Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review of Dead Water by Ann Cleeves (Macmillan, 2013)

Journalist Jerry Markham has travelled home to Shetland, claiming to be working on a secret story that appears to be related to the energy industry. He’s not long back on the islands when he’s runoff the road and murdered, his body left in a rowing boat in front of the Fiscal’s home. Usually Inspector Jimmy Perez would run the investigation, but he’s still trying to come to terms with the death of his partner and being the carer for her seven year old daughter. Instead, Detective Inspector Willow Reeves is sent from the mainland to head up her first murder investigation. Bought up in a commune on a Western isle, Willow has rebelled against her parents beliefs though she carries some of the lifestyle. Willow and a local sergeant start to trace the movements of Markham and possible motives for his death. The journalist seems to have rubbed a number of people the wrong way before leaving for London under a black cloud, abandoning a pregnant young woman. Only a small protest group were happy with his questions concerning new green energy projects. As Reeves and her team struggle to find convincing leads, Perez starts to take an interest in the case. Slowly coming out his shell as he starts to piece together clues, forming an uneasy alliance with Willow.

Dead Water is the fifth book in the Jimmy Perez Shetland series. After the death of Perez’s partner in the last outing, the detective is at a low ebb, bringing up Fran’s seven year old daughter and thinking of quitting the police. When a journalist is murdered, Detective Inspector Willow Reeves is sent from Aberdeen to lead the investigation. Willow doesn’t seem like the usual kind of detective, seemingly a little laid-back and unconcerned about appearance, but she’s ambitious and disarming. She soon senses that the local Fiscal has a personal connection to the case and the journalist’s former girlfriend, who he’d abandoned whilst pregnant a few years before, is being economical with the truth. The case makes slow progress but gradually works its hooks into Perez, who increasingly takes an active role. In finding his feet, however, Perez habitually takes solo-runs, chasing down leads without consulting Willow creating a little tension between the two that they continually try to smooth over. Cleeves nicely balances the personal dynamics within the police team with the puzzle of the case, creating a character-driven police procedural with plenty of intrigue.  As usual there is a strong sense of place, with the Shetlands performing as more than a backdrop.  The denouement felt a little contrived, but overall an enjoyable and entertaining read.

No comments: