Crime writer Ann Cleeves has not one but two hit TV series to her credit: Vera has been joined by Shetland - which is now a major BBC One drama starring Douglas Henshall as detective Jimmy Perez. Ann's latest book is Thin Air, the next in the 'Shetland' series.
A group of old university friends leave the bright lights of London and travel to Unst, Shetland's most northerly island, to celebrate the marriage of one of their friends to a Shetlander. It's mid-summer, a time of light nights and unexpected mists. But late on the night of the wedding party, one of them, Eleanor, disappears - apparently into thin air. The following day, Eleanor's friend Polly receives an email. It appears to be a suicide note, saying she'll never be found alive. And then Eleanor's body is discovered, lying in a small loch close to the cliff edge...
Jimmy Perez once more joins forces with Willow Reeves to investigate a death which reveals the tensions between tradition and modernity that lie deep at the heart of a community, and shows how events from the past can have devastating effects on the present.
Read more about Thin Air.
24 Hours, 24 Islands - and a book launch
Ann celebrated the publication of Thin Air with a unique series of events organised by Shetland Arts, Orkney Library and Shetland Library: 24 Islands/24 Hours, a 24 hour race against the clock. From 3.00 pm on Thursday 11th September to 3.00 pm on Friday 12th September there were events on 24 islands in Orkney and Shetland, culminating in the launch of Thin Air at Britain's most northerly library, in Baltasound, Unst.
Ann herself visited the Orkney Islands of Papa Westray and Burray - and met Shetland readers on the Bressay ferry, as well as travelling by mobile library and dropping into the Gutcher Goose Cafe, Yell, visiting seven islands in all. The picture, left, taken by Shetland librarian Douglas Garden, shows her signing a book for ferryman Will Taylor.
Read more about Shetland - the 24 hour challenge, the murder mysteries, the television series and the islands themselves.
The latest case for Ann Cleeves's unglamourous but brilliant detective, DI Vera Stanhope, and the basis of the opening episode of VERA series four, is Harbour Street. Now also available in paperback, it concerns the mysterious death of pensioner Margaret Krukowksi on a busy Newcastle Metro train at the height of rush hour, which leads Vera to a quiet street in a run down seaside town, and a tight knit community living in the shadow of a long-held, explosive secret. There's a key rôle for Joe, too, as he struggles to maintain a professional distance when his daughter is named as key witness in the case.
Writing on the Book Oxygen website, N.J. Cooper said "There is no shirking of the miseries and cruelties of real life in this series, but Cleeves displays them without resorting to any graphic violence. She has always rendered the landscape and inhabitants of the North East of England with a quiet skill but there is a sense of expansion in the writing of Harbour Street and a confidence that make it even more appealing than its predecessors."
Vera made her long-awaited debut in US bookshops in May 2013, when Minotaur Books published Silent Voices, delighting the many viewers who have enjoyed the story in Gaby Chiappe's sensitive adaptation of book for the hit TV series VERA; it is now also available in paperback.
Silent Voices finds Vera Stanhope in an unlikely setting - at a health club; but she has her reasons, and they are nothing to do with her work. So when Vera finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she's uncovered a simple death from natural causes. But a closer inspection reveals ligature marks around the victim's throat - death is never that simple.
All about Vera, the TV series and the books.
"I do love Vera!"
Signed books now available
A lot of people have asked us if it is possible to buy signed copies of Ann's books, so we have teamed up with the people who offer this service for Val McDermid. If you want your copy of Harbour Street signed but can't get to any of Ann's events - or if you are looking for a particular, earlier book (we have mainly recent hardback UK titles on offer but other titles and languages may be available) - use the enquiry form to find out more.
Autumn 2013 brought a generous crop of new editions for fans of Ann Cleeves's detective novels - have you read them all?
Pan MacMillan's Bello imprint hunts down lost classics, and uses modern digital technology to make them available to readers as eBooks or print-on-demand paperbacks: over the summer they have quietly been releasing two previous series of detective novels by Ann Cleeves. The 'Inspector Ramsay' books feature a police officer who is like Ann's (and TV's) Vera Stanhope in being based in England's northernmost county, Northumberland - though unlike her in many other ways. Looking even further back, to the work of a very young writer, you can also now read the George & Molly books, the adventures of amateur sleuth George Palmer-Jones, an elderly birdwatcher - and his wife, Molly. (Or you might want to read what Ann would like to say to that younger self).
Two standalone novels are back in the bookshops in new paperback editions: The Sleeping and the Dead is a vivid psychological suspense novel the discovery of a body in the lake forces prison officer Hannah Morton to confront her past self; in Burial of Ghosts a holiday romance changes Lizzie's life forever.
In true Agatha Christie style, Cleeves once again pulls the wool over our eyes with cunning and conviction
A most satisfying mystery set in an isolated and intriguing location