The BBC has announced the good news: there will be a fourth series of Shetland, the very popular drama inspired by the Shetland novels by award-winning crime-writer Ann Cleeves (photographed, right, by Micha Theiner). Douglas Henshall returns as DI Jimmy Perez, with other regular cast also returning. The six one-hour episodes (the same format as the brilliant series three) will be written by series one showrunner David Kane, and broadcast early in 2017.
Ann told BBC Radio Shetland that the response to the last series was "so astonishing" that she "always felt there was a very good chance that it would come back".
The Queen of Mystery
Ann's many fans might think that she has earned the title "the Queen of Mystery" - but it is also the title of a new short story by Ann, which she has contributed to BBC Radio's The Crime Writer at the Festival series.
In the first story of the series, which was broadcast by BBC Radio 4 at 7.45pm on Sunday, 10th July (and is still available on Listen Again, Ann takes us to Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland - an annual crime convention for lovers of the traditional mystery novel. Her character, Stella Monkhouse, known to her fans as the "Queen of Mystery", is an award-winning crime writer who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that her literary star is beginning to wane...
Vera storms the US
To know the brilliant but unglamorous Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope is to love her - and it's now easier than ever for US readers to make Vera's acquaintance. Harbour Street, the sixth Vera Stanhope book, which formed the basis of the opening episode of television's VERA series four, was published in the US by Minotaur Books in December, 2015, has been winning starred reviews. The paperback edition follows in September 2016, then The Moth Catcher will reach the US in October 2016. And next year, publishers Minotaur Books will also be bringing out for the first time US editions of Vera's entire backlist.
The Moth Catcher is now available in paperback in the UK, and reaches the US in October 2016. Vera's seventh investigation takes her to Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland, where life seems perfect. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they're away. But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane into the valley - a beautiful, lonely place to die...
"The Moth Catcher is a splendid, solidly plotted modern take on a golden-age "closed circle" mystery, and Vera, as always, is a delight."
Laura Wilson, The Guardian
Meanwhile, in the US, the latest Vera Stanhope book is Harbour Street, which has been receiving starred reviews. The Moth Catcher reaches the US in October 2016 - and next year, publishers Minotaur Books will also be bringing out for the first time US editions of Vera's entire backlist.
All about Vera, the TV series and the books.
Shetland with a difference!
Ann's next book will be a Shetland novel Cold Earth, coming in the autumn. In the meanwhile she has published two other Shetland books - but with a difference! There's a new mystery featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez from the bestselling Shetland series: but Too Good To Be True is a gripping Quick Read which takes Jimmy Perez away from his home territory, all the way south to the Borders.
When young teacher Anna Blackwell is found dead in her home, the police think her death was suicide or a tragic accident. After all, Stonebridge is a quiet country village in the Scottish Borders, where murders just don't happen.
Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez soon arrives from far-away Shetland when his ex-wife, Sarah, asks him to look into the case. The local gossips are saying that her new husband, Tom, was having an affair with Anna. Could Tom have been involved with her death? Sarah refuses to believe it - but needs proof.
Anna had been a teacher. She must have loved kids. Would she kill herself knowing there was nobody to look after her daughter? She had seemed happier than ever before she died. And to Perez, this suggests not suicide, but murder ...
Too Good To Be True was selected as one of 15 books to be given away, free, on World Book Night, April 23rd 2016. Organisers explained that the diverse line-up, spanning genres of crime, poetry, non-fiction, YA, historical fiction, and fiction in translation, was devised to celebrate "the enrichment that reading and books can bring to people's lives" encouraging those who don't already read for pleasure - an estimated 36% of adults - to get involved. Ann said "It's nice to be a part of this event, specially with the Quick Read Jimmy Perez!"
The other book is something else again - a beautifully illustrated introduction to the Shetland islands. Ann says "If you'd like to know more about the islands where the Shetland TV series is filmed and the books are set, check out my non-fiction book. It's full of wonderful photos and explains why I love the place so much." It's a gloriously illustrated companion to the novels, taking readers through a year on Shetland, learning about its past, meeting its people, celebrating its festivals and seeing how the flora and fauna of the islands changes with the seasons. Whether it is the drama of the Viking fire festival of Up Helly Aa in winter, or the piercing blue and hot pink of spring flowers on the clifftops, the long, white nights of midsummer or the fierce gales and high tides of autumn, Shetland is vividly captured in all its bleak and special beauty.
You can see an extract from the book on the publishers' website.
In the Press
Ann talked to The Independent about where she found the initial ideas for The Moth Catcher - and what crime novels she enjoys - and doesn't enjoy! - reading. Meanwhile, in The Guardian she offers a short guide to Vera's Northumberland: read what she has to say about Amble, and compare her descriptions of Mardle, the setting for Harbour Street!
"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 Thin Air 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.
Ann Cleeves says "Good short stories have a force and a clarity which it's almost impossible to achieve in a novel. That's why I enjoy reading them. I know that each word has been chosen with care.
"I don't send post cards when I travel; I write stories instead. The three pieces in the CWA anthologies bring back vivid memories of Tanzania, Finland and Alaska. Raven Black was originally conceived as another of those holiday snap stories."
In The Starlings and Other Stories, Ann has edited a collection of twelve short stories which are literally, if not snapshots, at least inspired by photographs. She has invited each of her fellow members of Murder Squad to bring in an accomplice, and write a short story inspired by the dramatic photography of Pembrokeshire-based author David Wilson. Ann's own contribution is the title story, The Starlings, featuring DI Vera Stanhope.
Read more about The Starlings and other short stories by Ann Cleeves.
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