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The Moth Catcher (Vera Stanhope #7)
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The Moth Catcher > Question #2: Vera Stanhope

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

On page 7 we're introduced to Vera Stanhope, the Detective Inspector on the case of the murders. Percy Douglas describes Vera:

“He wondered how her knees managed the weight of her on the deep step down to the tarmac. She was big. No beauty. Bad skin and bad clothes, but lovely eyes. Brown like conkers."

We learn a bit more about her character on page 117:

“A bit of a monster, I thought, but clever. She makes you think that she’s really stupid, then comes out with a question that surprises you because it’s so perceptive.”

In what way do you think Vera’s character sets the tone for this double murder mystery?


Sheila (sheilaj) It seemed to me that there are an awful lot of references to her weight and general dumpiness. I'm kind of surprised at that since this is the 7th book in the series and her character is well established by this point.

She is certainly conscious of her appearance as well as she makes comments about herself. Has Holly go up the stairs ahead of her. Searches the bathroom and glances quickly away from the mirror, etc.

But she is not afraid to use her clout as a DI to get what she wants and that includes going to the crime scene herself on a nice sunny day instead of being stuck in her office where I suppose she is supposed to be.


message 3: by Shirley (last edited Oct 10, 2017 07:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shirley Mytnowych | 57 comments Mod
Hi Everyone; I'm thrilled to welcome Sheila and Vicki to our discussion!
I read a lot of suspense thrillers and I find that the character of the main Investigator can make or break the story for me. In this case, Vera makes it for me. Especially in series, I find if I care about the Investigator, I look forward to reading more.

Vera is described to have what the author perceives as faults, which makes it easy to relate to her, perhaps because she is not deemed as perfect. She has quirks and a dry sense of humour, but you can just sense that she is wise and not easily fooled.
Another series I recently came to adore because of the investigator was the John Cardinal series which was also aired on TV as a mini-series, Books 1 & 2. I hear that another installment is in the works based on Books 4 & 5.
I'm loving Vera so much that I know this will not be my last read by Ann Cleeves. I haven't decided yet if I want to watch the Series on TV as I like Vera just the way she is in my imagination and I don't want her to change.


Sheila (sheilaj) Shirley I think the tv Vera is very true to the written character. That is what makes the show.

I always welcome recommendations but sadly my library doesn't have any of the John Cardinal series. sniff. Was the tv show called John Cardinal?


Shirley Mytnowych | 57 comments Mod
Hi Sheila, the series was called Cardinal;
https://www.ctv.ca/Cardinal

The series was based on books written by a Canadian author, Giles Blunt. They are worth a try if you can get your hands on some.


Sheila (sheilaj) Thanks Shirley. I was hoping I could stream that but guess not. I was able to find the first book in the series for kindle though so I will have to check it out.


Shirley Mytnowych | 57 comments Mod
The closer I get to finishing the book, the more I get to know Vera. I really like the paragraph on page 252 when it's suggested to Vera that she move south;
“Nah!” She looked at him as if he was mad. “Not here. It’s too far from the sea.” She paused for a moment and tried to work out why she was so horrified at the prospect of living in the middle of the country. “I never feel safe away from the edge.”

I had to pause and think about the symbolism of that comment. I think it shows that Vera always likes to think that she has an escape route, that she's not surrounded. She's probably one that sits in a restaurant where she can see everyone and close to the exit. In a gathering of people, she's always near the perimeter.
Does anyone else have thoughts about that paragraph?


Sheila (sheilaj) I agree with your assessment Shirley but I also get that "on the edge" could also refer to the excitement of living on the edge where everything happens. If that makes any sense.

You are further than I am and I am listening to the audiobook.


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I think I had the same interpretation of "the edge" as Sheila. Vera referred several times to not being able to imagine being retired - she wouldn't know what to do with herself. She thrives on the adrenaline of these investigations. But I think you're onto something, Shirley. Vera is a real loner. I don't think she's comfortable with lots of people in a social situation, so she would want to be on the perimeter. She's fine when she's in control; when she's the boss at their briefings meetings, for example. I think she'd be uncomfortable, however, with those same people in a room socially.

Some people love living near water; perhaps Vera does too, but she expresses it differently.


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Sheila wrote: "It seemed to me that there are an awful lot of references to her weight and general dumpiness. I'm kind of surprised at that since this is the 7th book in the series and her character is well estab..."

I really found all the references to Vera's weight to be disheartening and sometimes cruel. I'm not sure what the author's motivation is for repeating herself in that regard. I haven't read the other books in the series, but perhaps more insight is given in the first books about Vera's weight. I'm also not sure if there's a British sensibility about her weight that just wouldn't be appreciated in North America. Maybe I'm being too politically correct, but I wish there weren't so many references to Vera's weight in the book. She's obviously an accomplished woman and that should be celebrated.


message 11: by Sheila (last edited Oct 11, 2017 12:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila (sheilaj) You know who came to mind when envisioning Vera? Susan Boyle the singer.

I just listened to a passage that mentioned being online and Vera wondering if her social awkwardness might lead to basically living online after retirement.

Do we know how old Vera is supposed to be?


Shirley Mytnowych | 57 comments Mod
I agree with you both regarding the comments about her weight - I struggle with weight issues and it makes me feel uncomfortable to hear it repeated with such negative connotations. I picture Vera to be in her late 50's or maybe 60?


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Shirley wrote: "I agree with you both regarding the comments about her weight - I struggle with weight issues and it makes me feel uncomfortable to hear it repeated with such negative connotations. I picture Vera ..."
I agree with that age range, Shirley. And let's hear it for being kind about people's weight!


Vicki I appreciate Vera's dedication to her work (p23 And nothing made her feel as alive as murder.) But she appears to be fleetingly looking ahead to some kind of retirement; putting herself in the hedonists' place then discarding the idea. I think Vera has few illusions about who she is and what are her gifts and contributions.


message 15: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Patrick | 57 comments Mod
Sheila wrote: "You know who came to mind when envisioning Vera? Susan Boyle the singer.

I just listened to a passage that mentioned being online and Vera wondering if her social awkwardness might lead to basical..."


That is how I saw her! Grumpy and disillusioned, however extremely smart. Whatever her nature thought she get the job done, despite her surly nature.


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