Thin Air by Ann Cleeves

18th January 2022.

The sixth book in the series is as beautifully crafted as its predecessors, bringing the harsh, but stunning landscape and lifestyle of the Shetlands to life. DI Jimmy Perez is slowly getting back to his old self when Eleanor, a woman from a party of friends disappears. The friends are in Shetland to celebrate the wedding of one of them to a local from the island.

Intertwined with the murder is a myth and ghostly apparition, dating back to the 1920s. One of the group sees the ghostly image of the girl and investigates, certain she is not seeing things. But then this myth was another reason why Eleanor wanted to visit the island.

With assistance from Willow Reeves, a mainland detective brought in to assist, the detectives slowly unravel the myth from the evidence as they inch towards identifying the killer and the motive. Then a second murder brings an added urgency and different perspective on the case, testing the detectives to the limit.

The author has a gift for creating strong, believable characters that you recognise and understand within a few minutes of meeting them. She also knows how to slowly build the tension as the story progresses, drawing the reader in deeper until the twist that reveals the killer.

While this novel can be enjoyed on its own, starting at the beginning of the series will give you so much more understanding and satisfaction as you follow the lives of these ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Description

A killer who leaves no trace . . .

A group of old university friends leave the bright lights of London and travel to Shetland to celebrate the marriage of one of their friends to a local. But late on the night of the wedding party, one of them, Eleanor, disappears – apparently into thin air.

Detectives Jimmy Perez and Willow Reeves are dispatched to investigate. Before she went missing, Eleanor claimed to have seen the ghost of a local child who drowned in the 1920s. Jimmy and Willow are convinced that there is more to Eleanor’s disappearance than they first thought. Is there a secret that lies behind the myth? One so shocking that many years later someone would kill to protect it?

Thin Air by Ann Cleeves

The Woman in the Wood by MK Hill

13th January 2022.

This is an enjoyable story based around Danny ‘Abs’ Cruickshank, a reality TV star whose fallen on barren times, thanks to a disastrous holiday with three friends in North Wales. Rhiannon Jenkins went missing, and while the lads were never charged, rumours have wrecked Abs’ TV career.

When two members of the group are murdered in quick succession, Abs fears for his life. DI Sasha Dawson, who has her own family issues to resolve, takes on the investigation.

Shifting between the present and events in North Wales, the story develops, revealing what really happened three years ago. Abs is a great character, on the surface an immensely likeable and charismatic person, still trading on his fame. He also had a strong friendship with Jez Weston, thanks to their upbringing in a care home.

As the tension mounts, Abs begins to realise nothing is as simple as it first seemed. The tension and pace crank up towards an exciting climax Abs could never have anticipated.

Description

Three years ago, Danny ‘Abs’ Cruikshank, star of reality show Laid in Essex!, was living the dream. But on the night of the party, everything changed.

It was supposed to be an intimate weekend gathering, just a few close friends in a remote cottage in Wales. But after a night of heavy drinking in the village pub, a local girl was reported missing – and never seen again. Abs and his friends had been the last to see her alive.

No-one was ever charged, but the controversy destroyed Abs’s career. And now one of his mates has been murdered…

DI Sasha Dawson and her team must race against the clock to find the killer before they strike again – but first she must discover what happened to Rhiannon Jenkins on the night she vanished. Will the truth set Abs free? Or bury him?

The Woman in the Wood by MK Hill

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

12th January 2022.

I’ve always enjoyed Elly Griffiths’ books and the first novel in the Dr Ruth Galloway series is no exception. The characterisation is excellent, with sharply drawn characters and relationships that engage from the first page. The Norfolk setting and the salt marshes are evocatively described, providing a brooding background that adds to the tension.

The story is simple enough. A girl is missing in similar circumstances to another child who disappeared ten years before. Mysterious notes have been sent to DCI Nelson regarding the first girl and again when the second one disappears. When bones are found, Dr Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist, is called in. The investigation brings back memories of previous digs on the marshes and past tensions.

It’s all beautifully complex and woven, leading to a dramatic climax and resolution with a neat twist.

This is definitely a series I will continue to read and enjoy.

Description

A child’s bones are discovered on the windswept Norfolk marshes. Believing them to be ancient, the police call in Dr Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist. But this is no prehistoric grave. A cold missing person case has now become a murder investigation.

