I'd never want to live in the Shetland Islands. Ann Cleeves portrays them as beautiful, but isolated, lonely, hard on the women. The third book in the Shetland Island Quartet, Red Bones, is no exception to that atmospheric, but lonely existence. These are all quiet mysteries that unfold as slowly as life on the islands.
When bones are found at at archaeological dig on Whalsey, one of the Shetland Islands, it's an exciting find. But, the death of Mima Wilson, the owner of the archaeological site, changes everything on the island. One of the islanders admits he may have accidentally shot her, and Inspector Jimmy Perez arrives via ferry to investigate. Ronald Clouston's account of drinking and hunting rabbits is plausible, but something doesn't sit right with Perez. When there's another death, Perez is glad he convinced the Fiscal (a cross between a a magistrate and a prosecuting lawyer) to hold off on a verdict.
Each time Jimmy Perez investigates, he finds a small isolated community with their own secrets. Even the local officer, Sandy, is related to half of the islanders. He's intimidated by his mother, scared of appearing inadequate, and caught up in Whalsey's stories. Sophie, a grad student working at the dig perfectly describes the atmosphere in the closed community. "I hate it here," she said. "Everyone knowing each other's business....Once the fog rolls in you feel as if the world outside doesn't matter at all. People here lose any sense of proportion. Tiny incidents that happened years ago fester and take over their lives."
No one creates an atmosphere ripe for murder as Ann Cleeves does. It's up to Inspector Jimmy Perez to pierce the murky secrets, to find those tiny incidents that might have led to death in Cleeves' latest quiet, but powerful, mystery, Red Bones.
Ann Cleeves' website is www.anncleeves.com.
Red Bones by Ann Cleeves. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2009. ISBN 9780312384340 (hardcover), 400p.