Ann Cleeves

Dead Water

"Cleeves brings the Shetlands to life so vividly you can feel the salty tang on the breeze as you read her Shetland novels."


It is six months since the death of the fiancé of Inspector Jimmy Perez of the Shetland police. Although back at work, he is not really engaged and suffers from depression and bouts of anger. When the body of journalist Jerry Markham is found in a boat close to the home of the Procurator Fiscal, Sergeant Sandy Wilson is reluctant to call out Perez. Detective Inspector Willow Reeves is brought in to head the investigation and Jimmy Perez is gradually drawn into the search for the killer. As always his deep knowledge of the people and ways of the islanders is invaluable.

The victim is a native Shetlander who has returned from a successful career in London. When he left he was ambitious and anxious to make his way in the world. Just before he went he was involved with a young girl who was helping out in his parents' hotel. He moved on to new pastures but left behind a devastated young woman. Markham was apparently on the track of a big story, possibly involved with Sullam Voe, the terminal of the oil and gas business in Shetland.

Perez and Reeves follow the leads and the past has many influences. Actions have consequences, even after many years. Perez's understanding of local people and Willow Reeves' determination to find the answer combine to help them track down the murderer in a tense finale.

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I was devastated at the end of 'Blue Lightning', the last of the Shetland quartet of books about Jimmy Perez. I had hugely enjoyed the series and Jimmy and Fran were favourite characters. So I was delighted that Jimmy has survived to live another day. One of Ann Cleeves' strengths is her description of characters and her way of understanding exactly how people work. This continues in this book. Perez' depression and mourning is beautifully described, as is his slow emergence from the depression into which he has sunk. In 'Dead Water', Rhona Laing, the smart and ambitious Procurator Fiscal, becomes more of a real character as we learn more about her motivation and her strengths and weaknesses. The singular atmosphere of the Shetland Islands, both welcoming and insular, is, as always, an important part of the story. Cleeves brings the Shetlands to life so vividly you can feel the salty tang on the breeze as you read her Shetland novels. 'Dead Water' is another completely satisfying story and I, for one, am very pleased we are yet again in the company of Jimmy Perez.

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