I think that Ann Cleeves writes smart, absorbing mysteries with recurring characters that I am always happy to spend time with. These two novels are part of the author’s Jimmy Perez mystery series, which are set on the island of Shetland. There are currently seven books in the series and the eighth will be coming soon. I read these a while ago but highly recommend them. Each currently costs $2.99 for the e-book edition. Please note that there has also been a Shetland TV series starring Douglas Henshall.
On Raven Black:
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Set in the remote Scottish Shetland Islands, Cleeves’s taut, atmospheric thriller, the first in a new series, will keep readers guessing until the last page. Det. Insp. Jimmy Perez investigates the murder of teenage Catherine Ross, found strangled on a snowy hillside shortly after New Year’s. While the police and citizens alike are quick to lay the blame on local eccentric Magnus Tait, who was not only the last person to see Catherine alive but also the prime suspect in the disappearance eight years earlier of another girl, Perez has his doubts. He’s soon drawn into an intricate web of lies as he unearths the long-buried secrets of everyone from a roguish playboy to Catherine’s only school friend. Cleeves, winner of the CWA’s Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award (formerly the Gold Dagger), masterfully paints Perez as an empathetic hero and sprinkles the story with a lively cast of supporting characters who help bring the Shetlands alive. When the shocking identity of the murderer is revealed, readers will be as chilled as the harsh winds that batter the isolated islands.
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On White Nights
Everyone is a bit mad during midsummer in the Shetland Islands, they say. Detective Jimmy Perez (making his second appearance, following last year’s Raven Black, in what Cleeves bills as the Shetland Island Quartet) is unsettled with the prospect of a new romance. Meanwhile, Perez’s love interest, an artist, is a shambles at the prospect of having her work exhibited for the first time at a local gallery opening. But these small anxieties pale beside the spectacle of a man who falls to his knees, weeping, in front of a painting at the exhibit. This same man, a tourist, is later found hanged in a fishing hut, his face obscured by a clown mask. Cleeves knows how to do eerie—from the clown mask motif that moves disturbingly throughout the novel, to her depiction of the rough beauty of the Shetland Islands, and all the way through her plotting, which mixes the disturbingly dreamlike with the realistically grotesque. Gripping from start to finish. –Connie Fletcher
As to Sophie Hannah, she has been updating the Hercule Poirot mysteries with the permission of the Agatha Christie estate. Today, you can place a pre-order for the e-book coming out in hardback in August. It will cost just $4.99. A blurb is below.
“We Agatha Christie fans read her stories–and particularly her Poirot novels–because the mysteries are invariably equal parts charming and ingenious, dark and quirky and utterly engaging. Sophie Hannah had a massive challenge in reviving the beloved Poirot, and she met it with heart and no small amount of little grey cells. I was thrilled to see the Belgian detective in such very, very good hands. Reading The Monogram Murders was like returning to a favorite room of a long-lost home.”
— Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl