Raven Black

Cleeves, Ann. Raven Black. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2006.

Reason read: Shetland celebrates a Viking Fire fest on the last Tuesday in January called Up Helly Aa. Of course part of Raven Black takes place during Up Helly Aa.

Meet Inspector Jimmy Perez. In Ann Cleeves’s “Shetland” series, Perez is the angst-ridden, private detective charged with solving murders in the Shetland Islands. In Raven Black a teenager is brutally strangled just before the Up Helly Aa festival. Proximity and rumor make neighbor Magnus Tait the likely suspect. Magus, elderly and mentally ill has been the prime suspect in another unsolved crime from eight years ago: an eleven year old went missing and her body, never found.

Spoiler and Confessional: I had to roll my eyes just a little when I read the premise for this book: tiny community is rocked by the murder of a teenager. Everyone thinks the strange recluse with mental illness committed the crime because he probably killed the girl who went missing eight years ago, as well. After all, that man on the hill is not quite right. Cleeves takes that stereotype even further by making the mentally ill man look as guilty as possible along the way. The shocker would have been, yup, he did do it. Guilty as charged.

Author fact: at the time of publication, Ann Cleeves was the reader-in-residence for the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.

Tons of book trivia: Raven Black is the first book in the Inspector Jimmy Perez series. There are three more, all on my list. Another piece of trivia: on her website, Ann Cleeves includes a map of Jimmy Perez’s Shetland. Very helpful. Also, Raven Black was made into a television series for the BBC in 2012. Last piece of trivia (and probably the most important one), Raven Black won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award.

Nancy said: “murder most foul” (p 205). Okay, so she could have said “murder most fowl” since the title of the book includes a bird and the murder victim was ravaged by ravens…

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the obvious chapter called “Sheltering in the Shetlands” (p 204).

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