Dr Ruth Galloway is called in when a child’s bones are discovered near the site of a prehistoric henge on the north Norfolk salt marshes. Are they the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years earlier – or are the bones much older?

DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for the missing girl. Since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible. He knows that Ruth’s expertise and experience could help him finally to put this case to rest.

But when a second child goes missing, Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she’s getting ever closer to the truth…

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Panic Button by Charlie Gallagher

5th January 2022.

In this second novel in the DS George Elms series, all hell breaks loose in Langthorne when a killer starts to murder police officers. He presses the emergency button on their radios so the police can hear the last 10 seconds of the officer’s life.

When a police radio, belonging to George Elms, is found beside a detective, murdered near to the police station, he’s immediately under suspicion. His behaviour in the previous novel has left him suspended from duty, with a broken marriage and a drink problem. His violent arrest is only a taste of what’s to come as George fights to prove his innocence and protect his family from harm.

It’s gritty, harrowing account of an unknown assassin spreading panic throughout the local police force. The story is tense, exciting and fast paced as the violence escalates towards the climax, where the novel stops abruptly, without resolving many of the key issues. I’m guessing these will be addressed in the next story.

I have to admit here and now, as well written and tense as the narrative was, it didn’t engage me. It wasn’t the violence or delivery of events, which were well-written. I’m also prepared to suspend disbelief in view of what was happening, but I struggled with the characterisation, especially the chief, Helen Webb, and many of the police officers involved. They were as cold as the killer. In fact, the whole story was bleak and despairing, concluding with an ending that left so much unresolved.

It’s a shame because I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series.

Description

“A man is standing in front of me with a gun. He has a message for me and for us all. He says that he will come for us. He will come for all of us, one by one. Until it is finished.”

Police Constable Matthew Riley is called to an emergency on a blazing hot day in Langthorne. He is forced to read out these words live on police radio. Then he is shot dead.

One of the tensest, most authentic police thrillers you will read this year. Full of twists and turns, you won’t want to put this down until the shocking conclusion.

Someone is killing the officers of the Langthorne Police one by one. And in a sadistic twist he makes each victim push their radio panic button before they die, thus broadcasting their last moments to the entire force.

And as the police face this ruthless adversary, Detective George Elms is in no fit state to help. He can barely keep his life together and is desperate to sort things out with his estranged wife and daughter. What is the connection between ruthless former officer Ed Kavski and the wave of killings? And can their boss Helen Webb do anything to stop the carnage?

Panic Button by Charlie Gallagher

Murder at Work by Faith Martin

4th January 2022.

This is another engaging and colourful story in the trials and tribulations of DI Hillary Greene. Due to retire in a few weeks, her governor assigns her to a murder, hoping it will make her think twice about leaving the police. To make matters worse, former colleague and thorn in her side, Frank Ross, is now a security guard at the scene of the murder and fast becoming a prime suspect.

As always, the backstory offers as much suspense, tension and entertainment as the murder investigation. Hillary’s involvement in a case involving a detective sergeant she worked with looks like it might come back to bite her, adding to her problems and stress.

It all blends together into another entertaining story that kept me hooked from start to finish. I love the interplay of the main characters, the continuing backstory issues, and Hillary trying to keep all those plates in the air. She’s a terrific character who continues to develop and surprise as the series progresses.

This yet another reason why you should start with the first book in the series to enjoy the many cases and challenges Hillary faces. Reviews for all the previous books are on my website.

Description

Hillary will retire in a few weeks. But can her boss get Hillary to change her mind by putting her on a murder investigation?

The victim is found dead with his head bashed in with a piece of wood. Michael Ivers was a gambler and a notorious womaniser. He had few friends and there is a long list of people who might have wanted him dead.

Hillary wants to solve her final case as a police officer and she has just days left to find out who killed him. To add to her problems, her old enemy, ex-Sergeant Frank Ross is back on the scene and is a prime suspect.

Murder at Work by Faith Martin

Dead Water by Ann Cleeves

28th December 2021.

The fifth book in the Shetland series is another story of secrets about to be exposed and one person’s attempt to prevent this.

