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Blue Lightning (Shetland Book 4) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 465 customer reviews

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Length: 380 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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


'Jimmy Perez takes his fiancée to Fair Isle to meet his parents, but when bad weather cuts off the island and a body is found at its bird observatory, where sexual tension and professional rivalry are rife, he takes charge of the investigation. Perez alone realises the murderer is still on the island and prepared to kill again, leading to events that make him question his career...' --Sunday Times

'Blue Lightening crackles with atmosphere and tension... It's meticulous crime fiction which does its job outstandingly of whisking the reader away to other worlds, and provides the reader with an almighty jolt just as it seems to be plain sailing at the end. And it's made me want to investigate those earlier books in the series' --reviewingtheevidence.com

'The thriller writer Ann Cleeves has really hit her stride with the series of novels she is currently writing in the Shetlands (the islands are principal characters in the books). This year's Blue Lightning is the last and best in the series. Be warned: it has a surprise ending of real emotional punch.' --John Lancaster, Telegraph Review

'If you are looking for a well-crafted Agatha Christie-type murder mystery with a strong atmosphere, you cannot do better than Ann Cleeves'
--Lady Antonia Fraser, The Lady

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1406 KB
  • Print Length: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New edition edition (3 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0040JHNYI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 465 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #583 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Ann Cleeves worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she started writing. She is a member of 'Murder Squad', working with other northern writers to promote crime fiction. In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black . Ann lives in North Tyneside. Her Vera Stanhope series is currently being turned into a major ITV production to be released in Autumn 2010.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the final novel in Ann Cleeves's Shetland Quartet, and it's as good as, if not better than the other three. What I particularly liked about Blue Lightning is that the author has written about something she knows very well: working as the cook at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory. For me, it made it special to know she was writing about something that she had experienced.

The setting is so atmospheric. I could really feel the closed in environment of the small island, and the weather, which stopped people getting on and off the island, giving a real sense of claustrophobia. The usual characters are in there, but this time Inspector Jimmy Perez is on his home island of Fair Isle, investigating murders in his usual reserved, yet probing, fashion.

I am so sorry to have come to the end of this series. Like other reviewers, I would love it if we could have more of Jimmy Perez and the Shetlands, but if not then I feel Blue Lightning was a perfect final chapter. These books are highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth and final story in Ann Cleeves's Shetland Quartet, and Perez is on his home territory of Fair Isle, to take his fiancee, Fran to meet his parents. The murder of a woman in Fair Isle's bird observatory during a period of particularly turbulent weather means that Perez has to begin his investigations alone because it isn't possible to call on help from the Shetland Mainland. The number of suspects is limited by the location and the weather but that doesn't make Perez's task any easier. At the best of times, Fair Isle is an isolated location and the atmosphere generated in this excellent novel during a period of late autumn storms just increases this sense of isolation. Cleeves's detective Perez is an excellent creation whose character has deepened as the series has progressed, and in this story, Fran plays a more prominent role than in the previous book (Red Bones). Perez's parents are also well-drawn and realistic characters and the cameo roles for other islanders are also nicely drawn. There is lots of material here about "twitchers" and detail about the birds themselves and the work of the bird observatory which has been well-researched. As usual, it is the evocation of the setting which steals the show but the plot is labyrinthine and intricate making this an absorbing read. I would recommend that you read the other three books in the Shetland Quartet before embarking upon this one. Although the murder mystery here is complete in itself, this one definitely feels like the culmination of the series.
I do hope that Ann Cleeves can be persauded to revisit the Shetlands and Jimmy Perez at some point in the future.
This is a superb series of detective stories which maintains its high standard throughout!
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By Skeadugenga TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've really enjoyed the Shetland series thus far, but it all goes wrong when Jimmy Perez returns to his native Fair Isle, with his fiancee Fran, to visit his parents. Then someone is found stabbed and as the weather is too bad to bring in more people Perez must investigate on his own.

One of the most pronounced and unusual things about the preceding three books was the way in which Jimmy investigated crimes through the network of island associations and rumour. This is abandoned in this book as the only fully defined island characters are Jimmy's parents. The claustrophobia that Cleeves may have been trying for as a trade off didn't really work for me.

The ending is a bit of an anticlimax, with a couple of gratuitous plot twists that left the next 20 pages feeling a bit superfluous. Again, I can see what she might have been aiming for, but it didn't really come off. And its hard to imagine the document referred to would have any legal standing or be acceptable.

Overall, I wish I'd stopped at book number three. I wish the author had as well, as its fairly easy to predict which way the story will go after this - if it returns at all and I'm not sure I trust her any longer to deliver the goods.
3 Comments 26 of 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I hope this isn't going to be the last we hear of Inspector Perez in that "Blue Lightning" is the final book of Ms Cleeves' "Shetland Quartet". This is another really well written and well-researched thriller which had me guessing almost to the end. Having visited Shetland and Fair Isle in the past I can visualise the locations and they just make we want to go back there - especially now the killer has been caught!
I for one would be more than happy if there are some more "Shetland" stories following Inspector Perez's life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After the masterful Red Bones I couldn't wait to read the fourth of the Shetland quartet, but this has been the only one of Cleeves' books I haven't liked. It's as if she got bored with the lot of them, or even as if someone else has written this one - I found the plot was predictable from around the middle of the book, and became something of a cliche as an ending to an otherwise terrific saga. Even the characters weren't so well drawn as usual, the usual atmospheric brilliance seemed laboured. A shame, but I won't bother with the sequel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the three earlier books in the Shetland series, and enjoyed this as much - until the end. The end just made me angry. Some may admire the "emotional punch". Personally, I don't read detective stories for that sort of effect. I doubt if I shall risk reading the next in the series. I only hope I'm not put off Vera Stanhope too!
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