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Cold Earth

In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea.

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. In his mind, she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and soon he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity.

Then it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house. Perez knows he must find out who she was, and how she died.

Mark Lawson chose Cold Earth as one of his best crime books of the year, and called Ann "the best living evoker of landscape"; it was longlisted for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize (formerly the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award).

"The stark Shetland landscape provides an atmospheric backdrop for Cleeves's complex, relatable characters"

Publishers' Weekly

"The Shetland Islands provide a stunningly atmospheric setting for the complicated hero's latest procedural, a challenge he meets with determination and more than a little angst."

Kirkus Reviews

More reviews

In the UK

Cold Earth was first published in the UK by Pan Macmillan on 6th October 2016.

In the US

The US hardback edition was published by Minotaur Books on April 18th 2017, and the paperback followed in July:

"...the spin a master storyteller takes with an ordinary whodunit... Read this and don't miss the TV series..."

Globe and Mail

"Few British writers can boast Cleeves' consummate skill at evoking atmosphere, and the sense of weather and terrain is as crucial to the success of her Shetland novels as the characterisation of Perez, whose Mediterranean ancestry ensures that he is always an outsider in this cloistered community. One of the most memorable entries in the series."

Barry Forshaw, FT

"Shetland is a fascinating place, and the cast of characters, some native born and bred, and some seeking consolation or redemption in an isolated island away from their past, co-exist and provide the backdrop for the mystery. This is another cracking good read and I can't recommend it highly enough."


Raven Black  |  White Nights  |  Red Bones  |  Blue Lightning  |  Dead Water  |  Thin Air  |  This page: Cold Earth  |  Wild Fire