The Shetland books in order:
The Four Seasons Quartet
More about Raven Black
More about White Nights
More about Red Bones
More about Blue Lightning
* * *
The Four Elements Quartet
More about Dead Water
More about Thin Air
More about Cold Earth
More about Wild Fire
* * *
A Map of Shetland
* * *
Shetland - almost there!
The BBC has announced details of series 6 of hit crime drama Shetland, which will start at 9.00 pm on Wednesday 20th October on BBC One.
The story begins on Fair Isle, where DI Jimmy Perez is attending his mother's funeral. When a prominent and controversial Shetlander is shot dead on their doorstep in broad daylight, Perez rushes back to lead the investigation. The series will again feature six hour-long episodes, written and created by David Kane, who scripted the first series of Shetland and has written on every series since.
Filming had to be cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus, but resumed in April 2021 under strict COVID guidelines. All cast and crew were tested before they arrived on the islands for on-location filming. Douglas Henshall resumes 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.
Shetland takes as its point of departure the characters and settings of Ann's award-winning series of novels, but has developed its own stories. All five past series of the award-winning television drama, inspired by - but very different to - Ann Cleeves's Shetland mysteries, and starring Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez, are now available on DVD. US viewers can also watch it on BritBox or with Prime Video. Details here.
Or use the links on the right to explore the books!
Shetland starts here
Fans of the TV crime drama Shetland impatient to devour not just one but two new series filming in 2021; armchair travellers hungry for escape to the empty spaces of the islands; and anyone who is in need of some bibliotherapy - there is good news for us all: the original Shetland novels by best-selling crime writer Ann Cleeves have all now been reissued in a smart new edition. Two Quartets, four seasons, four elements: if you haven't already met the original Jimmy Perez, here are eight mysteries to solve!
At the same time, you can help Ann repay some of her debt to Shetland, and in particular to Fair Isle: if you have heard her speak, you will know how she first went to Shetland almost by accident, to work at the Bird Observatory there; and how it inspired a lifelong love of the islands, leading to the novel Raven Black, which won her first big award, and ultimately led to the BBC's hit crime drama Shetland starring Douglas Henshall, Alison O'Donnell and Steven Robertson.
Now Ann is asking you to help Fair Isle rebuild the Observatory. "Knitters and birders and those who love wild places," she says, "and those who've enjoyed Shetland on the TV or read Blue Lightning, please look at this and see if you can help."
Please consider making a donation. And if you haven't already read Blue Lightning, which is set in a fictional version of the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, you can support the appeal by ordering a copy now. Ann has agreed that any profit she makes from the new edition of Blue Lightning will go to the Fair Isle Observatory rebuilding fund. "It's a lovely jacket," she says. "Would make a great present..."
Shetland fans: watch a message of support from Douglas Henshall!
There's more information, including a progress report and details of how to donate, on the Observatory website.
Ann Cleeves has written a murder mystery based around a traditional Shetland Sunday tea, especially for librarians and booksellers who would like to host their own murder mystery party. There's a script for four actors (with a guest appearance from detective Jimmy Perez), and - for a really authentic experience! - there are recipes for Shetland homebakes!
Look out for a 'Blood on the Bannocks' event near you - or find out how you can stage your own!
With Wild Fire, Ann completes her second Shetland quartet, and brings the series to a close.
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...
Wild Fire is now available in both UK and US in a variety of formats: on publication it went straight to number one in the Bookseller's weekly ranking of best-selling e-books! It was also longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. It's a fitting send-off for Jimmy Perez - but to say farewell properly, Shetland fiddler Cathy Geldard was commissioned to write a Farewell to Perez. She took as her starting point a traditional Fair Isle grace, which you can hear at the start of the video:
A TUNE FOR JIMMY PEREZ by Cathy Geldard: Video produced by Ian Stephenson at Simpson Street Studios.
The end of something good is always sad, but the completion of a hugely successful and very popular series is a reason to celebrate, too. Ann launched Wild Fire with a party on Wednesday 5th September at - where else? - Lerwick Town Hall. You can follow the link to join the celebrations, live from Lerwick, Shetland: https://t.co/p7pVPPIztH courtesy of Criminal Element (@crimehq). And Shetland Distillery Company, the most Northerly distillery in the UK has produced a special limited edition gin in conjunction with the launch.
Taking inspiration from the novel, Wild Fire is a balanced London Dry Gin with juniper and sweet spice notes that have a lingering and warming finish. Tasted neat, there are notes of warming cinnamon and sweet orange that linger on the palate. The long finish has an aromatic spice with a touch of heat from dried red chillies. Wild Fire pairs beautifully with premium tonic, which softens the heat from the spices and lifts the sweet citrus notes of the sorrel and orange peel. It is best enjoyed with a slice of orange and a copy of Ann Cleeves's Wild Fire.
Shetland Distillery Director, Stuart Nickerson said: "We were very excited when Ann approached us last year to create a gin designed to match her eighth and final Shetland book. We have taken a great deal of time over the gin production and hope all Ann's fans as well as our own customers enjoy Wild Fire which is a slowly warming gin with a lasting finish that mirrors the exciting end to the Shetland series of books."
Ann Cleeves said: "What better way to celebrate the last of the Perez books than by raising a glass of Wild Fire gin produced in the islands by the wonderful Shetland Reel?"
