Northumberland’s Vera crowned nation’s favourite detective

DCI Vera Stanhope, the nation's top detective.
DCI Vera Stanhope, the nation's top detective.

A fictional detective who covers Northumberland, has been crowned the nation’s favourite detective.

DCI Vera Stanhope, the main character in the novels by Ann Cleeves and subsequently the star of the major ITV series, won the Lee Child Award for Best Loner or Detective in the Dead Good Reader Awards.

The cranky and disheveled star of Ann Cleeves’ bestselling novels and ITV’s major drama series starring Brenda Blethyn, has triumphed over characters created by J.K. Rowling and Ian Rankin to win the title of the nation’s favourite detective.

The winners of the inaugural Dead Good Books awards were announced on Friday at the annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime

Writing Festival in Harrogate, the world’s biggest celebration of the crime genre, of which Cleeves is also the programming chair.

Ann said: “I am thrilled that Vera has won. I developed Vera because at the time there were few strong, believable female protagonists in crime fiction. I wanted someone true, real and relatable, so I created Vera Stanhope.

“She grew out of the strong spinsters I knew as a child: competent, formidable and without a trace of glamour. She’s middle-aged, over-weight and if I was in trouble I’d want her on my side.”

Vera has been winning hearts for her quirky ways since she first appeared in Cleeves’ novel, The Crow Trap in 1999, and, with the sixth series of ITV’s Vera airing in 2016, her victory on such a prestigious shortlist cements the fact that Vera is one of Britain’s best-loved fictional detectives.

Star of ITV’s Vera, Brenda Blethyn, attended the awards and both her and Cleeves accepted the award from the host, Lee Child, at the ceremony held at Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival The Old Swan in Harrogate.

The winner of the nation’s favourite detective was decided by a public vote via the crime fiction website, Dead Good, and over 4,000 votes had been received from online readers and festival-goers.