7 October 2009

Review: RED BONES, Ann Cleeves

RED BONES is the 3rd in Ann Cleeves Shetland Quartet. I listened to it as an Audible download, nearly 12 hours read by Gordon Griffin.

The island of Whalsay is one of the most easterly of the Shetland Islands. It is where Jimmy Perez's colleague Sandy Wilson comes from. The arrival of spring brings with it the resumption of an archaeological dig taking place on land near Sandy's grandmother's croft. There is great excitement when first the remains of a merchant's house, some bones, and then a hoard of silver coins is found. But the excitement fades when first of all Sandy's grandmother, then one of the young archaeologists, is found dead. Neither of the deaths look like murder at first, although Sandy's grandmother's appears to be a tragic accident. Jimmy Perez is not so sure. There are secrets on Whalsay - talk of a Norwegian murdered during World War II - and there is ambition too.

Jimmy Perez's lady friend Fran Hunter has gone south for a holiday to London with her daughter Cassie. RED BONES largely concentrates on Jimmy's relationships with his colleague Sandy Wilson, and his feelings for Fran. We also get insights into why Jimmy is such a good detective. And somehow in this novel, whether it is the effect of the narrator's characterisation of Jimmy's voice I'm not sure, Jimmy seems older, more mature than he did in the two earlier novels.

I thoroughly enjoyed RED BONES. Ann Cleeves is a top notch teller of tales.

My rating of RED BONES: 4.7

You'll have noticed that I said RED BONES is #3 in the Shetland series.
So do you have to read them in order? I'm afraid the answer is yes.
Console yourself with the fact that this is #3, and that they are all excellent reads. The final in the series, BLUE LIGHTNING, is due to be published in 2010. There is more to this series than the central character Jimmy Perez: there are the Island relationships he is part of, the seasons in which the novels are set, and the Shetland culture that Cleeves appears to understand so well.

Find the locations described in Red Bones on a map of Shetland.
Ann Cleeves website.

My other reviews:
4.5, WHITE NIGHTS, Ann Cleeves

mini-review: RAVEN BLACK (2006)
Shetland has the lowest crime rate in the British Isles. It's residents think is the best place to raise children, and no-one locks their back doors. It is a small community where everybody knows everything about everybody-else. But all that stopped for Magnus Tait eight years ago when little Catriona Bruce disappeared and everybody thought amiable, slightly retarded Magnus was responsible. Now Catherine Ross has been found dead on the hill not far from Magnus' house, strangled. The locals immediately lay the blame at Magnus' door, but detective Jimmy Perez, himself a local, is not so sure. This story is all about being an outsider. There are many ways of being an outsider - you can be an immigrant, you can be the person others bully, you can be the headmaster's daughter like Catherine was.

RAVEN BLACK was chosen by the judges of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award to be the first winner (2006) of the new award, which replaces the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of the year. The judges praised Raven Black for its "superb sense of place." They called it "a depiction of an enclosed community with modern and entrenched values constantly competing, [and] a thrilling read."

You might like to check up on what I wrote in an earlier post about the Shetland series and colours.

Other reviews of RED BONES


Bernadette said...

I have only skimmed review Kerrie because I am listening to WHITE NIGHTS and don't want to come across any accidental spoilers - but I do like Jimmy and the Shetland setting.

I've also discovered that I like series which have a finite number of books.

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - This sounds like a winner! One nice thing about series is that, as they go on, one can learn some things about the sleuth and her or his relationships with others. The sleuth is more real that way. That's what I like about Colin Dexter's series (among many other things).

Dorte H said...

Usually I am not that afraid of spoilers, but I can see that if bloggers review a book I know I am going to buy before long anyway, I really don´t want to read the interview. I want a ´fresh´ impression of this one - and I am really looking forward to it.

Kerrie said...

I try to write tasters rather than spoilers. I only go past the first 50 pages in the content of my review if the book's blurb has. Bernadette, I agree the idea of tackling a finite series is very nice. Is Gordon Griffin the narrator of WHITE NIGHTS?

Kerrie said...

Margo, if you haven't read these, then they are a good lot to tackle. In fact anything by Ann Cleeves is worth attention- the other good series to look for is the Vera Stanhope one - 3 books there I think.

Kerrie said...

I hope there were no spoilers in my review for you Dorte


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