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?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

TBR Review: Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

raven-blackRaven Black
by Ann Cleeves
Narrated by Gordon Griffin
Series: Shetland #1
Genre: Mystery
Published by Minotaur Books, 2006 (Macmillan Audio, 2014)
Audiobook, purchased
384 pages
11 hours, 21 minutes
Grade: B+
Narrator grade: B+
Synopsis: Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitors who never come. But the next morning the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby, and suspicion falls on Magnus. Inspector Jimmy Perez enters an investigative maze that leads deeper into the past of the Shetland Islands than anyone wants to go.

It was precisely midnight when he stepped through the door. Taylor had said he wanted everyone in the Incident Room an hour before first light the next day, but Perez wasn’t ready for sleep. As he switched on the kettle to make tea, he remembered he hadn’t eaten since lunchtime and stuck sliced bread under the grill, fished margarine and marmalade from the fridge. He’d have breakfast now, save time in the morning.


  • This is my TBR Review for June. This reading challenge is hosted by Wendy @ The Misadventures of Super Librarian. We post a review on the third Wednesday every month and she provides a topic each month to choose our TBR read from. This is an optional exercise, but fun for me to try to find a TBR book that fits the topic. This month the challenge is to choose an author that I have more than one of her books in my TBR pile. I think I have four or five of Ann Cleeves’ books.
  • I really like this book. I like the way the author tells the story–from a number of points of view–as we as well as the police try to figure out why the girl was murdered. The narrator did a great job narrating the book.
  • This is a character-driven mystery. There’s not a lot of action. That’s what I really like about it–learning more about the people and motivations.
  • The story told from many points of view (POV)–Jimmy Perez, the inspector from Shetland Island; Fran Hunter who finds the body; Magnus Tait, the lonely old man whom everyone is sure killed a girl who disappeared in the past; Sally Henry a girl who doesn’t fit in with her peers.
  • Even though the main POV is Jimmy Perez’s, the police inspector, this isn’t really a police procedural, because we see so many other POV’s during the story.
  • The Shetland Islands setting is so important to the story. An island–the isolation, the weather, the islanders v. newcomers (mostly English) v. tourists are all part of this story.
  • I like reading about islands and the people who live on them. Islands are so unique as are the people who live on them.
  • I didn’t figure out the solution to this mystery until the end.


  • In the next book I want to learn more about Jimmy Perez.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is a good beginning of a mystery series. I want to read more of the books.
  • I would really like to see the TV show for this series though I want to read the books first.


  • CWA Gold Dagger Award (2006)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Ann Cleeves is a British mystery writer–author of the Vera Stanhope series and the Shetland series–both series made into TV series.
  • She worked as a cook at the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle. While there she met a visiting ornithologist who became her husband. He was appointed warden to a small tidal island nature preserve. They were the only residents there and Ms. Cleeves found plenty of time to write. After that they moved to Northumberland which provided inspiration for many of her books. They now live in the North East.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • TBR Challenge–hosted by Wendy @ The Misadventures of Super Librarian (an author with more than one book in my TBR pile)
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (A book turned into a TV show–though I haven’t seen the TV show)