Back in the fairly distant past, Ann was the assistant cook at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory despite, she says, not being interested in birds and not being that great a cook. It was there that she met Tim Cleeves, a birder, and thereafter couldn’t really escape birds being a part of her life.
Ann is clearly in love with the Shetland landscape and wildlife and people – this book celebrates them all, and includes references, interesting ones, to where certain incidents and characters in her Shetland novels came from.
The book is very attractively illustrated with many colour photographs. Although those Curlew on p 113 are Sanderling (rather attractive ones in summer plumage) and there is a gull miscaption on page 73 too) these few errors won’t be noticed by most and the important thing is that the photographs are very good – you won’t see many better photographs of a Ross’s Gull, for example (smart bird!).
I’ve been to Shetland many times, but not for many years, and this book reminded me of what a great place it is. If you know Shetland then you’ll enjoy the book and if you are planning to go then this would be good preparatory reading to get you in the mood. And if you are a fan of Ann’s crime novels set on Shetland then you’ll get a deeper insight into the landscape and the writer from this book.
Shetland by Ann Cleeves is published by Macmillan.