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24 Islands, 24 Hours
Thin Air

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Dead Water

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24 Hours, 24 Islands - and you!

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."

Listen to Orkney Librarian Stewart Bain telling Radio Shetland all about 24 Islands/24 Hours.

The 24 Islands are:

Papay, Westray, Shapinsay, Mainland, Hoy, Eday, North Ronaldsay, Flotta, Burray, South Ronaldsay, Sanday, Stronsay, Rousay
Fetlar, Yell, Mainland, Bressay, Trondra, East Burra, West Burra, Whalsay, Fair Isle, Muckle Roe, East Isle Skerries, West Isle Skerries, Unst -

- and yes, that's already 26, and there may be more...

Shetland, the DVD

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).

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."

Shetland Quartets

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?".

Dead Water - US edition

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."

Publishers Weekly

Read more about Dead Water.


Shetland Stories

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.

Read an interview about Ann Cleeves and the Shetland Quartet in The Times Online; or read a profile of Ann Cleeves in The Scotsman.