What I’m Reading: Raven Black

I am a HUGE fan of the television series Shetland.  I think I could easily say it’s my favorite television show ever…besides MASH.  Have you seen the series??  Season 7 came out this Fall and I watched it each week with MUCH anticipation of the next week.


I love everything about the characters.  I love the actors.  I love-love-love the scenery.  I love the storylines.  I love peacoats.  There really isn’t anything I don’t like.  Wait…I don’t like that there is so much time between seasons.

Well, the other day when I was looking for a book to listen to I decided to check out the book series that the shows were originally based on.  The first in the series in Raven Black.


I wasn’t sure what I’d think when I started because sometimes books are better than shows and versa-visa.

I ended up liking both.  They are enough different to keep my interest so that was wonderful.  The only problem I have, and it’s not a problem, is that I keep imagining the characters on the television to be the characters in the book.  They have the same names so…

It turns out in the book that Jimmy really doesn’t like Sandy but in the show, Jimmy can get annoyed by Sandy but he actually still really likes him and values his work.  In the book, Fran isn’t dead.  Cassie is younger.  All of this is totally okay but just different.

Here is what Amazon had to say:

Long a celebrated crime writer in Britain, Ann Cleeves’ fame went international when she won the coveted Duncan Lawrie Dagger for this amazing suspense novel, Raven Black. Like Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse or Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks, Cleeves’ new detective, Inspector Jimmy Perez, is a very private and perceptive man whose bailiwick is a remote hamlet in the Shetland Islands.

It is a cold January morning and Shetland lies beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter’s eye is drawn to a splash of color on the frozen ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbor, Catherine Ross.

The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man—loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when detective Jimmy Perez and his colleagues from the mainland insist on opening out the investigation, a veil of suspicion and fear is thrown over the entire community. For the first time in years, Catherine’s neighbors nervously lock their doors, while a killer lives on in their midst.”

Amazon readers gave the book 4.4 stars.  I’d probably agree.  There are 8 books in the series, I plan to eventually get to them all.  Hopefully, that will tide me over until the next season comes out.

Besides Shetland, Ann Cleve is the brilliant mind behind other British television series including Vera and The Long Call.  I loved The Long Call and have just started watching Vera.  If you’re not a book reader, definitely check out the television shows.  You can find them all on Brit Box.

16 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: Raven Black”

  1. I do’t think I aver ever heard of Shetland. I may see if any of our streaming services have it. We don’t watch too muchTV, except in my sewing room and then I prefer to watch reruns since I’m not giving it my whole attention.

  2. Carmen Montmarquet

    I have to say Shetland is one of my favorite series too, don’t think I saw Season 7 so will make sure to check it out, thanks. Also like The Midwife and Vera!

  3. I haven’t watched the shows but I have read all Ann Cleeves’ books. They are all wonderful and I am so glad you have discovered them. She cannot write fast enough to satisfy me!

  4. Thanks for the recommendation on a new series for me to check out. I like something that has a few seasons already released. If you haven’t seen Miss Scarlet & the Duke on Masterpiece Mystery, I highly recommend it.

  5. Shetland is fabulous & sadly, season 7 is the last season of the series. I saw an interview with Douglas Henchell (Jimmy Perez in the series) & he was adamant that the series is finished. I went back & watched all seasons again. What a great series. I will certainly miss it. If you haven’t seen it watch Agatha Raisin on Acorn. It’s based on the books written by M. C. Beaton who sadly, is now deceased. She was involved with the series until her death & one of the episodes of one of the seasons is all about the filming of the series & M. C. Beaton’s involvement. Season 5 is due to air the end of February. Totally different from Shetland but very enjoyable.

    1. Even though Douglas Henshall and his character, Jimmy Perez, has left the show, the series will soon begin filming season 8. Ashley Jensen, who is Agatha Raisin, will be taking Jimmy’s place. Can’t wait to see how the show progresses. Will probably be on Britbox late Fall 2023.

  6. Glad you like Raven Black. I’ve read all the series and seen all the TV episodes. All fantastic. Ann Cleeve is an excellent author – we were lucky enough to go to a talk she gave about the next book that was being published. A lovely lady and great speaker. I thoroughly recommend both the other series of books she wrote. The original Vera programmes are based on her books which I found quite hard to follow even though I had read the story before. Trying to fit a whole book into one episode was too much and the plots became confusing. However the episodes are now written by other people but based on Ann’s characters and they work extremely well. Set in Northumberland where we lived for 10 years so the scenery and Geordie accents are a walk down Memory Lane for us! I love death in Paradise too.

  7. Elizabeth Streeter

    Love Vera but found Shetland great although hard to hear what they were saying the countryside they made very dreary Vera the country side there is great and death in paradise I would refer to as a cozy mystery a lovely bit of humour in the shows that is not in Vera or Shetland.midsummer well let’s say I certainly don’t want to live there too many people die and the other good British detective series is New Tricks enjoyed them. American would have to go for Bones Castle and NCIS

  8. I’ve read all the Shetland books by Ann Cleeves, and adored them. Unfortunately here in France, I cannot find the series anywhere. Maybe have to wait some more

  9. I too, love Shetland and I’ve just started watching Vera and am enjoying it. Another brilliant one you might enjoy Jo, is Happy Valley – the 3rd and final series has just started here in the UK – it’s gripping!

  10. I was pretty surprised when we watched The Long Call to realise that one of the actors is the wife of Sir Brian May, the guitarist from the band Queen. I knew that she was an actor but I haven’t lived in England for almost 35 years so I haven’t really watched British tv in a while.

    We’ve very much enjoyed the Vera series. I hope that Brenda Blethyn continues in the role although it must be very demanding.

  11. I have subscribed to Britbox for a while now thanks to Jo’s recommendations. Started with Midsomer Murders and have finished many series. Loved both Vera and Shetland. Lighter mysteries like Death in Paradise and Shakespeare and Hathaway are also good. My absolute favorite has to be Silent Witness.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top