I’ve never been to Shetland, so most of my knowledge about it has been gleaned from Ann Cleeves’ series of police procedurals set on the island. They all feature Jimmy Perez, and this is the seventh in the series (apparently there is one more to come) – and I wouldn’t have read the previous six if there wasn’t something fun, readable and enjoyable about them.
This one is no different: the characters are well-drawn, not just the leading characters of Perez and DI Willow Reeves, but particularly local constable Sandy, who is increasingly endearing and believable. Cleeves also does a fantastic job of evoking the landscape and place (obviously, I say that, but have never been there) and the general gloom, rocky crags and mizzle suit a whodunnit. The island, a staple of crime fiction, also lends that sense of enclosure, lack of escape and peril.
The plot of this one struck me as a little more far-fetched than previous, although it was neatly woven and there is a nice set of characters to pick from and try and understand their respective motivations and behaviours. It also built in momentum well, and the pace picked up nicely in the last 50 pages to one of those ‘I have to stay up late to finish this now’ endings.
All in all, not a magnificent 7th, but a solid, readable, enjoyable one: middle of the pack for the series, I’d say (the first is fabulous). Roll on the final episode.
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