Sunday, September 16, 2007
Our last day in England before arriving in Scotland had us driving along the Northumbrian coast (photo left) and stopping to have lunch with Ann Cleeves, who makes her home in this area and has set some of her novels here. Cleeves has been writing for more than 20 years, and last year won the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger for her book Raven Black, set in the remote Shetlands islands.
Cleeves was visiting the Shetlands three years ago with her husband when, she told our group, "I saw three ravens against the snow. I thought if there was blood in the snow, it would be like a fairy tale. That image stayed in my head: Those ravens, so black against the snow." What started out as a short story metamorphosed into her award-winning crime novel (the first in a four-part series). She also explained that she uses the traditional "cozy" form, layered with psychological insights. In Raven Black, Cleeves expertly masters the theme of being an outsider, giving the book a rich depthness.
Cleeves is among the current generation of U.K. writers who are using the traditional British mystery forms and adding so much more. For those of us who love British mysteries, it's a great time to be reading!