Recent Events

Thursday, 12 December 2013

‘Dead Water’ by Anne Cleeves

Published by Pan, 
12 September 2013. 
ISBN: 978-1-4472-0208-0

Murder mysteries set in beautiful locations have always required exceptional skill on the author’s part if the suspension of disbelief isn’t to be stretched beyond its limits, and Ann Cleeves’s Shetland Quartet ticked all the boxes – though she declared very early in the process that four murders in this almost crime-free place would be enough. Which is why a fifth in the series comes as rather a surprise. Fortunately Ann is a class act, and pulls it off without a false note.

D I Jimmy Perez, native Shetlander and senior detective in the islands’ small police force, is still in recovery after the brutal murder of his fiancée Fran several months earlier, but when a visiting journalist and one-time native himself, is found murdered, Jimmy’s detecting juices begin to stir.

Then Willow Reeves, on her first case as S I O, arrives from the mainland to head up the investigation. Fortunately she sees the value of Jimmy’s local knowledge; the roots of the crime lie in somewhere the past, and few people know Shetland’s politics and people better than he does.

Most of the leading characters are familiar from the previous books, and every bit as sharply drawn. Sandy the sergeant is still on a steep learning curve; Rhona Laing the Procurator Fiscal is still cool and briskly efficient, at least on the surface; seven-year-old Cassie is as engaging as ever.
The narrative’s great strength is the way the various strands of the complex plot weave their way around the dramatic Shetland terrain and weather, both of which are as diverse as the ideologies and beliefs of the islands’ inhabitants. The undercurrents running through the rapidly changing society are as powerful as the tides, with the same potential for damage and destruction.

It would be a pity if a series as compelling as this one continued to a point where credibility is stretched so thin that it begins to feel like pastiche, but for the time being Ann Cleeves has no need to worry. Drink-driving and the odd bit of burglary may be the only crimes to sully the real Shetland; but human nature remains the same however stunning the scenery, and that’s what fictional murder is all about.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Anne Cleeves worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she started writing. She is a member of 'Murder Squad', working with other northern writers to promote crime fiction. In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black . Ann lives in North Tyneside. Her Vera Stanhope series is currently being turned into a major ITV production to be released in Autumn 2010.

Lynne Patrick  has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment