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  • Location: The Shetland Isles, Brae, Lerwick (fictional Ravenswick)

Cold Earth (Shetland 7)

Cold Earth (Shetland 7)

Why a Booktrail?

2000s: A landslide brings death and destruction to the Shetland islands….but the dead body shows signs of murder…

  • ISBN: 978-1447278184
  • Genre: Crime, Mystery

What you need to know before your trail

In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea.

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress.Who was she, why was she in the house and why was she dressed up like that? Clearly not a local.

When it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house, Perez is intrigued to find out who she was and how she came to be there

Travel Guide


This novel is soaked with Shetland fog and dirt. It’s an island which claims its dead and where the dead merge into the soil along with their soul. The symbolism of the funeral which takes place at the start of the novel is interesting:

“The dead man’s family had come from Foula originally and they’d carried the coffin on two oars, the way bodies were always brought for burial on that island”

The landslide causes chaos and closed the road between Sumburgh and Leriwck. Power lines go down so life reverts to the basics for those  without generators – paraffin lamps or even candles. The dead body is that of an exoctic looking woman wearing a distintive red dress. Jimmy is reminded of his Spanish heritage and takes this case perhaps more personally than most. Why would this woman have been on the quiet and remote island of Shetland? She had been staying in a remote croft miles from anywhere and cut off from the rest of the island really so not a place for a holiday home as such.

History of Shetland

Even a landslide and a deluge of rain can’t stop the local fire festival of Helly Aa which took place two weeks before the novel opens. It’s never been stopped in peace time for no one apparently so a force wind gale is not going to change history now.

The sights and smells of the island

This is the novel where the entire community are under suspicion – the young lad who wants to move away, another who wants to stay, A local politician, a family who have lived on the island for generations…and a woman who seems to have come from nowhere but who has been claimed by the island in the most gruesome way possible. Houses seem to be in darkness and where a single light at a window could be the sign of something unusual. Where Perez enters a house and it smells of peat and warm cooking. The smells and landscapes of the island are embued on each and every page.

Streetview Maps

C) Shetland Isles - Brae - The Co -op
E) Shetland Isles - Lerwick - Ferry Terminal

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

“The land slipped when Jimmy Perez was standing beside the grave”

Now that is a classic Ann Cleeves opener. A land slide on Shetland?  Whose grave? Why is Jimmy there? Only one line in and I’m already part of the Shetland soil.

Something very special about this book and it’s not just because it’s Ann’s 30th although that in itself is one major achievement. I can’t imagine visiting Shetland now without taking an Ann Cleeves novel with me – they’re just as much a pat of the landscape as the soil itself.

There’s something about Jimmy in this novel that really intrigued me. He is still haunted by the death of his ex, but is coming out of his shell and it’s this personal emotion which really helps him with this recent case.

As with all Shetland novels, it’s the atmosphere which enhances as well as plays a major part in the story – the burials, the Helly Aa festival and the inter- relationships between the islanders. There’s always the sense that the landscape knows and holds on to its secrets just as much as the characters.

The history and significance behind a Shetland burial was fascinating – the very idea about bodies being transported by boat and the coffin carried on two oars. It’s this detail and local nuances which Ann does really well.

A landslide destroys a house on Shetland which in turn reveals a dead body. From there this slick Ann Cleeves mystery really takes you down a slippery slope of intrigue and red herrings.

The plot was tightly woven and there is so much more to this novel than meets the eye.

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information: Cold Earth (Shetland 7)

Author/ Guide: Ann Cleeves Destination: Shetland , Lerwick (fictional Ravenswick)  Departure Time:  2000s

Twitter: @AnnCleeves  Facebook: /anncleeves  Web: anncleeves.com

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