Blue Lightning

"The tension simply builds up and up..."


Detective Jimmy Perez is bringing his fiancé Fran home to the Fair Isles to spend time with his parents on their croft. The autumn storms are keeping the islands isolated. Everyone from the long term inhabitants to the temporary residents on the birding station know each other, and more than one has a secret to keep. Fran has to adjust to the closed community and is apprehensive about her possible future if Jimmy chooses to return to the islands.

Maurice is the birding centre administrator and when his wife, scientist and celebrity Angela, is found dead with feathers threaded through her hair, Jimmy Perez is left to investigate without any of his normal backup. Angela had a knack of antagonising people and amongst the locals and visitors there are several who would have a motive for killing her.

The pressure is on for Jimmy as the killer must still be on the island and may still need to kill again. He is also on edge as Fran and his parents get to know each other, and begin to plan an engagement party on the island...

Purchase the book from Amazon.


In the previous books of the series, the close-knit community of Shetland seems both supportive and a touch claustrophobic to the outsider. Life on the Fair Isles moves this up to another level. When the storms are raging, no boat or plane can come or go, and those who remain on the islands are completely dependent on each other. It is an interesting take on an Agatha Christie-esque country house murder when the cast of suspects are so contained and mutually suspicious. Ann Cleeves’ descriptions of the life of the islanders are both sensitive and understanding and contribute to the atmosphere of the story. In fact, the emotional needs for fulfilment and for secrecy contribute to the plotting of the story. Place is definitely intrinsic to this quartet of books. The importance of the connection to the place is beautifully described. Jimmy Perez is a very sympathetic character - a man of the islands who uses his inbuilt knowledge of the people to understand and consider the motives for crime. Not a career policeman desperate for advancement, but a man who needs to find out why and what has happened for justice’s sake. The tension simply builds up and up as more and more pieces of information emerge about the characters leading to an exciting and gripping denouement. The ending is –well, surprising- but on reflection it has a sort of inevitability with a dash of sadness.

Reviewed By: