Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

Raven Black is the first in the Ann Cleeves’s Shetland series. Unique among detective stories, readers know who the killer is near the start of the novel. At least, he gives the appearance of being the murderer.

Magnus Tait is an eccentric recluse who lives by himself at Hilhead. Few of the residents of Lerwick speak to him; they have long suspected he was daft and possibly dangerous. Tait’s home is close to where the body was found. He even had the girl, Catherine, in for tea on the day she disappeared.

The town alternately mourns and revels in the notoriety of the tragedy. Sally, the deceased’s best friend is oddly ambivalent about her friend’s death.

Sally, as it turns out, has her heart set on Robert Ibitser, a well-known, affluent local. Robert who attended a party with Catherine at the Haa may have known her better than he lets on. More and more strange juxtapositions occur as the mystery deepens.

In this novel, Cleeves introduces readers to the series’ detective, Jimmy Perez, who will play a prominent part in the later Shetland mysteries.

If you watch the PBS’ series Shetland, you will be familiar with the characters. The PBS series is based on the books but many of the events are different.

Cleeves won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger award of the Crime Writer’s Association in 2006 for Raven Black.