I’ve been a Shetland fan for the last few years and have watched all three seasons on Netflix (multiple times) but I’d never read any of Ann Cleeves’ novels.

I chose Thin Air (which is book five in the Shetland series and not on Canadian Netflix) mainly because it was available at my library, and it was in paperback. I like paperbacks best. They are lighter to read in bed.

The woman’s writing blew me away. Reading Ann Cleeves is like being wrapped in a silky merino wool blanket. I can see why there is a cue of holds for her novels. I couldn’t wait to snuggle down in my bed every night and immerse my mind in her comforting prose by the light of my pink salt lamp. I don’t know exactly what it is about her style that affects me so much. Perhaps, it’s the detail.

I’m going to assume that, like me, Ann Cleeves is quite visual. She paints pictures so true-to-life, I feel like I can see what she is seeing in her mind, and what our hero, Jimmy Perez, is seeing in his. As a detective, Perez is a keen observer. He’s not romantic and flowery, (though he’s certainly charming and loveable) but he’s genuinely interested and his mind is always spinning around the murder case. In this passage, he goes to London to speak with the victim’s mother:

She led him into a wide hallway. The walls had been painted a deep green and there were pictures everywhere. The art was unfamiliar. Some looked like prints of cave paintings, scratched images of animals and birds. Primitive, but also amazingly lifelike. There were photos of strange dwellings growing out of hillsides, a collage made from scraps of woven cloth and two large abstract oils. He would have liked to spend more time with them, but she’d already moved on and had settled on the windowsill in a room that seemed half-sitting room and half-study. There was a desk and the walls were hidden by bookshelves. In one corner an armchair was covered with a batik throw and next to it stood a coffee table made from animal hide. There was a glass on the table and Perez thought that she’d been sitting here when he’d phoned the night before. Now she was framed by the window, so she looked like a piece of art herself. The background was a small courtyard garden, where the sun had been trapped by a brick wall. In the corner stood a tree covered in pink blooms in a pot.

Naturally there is a murder. Two, in fact. And a tie that binds the victims. There is also sea, shifting fog, ferries, and stone cottages. And most importantly, a legendary ghost. Peery Lizzie. A ten-year-old girl who got lost in the fog and drowned in the flooding tide in the 1920s. Was it murder or an accident? Was Peery Lizzie lured to her death? And how is she connected to our recent victims? However she succumbed, it is the ghost of Peery Lizzie who helps our detectives unravel the murder.

Because no one ever really disappears into thin air. Do they?

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