Cold Earth

"This is another cracking good read and I can’t recommend it highly enough."


Jimmy Perez is standing on a rainy hillside at the traditional burial of his old friend and neighbour, Magnus Tait. As the mourners surround the grave, a rumbling is heard and a slow landslide comes down the hill, covering in its wake an apparently empty croft and taking with it gravestones and rubble on its way to the sea. Whilst the rest of the congregation move to the safety of the parish hall, Jimmy carefully looks over the wreckage and discovers the body of an unknown woman, not of the islands, but with a distinctly Mediterranean appearance.

Jimmy, together with Chief Inspector Willow Reeves from Inverness, start by trying to identify the body and the means of death. Together they pull all the strands of why she was in Shetland, who she knew and above all, who would want her dead. For an apparent stranger, the dead woman has connections with several people, none of whom are keen to reveal what they know. Little by little, the story is revealed, culminating in an exciting race to prevent Jimmy experiencing another traumatic scene.

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I shall start by saying that the Jimmy Perez of Ann Cleeves' novels has a different back story to the Jimmy Perez of the acclaimed television series. This is fine, as I am sure there were good broadcasting reasons to change the story line, but it is wise to partake of both formats independently! I love them both. The plot is, as always, intricately worked out and completely plausible. It makes complete sense with the benefit of hindsight whilst confusing and muddying the waters as it proceeds. I love Ann's understanding of people and how they work. The characters behave the way people do and with the motives, some honourable, some less so, that people have. This is what drives the plot and it is also what makes the novel such an enjoyable read. The extra spice that the Shetland novels have is that we gain an insight to a world that is slightly cut off from mainland mores and some motives and reactions are different from the usual run of things. Shetland is a fascinating place, and the cast of characters, some native born and bred, and some seeking consolation or redemption in an isolated island away from their past, co-exist and provide the backdrop for the mystery. This is another cracking good read and I can't recommend it highly enough.

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