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VINE VOICEon 18 June 2009
I am an Ann Cleeves latecomer, who discovered her through her first "Shetland" based novel, Raven Black, and have since become an Ann addict.
This, the second in her Shetland series has, in my opinion, outshone even the fantastic "Raven Black".
I wont go into a lengthy synopsis of "White Nights", as reading some of them can act as spoilers. All I will say is if you like your crime fiction in the old style ( Christie, Sayers etc..), but modern and up to speed with what is happening in other areas of crime fiction, then I think you will love this book. But I would read "Raven Black" first, as it happens to support a few of the relationships in "White Nights".
It is worth the price just to observe Ms Cleeves' descriptions of the islands, the communities, the hidden secrets that abound in isolated regions and above all the quirky characters who form the line up off these terrific yarns.
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on 31 January 2011
White Nights is one of the Shetland Quartet novels featuring the detective Jimmy Perez. It is well up to the usual high standard. The story opens at a viewing in an art gallery. A stranger walks in and breaks down in tears, later he is found dead and he is thought to have committed suicide. But of course this is a detective story, so we can assume otherwise. Enter Jimmy Perez! Ann Cleeves has an annoying habit of creating warm, well rounded and pleasing characters, then killing them off, this happens in White Nights, but it adds to the feel of the story. Murders apart, this novel should work wonders for the Shetland tourist industry. Maybe there are a couple too many characters, but not to worry, this is corrected as the story goes on, read and enjoy this intriguing police procedure.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 November 2010
This book has an atmospheric setting of the Shetland Isles but although it flows along quite smoothly, it felt both overly familiar in its plotting and lacking somewhat in its characterisation. I especially found it difficult to distinguish between Kenny and Martin, both men involved on the periphery of the murder, most men passionately in love with their wives, with not enough done to separate them. Similarly, keeping the relationships straight in terms of ages and who was related to whom made this a bit of a struggle.

The revelations at the end were the type that always appear in this kind of novel (adulteries, love affairs, hidden secrets within a small community), and I really didn't believe the solution at all which was utterly unconvincing for me. The opening scene, too, which was very dramatic and done with an emotional intensity, just got washed away in the final solution in a 'well, he was just joking' kind of way which I found unsatisfying.

So this is a competent enough read, atmospheric in parts, but ultimately a bit disappointing.
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on 14 May 2008
This is a haunting novel set in a part of the country that most people have never visited. The lonely islands of Shetland are as isolated as any English country manor in Christie's novels and this imbibes the story with a sense of enclosed communities, dark secrets and the past infringing on the present. It's beautifully written with wonderfully developed characters and a plot which interweaves small personal stories with the overall investigation.

The main character, Jimmy Perez, is fascinating - an intuitive detective in the same way as Poirot (although a much nicer personality!); who listens to the unsaid and investigates characters as much as he does the scientific evidence.

Ann Cleeves takes the classic form of crime writing and adds a contemporary edge to it. It's no wonder this author has such terrific reviews from her contemporaries in the field. This is a crime novel that makes very worthwhile reading.
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The second book in the Shetland series sees strange behaviours at an art gallery followed by death. Jimmy Perez is back investigating the bizarre goings on, in a place where people deliberately keep to themselves and ignore what happens under their noses. Everything is linked to a man's disappearance fifteen years ago.

Another well written, enjoyable revisit to Scotland. It really does feel like a different country. Perez is an interesting lead character, with his quiet intelligence and Shetland sensibilities. And he has a slow burning love interest in Fran, from book one which is rather sweet
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on 16 February 2014
Book 2 in the Shetland series is set in midsummer when the night skies are white with the sun that almost never sets, thus 'White Nights'. Detective Jimmy Perez is a guest at an art reception in the Herring House gallery and restaurant. On exhibit are the paintings of doyen Bella Sinclair and she is sharing her venue with incomer artist Fran, Jimmy's new love. (The relationship between Jimmy & Fran is developed throughout the book.)

Unfortunately the numbers attending the exhibition are well down on expectation. Then one of the guests becomes the sudden centre of attention and the evening comes to a premature end. This sets the scene for a murder disguised as suicide and Jimmy has to call in the 'big guns' from Inverness to investigate the murder. Taylor the detective from Inverness is a hyper-active Liverpudlian and he appeared 'Raven Black' in the first book in the series. Raven Black (Shetland)He is impatient with Jimmy Perez's slow paced Shetland style but somehow despite their contrasting style they work alongside each other.

The action takes place in the little hamlet of Biddister and more shocking deaths follow. The claustrophobic atmosphere of Shetland is accentuated as each of the handful of people in Biddister is put under the microscope again and again. The investigation is deceptively gentle but shocking in its conclusion. It's a great story and creates an atmospheric feeling of Shetland which I would love to test against the reality some time. I have already read 'Red Bones' Red Bones (Shetland)book 3 in this series and now having read 'black', 'white' & 'red' I have ordered 'blue', book 4 in the series Blue Lightning (Shetland)
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on 13 March 2013
I recently read Raven Black, the first in Ann Cleeves' Shetland series. Overall I enjoyed it, but felt the characters and setting hadn't quite lived up to their potential. For me it felt very much like a promising introduction to a series rather than an outstanding mystery in its own right.
I was delighted to find that my suspicions were correct and that I found White Nights to be a much more satisfying read than its predecessor.

