22 May 2017

Review #605: Cold Earth (Shetland #7) by Ann Cleeves

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”

----Cormac McCarthy

Ann Cleeves, the award-winning British crime author, is back with yet another intriguing thriller in her popular Shetland Island crime series called, Cold Earth, where the infamous protagonist, DI Jimmy Perez, is challenged with the landslides of Shetland that destroys an abandoned house on the island, revealing the body of an unidentified woman, whose death strikes Perez with the tragic death of the love of his life, but this nerve wracking mystery of an unidentified woman's death is taking the toll out of Perez and out of all the islanders who have no clue about this woman.


In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea.

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. In his mind, she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and soon he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity.

Then it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house. Perez knows he must find out who she was, and how she died.

On the day of the funeral of Jimmy's old friend, Magnus, a deadly landslide hits the island of Shetland, creating havoc with its outburst. Caught in its destruction is a lonely abandoned and almost dilapidated house, which gets washed away from its place due to the landslide, finally revealing the dead body of an unidentified woman. Soon Perez's team arrives on the spot, but no one has a single clue about who this dead woman could be. Sandy's digging helps reveal about that woman's movement before her death, but no one could say anything about her identity. Although her use of fake name helps a lot, and Perez with the help of Scottish police chief, Willow, could uncover a lot of dark secrets about the suspects behind that woman's death. Whereas, the death of that unknown woman has hit Jimmy real hard and he is haunted by the death of his lover, Fran. But a strong and undeniable attraction towards Willow is distracting him from his goal to find out who killed the woman or who that woman is. Can Perez solve this crime despite of his personal battles?

Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series has been turned into a major TV series of BBC One network called Shetland, starring, Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez. I've read almost all the books in this epic crime series and I absolutely loved them all, including this current book. Even though Cleeves is one of my favorite crime writers, I promise to pen an unbiased review. This book is equally captivating and absolutely mind boggling to the very core. The book left me guessing till the very last page and this is one of the primary reasons why I love reading Cleeves' books where the plot is so thick with suspense that will leave even the seasoned readers anticipating till the very end.

What can I say about Cleeves protagonist- DI Jimmy Perez? Even I’m more drawn to his loneliness, yet there is something striking about him, which will keep the readers glued to his unusual demeanor. Cleeves portrayed Perez as a widower with a step-daughter, Cassie and as a brave, strong man whose determination will keep the readers hooked on to the story line till the turn of the very last page. Although in this book, Cold Earth, the readers will get to see a different side of Perez who has more perturbation and layers of gray shades hidden in the depths of his very soul. Perez will intimidate the readers and at the same time will leave them curious about his past as well as about his present. The supporting characters, like Sandy, Willow and others are also tastefully developed through their flaws and strong aspects.

The author's writing is extraordinarily exquisite and articulate. While reading this book, the readers might feel like the whole story is unfolding right before their eyes and that they might be standing on one of the cliffs of Shetland and watching the modus operandi of Perez and his team with their own eyes. The narration is crystal clear and free-flowing like a river, that is easy to comprehend with. The whole investigation taking place in Shetland is described intricately and vividly by the author.

I’d like to hats off to the author for painting the backdrop of her story so distinctly and strikingly. Shetland is a small Scottish Island where the weather remains cold, dark, windy, chilly and rainy 365 days around the year. And Cleeves has captured it all with such sharpness that the readers can almost feel the wind on their skin and the salty taste of the breeze on their tongue, along with that smell of rain on the Earth. Not only that, the author reveals a lot about traditions behind a funeral also capturing the lives of the islanders in the most vivid way.

In a nutshell, this page turning and absolutely absorbing novel is a must read for all crime fiction readers, especially who love reading a tightly packed and neatly tied with unpredictable twists, thriller.

Verdict: Cold English islandish thriller infused with murder, mayhem and police drama.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Pan Macmillan India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Ann is the author of the books behind ITV's VERA, now in it's third series, and the BBC's SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann's DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann's Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands...

Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs - child care officer, women's refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard - before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.
While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person's not heavily into birds - and Ann isn't - there's not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.
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