==Synopsis of the book:==
Detective Jimmy Perez is invited to an art exhibition in Biddista in the Shetland Islands. However this is no ordinary exhibition as it is the first public showing of his new girlfriend Fran's work. She is sharing this event with another more well known local artist Bella Sinclair. They are both hoping for a good turn out but are disappointed at the numbers that turn up especially as the event has entertainment from Bella's cousin Roddy who had become a popular and successful musician with his haunting fiddle playing.
After Roddy has strutted his stuff, the sparse attendance are drawn to an unknown man weeping in front of one of the pictures. Perez leads the man away and into the kitchen for privacy, but after questioning him he is no further forward in knowing who the man is as he appears to have lost his memory and can tell even tell him how he got there. Perez returns to the party but no-one there knows who the man is or came with him. When he returns to the kitchen the man has disappeared and despite a quick search outside he is unable to find him.
The following day this man's body is found hung in one of the sheds nearby. The odd thing is now he has a Clowns mask on. And while it appears to be the case of a deeply upset and confused man taking his own life, Perez still wants to know who this man is and what he was doing at the art exhibition. Very quickly the Detective finds the reason for reason for the poor attendance at the event as a man in a Clowns uniform was handing out flyers advising that due to a death in the family the event is cancelled. It seems this Clown must be the dead Englishman, but what link has this stranger to the exhibition or the Shetlands?
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I thought this was a very good Detective story. I have read several of these stories in this series and enjoyed them all. For me what makes these stories so different is where they are set. I really like the excellent descriptions the author employs of the Shetland Islands and this sounds like a very different and unique community. And from this I always get a feeling I am there and it is a place the writer Ann Cleeves knows and understands as this certainly comes through in her stories.
This English author has so far written a total of 25 books of which only four are in this series, with this particular story being the second and it was written in 2008. She is a former Probation Officer and Coastguard before she turned her talents towards writing. With her début book in this series 'Raven Black' winning the Dagger Award for best crime novel in 2006. What disappointed me initially about the book was there was no praise from the critics about this story. Yes there was praise but this was for the novel that won the award above. So even though I have read it I am no wiser about what others thought of it.
It was not a difficult decision for me to purchase this book. I had really enjoyed the previous two I had tried and I expected the same from this one. For me these are unique stories because they are set in such an amazing location and it is one I know so little about but it sounds from the authors words as so different from England. So when I had recently earnt an Amazon voucher I was keen to read another of these stories from the series I had so far really enjoyed.
Before I purchased this though, I wanted to know more about the story so I checked out the summary of the story on line. It was quite short but it certainly aroused my interest in it. It told of the unknown man turning up at the Art Exhibition and causing a scene with his weeping, then he is found dead. This sounded very interesting and I knew I must buy it. All I had to do now was wait for my order to be delivered a few days later.
The book began with an prologue that initially had me very confused. As I could not see where it fitted into the story. However this all became clear as the story unfolded, although I still do not think it was necessary. What I liked about the story was it immediately grabbed me as I liked the idea of Fran's first Art showing and how nervous she and her boyfriend Perez were for it to be a success and this unknown Englishman disrupting it.
There was very quickly a sense of mystery as to what had happened to this man and what he was doing there in the first place. With many fascinating characters within the story that all seemed to have mystery surrounding them and their past that the Detective needed to get to the bottom of to try and find the truth as much as I did. I really enjoyed the flow of the story it moved well and was always fascinating as it developed. I never had an idea what would happen next and which direction the Investigation would follow next.
The story was always well written and I liked the fact it was not just written from one person's perspective as this gave the reader the opportunity to understand to get to know other characters in the story, how they saw what was going on and understand their personalities a little better. For me this worked really well as it was clearly signposted so you never got confused and it really added to the mystery and suspense as the story unfolded.
What really impressed me in this story was I never had a clue who was the guilty party. Usually I suss out the truth in a Detective story by halfway through, not because I'm particularly clever I think its more to do with the amount of these stories in this gene that I read!! But this one was excellent because I never had a clue who was guilty or why. As a result I was desperate to how the truth and I was on tender hooks right until the end. The suspense that the author created was excellent with a few good twists that always kept me guessing and wondering what would happen next.
The stories main character is Detective Perez who I think is an excellent character. It is such a change to have a Detective who is happy with his life and one who it seems his relationship is developing well. I find him a character I can respect and like because he has excellent values, added to which I enjoy the way he goes about his work. He is very down to earth personality and I find I want to know more about him and his younger life. With his personal life developing nicely and a keen brain for me he is a great character and one I feel very at home reading about.
The length of the story was exactly right to tell a very well thought out Detective story. For me this story had all the right ingredients for a first class thriller. I really like the authors style of writing which has some wonderful descriptions of the Islands, but not only that I find she is excellent at getting you to know or think you know her characters personalities and traits. So you can picture them in a particular scene she is explaining.
Overall I feel this is a first class crime thriller and one that I really enjoyed from start to finish. I love the fact these stories are set in such an unusual place and the insight she gives us on what it is like to live in the Shetland Islands. The characters the author creates are always fascinating and she has a real talent for creating mystery and maintaining it throughout the story. Indeed I am struggling to find anything negative about this wonderful story.
Publisher: Pan Books
Year of publication: 2008
More about the author: www.anncleves.com
Thank you for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS May 2012