People like me who are unfamiliar with Shetland might tend to think of it as a cold, bleak place, but in White Nights we are introduced to the other face of the islands; the interminable summer days when the sun barely even dips its head below the horizon. The locals have a difficult enough time adapting to this constant light every summer, so you can see how it could send a tourist close to crazy. When an English stranger turns up to an art exhibition in Biddista and behaves very bizarrely it is easy to assume the unique weather conditions have sent him a bit nutty. But later he is found hanged in a barn and Jimmy Perez suspects that something more sinister than suicide has occurred. To find all the answers he needs to look back years into the past and extend his search for clues much further than tiny Biddista itself.

I was totally gripped by this book and found it to have all the ingredients I love in a mystery. A relatively small cast of potential suspects, a mysterious stranger, a geniunely surprising conclusion that can only be solved by digging around in long-forgotten events of the past. Let me illustrate how engrossed I was: I was reading this at work on a Saturday in between answering calls on my bleep, and when the time came to go home it was actually an effort to put the book down and get in my car to leave my workplace!

We get a much better insight into Perez's character in this book and I found him to be an endearing protagonist. There is a quiet humility to the way he works that proves quite refreshing compared to the sort of super confident, suffer-no-fools detectives you often find in crime fiction. I was surprised to see the return of Taylor, the chief from the mainland, as he hadn't really captured my attention in the first book, but here the contrast between the two men's personalities worked well and I enjoyed seeing their working relationship develop.

Now I can't wait to read the next installment and find out what Perez's next challenge will be.
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on 8 June 2008
This is an absorbing tale which, perhaps not surprisingly given its Shetland setting, brings to mind the novels of Scandinavian writers such as Karin Fossum and Henning Mankell. Which is not to say that Cleeves's style is derivative; she has her own sparse, clean way of writing which marries an ability to create a fine sense of place with a knack of knitting together engaging and credible plots.

Jimmy Perez is a worthy addition to the ranks of fictional British detectives and it's reassuring to learn that there are two more instalments to come - presumably this will be a necessarily short series to avoid wiping out too many of Shetland's small community! Perhaps a mainland posting might come Perez's way in due course, so that we can continue to enjoy his deductions and thought processes...

For me, this book succeeds in presenting a believable picture of life on a remote island. The characters are more than just participants in a story; they do seem to inhabit their own lives as well, giving the book an authentic feel (it's clear that the author has spent time among Shetlanders and has a feel for the geography of the place).

In summary, if you've enjoyed Ian Rankin's Rebus yarns and have strayed further north to Aberdeen with Stuart MacBride's Logan McRae, why not catch the (imaginary) ferry over to Shetland to get to know Jimmy Perez?
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The second Shetland mystery, so titled because at a time of year when the sun barely seems to set.

From the start, much puzzles. Why so few attending the Art Exhibition held by Bella and Fran? Why the collapse of a stranger on seeing one of the paintings? Whose the body found hanging in an outhouse? Why the clown mask?

Inspector Jimmy Perez investigates - joined as before by Roy Taylor from Inverness, their methods as different as can be. Taylor bustles with energy and is impatient for results. He has no time for the small talk that often causes Perez to home in on the truth.

As ever with Ann Cleeves, here is a novel full of atmosphere and fully drawn characters. Depicted most vividly is a remote community with its traditional way of life - neeps to be singled, many to help round up sheep for clipping.

Although practically everybody seems to know the business of others, revelations can still shake all to the core. Yes, be prepared for genuine surprises - not least when the culprit is eventually revealed.

Readers may differ (a dull world this otherwise), but for me this proved a read that totally satisfied.
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on 23 January 2014
This 2nd in the quartet builds on the relationships in Book 1, Raven Black. Perez is a very thoughtful detective who as a Shetlander understands the psychi of the people living there - there are secrets even amongst a small community who essentially know everything about each other and each other's family history's. The thoughtfulness of Perez is juxtaposed against Taylor the more senior detective from the mainland, they each find out results but it is Perez who discovers the complete story.
It is interesting to see how the relationship between Perez and Fran develops, I hope to see more of this in the rest of the series which I will be reading.
I had a little difficulty in separating Martin from Kenny at times, but it all knitted together very well, I thought I had worked out a potential 'who dunnit'...I was wrong and the ending really took me by surprise.
Ann Cleeves is a very clever writer and I could see this series being developed for TV. It must also be a fantastic tourist boost for the Shetlands, particularly during the long 'White Nights' of the summer.
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