Blue Lightning falls midway in the series of Shetland mysteries featuring Jimmy Perez. It really shows Cleeves at her best in both storytelling and creating atmosphere. Fair Isle becomes as strong a character as do Jimmy and the people who inhabit the island. Jimmy accompanied by his new fiancé Fran, returns to his home with much trepidation, knowing that strangers are not readily accepted. With the weather turning cold and stormy the feeling of isolation for many of the residents reaches a fever pitch. And then a body is discovered. A woman has been murdered.
Cut off from the mainland, Jimmy is forced to use what resources he can to conduct an investigation. As he begins interviewing the people who were part of the victim’s circle of friends, family, and acquaintances, he realizes that everyone is hiding something. Whether it’s pertinent to the murder or not – they all have secrets.
But no one, least of all Jimmy, could ever know that the tragic circumstances of this case would determine the direction of Perez’s future for some years to come.
Saying good-bye to Cleeves’ great character, Jimmy Perez, in Wild Fire, the last book in that series, was difficult so I welcomed the thought that there was a new detective in town with this first book in the Two Rivers series. My excitement was short-lived as I began reading, puzzled at the underdeveloped, wooden characters and a plot that consisted of threads of a story that just didn’t tie together. I felt like I was reading an outline, or at best, a first draft.
Detective Matthew Venn returns to North Devon to attend the funeral of his father. His falling-out with his family is referenced but no substance is given to this estrangement. When a body is found on the beach, and it’s determined to be a murder, Venn is called in to take the case.
Peopled with some of the most distasteful characters that I’ve come across in a long time, the motivation and actions of some of them just doesn’t ring true. Many of the story lines and characters needed extensive fleshing-out in order to come together to create a credibly good mystery. Too bad this wasn’t done before the book went to publication.