Review: White Nights by Ann Cleeves

White Nights by Ann CleevesWhite Nights by Ann Cleeves

Series: Shetland Islands #2

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Publishing Date: 2005

416 pages

Ebook, purchased

Synopsis: It’s midsummer in the Shetland Islands, the time of the white nights, when birds sing at midnight and the sun never sets. Artist Bella Sinclair throws an elaborate party to launch an exhibition of her work at The Herring House, a gallery on the beach.

The party ends in farce when one the guests, a mysterious Englishman, bursts into tears and claims not to know who he is or where he’s come from. The following day the Englishman is found hanging from a rafter, and Detective Jimmy Perez is convinced that the man has been murdered.

My thoughts

Bella Sinclair is a famous artist in the Shetlands and beyond so when she plans an exhibition of her art everyone is surprised when few people show up. Bella asked Fran Hunter (a character from the first book) who is also an artist to show her work at the exhibition, too. Fran is excited to have a show with Bella since she is still an unknown artist. Fran is really disappointed when so few people show up. Discovering why people didn’t show up at the opening is one of the mysteries Detective Jimmy Perez must figure out after a dead stranger is found. The stranger showed up at the exhibition party acting very strange and claiming to have lost his memory.

Fran and Detective Jimmy Perez are slowly working toward a romantic relationship which could present a problem for Jimmy as he investigates the death of the stranger. Jimmy is at the opening as Fran’s guest, but when he has to investigate the stranger’s death Fran is part of the investigation.

Bella lives in the very small community she grew up in. Many of those people are still living there. This is a book about secrets. And who knows your secrets and what you will do to keep your secrets. Perez discovers that secrets from the past may be the reason for the events happening now. Trying to discover what those secrets are isn’t easy.

I really like the way Ann Cleeves uses the Shetland Islands (which are quite a ways north of Scotland), the weather and the time of the year in these books–almost like another character. The first book took place during the winter and the storms, snow and darkness all factored into the story. In this book fog delays the Inverness crime scene personnel and investigation team who are sent to help the Shetland police and who must fly in or take a ferry to the Shetlands from getting to the scene very quickly. This book takes place during the summer when there’s very little darkness and lots of tourists.

“It’s the time of year,” he said. “The light nights. It makes us all go a little mad.”

This is a difficult case for the police since the man found murdered is a stranger to the Shetlands. They don’t know for a while who he is or why he acted the way he did before he was murdered. The stranger is found wearing a mask and hanging from a rafter in a building in the village. This mystery is very good. Ann Cleeves also does a great job writing about the characters in her mysteries. They’re all interesting, unique people.

I read the first book in this series–Raven Black–about three years ago. I’m not sure why it took me so long to read the second book, but I’m glad I finally read it and I’ve already read books 3 and 4!

My rating: B+

Have you read any of this series or other books by Ann Cleeves? How do you like them?

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