It starts with a journalist, Jerry Markham, returning to Shetland, looking for a big story. Is it something to do with a new renewable energy scheme that’s met with local opposition? Or does the story have its roots in the past? When he’s found dead inside a boat belonging to the Procurator Fiscal, Rhona Laing, DI Willow Reeves, called over from the mainland to take charge, senses a link.

Jimmy Perez, still on compassionate leave, is drawn into the investigation, he weaves snippets of gossip and information from interviews with local knowledge and the relationships on the island that are rarely kept secret. A second murder leads him closer until he works out the identity of the killer.

But is he too late to save a third murder?

Once again, Ann Cleeves weaves her magic with another intriguing and complex murder mystery. The characters are beautifully drawn and evoked, from the uncertain, but determined DI Reeves, to the quietly spoken Perez, who has more than murder to contend with. The bleakness and raw beauty of the Shetlands wraps itself around the whole story, shaping the lives and behaviour of its inhabitants.

Like the other books in the series, this is a sheer joy to read.

Description

A journalist working a story. Now his murder is a headline . . .

When the body of a journalist is found in a traditional Shetland boat, Detective Inspector Willow Reeves is drafted in to head up the investigation.

Jimmy Perez has been out of the loop, but his local knowledge is needed and he decides to help the inquiry. Originally a Shetlander, the journalist had left the islands years before to make a name for himself in London, leaving a scandal in his wake. He had few friends in Shetland, so why was he back?

When Willow and Jimmy dig deeper, they realize that he was chasing a story that many Shetlanders didn’t want to come to the surface. One that must have been significant enough to kill for . . .

Dead Water by Ann Cleeves

Broadland by David Blake

20th December 2021.

DI Tanner escapes London for the tranquillity of the Norfolk Broads. On his first day, a body is found, bringing him into conflict with an existing detective inspector, who’s got plenty of local knowledge, but little experience of leading a murder inquiry.

It’s a routine police procedural with an interesting setting and some good conflict between the existing and new detectives. The pace is as gentle as the Norfolk countryside, but picks up once another murder is committed. When Tanner and DC Evans uncover the motive, the pace picks up towards the climax in a disused mill.

While Tanner and Evans are an interesting team, the story never quite gripped me, mainly because I felt the behaviour of two of the local detectives was a bit stereotyped and unrealistic.

Description

A girl’s body found mutilated by a boat’s propeller, another dumped at the bottom of a slipway, and a disused Norfolk mill, hiding the secret to both.

When a girl’s body is found strangled, raped, and horrifically mutilated by a boat’s propeller, deep in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, newly arrived Detective Inspector John Tanner is asked to assist with the investigation.

At first, all the evidence points to a man who had a multi-million pound reason to kill her. But when an alibi is produced from an unexpected source, and another body appears at the base of a slipway, Tanner finds himself turning to local girl, Detective Constable Jenny Evans for help.

As a more romantic relationship develops between them, they find themselves facing a race against time to identify a lethal adversary, one with a lust for blood and a mind set on revenge.

Set within the mysterious beauty of the Norfolk Broads, this fast-paced British detective series is a dark cozy murder mystery with a slice of humour and a touch of romance that will have you guessing until the very end, when the last shocking twist is finally revealed.

Broadland by David Blake

Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves

15th December 2021.

Wow, what an amazing read, with such a powerful and emotional ending, beautifully written. It proves that crime fiction isn’t simply about murders and police procedures. Like any memorable story, it’s about the characters, the relationships and the background.

In this case, it’s Jimmy Perez, a detective inspector born on Fair Isle in the Shetlands. He’s a complex, thoughtful character, who takes his time and thinks things through before making a move. He knows the islands, their people, the myths and legends, the gossip. And when he investigates a murder, he uncovers the secrets.

In this fourth outing in the series, he’s back home, introducing his fiancée, Fran, to his family, to the crofter’s life he left behind. He has a week off. He doesn’t mind the storm that will isolate the place for days. It’s the murder at the bird observatory he could do without. When the body of a famous bird watcher and TV presenter is found stabbed, Perez is on his own – no crime scene or forensic back up – just his wits and skills as a detective.

At least the killer’s also trapped.

The investigation moves slowly. With the number of visitors and regulars at the observatory, there are plenty of suspects, plenty of secrets to uncover. There’s also Fran and his family to consider. It’s not long before he’s feeling the pressure of too many late nights, of working alone.

