I have been looking for some great summer reads and have stumbled upon a thriller that I found hard to put down. Ann Cleeves, winner of the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award in 2006, has created an addicting and exciting thriller which keeps the reader guessing right up until the very end of the novel. Raven Black is the first in a series of crime novels that takes place on the Shetland Islands; and I can’t WAIT until I get my hands on the next novel in the series!

The story opens with an older man, Mangus Tait, alone in his home on New Year’s Eve, waiting for anyone to stop by. Little does he know that his entire world will change when two young ladies drop in to share a drink with him. Several days later, Fran Hunter is on her way home from dropping her daughter off at school. Fran notices the ravens circling in the air and a splash of red in the newly fallen snow. She approaches what the ravens are obsessed with and discovers the dead body of Catherine Ross. Paranoia, fear, and anxiety consume the residents of the safe and secluded area of Shetland. Who would kill Catherine Ross? And Why? Inspector Jimmy Perez is given the task of finding out. Perez has to start digging into the lives of the Shetland residents and the tragic past of the island. Could this be related to the disappearance of Catriona Bruce several years earlier? Readers have to get to the very end to find out!

Cleeves is masterful in her creation of the Shetland Island series. The plot is dense, but easy to follow and is never boring. Not only is there a murder to solve, but there is a missing girl to find. Each character in the novel is well-developed and slightly flawed, which keeps the reader guessing throughout the novel. Some characters are depressed, neglectful parents, divorced, socially prude and proper, and everyone knows everyone else’s business. Well before the end of the book, I was invested and cared for each character and look forward to reading about them throughout the series.

I am happy to have come across an expertly written novel and addictive crime series. Like I said before, I cannot WAIT to get my hands on the next book, White Nights!

raven black series

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