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Showing posts with the label British Fiction

The Evening and the Morning - A Review

  The Evening and the Morning     is a prequel to Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and the fourth book in his Kingsbridge series. The novel is set in medieval Britain, beginning at the end of the Early Middle Ages, and spanning the years 997 CE to 1007 CE. The story revolves around three main characters: Edgar, Ragna, and Aldred.   Edgar is a young boat builder whose life changes forever when Vikings attack his village. During the raid, a Viking kills the woman he loves, Sungifu, and Edgar's father. Edgar kills the man and leaves the village with his family. The remainder of the novel explores themes of justice, mercy, and the complications of leadership, as Edgar becomes entangled in increasingly dangerous snares of political intrigue.   Ragna is a beautiful Norman princess who marries an Anglo-Saxon chieftain named Wilwulf. She loves him, but when she gets to England and starts to live with him in his town, she discovers that things are not quite as she expect

Treasure Island by Stevenson

  Treasure Island    By Robert Louis Stevenson My eldest granddaughter is practicing for her part in a musical version of Treasure Island so, I downloaded a copy, which I had not read since childhood. It's been called a boy's adventure story but nowadays, that stereotype no longer applies. Following is a summary and a description of the key characters. Treasure Island is a children's novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, first published in 1883. Set in the 1780s, it tells the story of Jim Hawkins, a young boy who finds a treasure map while working at his parents' inn. With the help of his friends, he sets out to find the treasure, which is hidden on a remote island. Along the way, they encounter a variety of obstacles, including pirates, mutiny, and the natural dangers of the island. In the end, Jim and his friends are successful in finding the treasure, but they must also learn to deal with the consequences of their actions.   The main characters in Treasu

Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves -- a review

  Wild Fire    Shetland Series Book 8 by Ann Cleeves Wild Fire is Ann Cleeves’ final instalment of the Shetland series . The team of Willow Reeves, Jimmy Perez, and Sandy Wilson collaborate one last time to solve murders closely connected to two families in Deltaness. Emma grew up in an abusive family in Orkney. She came to Shetland to work as a nanny for the four children of Robert and Bella Montcrief who appear emotionally distant from their children. Each of the children play a role in the mystery. Martha is a 17-year old rebellious teen and Charles, dad’s favourite, is 16. The younger two have occasional appearances in the narrative. Helena and Daniel Fleming are friends of the Montcriefs. Bella Montcrief handles public relations for Helena’s designs. Daniel, is an architect who struggles with depression. Their older son, Christopher has an autistic disorder. He has an interest in CSI and plays a prominent role in identifying the murderer of Emma. Emma’s startling death is linked

Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves -- a review

  Cold Earth    Shetland Series Book 7 by Ann Cleeves Magnus Tait, the intellectually challenged man encountered in a previous novel ( Raven Black ),has died. There's a burial for Magnus. Then it pours with rain, which produces a horrible and destructive mudslide. A croft house is damaged. The gloomy scene is a setup for murder.  The Shetlanders thought the croft was uninhabited but the storm exposes the body of a mysterious dark-haired woman in a red silk dress. She's been murdered. Willow Reeves and Jimmy Perez work together to solve the mystery, which has the slow twists common to Cleeves' writing style. In the background, the Willow-Jimmy romance limps along. And Sandy Wilson continues to mature. I continue to appreciate Cleeve's ability to portray rich characters on the Shetland Islands and simultaneously weave a complex story. I'm a fan of her style but those who prefer a more action-packed American style mystery may find it too slow. If you like the series,

Thin Air by Ann Cleeves -- a review

  Thin Air    Shetland Series Book 6 by Ann Cleeves Three English women are uni friends. Two (Eleanor and Polly) bring their partners (Ian, Marcus) to join the newlywed couple, Caroline and Lowrie for a celebration on the northern Isle of Unst. Lowrie is a Shetlander and the wedding celebration is a hamefarin' -- a homecoming.  Lowrie's parents, George and Grusche, live nearby and feature in the story. The beautiful Eleanor, intrigued by a century old ghost story, disappears. Her body is found in a small loch.  DI Willow Reeves and DI Jimmy Perez along with Serjeant Sandy Wilson investigate the English visitors and nearby islanders while staying at a nearby hotel run by David and his partner Charles. The pathologist is Dr. James Grieve from Aberdeen. I have a paperback version as part of a box set and recommend this volume to those who enjoy slow and thoughtful styles of British crime mysteries and appreciate learning new words that add to the texture of Shetland culture.

