A grieving detective clashes with an incoming supervisor to solve a pair of murders on the main island of Shetland.
Not long after photojournalist Jerry Markham has returned to Shetland after years in the south, someone runs his car off the foggy road from the oil terminal in Sullom Voe. Rhona Laing, the Procurator Fiscal of the district, finds his body in the boat in which she regularly rows with other women of Aith. When DI Willow Reeves arrives from the West Hebrides to supervise the subsequent investigation, she might as well be from another world. Willow grew up on a commune, wears baggy clothes that offend the obsessively tidy Laing, and is occasionally highhanded with the local force, including Detective Jimmy Perez. Still battling depression after the murder of his fiancee, Perez resents taking orders from a stranger, especially one he’s attracted to in spite of himself. Interviews with Markham’s family, his best friend, the young woman Markham got pregnant and abandoned, and the widower she’s about to marry point to a green-energy movement as a common denominator among the involved parties. When a supposed straw effigy turns out to be a human—and a dead one at that—Perez and Reeves further question the real motive behind the murders and demand to know what Laing is hiding.
Cleeves (Silent Voices, 2013, etc.) returns to a sea-bound land of crofters’ cottages, barren rocks and fog, especially the fog surrounding the murders. Although some of the characters are sketchier than the setting itself, the well-constructed procedural gains another dimension from Jimmy’s re-engagement with his work and his life.