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Blue Lightning (Shetland Quartet 4) [Hardcover]

Ann Cleeves
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (295 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2010 Shetland Quartet 4 (Book 4)

Shetland Detective Jimmy Perez knows it will be a difficult homecoming when he returns to the Fair Isles to introduce his fiancée, Fran, to his parents. It’s a community where everyone knows each other, and strangers, while welcomed, are still viewed with a degree of mistrust.

Challenging to live on at the best of times, with the autumn storms raging, the island feels cut off from the rest of the world. Trapped, tension is high and tempers become frayed.

Enough to drive someone to murder…

When a woman's body is discovered at the renowned Fair Isles bird observatory, with feathers threaded through her hair, the islanders react with fear and anger. With no support from the mainland and only Fran to help him - Jimmy has to investigate the old-fashioned way. He soon realizes that this is no crime of passion - but a murder of cold and calculated intention.

With no way off the island until the storms abate - Jimmy knows he has to work quickly. There's a killer on the island just waiting for the opportunity to strike again…



Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; First Edition; 1st printing. edition (5 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023001447X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230014473
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (295 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description

Amazon Review

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

Review

'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)

(5 Stars)
'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.'
--The Times

`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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maintains the standard of this superb series 1 Mar 2010
By joc66 TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear 28 Feb 2011
By Constant Reader TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph 19 Aug 2010
By Nicola TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A slow read 13 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was my first and last read of the Shetland books. A mixed handful of people in an isolated location, cut off by bad weather. One of them murdered the others suspects. Probably not the first time this plotline has been used. I found it slow reading. Perhaps the author's intention was to recreate the slow pace of Fair Isle life.
I found the mandatory twist leading to the reveal unnecessary and depressing. It added nothing to the plot. The detective of course knew who it was from the off by knowing a few vital pieces of information that were not included in the telling. Purely a personal taste but I did not like it and I am not tempted to read another of this author's work
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un-put-downable! 4 Feb 2010
By Puffin
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent storyline, love the characters, my favourite crime series at the moment.
Published 1 day ago by Eileen D
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
one of my favourite authers
Published 3 days ago by Susan Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this gripping series and can't believe I didn't know...
Really enjoyed this gripping series and can't believe I didn't know of this author before, nor of the t.v. serialisation of her 'Shetland' series. Read more
Published 3 days ago by 6363Sandra
4.0 out of 5 stars Like meeting recognisable characters
Like meeting recognisable characters. Having been to Orkney enjoyed descriptions of Shetland. Denouement is satisfactory too, not over dramatic..... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Una Barbour
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read.
Published 5 days ago by hilsr
3.0 out of 5 stars Peter mcwhinnie
A bit slow in telling the story but that's the isles pace. Liked the people in the novel I liked their friendship towards others even Jimmy's.
Published 7 days ago by Peter Mcwhinnie
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
First one I've read but really enjoyed it. I'll be back for more
Published 8 days ago by Stephen Allcock
4.0 out of 5 stars good story
A bit slow and long winded but enjoyable non the less. Shock ending, didn't see it coming.
Published 8 days ago by jinty
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok
a rather slow detective novel so not the best book I ha e read. all characterisation with little suspense. just ok.
Published 13 days ago by Samantha Whitham
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great
Published 17 days ago by pj
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