the Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves (1999)
Rachael is going to do an environmental impact assessment on the site of proposed quarry on the North Pennines. When she comes to Baikie's Cottage, the lonely cottage on the end of the road, near the quarry, she goes searching for the next door neighbour, a friend of hers, Bella, but only discover that Bella has hanged herself, to be found by Rachael. Rachael is determined to find out the reason for the suicide as she believed Bella to be happy.
When the two other women who are going to help out arrive, Grace and Anne, the women don't seem to get along very well. They all have their secrets and find it hard to trust each other. And then Grace is found murdered.
This is the first book about the police detective Vera Stanhope, but she doesn't really enter the scene before almost half way in the book. And it was hard to get an outline of her personality as the book focused so much on the other characters. Not that it's a bad thing. I also love how Ann Cleeves has continued with the nature theme, although I didn't get quite the feel of the North Pennies as I did of Shetland in the previous books I have read.
I guess I have to give Vera another try later.