My Friday Post: Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

This week I’m featuring Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves, one of the books I’m planning to read soon. It’s the 8th and last book in her Shetland series.

Wild Fire (Shetland Island, #8)

Emma sat on the shingle bank and watched the kids on the beach below build a bonfire. They’d dragged pieces of driftwood into a pile; it was something to do to relieve their boredom. Nothing much happened in Deltaness.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

 

‘It’s a suspicious death,’ Perez said. ‘None of us know yet how or why Emma died.’

‘But it wasn’t suicide, was it? there was no way she could have done that to herself.’

Perez didn’t answer.

Blurb (Amazon)

Drawn in by the reputation of the islands, a new English family move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life. But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire.

With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate. For him it will mean returning to the islands of his on-off lover and boss Willow Reeves, who will run the case.

Perez is already facing the most disturbing investigation of his career, when Willow drops a bombshell that will change his life forever. Is he ready for what is to come?

~~~

I’ll be sad to come to the end of Ann Cleeves’s books about Perez but I think she’s right to end it with this book – as she says in this articleI decided to finish writing about the islands while I was still enjoying it. I’d hate to start repeating myself, boring my readers, losing enthusiasm for my characters. This feels like the right time for it to end.

The TV series continues though – the first episode of series 5 was on shown BBC 1 on Tuesday night! The adaptations have expanded the books. As Ann Cleeves explains: ‘From series three, the format moved away from self-contained adaptations to longer, six-episode original stories. These allowed plots and characters to develop and for some of the action to move away from the islands.’  

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

Cold Earth is the seventh book in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Shetland series

Cold Earth (Shetland Island, #7)

Blurb:

In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea.

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. In his mind, she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and soon he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity.

Then it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house. Perez knows he must find out who she was, and how she died.

My thoughts:

I loved the first 6 books in the Shetland series and Cold Earth is no exception. It works on all levels – a murder mystery to solve, with beautiful descriptions of the landscape, conveying a real sense of place, convincing characters with realistic dialogue, a well paced plot and above all a writing style that doesn’t intrude on the story, but leads you to keep on turning the pages from the beginning to the end. I featured this book in this My Friday post, quoting the opening sentence and a teaser from page 56.

The dead woman’s identity puzzles everyone on the island, although one person must know who she is as among the things found in the debris left in the croft is an unsigned letter addressed to Alis saying what a joy it is to welcome her back to the island.  Perez felt her exotic appearance and black hair and eyes could indicate that like him she was of Spanish descent. He and Sandy Wilson, his sergeant are joined by Chief Inspector Willow Reeves (originally from the Hebrides) from the Inverness team to head up the investigation. Perez is both troubled and distracted by her, but realises just how much he wants her to be in Shetland with him running the investigation.

As usual Perez works very much on his own, but Sandy is gaining more confidence in his detecting skills and helped by Perez he makes a valuable contribution, as they eventually discover the identity of the dead woman, why she was on the island and why she was killed.

If you haven’t read any of the Shetland books, but have seen the TV series, you’ll notice that there are some significant changes – notably in the characters of Cassie, Fran’s daughter who is still a child in the books but has grown up in the TV stories, and the relationship between her father, Duncan Hunter and Perez. And Douglas Henshall, who plays the part of Perez, is not physically like Jimmy Perez – Perez has long dark hair with Spanish ancestry in his blood, whereas Douglas Henshall is a redheaded Scot.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2376 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1447278216
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Main Market edition (6 Oct. 2016)
  • Source: I bought it
  • My Rating: 4*

The Shetland Series – the books read well as stand-alones, but I think it’s better to read them in order as you can then follow the development of the main characters.:

Challenges:

My Friday Post: Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

My book today is Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves, one of my TBR books, that I’ve just begun to read.

Cold Earth (Shetland Island, #7)

It begins:

The land slipped while Jimmy Perez was standing beside the grave. The dead man’s family had come from Foula originally and they’d carried the body on two oars, the way bodies were always brought for burial on that island.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

Outside the rain had stopped and a faint, milky sunlight filtered through the gloom. Instead of looking back towards Lerwick, Sandy headed towards Sullom Voe and stopped at the new hotel that had been built just outside the village of Brae. Its accommodation was used solely for oil, gas and construction workers and had been full since it had been slotted together like a giant bit of Lego several years before. Sandy had been inside once for the Sunday-lunch carvery. It felt a bit like going abroad and wandering into another world.

~~~

Blurb

In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea.

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. In his mind, she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and soon he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity.

