Winning the prestigious Crime Writer’s Association Dagger for best crime novel did not necessarily glean for Cleeves the kind of kudos she clearly deserves -- although the remarkable Raven Black
no doubt enjoyed a welcome sale fillip. A new TV series with Brenda Blethyn may do the trick, and it won't be a moment too soon. If you doubt this encomium to Ann Cleeves’ writing skills, do yourself a favour and pick up her latest, Blue Lightning
-- a further demonstration of her considerable narrative skills and (her ace in the hole) persuasive evocation of atmosphere. Her Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is not looking forward to his journey to the Fair Isles. It is (famously) a very tight-knit community, which does not extend open arms to incomers. As Jimmy knows, the islanders are a hardy breed -- and they need to be, as winter approaches with its inevitable storms, making an already insular community close in further upon itself. It is in this pressure cooker atmosphere that murder takes place (this is an Ann Cleeves novel, after all) and the body of a woman is found with her hair laced with feathers. With the locals in a furious and fractious mood, it’s up to Jimmy to investigate the killing as quickly and efficiently as he can; not an easy task, as he has no resources to call on except his own. And as the clock ticks, the inevitability of another murder looms ever larger.
As in Ann Cleeves’ earlier Shetland mysteries, the trick here is to utilise the apparatus of the Christie-style murder mystery (most notably the cloistered, cut-off setting) and reinvigorate it with a healthy dose of plausible contemporary psychology. This Cleeves does splendidly, and even though Jimmy Perez may be a familiar kind of figure to those who read a great deal of crime fiction, there are still some canny changes that the author is able to ring on the familiar formula. Best of all, though, is the skill with which she evokes the experience of being on these dangerous islands; the author is a well-known aficionado of Scandinavian crime fiction, and she is able to transmit that Nordic feeling into her own exemplary work. --Barry Forshaw
'Ann Cleeves has gained a loyal readership for her Shetland-set mysteries and this, the fourth, which finds Detective Jimmy Perez returning to the remote island of Fair Isle to introduce his fiancée to his parents, only to discover a corpse has been discovered in the bird observatory, shouldn't disappoint those fans.'
--Waterstone's Books Quarterly
`Blue Lightning is the fourth novel in Ann Cleeves' excellent quartet... Cleeves has found a way to serve up traditional mystery in an unusual modern setting... As usual the plotting is strong and the background fascinating. Cleeves is particularly good at assembling domestic details that adds a cumulative poignancy and depth to her character's lives. The narrative builds to a truly shocking climax with a grimly convincing epilogue.' --The Spectator
`The fourth and last installment of Cleeves' Shetland quartet finds detective Jimmy Perez battling Fair Isles prejudice and ferocious autumn storms, not to mention a brutal and calculating killer. Great atmospheric suspense.' --The Daily Mirror
`Cleeves is excellent not just on the mystery, but on the atmosphere of Fair Isle, and the effect of its strange character on the human population.' --The Independent
`Ann Cleeves makes use of birdwatching, an interesting area of expertise the intricacies of which also have appeared in some of her earlier work...A sound, traditional detective novel, with a delightful setting and a shock ending.' --Literary Review
`Cleeves is a subtle, slow burning writer, a brilliant builder of atmosphere' --Saga magazine
'The fourth in Cleeve's Shetland based mysteries sees Detective Jimmy Perez return to the remote Fair Isle to introduce his fiancée to his parents, only to discover a corpse in a bird observatory.' --TNT Magazine
`Readers who haven't already discovered Britain's brilliant Ann Cleeves are in for a treat... Don't, whatever you do, skip to the end.' --The Globe and Mail (Canada)
'The definitive detective thriller...The pace quickens and rises steadily to a thrilling and violent crescendo. The end is completely unpredictable and shocking... Beautifully crafter and exciting with a gripping storyline, this is a must for those who like their fiction mature and thoughtful and their authors intelligent and imaginative.' --Sunday Express
'Blue Lightning, the final book in Ann Cleeves' Shetland Quartet, is also the best and the darkest. The setting is Fair Isle, full of birds and beauty, but, in Cleeves' hands, deeply sinister...Cleeves is particularly good at portraying the effect of tragic death on a small, closely knit community. Blue Lightning is a comfortable, old-fashioned detective story -- I mean that as strong commendation -- with a satisfying climax.'
`A fully satisfying novel'
--Times Literary Supplement
'Her detective, Jimmy Perez, take his fiancée Fran home Fair Isle to meet his parents, but fears she might get bored after a few days. When bad weather cuts off the island and a woman's body is discovered at it's world famous bird observatory, Perez has no choice but to take charge of the investigation...'
--The Sunday Times
`This expertly plotted crimefest has the complexity and suspense of the best of Taggart, in a setting so evocative you can almost feel the itch of the cloak of isolation. And there are extra bonus points of course for using the infamous Scottish crime phrase, "There's been a murder!"' --Daily Record
`As Perez delves into the tensions between the taciturn islanders and the bird fancying interlopers, it soon becomes clear that Cleeve's ability to combine old fashioned, well-crafter plotting with psychological penetration makes her a rare bird indeed.'
--Daily Telegraph, Review