Read more about Wild Fire
Previously in Shetland
All five series of the award-winning television drama, inspired by - but very different to - Ann Cleeves's Shetland mysteries, and starring Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez, are now available on DVD. US viewers can also watch it on BritBox or with Prime Video.
Read an interview with Douglas Henshall, conducted during the filming of series five in Shetland in summer 2018: he talks about why he wanted to sign on for Shetland, how much the series has evolved since the pilot, why he likes that the crime drama is character-based, the relationship between Perez and his daughter (Erin Armstrong), what he enjoys about the Perez-Tosh dynamic - not to mention the challenge of the weather in Shetland! For a different perspective, read an interview in which Shetlander Steven Robertson talks to the Herald about the show, and about growing up in Shetland.
All five past series of TV crime drama Shetland are now available on DVD in the UK. The first two series include stories based on Ann's Shetland books, but subsequent series develop in quite different directions: series 3 and 4 each consist of a single continuing story.
- Series 1 & 2
Season 1, two-part adaptation of Red Bones; Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning from season two
- Available from Amazon UK (region 2) and from Amazon.com (region 1).
- Series 3
An original 6-part drama
- Available now from Amazon UK (region 2); and from Amazon.com (region 1).
Winner of two Scottish Baftas: Shetland itself won best television drama, and Douglas Henshall, who plays detective inspector Jimmy Perez, was named best television actor. Director Jan Matthys (best director film/television) and Gaby Chiappe (best writer film/television) were also nominated.
- Series 4
An original 6-part drama
- is available in the UK on DVD and in the US on Britbox.
Nominated for three Scottish BAFTA Awards: one for best scripted television show, one for scriptwriter David Kane, and one for actor Douglas Henshall (DI Jimmy Perez).
- And Series 5
An original 6-part drama
- DVD now available in the UK (Region 2) and in the USA (Region 1).
Visit the BBC Writers' Room for Ann's reactions. She told us: "The TV adaptations are very often very different from the books - the scriptwriters cut some characters and add others, cut big chunks of plot and sometimes they even change the murderer! But I'm very relaxed about that. Prose and film are different forms. Besides, the book stops being mine every time someone reads it. Each reader brings their own imagination, history and prejudice to the story and each writer has to learn to let go. Adaptation just takes the process a bit further." She shared her thoughts about the shocking events of series 3, episode five with the Guardian.
Ann Cleeves answers five questions about Shetland - the TV drama, the books and the islands - on her publishers' website.
Visit Shetland mini-website for lots of background information, plus a collection of extracts, cast interviews and photos.
Too Good To Be True
Award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves is a great believer in the importance of libraries and of reading. So she has written a new mystery featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez from her bestselling Shetland series. But this is a Shetland mystery with a difference: Too Good To Be True is a gripping Quick Read which takes Jimmy Perez away from his home territory, all the way south to the Borders.
When young teacher Anna Blackwell is found dead in her home, the police think her death was suicide or a tragic accident. After all, Stonebridge is a quiet country village in the Scottish Borders, where murders just don't happen.
But Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez soon arrives from far-away Shetland when his ex-wife, Sarah, asks him to look into the case. The local gossips are saying that her new husband, Tom, was having an affair with Anna. Could Tom have been involved with her death? Sarah refuses to believe it - but needs proof.
Anna had been a teacher. She must have loved kids. Would she kill herself knowing there was nobody to look after her daughter? She had seemed happier than ever before she died. And to Perez, this suggests not suicide, but murder ...
Too Good To Be True was selected as one of 15 books to be given away, free, on World Book Night, April 23rd 2016. Organisers explained that the diverse line-up, spanning genres of crime, poetry, non-fiction, YA, historical fiction, and fiction in translation, was devised to celebrate "the enrichment that reading and books can bring to people's lives" encouraging those who don't already read for pleasure - an estimated 36% of adults - to get involved. Ann said "It's nice to be a part of this event, specially with the Quick Read Jimmy Perez!"
Ann Cleeves's Shetland
Ann Cleeves's bestselling series of crime novels, featuring Detective Jimmy Perez, and now also adapted for a major BBC television series, draw their inspiration from the place in which they are set: Shetland.
Ann says "If you'd like to know more about the islands where the show is filmed and the books are set, check out my non-fiction book. It's full of wonderful photos and explains why I love the place so much." It's a gloriously illustrated companion to the novels, taking readers through a year on Shetland, learning about its past, meeting its people, celebrating its festivals and seeing how the flora and fauna of the islands changes with the seasons. Whether it is the drama of the Viking fire festival of Up Helly Aa in winter, or the piercing blue and hot pink of spring flowers on the clifftops, the long, white nights of midsummer or the fierce gales and high tides of autumn, Shetland is vividly captured in all its bleak and special beauty.
An archipelago of more than a hundred islands, Shetland is the one of the most remote places in the United Kingdom. Its fifteen hundred miles of shore mean that wherever one stands, there is a view of the sea. It has sheltered voes and beaches and dramatically exposed cliffs, lush meadows full of wild flowers in the summer and bleak hilltops where only the hardiest of plants will grow. It is a place where traditions are valued and celebrated, but new technologies and ways of working are also embraced.
You can see an extract from the book on the publishers' website.
My Shetland - two prize-winning short films chosen by Ann Cleeves to show readers of her Shetland Quartet what the islands look like to the people who live there. Or see a large image of the map on this site.