Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Like no small percentage of the population, I too have been struck by a mild respiratory virus. It was sufficient to keep me in bed for one day, but I've been up and working (but not walking) since. Today I seem to have lost the power of speech.

While resting, I read the first four books of Ann Cleeve's "Shetland quartet". I'm not sure now how I found these; although a television series has been made of the novels, they haven't been broadcast here yet. It turns out that I read them in the wrong order, although this doesn't seem to have made much difference, apart from changes in the personal life of the books' protagonist, Jimmy Perez.

Viewed in order, the first book ('Raven black') takes place in Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands; the second ("White nights") takes place in the far north of that island; the third ("Red bones") is set on a secondary island, Whalsay, and the fourth ("Blue lightning") is set on another island, Fair Isle. Thus one receives a geography lesson whilst solving mysteries.

Apart from the fourth book, I found the first three tedious reading. The plots are very slow, presumably reflecting the nature of the Shetlands, and there seem to be too many characters, most of which are related to each other. These books aren't police procedurals but rather who-dun-its, 'Blue lightning' especially. Unlike the Sophie Hannah books, these were at least readable, but I found them hard going and not interesting. I couldn't make any connection with any of the characters.

None of the books start with a murder: there's a certain amount of introductory material first. But all of them have a second murder about half way through; in fact, I found myself thinking whilst reading one of them that a second murder should occur soon - as it did, a few more pages in.

I'll give one of the books a second try in about a week: it may be that my general low feeling is affecting my reading and appreciation.

[SO: 3756; 3, 15, 36]

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