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Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

The Island of Shetland is a place like no other – and one that Ann Cleeves captures perfectly in her series of mystery novels featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez.

These books are as much “armchair travel” as they are mystery novels. Ann Cleeves has very successfully made Shetland her literary landscape – a place she knows well having lived there some years ago, and visited regularly since while researching her novels and taking part in the filming of the award winning BBC television series inspired by her novels.

Cold Earth takes place mostly in the lovely town of Lerwick, where I met Ann Cleeves several years ago. A gracious and kind woman she took us on a walk around the town, pointing out a house she envisioned as being the home of Jimmy Perez. While reading her most recent book I enjoyed vicariously revisiting the town, the arts centre, and the Peerie Shop Café where we had very excellent coffee and cake.

The story begins with Jimmy Perez attending the funeral of an elderly man. The rain falls and falls, and just as the funeral concludes a landslide almost causes more death as the small crowd scatters. No one appears to be harmed though a small croft is almost washed away by the rush of mud. Jimmy checks the house expecting to find it vacant – but instead finds a woman’s body. A beautiful woman – one he has never seen before, and he’d have remembered this woman.

Jimmy and his colleague, Sandy, launch an investigation, but a murder case means calling in the big guns from Headquarters in Inverness. Chief Inspector Willow Reeves and DI Jimmy Perez have worked well together in the past, and they will do so again on this case.

Those of you who have followed this series will know that Jimmy’s lover, Fran, died tragically a few years earlier, and he has been unable to move on to a new relationship. Now, he begins to think it might be possible – except for feeling that it is not yet time to introduce a new woman into the home he shares with Fran’s young daughter. Working with Willow again forces Jimmy to consider his own needs and he comes closer to thinking that his future may include love.

The Jimmy Perez television series has been very popular – now going into a fourth season.  As much as I enjoy the television version of the novels, I prefer Jimmy Perez as Ann Cleeves created him – a dark haired man and surrogate parent of a young Cassie. But Ann Cleeves looks at it differently, in a recent interview she said, “"I think it's important that they're good television; that they capture the atmosphere and sense of the books rather than follow them literally. I've been amazingly lucky. And I don't get at all precious if they change the ending or bring in new characters." 

Ann Cleeves claims there will be only one more Jimmy Perez novel, the next and final one will be called Wildfire. She is ready to move on to a new character and a new location but I’m not so sure about the rest of us!




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