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, in a 24 hour race against the clock. From 3.00 pm on Thursday 11th September to 3.00 pm on Friday 12th September there will be events on 24 islands in Orkney and Shetland, culminating in the launch of Ann's new Shetland novel, Thin Air at Britain's most northerly library, in Baltasound, Unst.
Ann Cleeves herself will be visiting the Orkney Islands of Papa Westray and Burray - and will meet Shetland readers on the Bressay ferry, as well as travelling by mobile library and dropping into the Gutcher Goose Cafe, Yell, visiting seven islands in all. Will she cover all the ground - and the sea - within 24 hours?
Other events include a book 'launch' with a difference for Marsali Taylor - a copy of her new book will be literally launched into the sea of the isle of Vementry, to supply some lucky beachcomber with a good read! There's a poetry reading on the pier of East Isle, Skerries: free, outdoors and possibly windswept! Or perhaps you'd prefer the darker side of St Magnus history: a late night walk around the cathedral and graveyard with readings and creepy stories?
You don't have to be in the Northern Isles to join in the fun. Ann has written a brand new murder mystery, Murder at the Ravenswick Hotel, which was premiered at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, with the help of two of the stars from the BBC crime drama Shetland. After her whirlwind tour of the islands, she will be presenting it (on the afternoon of Saturday 13th September) in the comfortable surroundings of the Busta House Hotel, Brae. But she is making it available to libraries all over the country who would like to join in this unique celebration of books and libraries. Shetland Libraries' website has all the information about how your library can join in, as well as a full programme of events.
And there's a message from Ann, who says: "Good luck and please let us know how it goes! Spread the word by tweeting with the hashtag #joinlibraries. We'd love to see your photos and to know how many new library members you've managed to recruit. And we'll let you know how 24/24 is going over the two days."
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.
The latest case for Ann Cleeves's unglamourous but brilliant detective, DI Vera Stanhope, and the basis of the opening episode of VERA series four, is Harbour Street. Now also available in paperback, it concerns the mysterious death of pensioner Margaret Krukowksi on a busy Newcastle Metro train at the height of rush hour, which leads Vera to a quiet street in a run down seaside town, and 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.
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."
Vera 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.
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