31 July 2009

Ann Cleeves and Colours

I had not realised, until I read Roberta Rood's post yesterday about Ann Cleeves, that the Shetland Quartet were not just held together by the unusual location, but by colours. Seeing the covers together like this, the penny dropped.

RAVEN BLACK, my rating 4.6
Set on Shetland. Magnus Tait, an elderly man living on his own, mentally slow, and once dominated by his mother, was thought by the islanders to have been responsible when a little girl disappeared a few years ago. Her body was never found. But now when Magnus's teenage neighbour Catherine Ross is found strangled, there are those who say that Tait must be the prime suspect, and that the police need look no further. The detective is Jimmy Perez, an islander himself, now living on Fair Isle, but he went to school on Shetland. A carefully constructed satisfying read.

WHITE NIGHTS, my rating 4.5
Macmillan, 2008, 392 pages, ISBN 978-0-230-01445-9

Shetland detective Jimmy Perez accompanies his friend Fran Hunter to an art exhibition when she and another local Bella are displaying their paintings. A tourist disrupts proceedings by collapsing to his knees and bursting into tears in front of one of Bella's paintings. The tourist appears to have amnesia and is carrying no identification. He gives Jimmy the slip but on the next day he is discovered dead, hanging from the rafters of shed near the Biddista jetty.

Once he has confirmed that this is murder then Jimmy has no alternative but to contact the police on the mainland, and then wait for their arrival. The dead man must have had some reason for coming to Lerwick but what is it? No one admits to recognising him.

This is #2 in Ann Cleeves promised Shetland "quartet". #1, RAVEN BLACK, won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger in 2006. Where RAVEN BLACK was set in mid winter, WHITE NIGHTS is set in mid summer. Again the murder mystery is a variant on the "locked room" scenario, taking place on Shetland where incomers are so noticeable, and memories are long.

I don't think WHITE NIGHTS is as good as RAVEN BLACK, but there is enough in the story to maintain interest, and Cleeves cleverly threads clues throughout the story, so that even at the end there are surprises.


Dorte H said...

Oh, I knew about her colour scheme. I am one of the readers who sent her suggestions for the title of Blue Lightning. Unfortunately she chose Shakespeare for her inspiration. - so I guess she´ll have to invite him to her launch, or whatever the prize was.

Heartbeatoz said...

Haven't really given these books much of a look in but you have piqued my interest so I may have to give them a go.


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