The tension builds as more and more motives are uncovered. The pressure to solve the case increases when a second murder is committed. How is it linked to the first? Is anyone else in danger? How can he protect everyone?

And then that superlative ending, catching me completely by surprise.

If you haven’t read Ann Cleeves, you’re missing so much from one the UK’s best and most consistent authors. If you haven’t read any book sin this series, start at the beginning and enjoy the sumptuous stories, the characters and the wonderfully bleak but beautiful islands that make up the Shetlands.

Description

A remote island on lockdown. A killer on the loose . . .

Shetland detective Jimmy Perez knows it will be a difficult homecoming when he returns to Fair Isle to introduce his fiancée to his parents. With the autumn storms raging, the island is cut off from the rest of the world.

Then a woman’s body is discovered at the renowned bird observatory, with feathers threaded through her hair. Perez has no support from the mainland and must investigate the old-fashioned way. He soon realizes that this is no crime of passion – but a murder of cold and calculated intention.

There’s no way off the island until the storms abate – and so the killer is also trapped, just waiting for the opportunity to strike again.

Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves

8th December 2021.

In the third of the Shetland series, DI Jimmy Perez is called out to investigate the shooting of an elderly woman at night. It appears to be a tragic accident, but Jimmy wants to be sure. There’s an archaeological dig in the grounds, which has exposed some bones. They may be ancient, they may not. While Jimmy waits for the test results, he continues his enquiries, uncovering some old secrets and rivalries that may shed light on the shooting.

Like the previous books in the series, this is a beautifully crafted and written story that paints a sympathetic picture of island life in a remote part of the UK. On the island there are no secrets. Everyone knows your business.

The island setting is brought to life, exerting its influences and pressures on daily life. The characters are vividly drawn, revealing their doubts and ambitions. Jimmy Perez is a sensitive, thoughtful detective, who works slowly and diligently, processing the facts and the gossip to reveal the killer and the motive.

The pace is gentle, the characters engaging, the setting atmospheric and the story is beautifully told. By the end you feel you know everyone better than your friends. I love these stories and can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Description

When a young archaeologist uncovers a set of human remains, the island settlers are intrigued. Is it an ancient find – or a more contemporary mystery?

Then an elderly woman is shot in what appears to be a tragic accident in the middle of the night, Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called to investigate.

The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness have lasted generations.

Surrounded by people he doesn’t know and in unfamiliar territory, Jimmy finds himself out of his depth. As the spring weather shrouds the island in claustrophobic mists, Perez must dig up old secrets to reveal the truth . . .

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves

White Nights by Ann Cleeves

28th November 2021.

The second novel in the Shetland series sees local inspector, Jimmy Perez, at an art gallery when a stranger bursts into tears and seems to have lost his memory. The following day, he’s found hanging in a fisherman’s hut.

It’s murder, not suicide, and restless DI Taylor is called in from the mainland to assist in the investigation. While the locals seem mystified by the death, Jimmy keeps digging away, causing more unrest. A second murder leads him to uncover secrets, connections with the past and possible motives for the killings.

It’s a gentle, thoughtful novel that’s focused as much on the key characters and their lives as the investigation. The bleakness and remoteness of Shetland is both harsh and beautiful as it plays its part in the crime. The islands also shape the lives of the people who live there, and their relationships.

Beautifully written and developed, this is another story of creeping tension, suspense and intrigue as the ordinary lives of the inhabitants are peeled back to reveal the tangled emotions and desires that lay beneath.

Description

When the sun never sets it brings to light deadly secrets

On Shetland the launch of an exhibition at The Herring House art gallery is disturbed by a stranger who bursts into tears, then claims not to remember who he is or where he comes from. The next day Detective Jimmy Perez finds his body in a fisherman’s hut.

Initially it seems to be a straightforward case of suicide, yet this is no desperate act and is instead the work of a cold and calculating killer. As Perez investigates, he finds himself mired in the hidden secrets of a small community. Then another body is found.

Perez knows he must find the killer before another death occurs. But it is midsummer, an unsettling time when the sun never really sets in Shetland and nothing is quite as it seems . .

White Nights by Ann Cleeves