In the seventh outing in the Shetland Island series featuring detective Jimmy Perez, author Ann Cleeves has begun to delve deeper into the characters inner lives while still writing an engaging mystery. Besides working with Jimmy, the author has begun to round out the lives and desires of his co-workers, including his long suffering sidekick, Sandy. The story begins during the funeral of long-time island resident Magnus Pike when a landslide rumbles through the graveyard and a nearby abandoned crofter’s hut. In the hut is found the body of a woman wearing a red silk dress who shares Jimmy’s Mediterranean heritage. The identity of the woman is unknown, which in an island as small and close knit as Shetland is a mystery in itself. Jimmy who has always felt like an outsider becomes fascinated with identifying the body, always wondering if they could be related. This vulnerability and a later development concerning his lost former love open Jimmy up to explore the feelings that exist between himself and fellow officer Willow Reeves.
The island of Shetland with its mostly inclement weather create another character in the story. Cleeves spends time discussing the workings of island life and rather than being dull the small details and descriptions worked into the plot ground the story and make the reader feel like a resident.
For anyone new to Ann Cleeves the book is a great example of fine crime writing. Television viewers may be familiar with the Shetland characters but may be surprised that she is the creator of both the Shetland and Vera television series. The Thunder Bay Public Library and Cambrian Players will be hosting a murder mystery evening based on the Shetland mystery series on October 26 at the Brodie Library. The evening lets the audience play detective, if you wish to register call 807-345-8275 or www.tbpl.ca.