White Nights – Shetland series book 2, by Ann Cleeves – book review | Cafe thinkingThank you! Village murders unveil lives far from simple in this second installment in a quartette of Shetland thrillers by Cleeves Raven Black , , etc. Summer does not becalm the Shetland island villagers of Lerwick and Biddista. White nights, when darkness at this high northern latitude becomes a brief, passing shadow, roil sleep, leaving folks restless and edgy. Cleeves finds them tossing and turning, contemplating love lost and, perhaps someday, love regained.
White Nights – Shetland series book 2, by Ann Cleeves – book review
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It's midsummer in Shetland, the time of the white nights, when birds sing at midnight and the sun never sets. Artist Bella Sinclair throws a party to launch an exhibition of her work and to introduce the paintings of Fran Hunter. The Herring House, the gallery where the exhibition is held, is on the beach at Biddista, in the remote north west of the island. When a mysterious Englishman bursts into tears and claims not to know who he is or where he's come from, the evening ends in farce. The following day the Englishman is found hanging from a rafter in a boathouse on the jetty, a clown's mask on his face.
Jimmy Perez sees a stranger sobbing in front of a painting at an art exhibit featuring the work of Perez's new girlfriend, Fran Hunter, and mythic local painter Bella Sinclair. Claiming to be suffering from amnesia, the unknown man disappears before Perez can question him further, but turns up dead that same night, hanged in a fishing shed. In his investigation, Perez focuses on Bella, whose talent is matched by her penchant for drama and extravagant parties. When another body turns up, Perez must sift through generations of closely guarded island secrets to find the truth. Despite characters as vivid as those in Raven Black , Cleeves struggles to sustain a suspenseful plot, which slows to a crawl in the middle and packs too much action at the end. Still, this slight misstep shouldn't deter fans of the introspective Perez from looking forward to Cleeves's next thriller.
White Nights, the second book in Ann Cleeves' 'Shetland Quartet' featuring detective Jimmy Perez.
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An air of menace is subtly conveyed about the strangely low turnout at the exhibition, made even more puzzling given the presence of Bella's rock-star nephew, Roddy. Suddenly, a man bursts into tears in front of one of Fran's pictures. Jimmy takes him into the kitchen to calm down, but the man claims to have no idea of who he is, nor does he carry any identification. While Jimmy is seeing if any of the visitors know the man, he vanishes. As the disappointing evening ends, Jimmy is invited back to Fran's house, and his attention is otherwise engaged. The next morning, the crying man's dead body is found hanging in the boat shed on the beach. With the discovery, Jimmy and his colleagues call in the irritable and ambitious Roy Taylor of the Inverness police to supervise the investigation.
White Nights is an oddity in the first series of Shetland books Ann Cleeves wrote two sets of four novels : it is the only one of the four that did not receive a TV adaptation, and it describes the slow and gentle beginning of the relationship between Jimmy Perez and Fran Hunter: a relationship that defines the TV Perez even in the recently finished fifth series. Both are good reasons to give it a try. I think that it would be hard to have televised this novel. This community of Biddista is a place in which generations grow up together, pathing a way between curtain-twitching claustrophobia and the alienation of the city. Biddista has produced its share of artists and an internationally-known musician.