Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves
Ann Cleeves most recent novel, Wild Fire, is said to be the last in the Jimmy Perez mystery series, though Ann has said this before. The series was originally to have been a trilogy, but Wild Fire is now the eighth in the series. It does seem, this time, that Ann has chosen to say goodbye to Jimmy Perez.
This instalment finds Jimmy Perez investigating a murder in the fictional town of Deltaness, in Northmavine, Shetland. This is territory Ann Cleeves knows well, near the town of Brae, and Busta House where she has often stayed while in Shetland.
The murder victim is Emma Shearer, a young woman who has worked for several years as a nanny for the Moncrieff family, living in their attic flat. Robert Moncrieff is a doctor, his wife Belle is a publicist. They are parents to teenagers Martha and Charlie, and two much younger children. Emma had come from Orkney, from a troubled family. She was noted for her fondness of the fashion of dress popular in the 1950s, and dramatic makeup – I pictured a sort of demure Amy Winehouse look.
When Emma was found, dead, in a building on a property belonging to Daniel and Helena Fleming, it is the beginning of a very complicated investigation. Daniel is an architect, and Helena a fashion designer. They had recently moved to Shetland with their children Christopher and Ellie. Why Emma’s body was found here is as much of mystery as her death. The property had been the scene of another, similar, death some years earlier. Is there a connection, or is there not?
Willow Reeves arrives as investigating officer, working with Jimmy and Sandy. Willow and Jimmy have some sorting out to do about whether or not their relationship is going to continue, but regardless they must work together to solve Emma’s murder, and another, and to prevent even more people from becoming victim to a very disturbed killer.
Ann Cleeves has had a busy fall travelling on book tour with Wild Fire. “It has been a totally bonkers month. If someone had told me ten years ago that I'd be touring the country with a book, talking not just to readers but to journalists and interviewers, on radio and TV, it would have been unbelievable, a strange fantasy. I'm still pinching myself,” says Ann.
It has also been a life changing year for Ann Cleeves after the death of her husband, Tim. They met on Fair Isle many years ago, when he working as an ornithologist there. As the novel, Wild Fire, ends there is a boat arriving in Fair Isle. And, it is Fair Isle, says Ann Cleeves, “where my love affair with Shetland started more than forty years ago”. And it seems she will end the Jimmy Perez series there for now.