Ann Cleeves World-Wide
Crime-writer Ann Cleeves wins praise and awards around the globe, these days. At the recent Iceland Noir convention in Reykjavik, she was announced the winner of Iceland Noir's first ever Honorary Award for Services to the Art of Crime Fiction. The Crime Fiction Lover blog explains: "She has been instrumental in helping the bi-annual event establish itself. She's also an advocate for reading and library provision, while in her books she explores families and communities and how they're affected by dramatic events... such as murder." (and that the award was accompanied by an authentic Icelandic wool blanket, very welcome in Reykjavik in November.
Writing about it in her Diary, Ann says: " I was astonished and delighted. There was a plaque and a beautiful Icelandic woollen blanket. I will treasure them both and of course I'll be back in two years time. If you love books, the company of readers and writers, and a landscape to take your breath away, you should be there too."
Meanwhile, Ann has been telling The Sydney Morning Herald about her new Shetland murder mystery, Cold Earth. This marks not only the continuation of a popular and much-praised series, but also Ann's thirtieth book in 30 years!
Cold Earth opens as Jimmy Perez attends the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait: but torrential rain triggers a landslide that reveals a totally unexpected body that of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. Her identity is a mystery Jimmy becomes obsessed with solving: perhaps it can help the dark-haired Fair Islander resolve some mysteries of his own.
Mark Lawson chose Cold Earth as one of his best crime books of the year, and called Ann "the best living evoker of landscape".
"One of the most memorable entries in the series."
Barry Forshaw, FT
And there's more to celebrate: TV's Shetland crime drama, which has carried off two Scottish Baftas: when the winners of this year's awards were revealed, Shetland took the prize in two of the four categories for which it was in the running. Shetland itself won best television drama, and Douglas Henshall, who plays detective inspector Jimmy Perez, was named best television actor. Director Jan Matthys (best director film/television) and Gaby Chiappe (best writer film/television) were also nominated. Congratulations to all concerned - and here's looking forward to series four!
Vera storms the US
To know Ann Cleeves's 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. The Moth Catcher, the seventh Vera Stanhope book, dramatised as episode three of the sixth series of ITV's VERA, is now available in the US. And next year, publishers Minotaur Books will also be bringing out for the first time US editions of Vera's entire backlist.
In The Moth Catcher (now available in paperback in the UK) 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
All about Vera, the TV series and the books.
Shetland with a difference!
Ann 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!"
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