Shetland Tales

I was introduced to Ann Cleeves by spotting her as the author of the books that inspired the Vera series made by the UK’s Channel Four and the Shetland series made by the BBC. This post is about the Shetland series, marking me having finished the last of the books.

First, a word about reading the books after having watched the TV show. Every reader has their own mental image of the characters in a book. That image is rarely one that matches with the onscreen version, whether it be film or television. My experience with Shetland matches that: my image of Jimmy Perez, the main character, was and is nothing like Douglas Henshall, the actor playing the role on the TV. The book descriptions often refer to Perez’ dark swarthy skin and Henshall is the typical sun-starved Scot! However, in general I found Henshall’s portrayal to be otherwise close to the character in the books. But, while the TV show is OK, the books are much better.

I recommend the book series with the usual suggestion that, to get the best out of them, you read them in order.

Here, in order, are the books.

Raven Black. The first in the series is the weakest as the characters are not quite as well drawn or as realistic as in later books. However, it’s a worthwhile investment to read given the riches that await the reader in the next seven books. The plot is a straightforward murder mystery, the victim a young neighbor of an older, intellectually challenged individual who is the prime suspect. Continue reading