Nobody, not even the murderer, can leave the island until the storm clears.
Jimmy Perez, a thoughtful, taciturn inspector in the Highland and Islands Police, takes his fiancée Fran, an artist steeped in London gossip, mores and sociability, home to isolated Fair Isle (think patterned, hand-knit sweaters, fishing, birding and not much else) to meet his parents. Work, however, delays their wedding plans when Angela, the naturalist in charge of the Field Centre, is left with a knife in her back and a wreath of feathers entwined in her hair. Whodunit? The suspect list is limited to the residents of the fogged-in island: Centre administrator Maurice, the older husband Angela was cuckolding; his rebellious teenage daughter Poppy; the assistant island warden; the Centre’s lesbian domestic do-it-all; and the couple and two single men, birders all, who came to add to their life-lists. Bored with learning to knit and consume tea, Fran helps Jimmy with his investigation. But there’ll be another gruesome death and a sighting of a rare trumpeter swan that makes birders and the media clamor to get to the island before justice, if not peace, prevails.
The fourth and final installment in the Shetland series (Red Bones, 2009, etc.) is bound to create an appetite for its predecessors. Cleeves’s updating of the Golden Age setup—a small cadre locked in with a murderer and unable to leave—includes deeply conceived characters, sorrowful familial relationships and a plot just serviceable enough to hold them.