Our 'extra' PBS station shows British murder mysteries on Monday nights; right now it's new episodes based on Peter Robinson's DCI Banks (one of my favorite series), but last month it was Shetland, based on Ann Cleeves' books about Inspector Jimmy Perez. The setting (on the islands northeast of Scotland) was very atmospheric, and there was a brooding detective to match ), so I enjoyed the four programs very much. It was nice to be led from the films to the books, for once, instead of the other way around. I almost always like to read a mystery series in strict order, but Thin Air, the newest one, came my way first. In a way this was even better; the TV episodes told us a little bit about Perez' background, this book fleshed it out a little more, but in coming to this book first we weren't there, and it will be even more intriguing to go back and find out everything that has happened before.
Inspector Perez (the mystery of his un-Scottish name is that his ancestors sailed to the islands with the Spanish Armada and were shipwrecked there) is from Fair Isle, where his parents still live, has returned to the Shetlands after his wife is murdered, bringing his stepdaughter Csssie with him. In this book, Jimmy is just returning to work, and to himself, after her violent death, and going back to learn what happened to her is a big part of my wanting to read the earlier ones. There's a spark of something, on her side at least, between Jimmy and his Chief Inspector, Willow Reeves, and that's something to look forward to as well.
Oh, and there's a murder. A group of college friends have come to celebrate the marriage of one of their number to a young man who has grown up in the islands. Two of the women, one a quiet librarian entering in an unexpected relationship, and the other a film producer preparing a series about ghost sightings, both think they have seen Peerie Lizzy, the island's legendary ghost of a little girl who drowned 100 years before. When one of the friends is found dead, the detectives find rooms to sleep and work in at the upscale bed and breakfast that has just opened in the mansion where the child lived. As the investigation unfolds, there are enough theories, and enough suspects, to keep the story suspenseful, and a resolution that came just a little out of the blue. But, after all, having a good murder mystery in my murder mysteries is just a nice little something extra. :)
(Morning sun, Westings, Unst, found here}