I have read the 54th book for the book challenge. It was Red Bones by Ann Cleeves.
This is the third book in the Shetland Trilogy. Sandy Wilson, an assistant detective for the Shetland Police, is visiting his parents in Whalsay. He receives a call that his grandmother Mima Wilson has been shot and killed one night outside her home Setter on Whalsay. Apparently his cousin Ronald Clouson had been out poaching rabbits late at night on Setter land and Mima was outside when a shot went wild and hit Mima in the chest and killed her. Ronald is very remorseful but there must be an inquiry. Sandy calls his boss in Lerwick Jimmy Perez and Jimmy comes up to Whalsay to investigate and gather information for the Fiscal to see if there is enough evidence to prosecute Ronald.
Jimmy interview the two women from the university who are excavating the ruins of a merchant’s house on Setter. Mima was very enthusiastic about the excavations and thrilled that the women had recently found bones and silver coins. The coins are locked in Mima’s daughter-in-law’s desk drawer for safe keeping. Hattie, the lead archaeologist, and her assistant Sophie are concerned about Mima’s death. They worry about what will happen to their site, if their work will be allowed to continue. Their boss from the university, Paul Berglund, in coming up to help supervise things. Hattie has had a relationship with him, even though he is married. Hattie has a history of depression; she is quiet and keeps to herself. She is dedicated to her work.
Jimmy and Sandy interview the inhabitants of Whalsay and particularly Ronald Clouson and his wife Anna. Ronald swears that he didn’t know Mima was outside and didn’t know he had shot and killed Mima. He is very remorseful. They conclude that the shooting was an unfortunate accident. Then Perez receives a frantic voice message from Hattie. She says that she has information about Mima’s death, that it wasn’t as it seems. But when he goes to meet her, she is nowhere to be found. He looks all over the island for her but she cannot be found and she is not answering her phone. He eventually goes to the excavation site and finds her with her arms slashed. It appears that she committed suicide with Paul Berglund’s knife.
The site is closed down. Sandy goes to London to talk to Hattie’s mother who is an MP. She gives him the many letters that Hattie had written to her each week and told him about Hattie’s hospitalization for depression. But Hattie had never been suicidal. This is totally out of character for her. No one saw this coming.
Perez is not convinced that Hattie’s death is a suicide. He is also not completely convinced that Mima’s death was accidental. He continues to investigation. Perez and Sandy talk to Andrew Clouson, Ronald’s father who has had a stroke but who wants to talk to them. He tells them that long ago Mima had a Norwegian lover during the war. Her husband found them together and he killed the Norwegian. At first he says he buried the Norwegian in the croft. Then he says they dumped the body out at sea. He also says that a storm came up at sea and Mima’s husband was lost at sea when his father had a choice between saving him, his young son, or saving Mima’s husband. Perez suspects that some of the bones the women found in the croft at Setter that were not ancient may have been the Norwegian’s and this prompted Mima’s murder.
There is a great party given for the archaeological excavations by Evelyn, Sandy’s mother. Perez gets up and announces that they believe that Hattie was murdered, that she did not commit suicide and they would appreciate any help. Later that night, Perez goes back to Setter and confronts Ronald Clouson who has gone back to Setter. Ronald has deliberately killed Mima because she knew about the killing of the Norwegian and that his family had stolen the Norwegian’s money and she was going to go to the police about it. He killed Hattie because of the bones and because she also knew the story because Mima had told her. He tried to make it look like a suicide. Sandy come out of the shadows to take the shotgun away from Ronald Clouson before he can use it on Perez.
Ronald Clouson will be charged with the murder of Mima and Hattie. His father will be charged with stealing the money from the Norwegian. Perez is happy to have Fran Hunter back on Shetland from London. Fran is asking when they should get married. Perez is happy.
I enjoy these mystery novels about the Shetland Islands on Scotland. The descriptions of islands are quite wonderful. Their isolation and seeming desolation is quite beautiful. I would love to be able to go there and see this beautiful land for myself. I find myself googling the islands and looking at the photographs of the land and sea. I am transported to Whalsay and to the Shetland Islands where these stories take place. These stories are truly mysteries and I have trouble figuring out how Perez comes to his conclusions until he explains it all at the very end. Then it all makes sense. He gives nothing away, which adds to the mystery. I highly recommend all the books in this series.