More about Thin Air
More about Dead Water
More about Raven Black
More about White Nights
More about Red Bones
More about Blue Lightning
Ann Cleeves's Shetland
Ann Cleeves's bestselling series of crime novels, featuring Detective Jimmy Perez, and now also adapted for a major BBC television series, draw their inspiration from the place in which they are set: Shetland.
Ann's latest 'Shetland' book is not a murder mystery, but 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.
An archipelago of more than a hundred islands, Shetland is the one of the most remote places in the United Kingdom. Its fifteen hundred miles of shore mean that wherever one stands, there is a view of the sea. It has sheltered voes and beaches and dramatically exposed cliffs, lush meadows full of wild flowers in the summer and bleak hilltops where only the hardiest of plants will grow. It is a place where traditions are valued and celebrated, but new technologies and ways of working are also embraced.
Ann tweeted: "Look out for the Shetland non fiction book. You'll be there in spirit then. So many beautiful photos!" - Photographers from Shetland and further afield, from the present day and the Shetland Archives have all contributed, and Ann's descriptions - and the glimpses of how Shetland has inspired her books - are the perfect complement.
You can see an extract from the book on the publishers' website.
Too Good To Be True
Look out in February for a Jimmy Perez story with a difference: Too Good To Be True finds Detective Inspector Perez far from home, responding to an appeal from his ex-wife to investigate a mysterious death in the Scottish Borders.
Too Good To Be True is a gripping Quick Read, and it has been 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!"
Thin Air, Ann's latest Shetland mystery, is now available in both the US and the UK. A group of old university friends leave the bright lights of London and travel to Unst, Shetland's most northerly island, to celebrate the marriage of one of their friends to a Shetlander. It's mid-summer, a time of light nights and unexpected mists. But late on the night of the wedding party, one of them, Eleanor, disappears - apparently into thin air. The following day, Eleanor's friend Polly receives an email. It appears to be a suicide note, saying she'll never be found alive. And then Eleanor's body is discovered, lying in a small loch close to the cliff edge...
In this sixth in the 'Shetland' series, detective Jimmy Perez: once more joins forces with Willow Reeves to investigate a death which reveals the tensions between tradition and modernity that lie deep at the heart of a community, and shows how events from the past can have devastating effects on the present.
Thin Air was shortlisted for the fourth annual Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year (formerly the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year.) Ann said: "I'm absolutely delighted that Thin Air has been shortlisted for the Scottish Crime Novel of the year. Thanks to the judges for considering it and to Bloody Scotland for organising the competition."
Read more about Thin Air.
For fans of the TV series - a new series of SHETLAND is on its way!
And if you read Ann's recent Diary entry in which she talks about a Shetland book with a difference, a non-fiction book ("I thought it'd be a doddle," she says. "Lots of lovely photos of the islands and only 25,000 words of text from me. What could be the problem?...") and are impatient to know more, that too is on its way: Ann Cleeves' Shetland will be published on October 22nd - perfect background reading if you're heading for Shetland Noir!
24 Hours, 24 Islands - and a book launch
Ann celebrated the publication of Thin Air with a unique series of events organised by Shetland Arts, Orkney Library and Shetland Library: 24 Islands/24 Hours, a 24 hour race against the clock. From 3.00 pm on Thursday 11th September to 3.00 pm on Friday 12th September there were events on 24 islands in Orkney and Shetland, culminating in the launch of Thin Air at Britain's most northerly library, in Baltasound, Unst.
Ann herself visited the Orkney Islands of Papa Westray and Burray - and met 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. The picture, left, taken by Shetland librarian Douglas Garden, shows her signing a book for ferryman Will Taylor.
Other events included a book 'launch' with a difference for Marsali Taylor - a copy of her new book was literally launched into the sea of the isle of Vementry, to supply some lucky beachcomber with a good read! There was a poetry reading on the pier of East Isle, Skerries, and a late night walk around St Magnus cathedral and graveyard with readings and creepy stories. Louise Welsh did events for children and adults on Yell - but the biggest star of all was - well, look and see! There's a full round-up of events on Shetland Libraries' website, and another on Orkney Library's site.
Shetland on television
Meanwhile, 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).
Now also available in Australia!
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.
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."
Raven Black was initially intended as a standalone novel - after all, how many murders could there be in Shetland? But the book was so successful, winning the first Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for the best crime novel of the year, as well as numerous fans, that Ann wrote another Shetland mystery, and then another - until she had completed a quartet covering all four seasons and a tour of the archipelago.
For a fan's eye view of the original quartet, see The Book Resort, which gave the Shetland Quartet rave reviews during its Ann Cleeves Week; all the earlier books - plus an interview with Ann - are linked from the review of Blue Lightning. They also held an informal chat with Ann, in which she answers the question: "Tell us one thing about yourself that most of your fans don't already know?".
The turning of the year's circle and the dramatic changes it brought for Jimmy Perez didn't mean the end of the story: Dead Water brought new beginnings - and the start of a new quartet based on the four elements: earth, water, fire and air. It picks up the story after a shocking change in the life of detective Jimmy Perez; but this is a time of change for the islands, too. Shetland has 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 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 will be 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!
My Shetland - two prize-winning short films chosen by Ann Cleeves to show readers of her Shetland Quartet what the islands look like to the people who live there. Or see a large image of the map on this site.