Vera Series 1 (2011)

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Episode 1 Hidden Depths : The detectives investigate two murders in which the victims have been placed in water and surrounded by flowers. Vera and sidekick Joe believe the culprit may be linked to a group of bird-watching friends, but despite their increasingly tangled and dysfunctional relationships, the twitchers seem determined to protect one another.

Episode 2 Telling Tales :  Following the suicide of Jeanie Long, the woman convicted of the murder of teenager Abigail Mantel 11 years earlier, new evidence comes to light exonerating her. DCI Vera Stanhope reinvestigates the case, but to find out who really killed Abigail, the detective must uncover the secrets of a close-knit community that is still coming to terms with the incident.

Episode 3 The Crow Trap :  A murder at a remote cottage in Northumberland takes DCI Vera Stanhope back to a place full of childhood memories and reminds her of an unsolved case from earlier in her career. Delving into the local politics surrounding a controversial proposal to dig a quarry, she and her team find motives in the unlikeliest of places – until they realise that the truth could be hidden within the land itself.

Episode 4 Little Lazarus : A woman is murdered in a hedgerow but her son survives the attack, only to fall beneath the ice of a frozen pond as he makes his escape. DCI Vera Stanhope wades in and drags him out, and against all the odds he pulls through. As the investigation into the mother’s killing unfolds, Vera finds a kindred spirit in the boy and comes to realise the key to solving the case lies deep in his memory.

Detective drama, starring Brenda Blethyn, David Leon, Wunmi Mosaku, Paul Ritter, Neil Armstrong, Gina McKee, Hugo Speer, Daniela Nardini, John Lynch, Kerry Fox and Sam Jarvis.

It’s seems my favourite story (Little Lazarus) of this series is not based on Ann Cleeves’s novels. Since she wrote only six with DCI Vera Stanhope, a fourth was adapted in the second series (Silent Voices) and a fifth in next year’s series (Harbour Street), all the other episodes are original screenplays written by different writers (Paul Rutman wrote 8 episodes, 3 being adaptations).

Vera Series 3 (2013)

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Episode 1 – Castles in the Air – Young physiotherapist Lizzie Faulkner is shot dead while enjoying a holiday at a luxury country retreat. The resulting murder investigation unearths betrayal, guilt and the desire for atonement – as Vera moves quickly to avoid another tragedy, and Joe tries to make amends with the demons of his past.

Episode 2 – Poster Child – Respected surgeon Dan Marsden is shot dead days before his retirement and his teenage daughters Mira and Karen are abducted. Joined by a new addition to the ranks, Vera investigates a mysterious parcel and a connection to the Iraq War as she races against time to catch the killer and save the girls. However, the case soon takes a violent and unexpected turn, striking at the heart of the team.

Episode 3 – Young Gods – The detective delves into the past of extreme sports enthusiast Gideon Frane after he plunges from a cliff in a ball of flames. A scan of the files reveals a long list of stalking complaints against an ex, and an anonymous letter to the victim spelling out Burn in Hell is linked to one of her friends. Aided by DC Shepherd and the newly appointed DC Edwards, the team tries to track down Gideon’s old gang to uncover a lifetime of bullying and an unexpected story of rough justice.

Episode 4 – Prodigal Son – The detective is brought in to investigate when a former Met police officer is stabbed to death outside a nightclub in Newcastle. The team initially suspects a crime of passion after it emerges the victim had recently rekindled his affair with his childhood sweetheart, whose husband has a history of violence. However, Vera uncovers evidence pointing to a more complex case involving inside information and the hostile takeover of a brewery. What did the deceased find out that cost him his life?

Crime drama, starring Brenda Blethyn, David Leon and Paul Ritter.

I’ve never read Ann Cleeves’s novels and it was my first Vera series. I really like those clever plots and the determined and compassionate DCI Vera Stanhope played by Brenda Blethyn.