Last week’s book (“The Malice of Waves”, Mark Douglas-Home) sent me back to a forerunner, Ann Cleeves’ “Raven Black” which has a number of similarities, right down to the walk-on part for ravens. It was the first of her Shetland novels to be published, more than 10 years ago now, and, like “The Malice of Waves” deals with the death of a teenager and the impact this has on a small island community. The communities are portrayed in a different way – here, the predominant viewpoint is that of the insider, and the reader is taken into the heart of a community that fears it has a murderer in its midst.
In this case, the suspect/ scapegoat is an isolated elderly man whose name is linked with the previous disappearance of a young girl. However, as DI Jimmy Perez, an islander himself, discovers, there are more secrets being held, in particular the whereabouts of the film that the victim, Catriona, was making of the people around her.
The ending, for me, was not unexpected, but the skill with which Cleeves handles both the setting and the pace is exemplary. It has since been successfully filmed (as “Shetland”, starring Douglas Henshall – very unlike the Spanish-heritage Perez of the books). This was an award-winning book in its own right, and deservedly so.
(And on a completely unrelated note, I’m a huge fan of the wool-and-wildlife oriented Shetland magazine, 60 Degrees North. With this and an Ann Cleeves, I’m all set for January.)