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Raven Black (Shetland) [Paperback]

Ann Cleeves
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (460 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

5 Feb 2010 Shetland (Book 1)

Raven Black is the first book in Ann Cleeves' Shetland series - which is now the major BBC1 drama starring Douglas Henshall, SHETLAND.

It is a cold January morning and Shetland lies buried beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter's eye is drawn to a vivid splash of colour on the white ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbour Catherine Ross. As Fran opens her mouth to scream, the ravens continue their deadly dance . . .

The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man - loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when police insist on opening out the investigation a veil of suspicion and fear is thrown over the entire community. For the first time in years, Catherine's neighbours nervously lock their doors, whilst a killer lives on in their midst.

Also available in the Shetland series are White Nights, Red Bones, Blue Lightning and Dead Water. Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series (ITV television drama VERA) contains five titles, of which The Glass Room is the most recent.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (5 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330512943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330512947
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (460 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,233 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

Review

'Ann's characterization is worthy of the best writers in the field . . . Rarely has a sense of place been so evocatively conveyed in a crime novel'

Daily Express



'A fine and sinister psychological novel in the Barbara Vine style. Cleeves is part of a new generation of superior British writers who put refreshing new spins and twist on the old forms'

Globe and Mail



'Ann Cleeves won the Duncan Lawrie Gold Dagger for Raven Black and rightly so. It's in the tradition of the small community murder mystery, but done with a depth that infuses this genre with new realism. A young girl is murdered in the Shetlands and an elderly recluse stands accused, as the lives of a complex society become intertwined to a fascinating effect'

Independent



'Raven Black breaks the conventional mould of British crime-writing, while retaining the traditional virtues of strong narrative and careful plotting'

Independent



'If this sounds like The Wicker Man meets Psycho then that was my initial reaction, but, as the plot develops, this turns out to be an exquisitely original story in its own right. In fact, I was less able to fathom who the "killer" was than in either of the aforementioned films. This is an absolute must for crime drama fans and you'll be kept guessing right up until the last crucial moments on a beach as to who is the real villain of the piece'

Radio Times (about the Radio 4 Saturday Play of Raven Black)



'Raven Black shows what a fine writer Cleeves is . . . an accomplished and thoughtful book'

Sunday Telegraph



'Beautifully constructed . . . a lively and surprising addition to a genre that once seemed moribund'

Times Literary Supplement

From the Publisher

*Winner of the CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award 2006, the biggest crime writing prize in the world*

Previous winners of the CWA Gold Dagger include Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, Ruth Rendell, Ian Rankin, Minette Walters & Colin Dexter. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
191 of 196 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly Paced and Beautifully Written 19 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback
This novel won the Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger for 2006. It is the first Ann Cleeves book I've read, and it won't be the last. It's a neatly constructed crime novel, perfectly paced and beautifully written - the psychological crime novel meets the old-fashioned whodunit.

The novel begins at New Year in the Shetland home of elderly Magnus Tait. A few days later an incomer to the island, Fran Hunter, discovers the body of teenager Catherine Ross in the snow not far from the old man's house. The islanders believe Tait had murdered a young schoolgirl, Catriona Bruce, eight years before and are all certain who must have murdered Catherine. Thrown into this psychological mix is Jimmy Perez, the lonely detective assigned to the case. Jimmy is `emotional incontinent', and you would think he would have trouble suspecting anyone of murder. And yet, slowly but surely, he uncovers the strained relationships and hidden secrets that lead him to the killer.

The sense of place is tremendous - the cold and the isolation are tangible. And the author has captured perfectly the sense of a community seemingly united but with tensions and divisions just below the surface. There are echoes of the cult movie The Wicker Man, with the outsider policeman coming to Shetland to solve the murder against the background of the forthcoming Up Helly Aa fire festival.

There is a fairly large cast of characters, and therefore many suspects, but Ann Cleeves draws each of them well, giving them unique voices of their own. There are clues and red herrings, and I enjoyed trying to solve the mystery before Perez finally discovers the identity of the murderer. And despite my amateur sleuthing, I was completely wrong and satisfyingly surprised when the killer was revealed.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hitting the wall 7 May 2010
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A modern slick crime thriller set in the Shetlands. On a bleak, windswept and snowy landscape a girl's body is discovered and all suspicion falls upon 'troll' Magnus Tait. As the story develops it appears he may have 'previous' but did he do it?

Ms Cleeves has clearly done extensive research on both the geography and history of the Shetlands, as the novel covers the period between the New Year and the 'Up Helly Aa' celebrations. She has a pacy style with short sentences and punchy chapters that immediately drew me in and the novel sped by.

Well, it sped by until three quarters of the way through, at which point I began to feel like the jockey on board Crisp in the Grand National. The book suddenly meandered and struggled for the finishing line to deliver an implausible and second-rate finish. It is still a good read but not an excellent one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, atmospheric crime novel 8 Dec 2012
By Joanne Sheppard TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Raven Black is a thoughtful, atmospheric crime novel with a measured pace and solid, believable characters and a setting brought convincingly to life without sentimentality or lazy assumptions about Shetland life.

When precocious teenager Catherine Ross is found murdered, the prime suspect is Magnus Tait, whom the islanders have long suspected of being involved in the death of another girl many years previously; his social and intellectual difficulties make him an easy target. However, Jimmy Perez, a detective from the tiny, isolated island of Fair Isle*, has reason to believe that Magnus may not be the culprit, and as the investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that in the small, tight-knit community of Shetland there are plenty of others who might have had a motive for killing Catherine.

The story benefits from the author's decision to tell it not just from Perez' own point of view, but from the perspectives of several different characters, including Magnus Tait himself, schoolgirl Sally Henry and incomer Fran Hunter. Each character is well-rounded and credible, and each lends something different to the narrative. However, Perez himself is an engaging lead, trying to make decisions about his own future and his relationship with Shetland and Fair Isle as he attempts to unravel not only the mystery of Catherine Ross's murder but also the 'cold case' of Catriona Bruce, who, like Catherine, disappeared shortly after a visit to Magnus Tait's croft.

Something that particularly interested me about Perez is that he seems to be the very opposite of the traditionally rational, driven, detached detective.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shetland shivers 3 Nov 2008
By purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
'Twenty past one in the morning on New Year's Day. Magnus knew the time because of the fat clock, his mother's clock, which squatted on the shelf over the fire.'

The opening lines introduce a Shetland islander waiting to be first footed on New Year's Eve, even though nobody has visited him for years. The novel quickly sets up both the mystery aspects and the psychological thriller aspects of this story. Magnus has been isolated from the rest of this small island community for years. The novel is partly an exploration of the history of this and whether it is justified. As readers, Cleeves places us like the camera that one of the girl victims held up to this island community - we see the pieces and try to fit them together to solve the mystery. The sense of place is excellent and Jimmy Perez is an intriguing detective that we want more of - so I'm not surprised that this will be the first in a series. Perez is descended from a Spaniard wrecked on the Fair Isles and the novel deals with the themes of heredity and inheritance as well as exclusion.

I found this novel because it won the 2006 Duncan Lawrie Dagger for best crime novel and will now read more Cleeves.
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