Review: White Nights, by Ann Cleeves

Esta entrada es bilingüe, desplazarse hacia abajo pare ver la versión en castellano

(Pan Books, 2009). First published 2008 by Macmillan. 392 pages. ISBN: 978-0-330-51265-7.

White Nights is the second book in the Shetland Quartet by Ann Cleeves, a detective Jimmy Perez mystery series. Despite his name, Perez is a Fair Isle native. ‘An ancestor had been washed ashore after the wreck of a ship from the Armada.’ White Nights follows Raven Black who was the first one in the series and the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 2006. See my review of Raven Black HERE. The last two books in the series are Red Bones (2009) and Blue Lightning (2010).

At the opening of an art exhibition in Biddista at the Herring House gallery a stranger falls to his knees in front of one of the paintings, puts his hands over his face and bursts into tears. Jimmy Perez who has just started dating one of the artists and has come to see the demonstration, tries to help him. The stranger is an Englishman who claims to have lost his memory. He doesn’t know who he is or how he has got there. During the confusion, the mysterious man disappears and the incident is thus settled. Perez thinks that at this time of the year everyone goes a bit crazy. This is the time of the white nights, when the sun never sets. In the Shetlands they call it the ‘summer dim’. The next morning the Englishman is found a few hundred yards from the Herring House, where he has last been seen. He is hanging from a rafter in a boathouse with a mask on his face. Perez thinks he hasn’t come here to kill himself, he should have attended the party for some other reason. The local  doctor suspects that he was already dead before he was hanged.

I’ve enjoyed reading this book that may well be considered a ‘locked room mystery’. I do like the atmosphere that Ann Cleeves is able to develop and her writing style. However I think the plot doesn’t work well at the end. Maybe because there are many different characters and, sometimes, their relationship doesn’t seem to be very clear to me. I’ve also found rather forced the final solution. However, I look forward to reading Red Bones, the next in the series.

My rating: 3 out of 5. 

White Nights has been reviewed by Maxine at Euro Crime, Pat Austin at Euro Crime, Margaret at Books Please, Rob at The View from the Blue House, Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, Nick Hay at Reviewing the evidence, Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, among others.    

Noches Blancas de Ann Cleeves

White Nights (Noches Blancas) es el segundo libro del Cuarteto de Shetland, de Ann Cleeves, con el detective Jimmy Pérez como protagonista. A pesar de su nombre, Pérez es un nativo de Fair Isle. “Un antepasado suyo fue a dar a esta tierra tras el naufragio de un buque de la Armada Española.” White Nights le sigue a Raven Black, el primero de la serie y el primer ganador del prestigioso premio Duncan Lawrie Dagger a la mejor novela policiaca de 2006. Ver mi crítica de Raven Black AQUÍ. Los dos últimos libros de la serie son Red Bones (2009) y Blue Lightning (2010).

En la inauguración de una muestra de arte en la galería Herring House de Biddista un extraño se inca de rodillas delante de una de las pinturas  se tapa la cara con sus manos y rompe a llorar. Jimmy Pérez que ha empezado a salir con una de las artistas y ha acudido a ver la exposición, intenta ayudarlo. El foratero es un inglés que afirma haber perdido la memoria. No sabe quién es ni cómo ha llegado hasta allí. Durante la confusión el misterioso hombre desaparece y el incidente se resuelve de esta manera. Pérez cree que en esta época del año todo el mundo se vuelve un poco loco. Esta es la época de las noches blancas, cuando el sol nunca se pone. En las Shetland lo llaman el “verano tenue”. A la mañana siguiente el inglés aparece a pocos metros de la galería, donde ha sido visto por última vez, colgado de una viga en un cobertizo, con una máscara en su rostro. Pérez piensa que él no ha venido aquí a suicidarse, que debía haber asistido a la fiesta por alguna otro motivo. El médico local sospecha que ya estaba muerto antes de haber sido colgado.

He disfrutado mucho leyendo este libro que bien puede ser considerado como un clásico misterio de “cuarto cerrado”. Me gusta la atmósfera que Ann Cleeves es capaz de desarrollar y su forma de escribir. Sin embargo creo que el argumento no funciona bien al final. Tal vez porque tiene demasiados personajes diferentes y, a veces, la relación entre ellos no parece estar muy clara, al menos para mí. También he encontrado un poco forzada la solución final. Sin embargo, estoy deseando leer Red Bones, el siguiente de la serie.

Mi valoración: 3 de 5.

9 thoughts on “Review: White Nights, by Ann Cleeves”

  1. José Ignacio – Thanks for the very thoughtful review! I know what you mean about a lot of characters in this one. For me, the atmosphere makes up for that weakness, and I do really like Cleeves’ writing style as well. I’m glad too that you mentioned the “locked room” sort of appeal this novel has…

  2. Oh no, her books continue to get mixed reviews. I think I have this one. I just read Trackers and felt that that book had a bunch of characters as well. Sometimes it works and sometimes not.

    1. Keishon I think this is a great series worth reading, Maybe this one is the weakest in my opinion, but I’ve enjoyed it very much, though.

  3. I agree with your mixed views on this book – for me it was the weakest of the Shetland Quartet. In my opinion, it improves in the next two books, Red Bones and Blue Lightning. Her Vera series, on the other hand, is changing a lot (post-TV?) from something quite sharp and psychological into straight Agatha Christie style.

    1. I fully agree with you Kerrie, Ann Cleeves is always worth considering. As Maxine has pointed out she reminds me very much Agatha Christie.

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