“ Author: Ann Cleeves / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 05 February 2010 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Publisher: Pan Macmillan / Title: Raven Black / ISBN 13: 9780330512947 / ISBN 10: 0330512947 „
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==Synopsis of the book:==
It is January and in the Shetland Island the people are starting to think about their annual festival 'Up Helly Aa'. However lying in the snow is the dead body of school girl Catherine Ross. She has been murdered and despite a relative new comer she has become a popular if slightly aloof person. With a real interest in the Media she was embarking on a film of life in the Shetlands for a school project, where she wants to demonstrate to the outside world what it is like to live and work there.
Suspicion immediately falls upon an old and simple man, Magnus Tait. A man with few friends who lives alone following the death of his elderly mother. He is a neighbour of the dead girl and her death brings back bad memories of the locals as a few years before a child went missing. The locals always thought that Magnus, this lonely man was behind her disappearance as he was friendly with her as he was Catherine.
Now Detective Jimmy Perez must work with the Police from the mainland to piece together what happened in these two very different but tragic cases with the only common factor being this strange old man.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I really enjoyed this well thought out Detective story. It always had me interested especially as this old and simple chat Magnus was such a sad character and unable to provide the answers the Police where looking for. As a result I was very keen to understand exactly what did happen the the dead and missing girls. It was well written throughout and part of an excellent series that is set in the Shetland Islands.
This book is first of four in the Shetland Island series. It was first published in 2006 and the same year it was the winner of the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for the best crime novel. While this British author has so far written 25 novels in various series. Ann lives in North Tyneside and before she turned her attention to writer she was amongst others a Probation Officer and an auxiliary coastguard.
I am fairly familiar with this authors work having already enjoyed two stories from this series. So when I came across this one in the Charity shop I knew I must purchase it and learn more about the amazing place and its excellent characters. Having enjoyed two books later in the series and knowing that this one received the award above I was keen to see how it compared with them. Especially as Val McDermid described it as a riveting read.
I thought it was an unusual title and I was intrigued by what the author had in mind by it. Although in hindsight the author did not use it as much as she could have and I felt she missed a small trick there. Although this was made up completely by the excellent story. I checked out the summary on the reverse of the book, it was a little on the short side, but I liked the way it introduced the body in the snow and the loner but strange man Magnus Tait.
The story had me interested from the very first page. I liked the idea of two drunk teenagers coming round late on New Years Eve to see Magnus as a dare. I immediately found I felt for this simple man who was generally misunderstood by all his neighbours. I enjoyed the way the author then moved the story on a few days to the disappearance of one of these teenagers found strangled in the snow. You could immediately see he would be an obvious suspect especially as he struggled with his own demons and wanting to do and say the right thing when the Police interviewed him.
I must admit I felt the story was slightly confused by the fact the Detectives started investigating not only the new murder but the disappearance of the young child years before. I would have preferred they concentrated on the new crime but as things developed in the story they had now choice. What to me was good was the way there where so many possible suspects to these crimes and the author at various times cast doubt on them all at one time or another. And because only certainly information about them was shared you felt you certainly could not rule any of them out and they remained suspects.
The story developed well and was always a feel and pace to the investigation. It seemed the more the Detectives learnt the more the reasoning for murder changed. I really liked these changes in direction as it kept me on my toes and made sure I did not have a clue until the very end what the solution was to the story. In fact it was only when it was all explained I understood as unlike so many other novels the author did not telegraph the answers to the mystery well before the end.
What impressed me throughout this story was the the high level of mystery and suspense within it. On the surface the solution appeared simple but to get the answers the Detectives really had to work hard to unravel the truth. With the pace increasing as the story came to its exciting conclusion. The author excelled at this point with suspense that was as thick as treacle and had me totally involved in every page I read.
The lead character in this series is Detective Jimmy Perez. He is an unusual character as the story is not only written from his perspective but all the main characters within it. On the plus side this allows you to understand what these people think about what is happening but does not let you understand in any depth about them. For me this worked because having read two other books in the series I knew about Perez. Although had this been the first book I had read I am sure I would have felt I hadn't really got to know and understand him as I would have liked. So for me now he is a good lead character and I enjoyed his personal dilemma he was turning over in this mind while investigating these crimes.
I thought the stories length was spot on to tell a really compelling and exciting story. Although I would have liked a slightly longer ending or a short epilogue as there was one or two characters I really wanted to know what happened next to them, because they were intriguing personalities. The story was written to a very high standard with very good descriptions of the amazing landscape. I enjoyed these and I felt the whole way through the author was skilfully leading the reader through the story. As a result I rarely was confused and I just enjoyed what I was reading.
This for my money was an excellent crime investigation. It was a really good start to the series and one I would certainly recommend to all crime fans. For me the key aspect was a good story that never went in the direction you expected so you were consistently on your guard as the unexpected happened within the story. I will certainly be looking to read another novel by this talented author in the near future.
Price: 5.99 new at Amazon
Publisher: Pan Books
ISBN-13: 978- 0330512947
Year first published: 2006
More about the author: www.anncleeves.com
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS August 2012.