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Monday, November 28, 2016

Eerie, Atmospheric Setting Makes Shetland Murder Mystery Even More Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for White Nights, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, Raven Black.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

It's an unsettling time of year on the Shetland Islands.  Summer daylight stretches past midnight, creating interminable "white nights."  It's enough to drive a person crazy, hence local terms like "midsummer madness" and "summer din."  Perhaps it's the eerie weather that drives a stranger to burst into a local art show, break into tears, then disappear as mysteriously as he appeared.  Later, the man is found dead in a nearby boat shed.  Although suicide is first expected, it soon becomes apparent that the stranger has been murdered.  Who is the dead man?  What was he doing in an isolated community like Biddista?  Who killed him?

Detective Jimmy Perez is tasked with answering these questions.  His investigation focuses on a colorful local artist, although he deems all residents of the seaside community suspect.  The arrival of a slick city detective intent on showing up the local yokel complicates matters.  As does Jimmy's new romance with single mom Fran Hunter.  When more remains turn up, Perez finds himself digging through not just Biddista's present dramas, but also the secrets of its past.

I enjoy a good mystery set in an exotic locale and White Nights by Ann Cleeves certainly qualifies.  The second book in her Shetland series, the thriller is tense and compelling, with a spectral setting that gives it an extra layer of creepiness.  Although the story sags a little in the middle, the plot kept me turning pages.  The identity of the murderer surprised me, which is always a bonus!  All in all, I enjoyed this one and am eager to read the next book in the series.  

(Readalikes:  Other books in Cleeves' Shetland series, including Raven Black; Red Bones; Blue Lightning; Dead Water; Thin Air; and Cold Earth)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (1 F-bomb plus milder expletives), violence, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I like when they surprise you. It doesn't happen for me much but when it does it's great.

  2. I've got to give this series a try if only for the setting! Thanks for reminding me about this author. :)


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