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Honours for Ann!

Ann Cleeves receives her Honorary Doctorate of Letters

Ann Cleeves at the degree ceremony at Sunderland University, July 8th 2014; photo © Craig Connor / NNP (North News & Pictures Ltd

Ann Cleeves, writer of the bestselling Shetland and Vera Stanhope novels, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Sunderland on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014, in recognition of her outstanding achievements as a crime writer.

Ann says: "I am ridiculously chuffed - my first degree even if it isn't a 'real' one!"

For more news from Ann, see her interview in the Radio Times - now available to read online - or listen to a visit to Shetland with NPR: "I love the idea of long, low horizons with secrets hidden underneath," says Ann.

Shetland Stories

Thin Air

In September 2014 Ann Cleeves and Shetland Arts are joining forces with Orkney Library and Shetland Library for 24 Islands/24 Hours, a unique series of events celebrating reading, writing and libraries, and culminating in the launch of Ann's new Shetland novel, Thin Air at Shetland's Baltasound Library, on Unst.

24 Islands/24 Hours will run from 3pm Thursday 11th September to 3pm Friday 12th September and over this period there will be events on 24 islands in Orkney and Shetland. Others participating authors already confirmed include Lin Anderson, Louise Welsh and Zoe Strachan, who along with a wealth of local writers, poets and storytellers will be travelling by air, sea and road to entertain the islanders in a 24 hour race against the clock.

Orkney Librarian Stewart Bain tells Radio Shetland all about 24 Islands/24 Hours.

Find more details - and the latest news - in the Shetland section of this website.

Shetland, the DVD

Ann has contributed a Shetland story - The Spinster - to OxCrimes, a star-studded anthology of the best in crime writing, published by Profile Books in aid of Oxfam. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it was launched in May: read more on the publisher's website, which includes links to buy your copy from Waterstones or Amazon - or call in at your local Oxfam shop!

The entire Shetland television drama based on Ann Cleeves' Shetland novels - the whole story so far, series one and two - is now available on DVD. 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. Order it now from Amazon (sorry, it's Region 2 only at the moment).

And more good news - the BBC has announced that Douglas Henshall will return as Detective Jimmy Perez in another series of Shetland! This will be a single full-length story told over six episodes.

Meanwhile, the BBC has a Shetland mini-website, with lots of background information, including clips from series 2, cast interviews and photos - and visit the Writers' Room for Ann's reactions. She told us: "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."

Read more about Shetland: the TV series, the books and the islands.

Vera latest

Silent Voices, US edition

Ann Cleeves's unglamourous but brilliant detective, DI Vera Stanhope, made her long-awaited debut in US bookshops in May 2013, when Minotaur Books published Silent Voices, delighting the many viewers who have enjoyed the story in Gaby Chiappe's sensitive adaptation of book for the hit TV series VERA; it is now also available in paperback.

Silent Voices finds Vera Stanhope in an unlikely setting - at a health club; but she has her reasons, and they are nothing to do with her work. So when Vera finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she's uncovered a simple death from natural causes. But a closer inspection reveals ligature marks around the victim's throat - death is never that simple.

More about Silent Voices.

Harbour Street

The latest Vera Stanhope book in the UK also formed the basis of the opening episode of VERA series four: Harbour Street concerns the mysterious death of pensioner Margaret Krukowksi on a busy Newcastle Metro train at the height of rush hour. It leads Vera to a quiet street in a run down seaside town, where she discovers a tight knit community living in the shadow of a long-held, explosive secret. There's a key rôle for Joe, too, as he struggles to maintain a professional distance when his daughter is named as key witness in the case.

Vera won best drama in the regional Royal Television Society Awards in March 2014 - and followed that with a hugely popular fourth series. All four series are now available on DVD: the first three in both Region 1 (USA and Canada) and Region 2 (UK and Europe) formats - so you can watch at home wherever you are -and Series 4 (released on DVD on May 19th), initially for Region 2 only.

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."

All about Vera, the TV series and the books.

"I do love Vera!"

Val McDermid

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.

Other Books

Bello reissues: the Inspector Ramsay books Burial of Ghosts The Sleeping and the Dead

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

Colin Dexter

A most satisfying mystery set in an isolated and intriguing location

Peter Robinson

Member, the Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame 2012

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Last update: 22nd July 2014.