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Raven Black

(Shetland Island #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  27,844 ratings  ·  2,710 reviews

Winner of Britain’s coveted Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award, Ann Cleeves introduces a dazzling new suspense series to mystery readers.

Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitors who never come. But the next morning the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby, and suspicion falls on Magnus. Inspec

Hardcover, 374 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published 2006)
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Theresa Drennan
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
SharonTollhouse I haven't read the book yet but am mesmerized by the program--it's so well-done! Magnus' house seems to be part of the dark peat, just like he is, hun…moreI haven't read the book yet but am mesmerized by the program--it's so well-done! Magnus' house seems to be part of the dark peat, just like he is, hunkered down, half buried in solitude and past trauma. He seems like on of those gods of the earth, who remind the islanders of their eventual fate. All of them seem to hide their feelings close to the vest, even those who are loud and opinionated; you don't feel as if you could ever really know them.(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  27,844 ratings  ·  2,710 reviews

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Always Pouting
A thriller were a teenage girl ends up dead and everyone blames the mentally disabled man who was accused of killing another girl years ago. It was an interesting read, I didn't see the ending coming at all. The pacing was good too. The characters could have been better written but it's a mystery so I didn't care very much. Nothing spectacular but a good read when you just want to read for pleasure.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, british
Lately I’ve been in a mystery/crime fiction reading mood. I started a couple of new series and the first book in the Shetland Island novels was one of the standouts. Unfortunately, I stopped reading in, in order to dive into Lethal White and when I came back I had the tendency to compare it with J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece. As a result I will award only 3* for Raven Black although I plan to continue with the series.

The novel started very well, I enjoyed the different POV and the sense of place w
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
What a very fine start to this mystery series first published in 2006.

I started watching the Shetland TV series on Netflix a few years ago and binged through all the seasons. The scenery of Scotland’s Shetland Islands is so breathtaking. DI Jimmy Perez is such a likable character.

Last year I read Ann Cleeves for the first time (The Long Call) where she introduced a new mystery series which is outstanding. It only made sense to start reading the Shetland series. I am thankful to see Cleeves’ book
Richard Derus
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
2019 UPDATE Ann Cleeves will be answering questions about this book on 30 August 2019! Submit questions for consideration to BBC World Bookclub at the link.

2017 UPDATE The Shetland TV show version of this book isn't terribly faithful as adaptations go, but it certainly managed to retain the awful, uneasy undertones. And it's beautiful to look at.

Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitor
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am a devoted follower of the TV series "Vera" which is based on another series by this author. So of course I was interested to read this book and I am very glad I did. The author writes well and I enjoyed her descriptions of the Shetland Isles, an area I have never visited but would like to! The book starts off a bit slowly but it speeds up as it goes along and is always interesting. A nice, unexpected little twist at the end finishes the book on a high and I was very happy to discover there ...more
The Hook - The Author Ann Cleeves has been highly recommended to me by many crime reading friends. Of her four series The Vera Stanhope was of the most interest but the first in the series seems to be missing at our library. I read reviews regarding The Shetland Series featuring Jimmy Perez and decided to give this a try.

The Line - ”The devil makes works for idle hands.”

The Sinker - This is definitely not a fast paced mystery but a slow burn that interested me just enough to consider continuin
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Raven Black......How dark is thy plot!

While I enjoyed Raven Black by Ann Cleeves and finished it as a quick read, I was left with a disconnect in regard to her character development. We hardly had a grasp of one character before the author roundhoused us with another who, may or may not be, central to the plot. "Keep 'em guessing" is at the core of all mystery thrillers, but that person/persons have to matter or peak the interest of the reader. Only bits and pieces so as not to reveal the real k
May 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mysteries, 2012-reads
Quite frankly, I'm surprised this was an award winning mystery novel (2006 winner of the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award). Makes me wonder how abysmal the competition was that this came out on top....

Symplistic/trite writing, lackluster characters (and characterization) and no sense of descriptive place (though set in the Shetland Islands, it could have taken place anywhere, IMO). The mystery was the only thing that kept me reading on - and the reveal was....ok at best.

Not recommended for anyone who
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, suspense
I really enjoyed the dark brooding atmosphere of this novel set in the Shetland Islands. The novel centres around an old man, Magnus Tait who was implicated in the disappearance of a young girl some years ago. The girl was never found and the police had insufficient evidence to charge Magnus who has since been living a reclusive life, but now another girl has been murdered near his house.

Leading the local police is Jimmy Perez, whose family (despite their name) are long time residents of Shetlan
This is the first book I have read by this author and I did find it a powerful read. I have three more to get through as yet and now look forward to doing so. Having watched one or two of the TV series I was intrigued to try one of her books and was not disappointed. The book is set during the winter in The Shetlands within a small community where everyone knows everyone else or so they think. A young girl is murdered which shocks the community. Now they all begin to lock their doors for trust i ...more
No one knew he had this beautiful creature to visit him.
She was his treasure, the raven in his cage.

