of the island, and even murders in this most Northern community in Scotland.
- Raven Black
- White Nights
- Red Bones
- Blue Lightning
- Dead Water
- Thin Air
- Too Good To Be True
- Cold Earth
- Wild Fire
- Great storytelling and descriptions.
- Popular series.
- TV adaptation.
- Readers find the series to be gripping.
- Some readers find the ending disappointing.
- TV adaptation some may choose over the books.
- Slow story.
Non-Fiction Shetland Island Books
This is an illustrated book that works as a companion to the popular Shetland series by Ann Cleeves. Readers who open this book will find themselves taken on a year-long adventure through Shetland.
This book talks about the past of the island, its inhabitants, the festivals celebrated there, and exploring the flora and fauna of the island and how it changes with the seasons.
As Shetland is a real island on which Ann Cleeves bases one of her most famous book series, this book makes for a nice and unique additional touch to the series for those interested and willing to learn more about the real island.
This book is not to everyone’s taste since it is non-fiction, but for those who found the descriptions and scenery in her Shetland series invigorating and peaceful, learning about the true island is a fantastic way to indulge.
- Great way to explore the island of the Shetland series in more real depth.
- Non-fiction addition to the gripping fiction series.
- Illustrated book.
- Non-fiction (not appealing to all readers).
- More expensive than non-fiction books.
- Not available in every format.
Order For Two Rivers Books
This is the latest series for Ann Cleeves, she introduces the readers to detective Matthew Venn, a new character who has one hell of a backstory. Detective Venn thought that he had left the evangelical community of his childhood behind forever.
However, he ends up back home, where he thought he would never go again, for his father’s funeral in the first book of the series. Following Venn’s stay his time in the community ends up extended when a case opens, and he needs to investigate a dead body that has washed up ashore on a beach nearby.
The first book makes for a very powerful debut for the series. We are sure there will be more to this series as time goes on.
- Unique story by Ann Cleeves.
- Attractive new read for fans of Ann Cleeves’ books.
- Intriguing protagonist.
- A lot of topical tropes.
- The second book touches on a controversial topic.
- Some topics may be subjective depending on the nationality of the reader in some cases.
Standalone Novels Order By Ann Cleeves
Ann Cleeves has two standalone novels. The first is ‘The Sleeping and The Dead’. The Sleeping and The Dead is an intense psychological thriller. The story covers Detective Peter Porteous who is called to Cranwell Lake where a teenager’s body has been found.
After having gone through a missing person’s list, Porteous concludes that the body is that of Michael Grey, a secretive but enigmatic young man who was reported missing in 1972 by his foster parents.
A new report is shown stating that the body has been found, this shocks Hannah Morton, a prison officer, as Michael and her had dated, and she was with him the night that he went missing. This discovery brings back some buried and dreaded memories from the past.
Burial of Ghosts is a real page-turner. The book is set in Morocco, ideally, the perfect escape. It is based around 25-year-old Lizzie who has a lot of struggles. Abandoned as a baby, moving between foster homes as a child, and now wants to run from her past in Morocco.
All seems good when she meets Philip, another tourist, who distracts her from her woes. She enjoys her holiday and returns home to a solicitors letter. It would seem that Philip has passed away, and in his will, he left Lizzie £15,000, however, there are conditions.
These conditions to this very unexpected legacy end up forcing Lizzie to confront some truly terrifying secrets of her past. Some things are better off staying buried!
Both of these standalone stories make for fantastic reading, and if you enjoy Ann Cleeves, but do not want to face the task of tackling a whole series, then these standalone novels will intrigue and fascinate you.
- Thrilling standalone novels.
- Not part of a series, making them ideal for readers who prefer one-off books.
- Different ‘foreign’ scenery.
- Different from Ann Cleeves’ other novels.
- Standalone, no follow-up.
- Not as popular.
Ann Cleeves Short Stories Books In Order
This short story is an interesting one and covers a topic that most of us would never think we would get to read. In this, Ann Cleeves tells us the story of a bored housewife who is willing to do anything to meet their favorite writer.
The housewife, a protagonist haunted by boredom, dull dinner parties, and tidying the home while keeping her husband happy is finally met with the opportunity to meet her favorite author, Peter Lovesey.
However, as thrilled as she is, her husband changes their plans at the last minute. Whatever will she do? Those who have read this short story coin it as being traditional Ann Cleaves.
However, sadly, it would seem that it is somewhat hard to get your hands on, as it is not available in every country, and it is not available on traditional sites.
- Unique and different plot.
- Short but thrilling.
- A writer writing about being a fan of a writer.
- Not available in every location.
- Not currently available in the U.S.
