Monday, October 12, 2009

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves

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

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2009. ISBN 9780312384340 (hardcover), 400p.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love these kinds of books. An island? Perfect! Suspicious, insular suspects--I'm there!

I think most cozy writers like this exact set up, although most of us go with the isolation of a small town. This is a police procedural, though, looks like...a little grittier?

Mystery Writing is Murder

Cathy said...

I really enjoy Cleeves' Shetland Quartet books, and I can't wait to get my hands on this one. I've also sampled two of her other series and enjoyed those as well. She's fast turning into one of my favorite writers.

Lesa said...

Elizabeth, The series is a little grittier than cozies, but not too much. It is a police procedural, with a thoughtful detective who cares about the victims, and the suspects. Cozy readers won't be upset with this book. The other two in the series seemed a little darker than this one does.

Lesa said...

I've haven't tried her other books, Cathy. But, I do grab her books when I see them because her writing is so beautiful.

Beth Hoffman said...

Your reviews have broadened my reading interests, Lesa. In the past I probably wouldn't have picked this book up, but now I'll add it to my list. Thank you!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Beth. I'd recommend that you started with the first in the Shetland Quartet, though, the award-winning Raven Black. That provides the most atmosphere, and the introduction to Jimmy Perez.