Envy, greed and mystery

2009-07-29 00:00


Red Bones

Ann Cleves


AS with a number of Ann Cleeves’s books, this one is set in the Shetland Isles, and features her series detective, Jimmy Perez.

The story blends archaeology ­(human remains found on a site at Whalsay) with modern death — the apparently accidental shooting of an elderly woman. But this elderly woman, the reclusive Mima Wilson, is the aunt of Perez’s colleague, Sandy Wilson, and Sandy’s not convinced about the cause of death.

So Perez investigates, looking to the local community for answers, and finds a connection to two feuding families whose envy, greed and ­bitterness have lasted for generations. Another death has him feeling very much out of his depth, but as the mists of spring shroud the island he’s obliged to dig up old secrets to stop the killer from striking again.

A nice, solid mystery and an ­engaging, very human detective: good stuff. The most important ­character in the book, though, is Shetland itself. Isolated, sparse of population and of landscape, and yet by no means bleak, it’s a place where ­people often live surprisingly rich and colourful lives. Cleeves obviously knows and loves it well.

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