Ann Cleeves Anthology Books In Order
Ann Cleeves has also participated in multiple anthologies as well, 5 altogether. The first Ann Cleeves contributed to is ‘The Library Book’ by The Reading Agency. This book contains multiple authors all talking about the way in which libraries are used, and why libraries are so important.
The second anthology book that Ann Cleeves contributed to is ‘The Starlings & Other Stories: A Murder Squad & Accomplices Anthology’. This book was written by the ‘Murder Squad’, however, it was edited by Ann Cleeves.
This means that while you do not necessarily get a taste of Ann Cleeves in this book, she still contributed to this piece of writing and is very deeply involved in it. The third anthology book that Ann Cleeves contributed to was the ‘Crime Writers: A Decade Of Crime’ book.
This is an anthology of amazing stories by some of the best and most successful crime writers the world has ever seen. Ann Cleeves has a story in here amongst others such as Mark Billingham, Harlen Coben, Steve Mosby, and more. The only downside of this book is that it does not seem to be available in the U.S.
The fourth anthology book that Ann Cleeves made a contribution to was ‘Bloody Scotland’. This is a collection of twelve of the most famous Scottish crime authors, as they bring out the more sinister side of the country and its architecture in chilling stories.
The land has often been described as being haunting, full of misty moors, and a land of literary genius, but also a land of brutal crimes, murders, robbery, and child abuse. Many authors contributed to this haunting word picture of Scotland, including Ann Cleeves.
Finally, Ann Cleeves also contributed to ‘Many Deadly Returns’. This is another book by Murder Squad, which is a group of award-winning mystery and crime authors. This book includes stories by Martin Edwards, Margaret Murphy, Kate Ellis, and, of course, Ann Cleeves, among others.
Many Deadly Returns is full of 21 short, sharp, terrifying tales that show off the talent of Murder Squad and invigorate any and all crime-thriller fans.
- The Library Book
- The Starlings & Other Stories
- Crime Writers: A Decade of Crime
- Bloody Scotland
- Many Deadly Returns
- A chance to discover new crime authors.
- Unique and short stories make for quick reading.
- Not solely the works of Ann Cleeves.
- Crime Writers: A Decade of Crime is not available everywhere.
- Anthology books are not to every reader’s taste.
For those who are a fan of the British writer, Ann Cleeves, there is a chance you are well acquainted with most of her famous books, however, every author has hidden titles. In this list, I have uncovered every work of Ann Cleeves for super fans who want to uncover more about their favorite writer.
However, if you are simply a fan of the genre and do not know where to look for your next literary addiction, Ann Cleeves is a great place to start, her works are fantastic, terrifying, and addictive.
Note that not every single one of her books is available in every country, and there are a few minor works and contributions of hers which are only available in the United Kingdom and Australia, however, I hope that they will soon make it to U.S. soil.
Superfan, crime fan, or new fan, if you are looking for your next page-by-page addiction, I hope that this list has helped you find the next book for you to sink your teeth into!
Frequently Asked Questions
Should Vera Books Be Read In Order?
The best approach to any Ann Cleeves novel is to read them in order. Thrillers by English author Ann Cleeves are always written and published in chronological order per series, however, you do not need to read different series in any particular order.
Where To Start With Ann Cleeves?
Any fan would recommend starting with Ann Cleeves’ most famous series, the ‘Vera’ series. Doing so means you should start with ‘The Crow Trap’, followed by ‘Telling Tales’, and so on, reading this series in chronological order.
Why Does Vera Always Wear A Hat?
If you have watched the Vera series, but not read the books, it should be noted that in the books Vera has a skin condition meaning it’s hard for her to go in the sun as she has a reaction. The TV bosses chose not to explain this as the hat is a ‘nod’ of sorts to the details of the book series.
Why Did Ann Cleeves Stop Writing Shetland?
Ann Cleeves, the author of ‘Shetland’ was asked why she stopped writing the series, her response was that it was too painful to continue writing after the abrupt passing of her husband.
Ann’s husband ‘Tim’, passed away in 2017, and had been a critical part of the success of the book series. Hence, the pain.
Who Writes Like Ann Cleeves?
If you enjoy Ann Cleeves’ writing, you might also enjoy books by Deborah Crombie, a Texas writer who has won multiple awards for her mystery novels.
It is recommended that if you enjoyed ‘The Long Call’ by Ann Cleeves, you should try out ‘No Mark Upon Her’ by Deborah Crombie.
Which Ann Cleeves Books Have Been Made Into TV Series?
Ann Cleeves’ most successful series, the Vera Stanhope novels became the TV series ‘Vera’, while the Jimmy Perez series became the TV series Shetland.
Also, recently, the Matthew Venn books (‘The Long Call’) has also been turned into a TV Series by the same name, which only premiered in more recent years and is ongoing as the book series is still being written.