20 March 2011

Review: MURDER IN PARADISE, Ann Cleeves

published Ballantine Books, 1989
214 pages
ISBN 0-449-1450-9
Source: I bought it secondhand

Publisher's Blurb
The honeymoon was over .. and Jim and his English bride, Sarah, had come home to Kinness to settle down. But first there was to be one huge celebration for the newlyweds, with the whole island present. And before the party was over, there would be a shockingly unexpected death. Somehow, in the dark of the night, Jim's young sister, Mary, slipped off Ellie's Head to the rocks below. A terrible end to a boisterously cheerful evening.
But did Mary fall, or was she pushed? George Palmer-Jones, retired birdwatcher and amateur detective, suspected the latter, but proving it would be difficult: no one wanted to upset the balance of the isalnd's ancient relationships.
Yet those with something to hide inevitably to to hide it, and George, helped by Sarah, began to piece together a tragic story he wished he had nver heard. Kinness was a paradise lost.

My take:
How could I resist it? I saw this title beckoning me on the shelves of a second hand book shop in Melbourne yesterday. The synergy with the title of this blog hit me.

I had already read one title (SEA FEVER - see mini-review below) in Ann Cleeves' Palmer-Jones series and had mentally marked it as a series I would enjoy reading more from. MURDER IN PARADISE is #3 in the series, and George has recently retired from the public service, and not at all sure he will have enough to occupy him. He comes to the northerly island of Kinness to do some twitching (bird watching), but normally he would have his wife Molly with him.

Investigating Mary's death almost comes as a relief for George, as it gives him something to do. The island is small, only 3 miles long, and 2 miles wide; just a few families, divided into a couple of clans that don't get on terribly well, and so we have the equivalent of a locked room mystery. The murderer can't easily get off the island, so it is very likely one of the inhabitants.

You can see the makings of the Shetland series in this novel as Cleeves explores the ingrained suspicion of the islanders of both incomers and even those who were born on the island but are of the opposing clan. George is a very methodical sleuth (he reminded me a bit of Simon Brett's Carole Seddon who is also a retired public servant), and he is also an outsider which means he doesn't always get told the truth.

A very enjoyable cosy read.

My rating: 4.3

mini review, SEA FEVER, my rating 4.2
George Palmer-Jones and Greg Franks, despite a separation of four decades in age, have in common the fact that they are both twitchers. So George just happens to be on the spot when Greg is discovered murdered during a pelagic trip on the "Jessie Ellen" off the coast of Cornwall. In fact George is on the boat to meet Greg whose parents have hired George to find Greg and ask him to come home. It appears however that Greg has made sure that all his enemies know that he is on the bird-watching trip - so who is responsible for his death? Cosy medium paced detective novel "starring" amateur detective George Palmer Jones and his wife Molly. A story full of ifs…

Read a profile of Ann Cleeves by Martin Edwards

Anne Cleeves website

The series (listing thanks to Fantastic Fiction)
Palmer-Jones
1. A Bird In The Hand (1986)
2. Come Death and High Water (1987)
3. Murder In Paradise (1988)
4. A Prey To Murder (1989)
5. Sea Fever (1991)
6. Another Man's Poison (1992)
7. The Mill On The Shore (1994)
8. High Island Blues (1996)

I'm listing MURDER IN PARADISE in the British Books Challenge and the Cruisin' thru Cozies Reading Challenge

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. I admit I haven't read this series from Cleeves - I must give it a try. I enjoy her Vera Stanhope series and her Shetland novels. And you're quite right; that title is a perfect fit for your blog!

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