Dead Water by Ann Cleeves -- a review

  Dead Water   Shetland Series Book 5 by Ann Cleeves Journalist Jerry Markham, a Shetlander with an uneven reputation has returned from London to investigate a story linked to the island’s energy industry. He ends up murdered after someone runs his Alpha off the road near the Sullom Voe oil terminal. His body is found by Jimmy Perez’ boss, Procurator Fiscal Rhona Laing, in a racing yoal in Aith Marina. Willow Reeves enters this story, and the series, as a tall and somewhat awkward yet intelligent and competent Detective Investigator who grew up in the West Hebrides. Reeling from the tragedy on his home island of Fair Isle, Jimmy Perez slowly finds his way back to becoming an integral part of the team. Perez’ life has become more complicated now that he cares for seven-year-old Cassie Hunter. Initially, Willow relies on Sandy Wilson but gradually, and gently, she woos Perez whose understanding of Shetlanders is critical to the investigation. Two families, the Markhams and the Watt

Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves -- a review

  4. Blue Lightning    Shetland Series Book 4 by Ann Cleeves Jimmy Perez takes Fran Hunter to meet his family, James and Mary, on Fair Isle. Cassie stays with her father, Duncan Hunter, on the main island. At the same time as the family visit, a group of avid birdwatchers are at the Bird Observatory at the North Lighthouse. It isn’t long before a mostly unloved scientist is found murdered and left in an unusual pose befitting her specialty. As the storms rage, everyone is trapped on the island. And most of the guests are suspects. Another person becomes a victim. And there’s a race to stop the killer before it’s too late to save a third. The severe storms not only add to the general mood of the characters but increase the tension and the psychological burden of the investigation, which rests on Jimmy Perez who must conduct interviews and think through options with limited help from his team on the main island. I must avoid too much detail here because the stunning conclusion can

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves -- a review

  3. Red Bones    Shetland Series Book 3 by Ann Cleeves An old woman, Sandy Wilson’s grandmother Mima Wilson, stepped outside her house one night. She is shot and killed. It looks like a hunting accident. Two young women have been conducting an archeological dig on her land. The   discovery of old bones, combined with the memories of the islanders, help solve the mysterious murder but not before another killing increases grief and paranoia. This is book three in the Shetland Islands series. It’s set on the off island of Walsay, which is home to Sandy Wilson, assistant to DI Jimmy Perez whose romantic partner, Fran Hunter, and her daughter Cassie are in London for most of the story. Also, English DI Roy Taylor from the Inverness office is not with the Shetland team during this investigation. As usual with Ann Cleeves storytelling, the background story of the characters and the Island history enrich the mystery. We learn more about Sandy Wilson’s family and the story of the famou

White Nights by Ann Cleeves - a review

  White Nights    Shetland Series Book 2 by Ann Cleeves There’s been a party in Shetland during those white nights when the light of day fades into a long, twilight evening, known as the simmer dim. Fran Hunter joins flamboyant Shetland artist Bella Sinclair in an art show. A strange man garner’s everyone’s attention as he falls before one of Bella’s paintings. Later, someone finds him hanging in a shed where fishermen store their gear. Local DI Jimmy Perez starts to investigate the staged suicide as a murder. The team includes lead DI Englishman Roy Taylor from the Inverness office and local sergeant Sandy Wilson. The tension increases in the small village of Biddista when another one is murdered. As is her style, Ann Cleeves describes her characters partly through point-of-view narratives and partly by contrasts between the Shetlanders, the tourists, and mostly English incomers as well as their interaction with the stark Shetland landscape. The lead characters are enriched as we

Shetland Series by Ann Cleeves

               Scotland’s Northern Isles Geoffrey W. Sutton   The Shetland series is set in the Shetland Islands, which are at the far north of the United Kingdom. The stark landscape dotted with sheep, filled by the author with an intriguing variety of birdlife, and battered by storms seems like an ideal place for a series of murders especially when cold winters bring snow, dense fogs can obscure vision, and summers present with an eerie long evening light—the simmer dim. The lead detective is Jimmy Perez who was born on Fair Isle but works out of the police station in Lerwick on the main island. Jimmy had been married to Sarah who divorced him following a miscarriage. His team includes Sandy Wilson from the off island of Walsay and inspectors from elsewhere in Scotland. In the first story, Raven Black , we meet Fran Hunter who is divorced from Jimmy’s old school friend, Duncan Hunter. They have a daughter Cassie. The relationship between Jimmy and Fran progresses along w