29 August 2011

Review: BLUE LIGHTNING, Ann Cleeves

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 581 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 023001447X
  • Publisher: Pan Books (September 3, 2010)
    Originally published 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0040JHNYI
  • Source: I bought it
Publisher's blurb

Shetland Detective Jimmy Perez knows it will be a difficult homecoming when he returns to the Fair Isles to introduce his fiancée, Fran, to his parents. It’s a community where everyone knows each other, and strangers, while welcomed, are still viewed with a degree of mistrust. Challenging to live on at the best of times, with the autumn storms raging, the island feels cut off from the rest of the world. Trapped, tension is high and tempers become frayed. Enough to drive someone to murder…

When a woman's body is discovered at the renowned Fair Isles bird observatory, with feathers threaded through her hair, the islanders react with fear and anger. With no support from the mainland and only Fran to help him - Jimmy has to investigate the old-fashioned way. He soon realizes that this is no crime of passion - but a murder of cold and calculated intention. With no way off the island until the storms abate - Jimmy knows he has to work quickly. There's a killer on the island just waiting for the opportunity to strike again…

My take

This is #4 in Cleeves' Shetland series
1. Raven Black (2006) my rating 4.6
2. White Nights (2008) my rating 4.5
3. Red Bones (2009) my rating 4.7
4. Blue Lightning (2010)
and it really is a case where you MUST read them in order to get the most out of the threads that run through them. But as you can see I have given all of them a very high rating, so it really will be a pleasure rather than a chore.

Even as Fran arrives on Fair Isle to meet Jimmy's family, the weather closes in. The island becomes isolated. Planes and helicopters can't get in, and neither is there access for boats. Those on the island must stay and no-one can come in. This gives Ann Cleeves the perfect "locked room" scenario, and the perfect setting for the inevitable murder. But no-one expected Angela, warden of the island's research centre, scientist, bird authority, and TV star to be murdered.

Cleeves intensifies the locks so to speak by ensuring that the lighthouse where Angela is murdered has also been locked so that the murderer has to be one of those inside at the time, not a member of the wider island community.

The cutting off of the island by the weather allows the author to explore how suitable Fran, essentially a city girl, will be as Jimmy Perez' wife. Fran gets a chance to see Jimmy work at first hand and to understand that his isn't a 9 to 5 job. The isolation of Fair Isle also puts pressure on Jimmy to complete his investigation before the weather improves and the island is again open to incomers and twitchers. Things are complicated by a second murder, that of the housekeeper/cook. Jimmy feels that he is too close to events, but on the other hand he is the one best placed to do an investigation. He knows that it needs to be done thoroughly, properly, even if it means investigating his own family and friends.

I thoroughly enjoyed BLUE LIGHTNING. Cleeves does an excellent job of depicting characters, building tension, laying red herrings. I found myself going over plot points and trying to work out what I had missed. To be caught up in a novel to that extent is quite unusual for me and a tribute to Ann Cleeves' skill.

My rating: 5.0

Review of BLUE LIGHTNING on EuroCrime by Maxine Clarke.

My previous reviews:
RED BONES
WHITE NIGHTS

2 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - So glad you liked this one - excellent review, too. There is such an effective sense of claustrophobia as everyone realises that it had to be "one of us" Cleeves does that, in my opinion, very well, and I like her character development a lot. This is a good 'un.

jiescribano said...

Kerrie thanks for remind me I have to read the rest of the series after Raven Black. Glad to see that, in your opinion, the best book is the last one.

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