Raven Black is the first book in Ann Cleeves’s Shetland Quartet. I read the last book in the series first & I reviewed Blue Lightning here. I’ve now gone back to the beginning & read book one.
This is a terrifically atmospheric murder mystery set on Shetland. A beautiful young girl, Catherine Ross, is found murdered, lying in the snow with ravens circling her body. There are several suspects. A reclusive old man, Duncan Tait, is the last to admit seeing Catherine & he has been shunned by the community since he was suspected of involvement in the disappearance of another girl years before. Catherine’s father, Euan, has been distracted since the death of his wife & seems headed for a breakdown. Catherine’s teacher, Michael Scott, was attracted to her & there are several other young men who were obsessed by her intelligence & beauty. Then there’s Fran Hunter who found the body & had employed Catherine as a babysitter. Jimmy Perez is the detective, a Shetland native who has come back to the islands after his marriage ended. He’s a sympathetic character who manages to hold his own when the detectives from Inverness arrive to lead the investigation. The atmosphere & the place are the stars in this book. It’s January, bitterly cold, there’s a real sense of dread that murder has come to the island. It was great to go back to the beginning of the series & see how Jimmy began the journey that ends in Blue Lightning.