I have read the 88th book for the book challenge. It was Blue Lightning: A Thriller (Shethland Island Quartet) by Ann Cleeves.
In this fourth book of the Shetland Island Quartet, Jimmy Perez and Fran are at Jimmy’s home on Faire Isle for an engagement party. After the engagement party at the Northern Light Bird Center, the director of the bird center is found murdered in the bird room. Angela Moore is discovered with a large sitting in the bird room with a large knife wound in her back and curlew feathers entwined in her hair. She was a world-famous bird watcher and director of the center. Her husband Maurice is the caretaker of the Northern Light. His daughter Poppy is staying with them and is a bit rebellious. She has little love for her step-mother.
There are a number of bird-watchers staying at the Northern Light. Dougie Barr is a telemarketer who spends all his free time bird-watching. He is proud of his bird list. John Fowler and his wife Sarah are there. He has a mail order book business and he write articles about environmental issues. Ben Catchpole is an assistant at the center. Hugh Shaw is a rich young man who is about to be cut off from his father’s money but is still chasing after the birds. Jane Latimer is a lesbian woman who works as a cook at the Northern Light. Angela has told her that she is to be replaced at the end of the season by a board member’s relative.
Jimmy Perez interviews the residents of the Northern Light to see if he can gleam any information about Angela’s murder. He calls in the Fiscal and the team from Lerwick to help in the investigation but they are delayed because of the weather. So Jimmy must secure the scene of the crime and conduct the interviews alone for a better part of two days. He finds that Angela was not well liked by Poppy. This he knew because of the scene Poppy had made at his engagement party. Poppy will be leaving the island to return to her mother when the weather clears. He also discovers that Angela had affairs with several of the men on the island. She had slept with Ben Catchpole and possibly Hugh Shaw. Dougie Barr sights a rare American swan while the interviews are going on and everyone is very excited. Jimmy learns that the Fowlers have recently suffered a miscarriage and that John Fowler wrote an article about Ben Catchpole when young Catchpole was arrested for environmental activities.
Jimmy investigates other parts of the island looking for clues. He goes into the Punt, a large barn near the Northern Light, looking for Jan Latimer, who hasn’t been seen all afternoon. He finds a “love nest” of sorts. A box of jewelry and a bed, and he discovers Jane’s body. She has been stabbed numerous times. She has defensive wounds and she is covered with feathers from a pillow. The Fiscal and the team from Lerwick are due in that afternoon and Jimmy is very glad. He asks his father to stand watch over the crime scene while he meets the team.
Jimmy goes to meet the team and helps them set up operations. The Fiscal is concerned that there has been another murder. Sandy starts another round of interviews and the crime scene investigators take care of Jane’s body as well as Angela’s body. Jimmy asks if they got the jewelry and they ask what jewelry. Jimmy realizes that his father took the jewelry and realizes that his father had given the jewelry to Angela. His father also had an affair with Angela.
Jimmy confronts his father with the knowledge of the affair with Angela. He tells Jimmy that it is true. He did have a brief affair with Angela. It was a mistake and he told his wife Mary, Jimmy’s mother. Jimmy is upset but understand. He is glad his father told him the truth. Jimmy continues to investigate. Fran wants to help in the investigations. The Fiscal and Sandy continue to investigate. Everyone has been interviewed. More birder come to the island to view the rare American swan.
Jimmy finds Angela’s long-lost mother, Stella Monkton. She has recently connected with Angela. She comes to the island and tells Jimmy about her communications with Angela.
Fran has been sketching the island with plans to make a painting for Jimmy’s parents. When the Fiscal leaves, she decided to help Jimmy by talking to Sarah Fowler. Perhaps she will talk to Fran, being another woman. Sarah seems to be very agitated. She keeps saying, “He’s going to kill me.” She and Fran go out to the pond where the swan was. Jimmy and Sandy don’t realize that Fran is gone. Maurice keeps telling Jimmy that he has to talk to him, but Jimmy is interviewing the residents. Jimmy and Sandy realize Fran is missing.
The ending of the book is tragic. The reasoning behind the murder is bizarre. It has to do with the bird-watching world and prestige within that community. The outcome of this mystery will forever change Jimmy Perez’s world. This was a great story. Ann Cleaves once again leaves the murderer until the end but also leaves the resolution of the situation with hope for the future. That I liked.