Journalist Jerry Markham returns to Shetland, telling his parents that he’s on the track of a big story. A story about the future of the offshore gas & oil industry at Sullum Voe, under attack from environmentalists & locals worried about the future once the industry has gone. When Jerry is found murdered, laid out in a boat near the home of Rhona Laing, the Procurator Fiscal, the assumption is that it must be connected to his work.
Jerry left Shetland years before. His parents, Maria & Peter, own a luxury hotel on the island but Jerry had rarely returned home. He left few friends behind & he had been involved in scandal when Evie Watt, a student working at the hotel, became pregnant. Now, Evie is engaged to John Henderson, & seems to have put her unhappy relationship with Jerry behind her. Jerry had left
Evie behind without a second glance but on this trip he tries to contact her. Could Jerry’s past hold the key to his death rather than his search for a story?
Inspector Jimmy Perez hasn’t returned to full time work since his fiance Fran was murdered six months before. He’s finding it hard to recover from the guilt he feels over Fran’s death & only her daughter, Cassie, who Jimmy cares for, provides a reason to keep going. Jimmy’s sergeant, Sandy Wilson, is adrift without his boss but doesn’t know how to help. When Jerry Markham’s body is found, D I Willow Reeves is sent from Inverness to head the investigation. Willow grew up on a commune in the Hebrides although this doesn’t make her any less of an outsider on Shetland, what ever her boss might think. This is her first chance to head a murder enquiry & she’s desperate to do well. Almost against his will, Jimmy is drawn into the investigation. His local knowledge is invaluable & Reeves is keen to include him in the team. Gradually Jimmy, Sandy & Willow work through the connections between the Markhams, Evie Watt & her family, drawing in Rhona Laing as well as Jerry’s London life, to find his murderer.
This is a terrific book. I loved the Shetland Quartet & I was so pleased that Ann Cleeves decided to write a second quartet of which Dead Water is the first part. I love books set in Scotland & the atmosphere of Shetland & the other island communities is perfectly captured in these books. Jimmy Perez is an intriguing character, with his Spanish ancestry & his self-contained manner. His intuitive methods of investigation & his local knowledge of the people he lives among make him an excellent detective. It’s interesting to see him in this book coming out of the worst of his grief over Fran’s death & rejoining the world. I hope there’s a chance to see more of Willow Reeves in future books too. I haven’t seen the TV version of Shetland. A pilot was made & a series has now been commissioned. Much as I like Douglas Henshall, he’s not my idea of dark, brooding Jimmy Perez but I’d love to see what he does with the role.
Ann Cleeves has been writing for many years but I only discovered her through the Shetland novels. Her other well-known series featuring Vera Stanhope has also been made into a TV series starring Brenda Blethyn. I’ve read one of the Vera books & will get to the others one of these days. Bello have recently reissued earlier series featuring Inspector Ramsay (set in Northumbria) & bird watchers George & Molly Palmer-Jones, as e-books so most of Ann Cleeves’s work must now be available again.