Thin Air

"This is another quality offering in this very engaging series."


Three university friends plus other halves are in Shetland for the 'hamefarin' of local lad Lowrie, recently married to Caroline, one of the friends. After the party, the other two girls and their partners retire to the cottage they are renting for a few days. The next morning they discover that Eleanor, last seen sitting on the veranda when the others retired to bed, has disappeared. Polly gets an email from Eleanor suggesting that she may not be alive any more. Then Eleanor's body is discovered.

Local detective Jimmy Perez and Willow Reeves from the mainland are in charge of the investigation. Underlying the story is the legend of the ghost of a young girl who appears on the shore and is only seen to the childless. The interest that Eleanor and Polly have in the tale runs parallel to the investigation. Both of them had apparently seen a young girl in a white dress who fitted the description of Peerie Lizzie.

Undercover emotions are rife. Jealousy, loss and greed influence the characters. Perez uses his local knowledge and intuition with people to track down the killer.

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The skill that Ann Cleeves has par excellence is the ability to contrive characters that are entirely believable, utterly engaging and whose strengths and weaknesses drive the plot. Eleanor's murder results from her own particular character and the fatal flaw in the character of the murderer. Eleanor used her knowledge of her companions' character to manipulate events for her own interest. As always, Jimmy Perez is a complex and likeable man, and his struggles with his recent past continue to absorb. Willow Reeves is another solid well-rounded individual, and Sandy is developing into maturity. The background of Shetland life continues to fascinate, so far away from the great metropolis and almost a foreign land to the incomers from the south. The strength of the community and its weaknesses are beautifully portrayed. I'm glad that there is Shetland life after the original quartet. It would have been a shame to lose touch with Jimmy. This is another quality offering in this very engaging series.

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