Sunday, January 31, 2010

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves

Protagonist: Jimmy Perez
Setting: Shetland Islands
Rating: 5.0

This has one of the best opening scenes ever (but to tell you more would be to spoil it). Insp. Jimmy Perez is back. This time his sidekick is Sandy Wilson, a young detective and not the sharpest knife in the block. But Sandy is instrumental, as much of the story revolves around his family. An archaeological dig in Whalsay, on land owned by his family, becomes the site of two deaths -- maybe murder? -- after a set of bones is uncovered by the archaeological team.

Cleeves writes a well-plotted mystery, but I like her books as much for the setting -- the Shetland islands, remote and beautiful -- and characters that feel like real people. This is the third in a quartet, and like the other books, it deals with long-hidden secrets and the insularity of the islands. One of the young archaeologists captures it well when she says: "Once the fog rolls in you feel as if the world outside doesn't matter at all. People here lose any sense of proportion. Tiny incidents that happened years ago fester and take over their lives."

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