Thursday, 6 May 2010

Raven Black

I was thinking it a miracle that I was, for once, free to do a mini challenge/read along sort of thing, in this instance Verity and Claire's Persephone Reading week. Silly me... I should have known it wouldn't be that easy. And it wasn't. I was checking my library page and discovered that someone had reserved a book I really wanted to read and that it was due back in a few days. That book was Raven Black by Ann Cleeves and I've been waiting to get this one from the library for months, so there was no way I was taking it back unread. I'm so glad I didn't.

Fran Hunter and her daughter, Cassie, are incomers to Shetland, although her ex-husband, Duncan, is a local. Fran has moved them both to Shetland so that she can bring Cassie up in a nicer environment and also so that she can have some kind of relationship with her father.

It's Fran who discovers the body of a teenage neighbour, Catherine Ross, in a field. Catherine and her father, Euan, are also incomers having moved there after the death of his wife. Suspicion immediately falls upon Magnus Tait, a simple, almost retarded, man who lives alone. Catherine and her friend Sally Henry had made a drunken visit to his house on New Year's Eve, a couple of days previously. As he had been the main suspect in the disappearance of young girl, Catriona Bruce, eight years ago, who was never found, it's obvious that he is suspect number one now.

Inspector Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate but has to make way for another team from Aberdeen, although he is still heavily involved. He is not happy about Magnus being the main suspect. Something doesn't sit right. There are few similarities between the two cases and several things happen which Magnus would not be capable of. But there are therefore many other suspects, boys the girl knew, a teacher, other adults who might be harbouring secrets. How can Perez and Taylor, the Aberdeen detective, possibly find a killer when no one wants to talk?

Yet another excellent crime author discovered. Having read about this series on several other blogs I had a feeling I would like these books set in Shetland - and I really did! There's an excellent sense of place, of a very long Viking history with the background the Up Helly Aa fire festival, of bleak, wind-swept, snowy winters and it's all rather beguiling. There's also a strong sense of the 'them and us' syndrome you get on remote islands. People are drawn there for the lifestyle but how long does it take to fit in or be thought of as a local? Answer: many generations!

The detective in this series, Jimmy Perez, is an interesting creation. Scruffy, describing himself as 'emotionally incontinent', he is from Fair Isle where his family still live. His mother would like him to buy a croft and settle back there and, truthfully, Jimmy is tempted by such an idyllic life. There's also a theory about the oddness of his Spanish surname which is interesting to read.

As to the crime itself, the murder of Catherine Ross, the resolution came as a complete surprise to me. Which is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned, I don't mind guessing the culprit early on but it's more fun when you have no idea and get quite a shock.

This was a nice, complicated crime novel with an excellent sense of place and the people who live there. I shall definitely be continuing with the series and hope that subsequent books are equally as good as this one.

Sadly, although the Persephone challenge doesn't finish until Sunday, I know I won't have time to read a book before then. I've got several busy days coming up which include my birthday (surely I can't be yet another year older already?) and grandson minding... all great fun but little time for reading I fear. I have, however, just put two recommended Persephones on reserve from the library so I will be reading those within the next few weeks, so it's not a complete washout. And hopefully, one of these days, I *will* get to do one of these short challenges!


DesLily said...

hi sis.. i am very happy for you that you found "yet ANOTHER" series to read lol.. honestly I am glad when we find things we enjoy no matter what ! I think you do outstandingly well with your reading what with grandkids and colds that you deal with! So what's next to read?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear another good report. I've read about this one too and after weeks of waiting for it it come back to the library - the second and third are there but not this one - I'm about to give up and place an order.

Paperback Reader said...

I'm sorry events conspired against you, Cath, to join Persephone Reading Week but I hope you enjoy reading those you do borrow later this month.

Have a lovely birthday!

Anonymous said...

First of all, Happy upcoming Birthday!! The years do have a tendency to fly by now don't they?

My mystery book group is reading RAVEN BLACK for this next month! I'm glad to hear that you liked it so much. That bodes well for my enjoyment as you and I have a way of liking the same books. :-)

Book Psmith said...

My Presephone reading week isn't going according to plan either...I did finish one book but the other that I ordered is lost somewhere in the mail. So like you I will probably be reading Persephone after the fact. Happy birthday wishes to you!

Cath said...

Hey Pat: Yep... *another* series. (Sniggering like Mutley here) I have no idea how many there are now... heheh.

Next? Well, I have a Terry Pratchett book to finish and then it'll probably be a library book, New World, by Chris Priestley. It's a YA book, set in the 1580s, first of all in London and then in what was then 'The Colonies'... Virginia in other words. Looks good.

fleurfisher: Raven Black is incredibly hard to pin down! I've been waiting months to spot it in the library. I had it for a week or two and then realised it had been reserved by someone else. If I let it go I'd probably not see it again for 3 months.

Claire: I'm really sorry too. It's annoying. But hopefully there will be another Persephone week soon. I reserved Doreen after reading Verity's post about it, sounds like my kind of book.

Thank you so much for your birthday wishes.

Kay: Thank you... yes, I'm sure the years speed up the older you get. Not funny any more!

Oh I think you'll like Raven Black. Can't *wait* to hear what you think.

Book Psmith: You too? It's very annoying. I really thought that this time I would be able to take part. I hope your book turns up soon.

Thank you! I'm heading rapidly towards the big six O and not liking it much at all.

LizF said...

Happy upcoming birthday! I hope you have a lovely day! I am the wrong side of 50 now and can't quite work out how so much time has passed without my noticing as I still feel more 30-something than downhill to the bus pass!
Hope you enjoy your grandson minding as well.
We normally look after our grand daughter (Amelia almost 2) at weekends but have had a few weekends off as she has been away on holiday. It's been nice to have the break but I will be glad to get her back despite the terrible twos being in full swing!

Cath said...

LizF: Thank you! Another one in her fifties here... three years to my bus pass now and my husband is sixty this year. I think he's more alarmed than me, partly because we know so many who hit sixty and didn't make it very much further. Not a nice thought.

We look after our three year old grandson two days a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, unless my daughter, who works for RBS, has to do a Saturday then we do Fri. and Sat and get a week free almost. We have two free weeks coming up now though as my daughter is on holiday (she's a single parent). We won't see them for the first week as they're going to Wales... I'm sure we'll miss them like crazy. And worry - as you do.

Susan said...

I have this book sitting on my shelf. I 'm glad to hear you enjoyed Raven Black so much, I'm anxious to get to it, AND all my Martin Edwards books which just arrived for my birthday!!! But I picked up a Persephone Book to read for a change, first :-) which your post reminded me of. I'm reading Miss Pettigrew Lives For Day. Now I know there's a whole series for Jimmy Perez, you say, another series, and there you were thinking you weren't a big mystery reader! LOL