Janebbooks's Reviews > Blue Lightning

Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves
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Apr 28, 2012

it was amazing
Read in April, 2012

Reluctant to say goodbye, I have been savoring every page of the last installment of Ann Cleeves' excellent SHETLAND ISLAND Quartet. BLUE LIGHTNING is the title of this murder mystery featuring, as in the other novels, one James Alexander (Jimmy) Perez, an inspector with the Highland and Islands Police. Jimmy Perez has been lurking around the other mysteries in the series. In BLUE LIGHTNING, he takes center stage.

Perez has come to Fair Isle, the tenth largest of the Shetland Islands, to introduce his fiancee Fran Hunter to his parents, Big James and Mary Perez. Joining Perez and Fran at various stages of the story are characters from Cleeves' other tales: Sandy Wilson, the policeman from Whalsay, and the most interesting woman in the novels, Rhonda Laing, Perez's boss, the Fiscal (a cross between a magistrate and a prosecuting lawyer).

Anna Cleeves uses the most prestigious Bird Observatory in the U. K. located at the Northern part of Fair Isle as the prominent setting for her tale. The Observatory is a former lighthouse now a field centre with living accomodations. The time is the autumn of the year, the height of visiting birdwatchers and tourists following bird migration patterns. Cleeves introduces her fictional main characters in BLUE LIGHTNING slowly and carefully:

Angela Barton, the warden and celebrity bird watcher
Jane Latimer, the well-liked and brilliant chef
Maurice Parry, Angela's older husband who is the observatory director
Poppy, Maurice's daughter, a reluctant visitor
Ben Catchpole and Hugh Shaw, the assistant warden, a handsome birder
Dougie Barr, a frequent birder who has just sighted a rare trumpeter swan
John Fowler, a journalist, and his wife Sarah, first time visitors...and
Stella Monkton, a woman with a secret, who appears in the final chapters

Needless to say, all of the new fictional characters except Stella Monkton become suspects as two of the women working at the field centre are found murdered. First, Angela Barton, the warden...then the cook Jane Latimer. Both are stabbed with a kitchen knife...with bird feathers surrounding their posed bodies.

No fairy tale ending for this story and the series. But a riveting hunt for a murderer. And a prominent clue-a simple and single curlew feather.

4.5 out of 5 stars
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