----Ann Cleeves, Raven Black

Ann Cleeves, the award-winning British crime author, penned her first book in the Shetland series called, Raven Black , which later went on to win the The Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger in the year 2006. Raven Black cannot be compared to atypical crime novel, instead, this book promises us with a mystery that will only pull us more into its darker side, and a
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first in Anne Cleeves Shetland series. Although I love crime novels, I had not read any of this author’s books before, but I am pleased that I finally did get around to it, as this was an excellent book, with interesting characters and a good setting.

When sixteen year old Catherine Ross is found murdered by Fran Hunter, the crime brings back old memories to the residents of the island. For eight years ago, another little girl went missing and her body was never found. At the time, M
Magnus Tait, a lonely old man now that his elderly mother had died, sat by the window and waited for visitors who never came. But New Year’s Eve brought two tipsy young women to his door – Catherine Ross and her friend Sally Henry. They’d been out celebrating and were heading home. But the dare to knock on Magnus’ door was what put them inside his house…

When Fran Hunter discovered the body of a young woman in the snow on her way home from taking her daughter Cassie to school, she was in shock.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I love crime/mystery fiction that is set in the UK, particularly in Scotland, and even better on a remote Scottish island! Which puts Raven Black right up my alley. My three star rating reflects exactly how I felt – I genuinely liked it.

The mystery is sound, there are plenty of suspects, and Cleeves is good at dropping clues without being obvious. I do feel the writing lacks some of the depth of other great crime writers such as Denise Mina or Louise Penny, but then again, sometimes there’s a b
Leslie Ray
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of the Shetland Island series of mystery books introducing D.I. Jimmy Perez into what appears to be 2 connected killings of girls spaced years apart. The character development and psychological tension kept me riveted. The Shetland Islands are an archipelago north of Scotland which makes them somewhat remote as the weather sometimes prevents travel to and from the islands. This isolation, along with the introduction of several characters who will obviously be in the subsequent ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-books
Teenagers from time to time feel like they don't fit into their world. This is very much the case for Sally who lives in the north of Scotland on the Island of Shetland with her teacher mother. Bullied wherever she goes, Sally's life is a nightmare until she meets Catherine. For once she has a friend and with a heightened, seemingly romantic interest in the son of a local big-shot life seems to be picking up. That illusion though is shattered when Catherine is found one cold morning strangled to ...more
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourite-series
4.5 stars
Thanks Mike & Minty for the recommendations for this one - very enjoyable!
I loved the characters and the setting and the mystery was really well played out - looking forward to reading the rest in the series.
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It is slow paced but in a luxurious, indulgent way that I imagine mirrors the pace of Ravenswick where it is set.
I can't say that it has a spectacular twist or that it deviates from traditional murder mystery BUT there is something about the writing that I really connected with
Thomas Strömquist
I did not enjoy this as much as I hoped. Quite good written police procedural which held far too many slow chapters around the middle. I did like Perez, he goes into the 'very human' category of policeman characters. It was an OK read, but unfortunately I did not care for the ending either and therefore it slipped another notch. Not too plausible and with the narrative voices throughout the story, it kind of didn't add up.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very immersive tale. Like all the other Hebridean based stories I have read of late this is another dark and, at times, oppressive story.
A small, almost, isolated community living on the edge of the world. Suspicious of the foreign imports coming to live on their Island. The trials and tribulations of the foreigners, people from mainland Scotland and England, trying to gain acceptance from the local community. It's a struggle for everybody to get along.
I just loves the way Ann Cleeves takes ho
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Ann Cleeves is a new author to me, but one I will seek out again in the near future. This book, RAVEN BLACK, marks the first in what is set to be a promising series, set on Scotland's Shetland islands.
The story centers around the death of a girl, and is investigated by Jimmy Perez, a curious fellow I was instantly intrigued by. What made this book rather special, what made it stand out from all the other English mysteries, are the characters. Jimmy and Fran, the main characters, feel very real,
Oct 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I have been giving 3 star ratings to every "thriller" book I have been reading lately. I just didn't really care for this one. I found the story to drag on and never really felt any suspense at all. It was so slow going that I could skim over paragraphs and still know exactly what was happening without missing anything. The ending sort of picked up a bit, though I still wasn't very excited by it. One thing I did like was how vividly Shetland was described. I could really visualise th ...more
Nancy Oakes
On the front of my book, the words "a thriller" appear underneath the title. On the back of my book, Marilyn Stasio from the NYT says it's "chilling...enough to freeze the blood." Publishers Weekly says it's "taut, atmospheric.." I've just finished it, and it's a) not thrilling, b) not chilling, and c) definitely not taut. In fact it seemed rather bland as far as mysteries go. The ending is sort of ridiculous, actually.

I had thought that if I enjoyed this book I would possibly read the rest of
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having recently finished all of the available books to date in Ann Cleeves Vera Stanhope series, I was eager to start her Shetland series, featuring DI Jimmy Perez. The first instalment did not disappoint. Ann Cleeves is such an excellent crime writer. While the Vera series in set in Northumberland, this series is set on the Shetland Isles. That is one of the main things I love about Cleeves books, the settings….Cleeves has a natural ability to describe the places in her books and the reader can ...more
Alex Cantone
Raven Black is the first in a series of crime stories set in the Shetland Islands and introduces detective Jimmy Perez, of Spanish descent, born and raised on Fair isle and schooled at Ravenswick and Lerwick on the main island. It opens in the early hours of New Years’ Day, with two high school girls dropped off near to their homes after a party, and they decide on a whim to visit an old man, a simpleton, once a suspect in the disappearance of a young girl, the body never found.

