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Raven Black (Shetland) Paperback – 5 Feb 2010

642 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New Edit/Cover edition (5 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330512943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330512947
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (642 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,852 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)

Book Description

A remote community, touched by evil - would you know who to trust?

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

211 of 216 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on 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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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Nov. 2008
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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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE on 7 May 2010
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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Fat Albert on 25 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Anne Cleeves' 'Raven Black' perfectly catches the spirit of Shetland, it's people and the tight-knit communities that make up these remote islands. Her cast are beautifully realistic and the rendering of the landscapes allows you to picture the scenes with crystal clarity. Capturing the unique character of the Shetland people and that of the 'Incomers', or 'Soothmoothers', that are attempting to adapt and integrate has leant an uncannily accurate, real-life feel to her fictional story. The subdued undercurrent of tension between the islanders and the Mainlanders who arrive, thinking that they are more cosmopolitan and worldly-wise than the locals, nicely demonstrates the quiet, knowing confidence of a population who are far more cultured and cosmopolitan than a visitor would suspect. Anne works this into the general feel of the novel and also evokes memories of the trials and tribulations of childhood and family life.

The plot and its main and supporting characters build and progress evenly, elevating the suspense and developing it all the way to a most satisfying and unsuspected ending. I do not normally read crime novels and only did so on this occassion because of its location but I would recommend Anne's book wholeheartedly to all, but especially to Shetlanders and anyone else that is in love with the 'Auld Rock'.
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