Tag Archives: Shetland

COLD EARTH by Ann Cleeves …2016

This is the seventh cold-earthbook in Ann Cleeves’ delightful Shetland series featuring the dogged detecting skills of Jimmy Perez. I have been a fan of this series since the first book RAVEN BLACK appeared in 2007 and in some ways this book provides some closure from the first book.  Magnus Tait, a lonely old man and a suspect in RAVEN BLACK is being buried in the first few pages. We learn that in the intervening years, he had developed some friendships and his last years were not as lonely. It is during his funeral that a landslide sweeps through the cemetery and a nearby croft and exposes the body of a well dressed lady. It is determined that she was murdered before the landslide so Jimmy Perez calls Chief Inspector Willow Reeves to head the investigation. This is a character that has appeared in the last few books and, up until this book, I never cared for her much. I found her irritating and also wrong a lot of the time but in this entry she seems more reasonable (but I don’t think she is a good match for Jimmy.)  Jimmy is still grieving for his murdered girlfriend but he is at least open to the idea of a relationship.  Well…he is…then he isn’t…then he is….you get the idea.

Sandy Wilson is another character that has been along since the first book . The once raw  recruit has grown and is now a thoughtful contributor to the team. He is also in love and I wouldn’t be surprised if marriage is in his future.

In recent years this book series has been made into a television series – simply called SHETLAND.  I have only just recently had a chance to see it and it is well worth watching just for the spectacular scenery.  I love Douglas Henshall but I think he was miscast a Jimmy Perez.  Jimmy had a shipwrecked Spaniard in his family tree and is always described as dark and Spanish looking.

I love these books because Cleeves does a wonderful job of describing life on the Islands. This book does a great job of describing the contradictions of privacy – the homes can be miles apart with vast expanses of land in between yet there is that small town element where everybody knows your business. Private but no privacy.

Good addition to a fabulous series.

***  After the third book this was called a trilogy – after the fourth book it was called a quartet – now it is just called a series.  I mention this because in recent years I just fell in love will Peter May’s BLACK HOUSE TRILOGY….LOVED IT so I just want to remind Peter that there is no reason you have to stop a three just because you once called it a trilogy.***

COLD EARTH by Ann Cleeves   2016   Macmillon


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Filed under book review, book reviews, books, General fiction, mystery fiction, Scotland, Scottish Island Fiction

SACRIFICE …..by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur, 2008)

sacrificeAnother day, another blog about Scottish Islands in contemporary fiction. “Sacrifice” is an exciting suspense/mystery/thriller which is even more impressive because it is the author’s debut novel. It is a “stand alone” that was followed by two more “stand alones” and then a superb series (three entries so far). I’d say this author has a very bright future. Sacrifice takes place on the Shetland Islands. The main character is named Tora Hamilton and she has come to live on Shetland, the land of her husband’s birth. She is, of course, an outsider but even her husband has not been back for twenty years. In the beginning of the novel a grief-stricken Tora has rented a backhoe and is desperately (and illegally) trying to bury her beloved and recently departed horse. What she uncovers is a woman’s body. Bog bodies are not uncommon in these parts but this body was murdered with the heart cut out and buried for less than five years.
Bolton does a wonderful job of adding old legends into a modern story and she knows how to twist and turn a plot. She also vividly portrays the outsider vs. insider(local) aspect in the most compelling manner.
One of the “outsider” characters appears later in her “Lacey Flint” series – I won’t say a name because that would be telling.
When I say this book has everything I’m not kidding–there is even an appearance by the famous Shetland ponies.
Great book–watch for this author!

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RAVEN BLACK ……by Ann Cleeves (2006)

raven black white nights red bones blue lightning dead waterA continuation of my series –contemporary fiction in the Scottish Islands.  Murder and suspense in the Shetland Islands  of Scotland featuring the Shetland series by Ann Cleeves.

This series was originally refered to as “the Shetland Quartet’ but since the  fifth book has been released it is now called “the Shetland Series” It is a well written series and deserves its popularity which skyrocketed after the BBC turned the books into a mini-series. I haven’t seen the mini-series but I am familiar with the actor who plays the lead character of Jimmy Perez, and I have to say he is miscast.  He’s a lovely blond fellow with a beautiful voice but Jimmy is supposed to be a dark haired, olive-skinned man descended from a shipwrecked Spaniard.

The Shetland Islands are north of mainland Scotland – so far north that maps of Scotland often just have an arrow pointed north with the words ‘Shetland Islands” (and perhaps an inset map). The largest island is called “Mainland” and  there are 15 other inhabited islands.  The culture of Shetland is extremely different from Lewis (from my previous blog) with the genetic make-up of the inhabitants being 50% Scandinavian and most place names can be traced to the Vikings.

Many of the characteristics and customs of Shetland are displayed in these books. A famous festival called “Up Helly Aa” -a fire festival in a Viking tradition – is featured in he plot of one of the books. Another Character is a talented fiddler in the Shetland style.

This is a series that should be read in order.  The reader will simply have too many spoilers if the series is not read in order. The other books in the series are;

White Nights (2008)

Red Bones (2009

Blue Lightning (2010)

Dead Water (2013)

A wonderful series and perfect for fans of Scottish Island fiction.



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Filed under book review, book reviews, books, General fiction, mystery fiction, Scottish Island Fiction