Raven Black, by Ann Cleeves

July 10, 2007 at 12:08 pm (Uncategorized)

raven.jpg cleeves.jpgWikipedia defines Shetland as “…an archipelago to the north-east of Orkney and mainland Scotland, and 280 km from Faroe Islands. It forms part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetland

This remote, intriguing land, with its Pictish and Viking history, is the setting for Raven Black by Ann Cleeves. Catherine Ross, a beautiful teenager, is found murdered; the classic cry goes up – “such things don’t happen here!” Ah, but they do: some years previous, eleven-year-old Catriona Bruce had disappeared fom the island. Despite the best efforts of police and local volunteers, she was never found. Then, as now, suspicion falls on Magnus Tait, an old man who lives alone on Hillhead and who is not quite “right in the head.”

Heading up the investigation into Catherine’s murder, along with a detachment of officers from Inverness, is Detective Jimmy Perez. An immensely sympathetic and decent man, Perez is also dealing with painful personal issues. Divorce has left him alone and childless; he copes, but not always well. The case at hand is a hard, depressing slog. In the course of it he meets an attractive single mother, Fran Hunter, whose affections may be beyond his grasp. Incidentally, a fascinating legend surrounds the origins of the detective’s name; it involves a ship that was part of the Spanish Armada in 1588 being blown off course. (Interestingly, this same legend figures in The Stranger House, a recent novel of romantic suspense by one of my favorite authors, Reginald Hill.)

I admit that at the outset, I was afraid that the prose style employed by Ann Cleeves (one does so want to say Ann OF Cleeves, though I know “that other one” was spelled “Cleves!”) was not proving congenial. But as I read on, that turned out not to be the case. I was swept along by her absorbing narrative and fully fleshed out characters. Above all, I was totally captivated by Shetland, a place I am now dying to see.

And just wait till you read about Up Helly Aa! up-helly-aa.jpg uphellyaa7anneburgess30jan1973.jpg

In 2006, Ann Cleeves won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for best crime novel of the year for Raven Black.


  1. Carol said,

    I liked this book a lot too. She is writing three more in the series, one for each season. The second one, which I think is called WHITE NIGHTS, will be published next spring. She also has written about eighteen other books.

  2. Authors, authors! Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, and Stuart Pawson « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] to Ann Cleeves, her books had not been published in the U.S. until Raven Black came out – finally – in May of this year. (Cleeves’s cause was helped by the fact that last […]

  3. Cornucopia of crime fiction « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] said that, here are a few of my favorites that appear here: Raven Black by Ann Cleeves; Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, The Last Bus to Woodstock by […]

  4. Raven Black said,

    What first drew me to this book honestly was… That is my name ^^” I know it sounds selfish, but when your looking through the library and suddenly find a book with your name literaly on it, it is a bit creepy yet it call’s to you. It was a great read, just creepy is all

  5. Ann Cleeves « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] Raven Black was a terrific read. The novel took us deep into the Shetlands, a locale that I suspect is regarded even by many British themselves as remote and exotic. She created characters that are real and intriguing; their fate concerns us on the most basic, human level. I look forward to reading the sequel, White Nights, which is already out. (The third in the series, Red Bones, has a February 2009 publication date in the UK.) Left to right: Stuart Pawson, Ann Cleeves, and Martin Edwards Ann Cleeves in Warkworth […]

  6. Help said,

    I read the book and liked it, but why did Sally kill Catherine? I’ve tried to re read it but i can’t find why! Jealousy for Robert? Pure hatred? what! PLz reply soon, soon, soon!

    • Roberta Rood said,

      Oh, dear…It’s been so long since I read this fine novel, I don’t even recall who Sally & Catherine are! So sorry…

  7. Sequels make me anxious…but White Nights by Ann Cleeves is a winner! « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] Quartet, Ann Cleeves has put to rest my sequel anxieties. White Nights is as worthy a follow-up to Raven Black as one could hope for. We find ourselves once again in the Shetland Islands, at the height of […]

  8. Usual Suspects: a most stimulating evening! « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] some vacillation, I cast my vote for Strangers on a Train (with The Maltese Falcon and Raven Black running a close second). Interestingly, Strangers was the book-cum-discussion that Carol liked the […]

  9. Books to talk about – a personal view « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] Like a Stone – Deborah Crombie Christine Falls – Benjamin Black The Tinderbox – Jo Bannister Raven Black and White Nights – Ann Cleeves What the Dead Know – Laura Lippman On Beulah Height, and other […]

  10. “If you lived on an island six miles long and two and a half miles wide, by the time you were ten you knew every inch of it.” – Red Bones, by Ann Cleeves « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] in Raven Black and White Nights, the first two novels in this series, Cleeves makes the most of her exotic, remote […]

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