The BBC has announced two more series of the hit crime drama Shetland inspired by - but very different to - the Shetland mysteries by best-selling crime writer Ann Cleeves. Douglas Henshall reprises his role as DI Jimmy Perez alongside series regulars Alison O'Donnell and Steven Robertson. The series is made by Silverprint Pictures for BBC One. "Well, this is very lovely news," says Ann.
Shetland takes as its point of departure the characters and settings of Ann's award-winning novels, but over five series has developed its own stories. Series six and seven will film in 2020 and 2021 in locations in the Shetland Isles and around Scotland, and will again feature six hour-long episodes each. Both series will be written and created by David Kane, who scripted the first series of Shetland and has written on every series since.
Meanwhile, Ann has completed her second Shetland Quartet, the Four Elements following the original Four Seasons, with Wild Fire: an English family, drawn in by the beauty of the islands, move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life. But when a young nanny's body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire. DI Jimmy Perez, called in to investigate, knows that it will mean the return to the islands of his on-off lover and boss Willow Reeves...
The Long Call and a new Detective
Ann Cleeves' latest book is a fresh departure, the first in her new Two Rivers series, featuring a new detective. The Long Call is set in North Devon, where Ann grew up, and introduces the reserved and complex Detective Inspector Matthew Venn, estranged from the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, and from his own family, but drawn back by murder into the community he thought he had left behind.
"I ... was riveted."
"Ann Cleeves is one of my favorite mystery writers."
It was published in Australia on 27th August, in the US on Tuesday 3rd September and in the UK on Thursday 5th September 2019: you'll find ordering information - and more - here.
On the eve of publication, there was more good news for Ann (and her many fans): even before The Long Call reached the shops, Silverprint Pictures announced that it has optioned the screen rights. The Long Call makes Ann's third collaboration with Silverprint Pictures, the partnership that has produced Shetland (BBC) and Vera (ITV), two of television's most popular dramas. Ann says "I'm delighted that the team at Silverprint has optioned The Long Call. The adaptations of Vera and Shetland have captured the essence of my books, while making TV dramas that are hugely successful in their own right."
For a flavour of the new book, UK readers will find the first chapter at the back of Wild Fire, out in paperback now. Or, wherever you are, you can now read that chapter on the website of publisher, Pan MacMillan.
Another island for Ann
Award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland and Vera novels, added another island to her portfolio on Sunday 17th February, when she was the castaway on BBC Radio 4's iconic Desert Island Discs. The programme remains available for you to listen online, or download.
Meanwhile, are you up to date with VERA?
The latest case for Ann Cleeves' brilliant but unglamourous detective, DI Vera Stanhope, is The Seagull. Ann's gripping novel, which was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2018, was also the basis for the fourth and final episode of TV's latest series of VERA. The book is the eighth case for Vera, published simultaneously in the UK (by Pan MacMillan) and in the US (by Minotaur Books) on September 2017. It is now also available in paperback and audio editions.
ITV have announced that there will be a tenth series of VERA, based on Ann's characters and settings and starring multi-award-winning Brenda Blethyn. The cast will be filming in the North East in the summer of 2019, and four new episodes will be broadcast in 2020. Meanwhile, series nine is now available on DVD, initially in the UK only. All eight previous series are now available in both region 1 and region 2 formats. They have been widely broadcast; VERA was nominated for an Edgar Award, for Dark Road, the first episode of series 6 (an original screenplay by Martha Hillier). VERA was ranked sixth best TV series of all time in a recent poll. In February 2019 it won the Judges' Award at the Royal Television Society NE Awards in Gateshead.
A Doctorate for Ann
Ann Cleeves, one of Britain's best-known and most respected crime writers, received an honorary award of Doctor of Letters (Hon DLitt) from Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University on 4th December 2018.
Principal at RGU, Professor John Harper said: "Ann is a hugely respected and admired author and I am delighted that RGU is honouring her for her contribution to the world of literature and crime writing."
Ann says: "I was absolutely delighted to be awarded the honorary doctorate of letters from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. It was very special to have my friends and forensic advisors Prof James Grieve and Prof Lorna Dawson there to support me. Congratulations to all the people graduating that day."
This is Ann's second doctorate; she also has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters awarded by the University of Sunderland in 2014.
Ann Cleeves: "the worthiest of winners"
On 26 October 2017, Ann Cleeves was presented with the Diamond Dagger of the Crime Writers' Association, the highest honour in British crime writing, at the CWA's Dagger Awards ceremony in London.
Presenting Ann with her award, Martin Edwards, Chair of the CWA, said: "It's a lifetime achievement award, and above all it recognises excellence in writing. But it also recognises a significant contribution to the crime writing world. And nobody can deny that Ann Cleeves' contribution has been magnificent."
He went on to say that "You all know about the wonderful books, and you all know about the fantastically successful TV series. So, given that the recurring theme of this evening is friendship, I just want to say a few words about Ann the person," and praised Ann for her kindness and generosity to others, and as a passionate advocate of the library service.
In 2006 Ann was the first winner of the Duncan Lawrie Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of the year, for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland series. In addition, she has been short listed for CWA Dagger Awards, once for the short story dagger, and twice for the Dagger in the Library award which is awarded not for an individual book but for an author's entire body of work.
Ann says: "It's a huge honour to be recognized by my peers, the crime-writers whose books, friendship and support I've enjoyed for more than thirty years. I am privileged to have had such a happy career and I will always be grateful for the support of booksellers and forever indebted to the passion and expertise of librarians, without whom I wouldn't still be writing today."
Ann Cleeves says "Good short stories have a force and a clarity which it's almost impossible to achieve in a novel. That's why I enjoy reading them. I know that each word has been chosen with care.
"I don't send post cards when I travel; I write stories instead. The three pieces in the CWA anthologies bring back vivid memories of Tanzania, Finland and Alaska. Raven Black was originally conceived as another of those holiday snap stories."
In The Starlings and Other Stories, Ann has edited a collection of twelve short stories which are literally, if not snapshots, at least inspired by photographs. She has invited each of her fellow members of Murder Squad to bring in an accomplice, and write a short story inspired by the dramatic photography of Pembrokeshire-based author David Wilson. Ann's own contribution is the title story, The Starlings, featuring DI Vera Stanhope.
Read more about The Starlings and other short stories by Ann Cleeves.
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.
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: now they are reissuing a selection of these as Pan Heritage Classic paperbacks. A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy is one of Ann Cleeves' 'Inspector Ramsay' series, featuring 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).
"I do love Vera!"
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