Then it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house. Perez knows he must find out who she was, and how she died.

~~~

I have read all the preceding Shetland books and watched the TV adaptations of Ann Cleeves’ novels, both the Shetland and Vera series. The books and the TV versions are separate things – the TV versions are based on Ann Cleeves’ characters but plotlines and the characters can differ. For example Cassie, Fran’s daughter, in the TV version is a teenager and goes to university, whereas in the books she is a child. I prefer the books, although I really appreciate seeing the beautiful setting and the scenery of both Shetland and Northumberland in the TV versions.

What about you? Does it tempt you or would you stop reading? 

Ann Cleeves and Dead Water

I loved Ann Cleeves’s Shetland QuartetRaven Black, White Nights, Red Bones and Blue Lightning, so I was delighted to read her latest book, Dead Water, which takes the Quartet one step further. Actually, it’s the first book in a new Shetland Quartet, in which each book will be named after the four elements –  earth, air, fire and water. Each of the Shetland books reads well as stand-alones, but I think it’s better to read them in order as you can then follow the development of the main characters. And Dark Water does refer to events in earlier books.

In Dead Water Rhona Laing, the Fiscal, finds journalist Jerry Markham lying dead, drifting in a yoal, a traditional Shetland boat in Aith marina. Markham, a Shetlander visiting his parents, was apparently working on a story for a national newspaper – maybe about the development of renewable energy proposed for Shetland, or maybe his reason was more personal? Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez is not the man he once was, since the death of his fiancée and at first he takes a back seat in the investigations, led by Detective Inspector Willow Reeves (originally from the Hebrides) who is drafted in from the Inverness team to head up the investigation. But eventually his natural curiosity takes over and he decides to help the inquiry, and his knowledge of the local community is vital in catching the killer.

I really enjoyed Dead Water, a mixture of mystery and the creation of  totally believable characters, set in Shetland Mainland.  The book is well paced, with the tension steadily building and Ann Cleeves writes with clarity, so that you can easily picture the people and the places she describes. She gives just the right amount of detail for the reader to feel immersed not only in the story but also in the life of the islands – the history and traditions, and the changes brought about the development of sustainable energy.

Last Tuesday evening D and I went to Main Street Trading bookshop where Ann Cleeves gave a talk about how she first went to Shetland and came to know and love the islands. She also talked about her decision to write crime fiction based in Shetland, and how she first pictured a scene in the snow  which eventually became the first book, Raven Black, after hearing stories of the islands from an old Shetlander.

She also spoke about the new BBC TV Shetland series, which she told us is being broadcast in March, beginning with an adaptation of Red Bones. Admittedly Douglas Henshall, playing the part of Perez, is not her vision of Jimmy Perez, after all, Perez has long dark hair with Spanish ancestry in his blood, whereas Douglas Henshall is  redheaded Scot, but she is happy both with him in the role and with the alterations that have been made. As she explained, once she has finished writing a book it passes out of her hands and each reader has their own individual interpretation. She cannot see what is in the minds of readers, but she can see the director’s interpretation in the TV version of her book! I’ve seen the trailer and it does look good.

Ann Cleeves is an excellent speaker, just as she is an excellent writer. On her website you read about her books and the forthcoming series and also download a leaflet Discover the Mystery of Shetland which has a map, beautiful colour photos and a commentary from Ann about the real and fictitious locations in her books. It’s very good – I was given a copy last Tuesday.

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month – June 2012

The Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme is hosted at Mysteries in Paradise by Kerrie. I read 5 crime fiction books this month and my pick of the month is:

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves

Red Bones is the third book in Ann Cleeves’s Shetland Quartet. It’s set on Whalsay, where two young archaeologists, excavating a site on Mima Williams’s land, discover human bones. They are sent away for testing – are they an ancient  find or are the bones more contemporary? Sandy Wilson, Inspector Jimmy Perez’s sergeant is Mima’s grandson. He is visiting his family when late one night he finds Mima’s body. It appears she was shot accidently by his cousin Ronald, out shooting rabbits. Then one of the archaeologists is also found dead, and even though it appears to be suicide Jimmy and Sandy are not convinced, thinking it could be murder.

I really like these Shetland mysteries. They are complicated and slow-moving books that enable you to immerse yourself in the mystery. The characters have depth and the locations are superbly described. In this book Ann Cleeves explores both the history of the island, its close-knit community, its traditions and the intricacies of the close family relationships. In contrast to the rest of the series the novel is narrated by Sandy as well as Jimmy and consequently both their innermost thoughts and feelings are revealed.

Red Bones is currently being filmed for a two-part TV drama. More good news – Ann Cleeves’s website reveals that there is another Jimmy Perez mystery in progress  – Dead Water to be published in January 2013.

The four books in the Shetland series are: