Catherine Ross has been found dead. She was a sixteen-year-old high school student on the island, an outsider, whose father is a teacher at the high school. She was found by Fran Hunter, a divorced mother, on a hillside. She is the second girl with the first name beginning with the letter “C” to have had something happen to her. The prime suspect is an elderly man who lives alone called Magnus Tait who lives nearby. The body of the other girl, an eleven-year-old named Catriona Bruce, who lived in the same house Catherine Ross lived in, has never been found. She just vanished one day after visiting Magnus Tait and his mother.
Catherine, too, hd visited Magnus the day before her death and had taken his picture with her camcorder. She was making a documentary about Shetland called Fire and Ice, based on the Robert Frost poem. It was for an English class project. The camcorder and the disk disappeared after her death, as well as the script, and the film was deleted from her computer. It was nearly finished, just waiting for Up Helly Aa, a Victorian celebration of the islands’s Viking heritage where a replica of a Viking ship was set ablaze. Fire.
Sally Henry was Catherine’s friend. She didn’t have many friends. Too arrogant. Too English. Too smart. But Sally befriended her because Sally didn’t have many friends either. Her mother was a primary teacher. Her home life was terrible. She was glad to have Catherine to pal around with. How should she know what happened to Catherine? How should she know about Catherine’s film? Catherine kept to herself. Sally was too concerned with trying to get Robert Isbister to notice her. He was an older boy and good-looking. She wanted him to be her boyfriend.
Jimmy Perez of Fair Isle is the investigator on the case for Shetland. Investigators from Aberdeen are called in. He works well with the investigator Taylor, originally from Liverpool. They work together as colleagues. Everyone is calling for Magnus Tait to be arrested for the two girls’ murders.
Fran Hunter then discovers Catriona Bruce’s preserved body in peat in a hillside. Magnus seems to incriminate himself, but Perez thinks there’s something off. Magnus is arrested for the murder of Catriona but not Catherine. Not the same. Then Fran’s daughter, five-year-old Cassie, goes missing. Now things are really serious. It’s up to Jimmy Perez and Taylor to save Cassie if they can and solve the mysteries of the other two girls’ murders. Magnus couldn’t have taken Cassie; he was in custody. Jimmy Perez must use all his knowledge of the people of the island to find the real killer and to find and save Cassie.
This book really held my interest. The story is set in the far north of Scotland in the winter where is dark most of the time and the author uses the darkness as a metaphor for the evil that haunts Shetland during this time of Fire and Ice. We weep for Catherine and the film maker she never will become. And we rejoice when the murderer is captured by Jimmy Perez’s intuitive skills. I highly recommend this book and I plan to read others in the series.