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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FASCINATING STORY
This is the third novel in a projected Shetland Islands Quartet, following Cleeves's award winning "Raven Black" and "White Nights."

An archeological dig has started on Whalsay Island where the remains of the oldest house in the area are rumoured to have been. So methodically the team of Hattie James and Sophie are doing a painstakingly slow excavation to see...
Published on September 27, 2009 by Barbara Lane

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Meandering Plot that suffers from a glaring flaw
Note: I have not read any of the other books in the series.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to set up a mystery novel. The first is to give all the relevant facts right at the beginning and then follow the detective as he/she figures out why they are all important and the second is to follow the detective as she/he uncovers clue after clue and slowly...
Published on April 4, 2011 by W. Lancaster


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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FASCINATING STORY, September 27, 2009
This is the third novel in a projected Shetland Islands Quartet, following Cleeves's award winning "Raven Black" and "White Nights."

An archeological dig has started on Whalsay Island where the remains of the oldest house in the area are rumoured to have been. So methodically the team of Hattie James and Sophie are doing a painstakingly slow excavation to see what they can find.

Mima (Jemima) Wilson, the owner of the property, is found dead.. It seems that she was killed by a shotgun presumedly by a rabbit shooter out late at night and not realising what he has hit.

The young father who admits to being out that night late rabbit shooting is horrified. He takes responsibility for the terrible accident. His wife has just given birth. What a terrible situation for this young lovely couple to be in. He feels like the town will shun him. He feels he can't even go to the local pub as he is worried what people would think and he decides to give up alcohol totally. He had been drinking that night.

The Shetland Islands are such a close knit community and everyone knows everyone elses business.

A few days later Hattie James, PhD student and the moving force behind the dig is found in the trench with her wrists slit. Suicide but why did she do it??? It doesn't make sense. Or was it murder?

The pace is steady but not quick, as the layers of this close knit community are peeled away

If you enjoy getting to know real, vulnerable, and interesting characters - then add this book to your shopping cart.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Meandering Plot that suffers from a glaring flaw, April 4, 2011
Note: I have not read any of the other books in the series.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to set up a mystery novel. The first is to give all the relevant facts right at the beginning and then follow the detective as he/she figures out why they are all important and the second is to follow the detective as she/he uncovers clue after clue and slowly builds a picture.

This novel follows neither way. There is no sense of Perez putting facts together to reach the final picture. As a detective he's actually rather passive and just sort of floats through the novel. The fact that there are three only tangentially related plot threads didn't help. I kept hoping that they would all come together in a brilliant fashion but in the end one peters out, one is solved by an unsupported burst of insight from a previously uninsightful character, and the third is the main plot line which I will get back to. All and all, this is more of a description of the Shetland island then it is a mystery novel.

If that were all this would be a three star review, unfortunately, Cleeves then proceeds to commit a major sin of mystery writers in resolving the main plotline. There is a hidden fact that the Detective, Perez, knows that we the reader do not. This fact is revealed only in the final explanation and the book even hides the time Perez spent researching this fact.

This mystery is not resolvable with the presented information.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An alright read, September 14, 2009
Shetland Islands Inspector Jimmy Perez returns in this third Shetland Islands novel, Red Bones.

Hattie James is working towards achieving her PhD in archeology. She is currently working on her thesis. If she doesn't find something of interest soon, she will have to pack up the excavation and leave. One of the residents, a woman named Evelyn wants to join the dig. Hattie agrees and her and Evelyn start digging at a practice site. What they dig up will have the whole island in an upheaval.

Mima Wilson is not a very well liked woman. She is judgmental and rude. So when she is found shot to death, her death brings mixed emotions. Inspector Perez can usually keep his work from becoming personal but this time is different. Mima was the grandmother of Perez's assistant, Sandy Wilson. Inspector Perez starts doing some investigating. He wonders if Mima's death and the discovery at the excavation site are somehow connected and if so...who would want Mima dead? This is the million dollar question.

Red Bones is the first book I have read by Ann Cleeves. I had been eyeing her work since I first heard about Raven Black but just didn't have the chance till now. I have to say that I am now wondering why I waited so long. This story had all the makings of a classic who-dunnit story. While I love these types of books and I do plan to check out the other two prior novels, there were some times when I did lose a little interest. Partly because there were so many characters that I couldn't keep them straight. Also there wasn't too much of a great mystery involved to determine who the killer was. Though I couldn't figure out the motive till the end. Overall this was a pretty good book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RED BONES A MYSTERY, October 10, 2009
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Red Bones a book that is more than a mystery, it is an atmospheric and loving trip to the Shetland Islands, I can't wait for a new book by this author. I have never read a book where I feel I've experienced the rain, wind and sunshine that she portrays so well on these islands!!!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read -- but if you haven't read Raven Black, read that first, November 23, 2009
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This is the third novel in the Shetland Islands quartet. The first (and best) is Raven Black. While I devoured all three books, the first stands above the other two in its atmospheric qualities and overall creepiness. White Nights was also good, but it started off much more slowly. Red Bones plods a bit more, but was quite satisfying nonetheless. Cleeves is an excellent writer, and she keeps the book under her firm control until the end. Her descriptions of the scenery and island culture are vivid and intriguing -- I would not be surprised if these books cause a spike in tourist visits to Lerwick, Fair Isle, etc. In each book, the reader is kept guessing (or second guessing) until the final twenty pages.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super police procedural, September 6, 2009
Shetland Islands Inspector Jimmy Perez investigates the murder of Mima Wilson, who was shot to death. The case is somewhat personal as Mima was the grandma of the police detective's subordinate Sandy Wilson. The locals on Whalsay Island believe Mima's grandson Ronald accidentally shot and killed her, but Perez has doubts about the theory.

