The new series of Shetland, the powerful murder mystery drama series based on Ann Cleeves' novels and starring Douglas Henshall as Detective Jimmy Perez, is nearing its end. Two two-part stories have already been broadcast in full, adaptations of Ann's first Shetland mystery, Raven Black, and the latest book in the series, Dead Water, plus the first part of Blue Lightning adapted by Richard Davidson: all five episodes are available on the iPlayer. There's just one last episode of Blue Lightning still to come, on Tuesday April 15th at 9.00 pm. Meanwhile the Shetland News welcomes the arrival of murder and intrigue on Fair Isle - and the Radio Times warns you to listen out for an uncredited cameo appearance!
Episodes already broadcast remain available on the iPlayer until April 22nd - and even that isn't the end, because the whole story so far, series one and two, will be released on DVD on 21st April. That's four of Ann's novels: Red Bones, dramatised in two parts in season one, and Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning from season two. You can already place an advance order with Amazon (sorry, it's Region 2 only at the moment).
Christopher Aird, Shetland Executive Producer and BBC Scotland's Head of Drama, told the BBC Media Center: "It has been terrifically exciting to develop the second series of Shetland. I think people will find the show darker and more atmospheric." There's lot's more information on the BBC website, including cast interviews and photos - and visit the Writers' Room for Ann's reactions.
Even hardcore fans of the books will find that the TV show holds some surprises. Ann has been watching some previews, and says: "The TV adaptations are very often very different from the books - the scriptwriters cut some characters and add others, cut big chunks of plot and sometimes they even change the murderer! But I'm very relaxed about that. Prose and film are different forms. Besides, the book stops being mine every time someone reads it. Each reader brings their own imagination, history and prejudice to the story and each writer has to learn to let go. Adaptation just takes the process a bit further."
But the books come first, and Ann's latest Shetland murder mystery featuring detective Jimmy Perez is Dead Water, now also available in the US. It picks up the story after Ann's initial quartet of Shetland novels, which ended with a shocking change in the life of detective Jimmy Perez. This is a time of change for the islands, too: they have done well from the oil boom, but what will the new era of renewable energy bring? Can Jimmy Perez make a new beginning in his own life? And can he find the murderer of journalist Jerry Markham?
"...The tensions between those who wish to preserve their traditions and those who seek the opportunities of new technologies are subtly illustrated. Cleeves keeps readers guessing about the perpetrator's identity until the final pages."
Ann's many fans will be delighted to hear that this is just the start of a second quartet of Shetland novels: Thin Air follows in the autumn of 2014. And Ann has signed a further four-book deal with publishers Pan MacMillan, so as well as completing the second quartet there are two more Vera Stanhope books to look forward to!
Read more about Shetland: the TV series, the books and the islands.
Congratulations to all at Team Vera: the show won won best drama in the regional Royal Television Society Awards in March 2014 (Read about it in The Journal). Series four of Vera will be shown on UK television later in the spring, when the first episode will be Paul Rutman's adaptation of Harbour Street, the sixth and latest Vera Stanhope book.
Writing on the Book Oxygen website, N.J. Cooper said " There is no shirking of the miseries and cruelties of real life in this series, but Cleeves displays them without resorting to any graphic violence. She has always rendered the landscape and inhabitants of the North East of England with a quiet skill but there is a sense of expansion in the writing of Harbour Street and a confidence that make it even more appealing than its predecessors."
Harbour Street was published by Pan Macmillan on 16th January 2014; read more about Harbour Street here.
Hear Ann on Woman's Hour, talking about Vera Stanhope, Harbour Street, libraries and real-life murderers: the programme is available for Listen Again, so you can listen to the whole thing or fast forward to Ann's section, 30 minutes in. There's also a bonus short clip of Ann reading from Harbour Street, which was not included in the broadcast programme.
All about Vera, the TV series and the books.
"I do love Vera!"
Signed books now available
A lot of people have asked us if it is possible to buy signed copies of Ann's books, so we have teamed up with the people who offer this service for Val McDermid. If you want your copy of Harbour Street signed but can't get to any of Ann's events - or if you are looking for a particular, earlier book (we have mainly recent hardback UK titles on offer but other titles and languages may be available) - use the enquiry form to find out more.
Autumn 2013 brought a generous crop of new editions for fans of Ann Cleeves's detective novels - have you read them all?
Pan MacMillan's Bello imprint hunts down lost classics, and uses modern digital technology to make them available to readers as eBooks or print-on-demand paperbacks: over the summer they have quietly been releasing two previous series of detective novels by Ann Cleeves. The 'Inspector Ramsay' books feature a police officer who is like Ann's (and TV's) Vera Stanhope in being based in England's northernmost county, Northumberland - though unlike her in many other ways. Looking even further back, to the work of a very young writer, you can also now read the George & Molly books, the adventures of amateur sleuth George Palmer-Jones, an elderly birdwatcher - and his wife, Molly. (Or you might want to read what Ann would like to say to that younger self).
Two standalone novels are back in the bookshops in new paperback editions: The Sleeping and the Dead is a vivid psychological suspense novel the discovery of a body in the lake forces prison officer Hannah Morton to confront her past self; in Burial of Ghosts a holiday romance changes Lizzie's life forever.
In true Agatha Christie style, Cleeves once again pulls the wool over our eyes with cunning and conviction
A most satisfying mystery set in an isolated and intriguing location