Saturday, September 20, 2008

White Nights

Ann Cleeves follows up the success of her award-winning Raven Black with the second mystery in the Shetland Quartet, White Nights. It would be hard to top the success of that first book, but White Nights is just as outstanding as the first book.

Cleeves takes readers to Biddista, a small Shetland Island community. Jimmy Perez, the local police officer, accompanies Fran Hunter to an art show at Herring House, where Fran is exhibiting a few pieces, along with the local star, Bella Sinclair. However, on this night, it's a stranger who stars in the show when he starts weeping, claiming he doesn't know who he is. When the stranger is found the next day, hanging in a shed, the community isn't too interested in Perez' investigation. Afterall, it was an outsider who died. It takes a second murder to threaten the peace of Biddista.

Ann Cleeves is an expert in bringing the isolated Shetlands to life. In White Nights, the long summer nights with no darkness can drive people into a frenzy. Perez, the islanders, and even the other police who arrive to investigate, find it hard to relax with the light. Cleeves vividly portrays the isolation, and the hardship of life. In this mystery, she almost creates a locked room mystery on an island. Although strangers come and go, there's really a limited group of people, bound together by their history, who could be suspects. And, that history allows them to keep their secrets. Jimmy Perez is skillful at digging into the lives and secrets of people he knows.

What does Cleeves do different that makes these books so outstanding? Perez is an interesting man, unsure of himself in his personal life, but quietly skillful at his job. He's not like most other detectives. And, she has an unusual setting for her books, islands that allow for isolation. That isolation forces her, and Jimmy, to discover the depths of the residents. Cleeves's secondary characters are deeper, and more interesting, than many featured characters in other books.

Readers who enjoy suspense, intriguing characters, and an atmospheric mystery, won't go wrong with White Nights. This one will be on my top five list for the year.

Ann Cleeves' website is

White Nights by Ann Cleeves. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2008. ISBN 9780312384333 (hardover), 352p.


Kerrie said...

Hello Lesa

I didn't rate this as highly as RAVEN BLACK but nevertheless enjoyed it. My review is at
I see the 3rd, RED BONES, is due out in Feb 2009

It is set in Spring
Raven Black - Winter
White Nights - Summer

I like the exploration of the effects of the seasons.

Lesa said...


I like the exploration of the seasons as well. I enjoyed this one as much as Raven Black. I think it was because of Jimmy. I like his quietness, and his method of investigation. I'll check out your review. Thanks!

Joy said...

I am feeling overwhelmed again! There are just so many books I want to read. I had Raven Black at home - twice and never got to it. Now, it's another book for 2009, along with this one so I can keep up.

Lesa said...

Now you know how I feel all of the time! Overwhelmed! But, you can read for yourself in 2009, not for challenges.

Martin Edwards said...

I enjoyed White Nights, if anything, a little more even than the excellent Raven Black. The image of the pierrot in disguise is really haunting, and the plot is very well structured.

Lesa said...


I agree with you. I talked about the book with two people today, and I ended up with the same conclusion.