Instead he wonders if the homicide might be linked to an archeological dig on Mima's land. Ph.D. candidate student Hattie James recently dug up a skeleton that might date back to the fifteenth century or earlier. A second body is found at the excavation location; that person apparently committed suicide leading the detective to assume the bones are contemporary. Perez with Sandy's surprisingly somewhat competent but reluctant help begins to unravel Wilson secrets that date back to WWII and the resistance.

The third Shetland Island police procedural (see RAVEN BLACK and WHITE NIGHTS) is a super whodunit. Jimmy is terrific as he battles the islanders who know Ronald accidentally killed his grandma and thus believe an investigation is a waste of time and money. Fans will enjoy Jimmy's efforts to uncover what really happened on Whalsay Island with no one, not even Sandy who is pulled between family and work loyalties, fully cooperating.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Middling, January 10, 2011
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n.rivot (Rockville, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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I found this much better than Raven Black. Ann Cleeves has improved, her characters are more interesting, better described.

However, she still doesn't know how to finish a mystery properly. One has no idea how the inspector, stumbling in the dark a short while ago, suddenly knows just what happened. Like in that earlier book, it is all solved in a couple of pages. And the worst is that the solution is not entirely convincing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shetland detective series, April 29, 2014
Excellent story really well told. Very atmospheric - you could feel the fog, rain and sun. Story line held together really well. Much better than the BBC adaption.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An intricately interwoven plot that is undeniably brilliant, atmospheric and beautifully crafted., January 29, 2013
This review is from: Red Bones (Shetland) (Paperback)
This stunning crime novel by highly acclaimed, bestselling author of Dead Water and Raven Black, Ann Cleeves brings a new exciting tale to the forefront. `Shetland' is now a major BBC television drama adaptation. This profoundly gripping, absorbing tale is one that had me sat on the edge of my seat throughout as I was unable to put this book down for even a moment. Shrouded in mystery, deception and intrigue this cleverly crafted crime investigation is one that captured my imagination as I lost myself within a fantastic story. Quirky, distinctive characters amidst the mystical Shetland backdrop that is eerie, radiating a sinister beauty such as one would find in Doone Valley or the rugged bleakness of the Moors in Jane Eyre. I was kept guessing throughout and had chills running down my spine it was so electrifying, therefore I would highly recommend this satisfying tale.

When an elderly woman is shot in a tragic accident, Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called to investigate. The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness have lasted generations. 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...

An evocative treat which will delight the senses and complex mystery to unhinge the mind, this fascinating and delicately interlaced in-depth murder mystery is truly exceptional. I am so impressed by an author whose originality, sublime simplicity of prose and exquisite narrative has astonished hence Ann Cleeves now remains a firm favorite and inspirational writer. Amidst the truth-drawing clarity and acutely graphic realism, is an enriching perspective and insight on life that is just remarkable. A real page-turner which is dark, compelling and as deadly deceiving as an Agatha Christie. This ambitious work is a series that I intend to continue reading for it encompasses all that one cherishes most within well-written crime fiction.

*I won a copy of `Red Bones by Ann Cleeves' through a GoodReads giveaway*

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the author and also the publishers (Pan Macmillan) for this.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bones in the land...skeletons in the cupboard..., March 11, 2012
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janebbooks (Jacksonville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Red Bones (Paperback)
It's early spring in the Shetland Islands in the North Sea - a time of rebirth and celebration. Hyacinths are blooming in pots and beds of yellow daffodils have popped up in the fields. Some of the inhabitants are planning an early garden - a strip of tatties, another of neeps...and a planticrub with cabbage.

Ann Cleeves has set her third installment of the Shetland Island mysteries on the small island of Whalsay, a mere 6 miles long and 2 1/2 miles wide. Hattie James. a young archeology student working on her PhD, has returned to Setter, the oldest croft or farm on the island, owned by Mima Wilson. Hattie believes that the remains of a large and important 15th century merchant's house is on the site.

Shortly after the young diggers discover human bones, an elderly woman is shot by a neighbor lamping for rabbits. A young visiting cop from Lerwick has called in Detective Jimmy Perez to investigate the death. A half dozen silver coins have been excavated, and when another body is found in the dig's trenches, Sandy and Perez begin to suspect foul play.

Detective Perez has been around for Cleeves' other Shetland Island mysteries. But in RED BONES we meet his boss, the Fiscal..."a fiftysomething with a cutting tongue and a designer wardrobe." (A Fiscal is, in the words of Perez, a cross between a magistrate and a prosecuting lawyer.) Rhona Laing, the new fiscal, becomes one of the most interesting women in the novel...although Cleeves methodically introduces the reader to practically every inhabitant on Whalsay including a newborn child.

Two other outsiders, both archeologists, do appear in the tale to create some authenticity: Val Turner of the Shetland Museum and Paul Bergland, a university professor.

In what seems an afterthought, Cleeves throws in some interesting Shetland history that's essential to the plot. She talks of Whalsay as an important port in the Hanseatic League - the medieval trading community of towns along the Baltic Sea and North Sea coasts. And mentions the Shetland Bus, a group of men who built boats for the Norwegians resisting German occupiers during World War II.

RED BONES was a very slow read. But I am optimistic and ready for the final installment of Cleeves quartet Blue Lightning: A Thriller. I hear it ends the series with a bang....

3.5 out of 5 stars
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