- Raven Black
- White Nights
- Red Bones
- Blue Lightning
This series has been on my radar for a while (haven’t they all??) and I finally read the first half of them in October. Litsy has a month-long readathon focusing on mysteries/thriller/horror/etc. and while I don’t enjoy anything in the horror/graphic violence area, I decided it would be a great opportunity to make some forward progress on several mystery series I’ve been working through, including finishing the 87th Precinct, the first half of this series, the next five books in the Leaphorn & Chee series, plus knocking out a few standalone thrillers that have been on my shelf for way too long.
Set in the Shetland Islands, the main character/detective of this series is Jimmy Perez, a detective on the police force. However, Cleeves takes her time with these stories, giving back stories and insight into multiple people involved in each murder. Even though these are a little longer than the average thriller (350-400 pgs), they felt a LOT longer as the pace is rarely urgent. Instead, there is plenty of time to examine and contemplate the interactions of the main players. Somehow, instead of being boring, Cleeves makes this work. It fit the setting of an isolated and insulated community, where the seasons take their time, and the methodical rhythm of the natural world is reflected in the human residents.
I have mixed feelings about these books. I enjoyed them while I was reading them, but never felt an urgency about picking up the next book. Cleeves made a decision to kill off a character at the end of Blue Lightning that I didn’t really like as well, and I’m not completely sure that I’ll get around to finishing this series (there are four more books). Yet on the whole, I think I do recommend them if you enjoy your mysteries thoughtful instead of frantic. They could definitely do with a bit of editing, yet at some level I rather enjoyed the contemplative pacing, feeling that I was really getting to know the motives and relationships of the characters involved.
These weren’t my new favorites, and they didn’t make me want to rush out and read everything Cleeves has written, but I probably will read those last four books one of these days, just to see how everyone adjusts to the sudden death at the end of Blue Lightning.