Genre: Fiction; Mystery; Crime

Note: There are NO spoilers in this review. When discussing in the comments, please provide a spoiler warning if needed.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5

There’s something so special about a novel that makes you feel like you’re sitting next to a campfire listening to someone tell you a story. And that’s what White Nights by Ann Cleeves feels like. It’s a comfy crime novel without too much drama but just enough twists and unexpected reveals to make it a novel to remember. 

White Nights is the second novel in the Shetland Island series. Again we follow Inspector Jimmy Perez. The launch of his soon-to-be girlfriend’s art exhibition leads to questions as a strange man appears, causes a scene, and disappears into the night. The next morning, when his body is found in the boat house nearby, the murder investigation begins. 

This novel is set in Shetland during a time of year when the sun never fully sets, putting it’s residents and visitors on edge. While those who live in Shetland year-round are more accustomed, a detective visiting from the mainland can’t get a handle of the constant daylight. Throughout the novel we see his anxiety rise and tensions become more strained. While this doesn’t have a huge impact on the investigation for Inspector Perez, it adds a nice dynamic to the novel.

“The winters were so bleak and black that in the summer folk were overtaken with a kind of frenzy, constant activity. There was the feeling that you had to make the most of it, be outside, enjoy it before the dark days came again. Here in Shetland they called it the ‘simmer dim’.”

Ann Cleeves, White Nights

Inspector Perez has lived in Shetland his whole life, and this allows us to gain an insight into the characters of the story we wouldn’t otherwise have. We learn about the strange, intricate relationships of these people who have known each other their whole lives. These personal relationships are ultimately what helps Jimmy read through the lines and solve the case.

The slow and steady pace of following a detective around town as he interviews witnesses, suspects, or anyone else who might know something is so comforting and peaceful to me. I settled into a cadence and just let the rhythm carry me through the pages. 

This kind of novel is where I go when I need a break from the dramatic, emotional, and over-the-top. It isn’t for everyone, but if you crave an escape and somewhere to turn your brain off and just disappear for a while – Ann Cleeves is the author for you. 

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