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24 Islands, 24 Hours
Thin Air

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Dead Water

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Thursday 11th/ Friday 12th September: 24 Islands in 24 Hours

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.

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

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.

Stewart Bain from Orkney Library says "We set ourselves the challenge to organise 24 events on 24 islands in 24 hours. We have already confirmed most of these but that is just the starting point, we now want to involve as many people and islands as possible. If you live anywhere on Orkney or Shetland and would like to put on an event for 24 Islands/24 Hours please get in touch with us." (See Shetland Libraries' or Orkney Islands Council's websites for contact details.)

At each event the libraries will be promoting their wide range of services and aim to attract a large number of new members. The organisers are encouraging everyone to follow 24 Islands/24 Hours on social media and get involved using the hashtag #joinlibraries.

Libraries throughout the UK can be part of 24 Islands/24 hours by presenting the new Ann Cleeves interactive mystery Murder at the Ravenswick Hotel, which will be launched at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate on Saturday 19th July. Ann says "This is a fun way for libraries to pull in a new audience. Join us on online to tell us about your event and how many new readers you've recruited." We hope that people across the UK who are not already members of their local library will join during the 24 hour period to show their support.

The idea for 24 Islands/24 Hours followed previous successful events that both libraries have organised with Ann. Karen Fraser from Shetland Library says "Ann has not only brought us a lot attention with her Shetland novels, but has a Library background and is passionate about the value of libraries."

Watch this page for all the latest news!

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!

Shetland, the DVD

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."

Dead Water

Dead Water - US edition

But the books come first, and Ann's latest Shetland murder mystery featuring detective Jimmy Perez is Dead Water, now also available in the US. It picks up the story after Ann's initial quartet of Shetland novels, which ended with a shocking change in the life of detective Jimmy Perez. This is a time of change for the islands, too: they have 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

Ann's many fans will be delighted to hear that this is just the start of a second quartet of Shetland novels: Thin Air follows in September 2014. And Ann has signed a further four-book deal with publishers Pan MacMillan, so as well as completing the second quartet there are two more Vera Stanhope books to look forward to!

Read more about Dead Water.

The Shetland Quartet

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.

The turning of the year's circle and the dramatic changes it has brought for Jimmy Perez don't mean the end of the story - Ann's latest book, Dead Water, brings new beginnings - and the start of a new quartet based on the four elements: earth, water, fire and air. 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?".

Ann has also written a short story, The Soothmoothers, which features Jimmy Perez. It was written for Radio 4's Red Herrings series, and broadcast on April 30th 2009, read by Marnie Baxter. Read The Soothmoothers exclusively on this web site.

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.