Monday, June 4, 2012

The Shetland quartet

I'm currently reading the fourth novel in the Shetland quartet by Ann Cleeves, Blue Lightning.

I loved the first three (Red Bones, White Nights and Raven Black) but so far I'm finding the fourth disappointing in comparison. It is set in Fair Isle, the home of the hero Jimmy Perez. Fair Isle is a very self contained and isolated place ensuring that the mystery is played out in the conventional style with a limited and captive set of suspects. Jimmy is also on his own by virtue of this isolation, whereas in the first two books the contrast between Jimmy's low-key approach and the more aggressive style of Roy Taylor who is brought in to lead the investigations adds an extra dimension of complexity and intrigue to the plot.

There is still a lot to like about the book, with the appalling Fair Isle weather symbolising the frustration and tension felt by Jimmy; his partner Fran who is visiting the island and Jimmy's parents for the first time; and the residents and temporary visitors who nearly all qualify as suspects in the case. It is a relief when the wind drops enough to allow a couple of planes to land, bearing reporters and the dreaded 'Fiscal', Jimmy's boss.

Time to settle down by the fire on this cold rainy night and continue reading to the denouement; to discover more about the geography and culture of the Shetland Isles and be thankful that for all its faults the Melbourne weather has nothing on that of Fair Isle.

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