When one of the g
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery

4 stars

This is my first Ann Cleeves book and I will definitely read more. This book started off stronger than it finished, but I still liked it. I liked the sense of place in this book. The setting is the Shetland Islands which is a part of the UK. I liked the village life. I also liked the hook that drew me in from the beginning.

There were a lot of characters in this (more than I care to keep track of) and I should have known that this would be an indication of the red herring chases. I liked
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was good. Fast paced and skittering through the icy salt-sprayed island.

She was his treasure, the raven in his cage.

I am not going to discuss the story, at all, because it would be so easy to ruin it. One comparison here, a nod there and a wink--it's all up, and who wants that? Right, so what can I say.

You want atmospheric and a whirl of a story then this is a good choice. The rotating point of view is not a favorite technique of mine, but I found it less intrusive here than I usually
Ivonne Rovira
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivonne by: Lisa
As in Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (Botswana) and Andrea Camilleri’s Salvo Montalbano series (Sicily), the location — in this Icase, Shetland — ends up as much a character as any of the people in Ann Cleeves’ Raven Black. Beset by forbidding cold and insular inhabitants, Shetland and its isolation plays a big role in this offbeat thriller.

Jimmy Perez can trace his ancestry on Fair Isle (one of the Shetland Islands) back centuries to a wayward sailor from the Sp
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Raven Black, Cleeves' first book of seven in the Shetland series, was a page-turner for me. I loved the atmosphere and felt the somewhat slow pace matched the Shetland Islands locale. I look forward to getting to know the main characters and the islands' culture in future books. I've already deemed this a "favorite series" after reading only one book!
Strongly delivered police procedural set in the Shetland Isles. Haven't read the author before but I do like her style of writing.

Nicely atmospheric and liked the way the characters were presented. The author was able to convey the isolation and the intricacies of a closely knit community.

Had no idea who the culprit would turn out to be and that is a big plus in this genre.
Rachel Hall
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a follower of the DCI Vera Stanhope novels, I am an admirer of Ann Cleeve's gift for portraying life in a remote and settled insular community, particularly how it is affected by the occurrence of a horrific crime in their midst. Cleeves has a knack for shedding light on the undercurrents that run throughout a small community, even one where people have lived side by side for much of their lives and the differentiation between islanders (born and bred Shetland stock) and outsiders, remains so ...more
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Ann is the author of the books behind ITV's VERA, now in it's third series, and the BBC's SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann's DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann's Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands...


Other books in the series

Shetland Island (8 books)
  • White Nights (Shetland Island, #2)
  • Red Bones (Shetland Island, #3)
  • Blue Lightning (Shetland Island, #4)
  • Dead Water (Shetland Island, #5)
  • Thin Air (Shetland Island, #6)
  • Cold Earth (Shetland Island, #7)
  • Wild Fire (Shetland Island, #8)

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“It was precisely midnight when he stepped through the door. Taylor had said he wanted everyone in the Incident Room an hour before first light the next day, but Perez wasn't ready for sleep. As he switched on the kettle to make tea, he remembered he hadn't eaten since lunchtime and stuck sliced bread under the grill, fished margarine and marmalade from the fridge. He'd have breakfast now, save time in the morning.” 1 likes
“Because he’d talked to her about Catriona Bruce. He must be a lonely man. Living all on his own in that house since his mother died. Suddenly he had company, someone sympathetic, wanting him to talk, listening to him. Perhaps she had her own reasons for encouraging him to speak. She wanted his stories for her film. Perhaps she was just a nice kid who felt sorry for him. And the temptation was too much for him. Perhaps he’d had a whisky or two and that loosened his tongue. Whatever.’ ‘I can see that,’ Perez said. ‘I can even see him killing her afterwards to keep the whole thing quiet. But I can’t see him going into the Ross house, searching her room and finding the disk, finding the script and wiping all trace of it from the PC. I don’t get that.’ They sat looking at each other for a moment in silence. Taylor stretched, shuffled in his chair. He’d told Perez he had a bad back, disc trouble, that was why he couldn’t sit still, but Perez wasn’t convinced. It was the man’s mind that didn’t know how to rest, not his body. ‘So what do we do about it?’ Taylor said. ‘Time’s running out for me. I’ve promised I’ll be back at the end of the week. Any longer than that and they’ll start talking about a disciplinary.’ ‘I’m going to take another trip to the Anderson,’ Perez said. ‘Check she didn’t hand the film in early, give it to a friend to look at. If the film is safe we have to let the whole thing go. Like you said, the note on the back of the receipt incriminates Magnus. It shows he talked to her about Catriona. Euan says there’s no other way she could have known about the girl.’ Taylor stood up, lifting the plan with both hands on his way.” 1 likes
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