Raven Black by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I didn't know about the Shetland series of novels until I started watching the BBC series starring Douglas Henshall, and I've been trying to get my hands on a copy ever since.
It's hard not to compare the two; as is often the case, there is (of course) a lot more detail in the book that has either been left out, or completely changed for the tv, but thankfully neither seems to have suffered for this. I love watching the series, even if certain things are different from the novel, but I also really loved this book, and the changes for tv didn't affect my enjoyment of it.
Possibly the biggest star of the book is Shetland itself. Ann's descriptions of the scenery, the weather, the way of life are so evocative that you really feel like you're there. As this is the first in the series, we're introduced to Detective Jimmy Perez, and we learn a little about his background. As well as investigating the murder of a 17-year old girl, he is also struggling with a personal dilemma of which direction his life is going to take - should he stay on Shetland, or go back home to Fair Isle?
Some of the characters from the book have been portrayed quite differently in the tv series. Perez doesn't seem to think much of Sandy in the book, whereas tv Sandy comes across as much more capable and professional, and I actually prefer this 'version' of him. Tosh isn't in the novel at all, unless she's meant to be 'Morag'. And Jimmy meets Fran for the first time (Duncan's ex-wife, mother of Cassie) in Raven Black, whereas in the tv series she's already passed away.
So quite a few differences, but like I said, I still really enjoyed the novel. Jimmy Perez is a very interesting character, and I'm looking forwards to finding out more about him in the later books, and seeing how his blossoming friendship with Fran develops.
It's probably a bit lazy to call it a 'page-turner' - all books are page-turners, I guess, unless you give up on them. But that's what it was - the plot really raced along and I just wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. (I could vaguely remember the tv two-parter, which is actually about to be repeated, so it was kind of a race to finish the book before it's shown again, as I'll definitely be watching).
I've got the next book in the series, and I can't wait to read the rest (apparently Ann Cleeves is up to number six now!)
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