#FemaleAuthorFriday – Ann Cleeves

I’m standing at my bookshelf, trying to decide who’s next for #FemaleAuthorFriday, and select Ann Cleeves because I loved her novel Raven Black.

I walk back to my computer and enter her name into Google. Holy shit … she’s written like 30 books and even has a few television show adaptations under her belt. I’ve had a treasure trove of crime novels waiting to be read and I had NO clue. I’m a terrible book nerd.

One could say my TBR just grew quite a bit. 

Ann Cleeves has had an amazing career. From being the first recipient of the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for Raven Black to being awarded the Diamond Dagger of the Crime Writers’ Association, the highest honour in British crime writing – she’s done it all. You can read her full biography here on her website

It’s been a few years since I read Raven Black, but I remember being at the beach with my family and unable to put the novel down. I flew through it. I’m sometimes overly critical of thrillers and crime novels, especially if I can accurately predict the ending, but this one had me on my toes until the end. 

Thanks to this post, I’ve learned that this novel is the first in the Shetland Series, so I’ll be running to the bookstore after writing this. 

For my last post I provided the synopsis for all of Lisa Maxwell’s novels, but I don’t think I want to sit here and pull the overview for 30 books. I also don’t think you really care to read all of that. So I’ve selected the four main books from the Shetland Series

For Ann Cleeve’s full catalog, check out her Goodreads Author Profile.

Raven Black (Shetland Island #1)

Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitors who never come. But the next morning the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby, and suspicion falls on Magnus. Inspector Jimmy Perez enters an investigative maze that leads deeper into the past of the Shetland Islands than anyone wants to go.

White Nights (Shetland Island #2)

It’s midsummer in the Shetland Islands, the time of the white nights, when birds sing at midnight and the sun never sets. Artist Bella Sinclair throws an elaborate party to launch an exhibition of her work at The Herring House, a gallery on the beach.

The party ends in farce when one of the guests, a mysterious Englishman, bursts into tears and claims not to know who he is or where he’s come from. The following day the Englishman is found hanging from a rafter, and Detective Jimmy Perez is convinced that the man has been murdered. He is reinforced in this belief when Roddy, Bella’s musician nephew, is murdered, too.

But the detective’s relationship with Fran Hunter may have clouded his judgment, for this is a crazy time of the year when night blurs into day and nothing is quite as it seems.

Red Bones (Shetland Island #3)

An island shrouded in mist and a community with secrets buried in the past . . .

When a young archaeologist studying on a site at Whalsay discovers a set of human remains, the island settlers are intrigued. Is it an ancient find – or a more contemporary mystery?

Then an elderly woman is shot in a tragic accident in the middle of the night. Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called in by her grandson – his own colleague, Sandy Wilson.

The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. Mima Wilson was a recluse. She had her land, her pride and her family. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness have lasted generations.

Surrounded by people he doesn’t know and in unfamiliar territory, Jimmy finds himself out of his depth. Then there’s another death and, as the spring weather shrouds the island in claustrophobic mists, Jimmy must dig up old secrets to stop a new killer from striking again . . .

Blue Lightning (Shetland Island #4)

Shetland Detective Jimmy Perez knows it will be a difficult homecoming when he returns to the Fair Isles to introduce his fiancee, Fran, to his parents. When a woman’s body is discovered at the renowned Fair Isles bird observatory, Jimmy must investigate the old-fashioned way.”

Book Review – Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Genre: Fiction; Mystery; Thriller

Rating: 2.5 / 5

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

Over the past two weeks I have found it very difficult to write this review. Not because I don’t have a lot to say, I have many things to say. I’m so good at being excited and passionate. I’m not very good at sharing negative feedback on the books I read. 

While browsing 2nd and Charles, I came across Chevy Stevens’s debut novel and knew immediately I wanted to read it. I really enjoyed her novels Those Girls and Never Let You Go. I have one requirement for thriller/mystery novels – I want a surprise ending or revelation. In the two novels I read previously, the “big reveal” was flawlessly executed but, unfortunately, this one fell short. (Or perhaps I was used to her twists enough that they were easier to spot.)

The style of the book really stood out and had me hooked right away. The narrator/main character, Annie O’Sullivan, recounts her abduction and what came after to her therapist. It’s a style I haven’t read before and I really enjoyed it at the start of the novel. Definitely a creative way to allow the narrator to tell us what happened to them. In this story, it allows for more honesty than might have been present if Annie were talking to someone else like a close friend or family member. 

For me, once we move past the story of Annie’s abduction, the one-way conversation with her therapist starts to feel a little off. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I think at the point where she stops talking about what happened to her and starts discussing the daily events happening in her life it loses some of the genuine feeling. I want a real-time account of everything that was unfolding, not a calm and collecting re-telling more than a week later. 

Here is this woman, who was kidnapped and etcetera (I promised no spoilers) and she’s just calmly sitting there talking about it with her therapist. Her world is literally falling to pieces, even after she comes home, and the experience is too clean. It’s all too easy. 

From the moment she escapes (not a spoiler, she starts off talking to her therapist and immediately mentions that it’s all past tense) it just all feels too clean. 

And then, as with every other Chevy Stevens novel, the victim effortlessly loses herself in the arms of a man with a savior complex? Nope. Too easy. Too clean. 

All of that to say – I finished the book. I stayed up late reading and hoping for a BOOM kind of ending. Toward the end when I started to realize what was happening and how events were unfolding, my reading slowed. There was so much build-up, so much potential, but at the end I felt like the story took the easy way out. I wanted to be surprised, but turning the final pages I only felt disappointment. 

If you are going to read a novel by Chevy Stevens, I recommend Never Let You Go as a first. It has everything you want in a thriller. 

Buy Still Missing by Chevy Stevens at my local bookstore here, Scrawl Books (Reston, VA). 

Have you read Still Missing or other novels by Chevy Stevens? Let’s talk about it! Leave a comment or send me a message.