Raven Black

Book One of the Shetland Island Quartet
Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
Series: Shetland Island, Book 1
Length: 11 hrs and 20 mins
4 out of 5 stars (2,687 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Long a celebrated crime writer in Britain, Ann Cleeves' fame went international when she won the coveted Duncan Lawrie Dagger for this amazing suspense novel, Raven Black. Like Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse or Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks, Cleeves' new detective, Inspector Jimmy Perez, is a very private and perceptive man whose bailiwick is a remote hamlet in the Shetland Islands. It is a cold January morning, and Shetland lies beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter's eye is drawn to a splash of color on the frozen ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbor, Catherine Ross. The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man - loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when detective Jimmy Perez and his colleagues from the mainland insist on opening out the investigation, a veil of suspicion and fear is thrown over the entire community. For the first time in years, Catherine's neighbors nervously lock their doors while a killer lives on in their midst.

Ann Cleeves is sure to dazzle US mystery listeners with this unforgettable series debut. This series is the basis for the hit BBC show Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall, which attracted over 12 million viewers in its first two nights on the air.

©2006 Ann Cleeves (P)2014 Macmillan Audio
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great start to series, no audio problems anymore

Woo-hoo! I found a new crime series to love. Great setting (Shetland Islands north of Scotland), rich characters, strong plot. In this case, two girls ring the door of a man with mental disabilities on New Year’s Eve as part of a dare. One of them turns up dead a couple of days later, and the small community turns on the man because they’d always blamed him in the disappearance of a little girl years earlier. Bechdel test: Pass. Grade: A-

The narrator does well conveying old men and teen girls, not an easy feat. He gives enough of a hint of accent that you feel transported but without the characters being difficult to understand.

Some reviewers talk about audio problems but as of March 28, 2017, I heard none.

30 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I Want More!

Last year the local PBS affiliate broadcast several episodes based on this series. At first I wasn't sure if I liked them or not. However, by the end of the second episode I was "hooked".

My reaction to this book was similar. The first 30 minutes or so seemed a little "talky" and slow. I stuck with it, and very soon was completely immersed in the characters and the story. By the time I got to chapter 4 I found it very difficult to stop listening.

If you are looking for non-stop action from page 1, this probably isn't the book for you. If you have the patience to allow the author time to set the scene and introduce some very unique characters then you are likely to be pleased with this book.

The mystery is compelling. A number of characters seemed like possible perpetrators and I was quite surprised when the final solution was revealed. One thing I am sure of is that I intend to read the entire series.

As I listened to this book the narration was never distracting. The character "voices" were well defined, but never over acted. I suspect this is very difficult for an actor to do. Gordon Griffin does it perfectly.

15 people found this helpful

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  • SM
  • 03-04-17

Great story - Any problems with recording fixed

Would you consider the audio edition of Raven Black to be better than the print version?

Ann Cleeves weaves an intriguing story. This is the first of her books in this series I have read and will be anxious to enjoy the rest. Previous comments about problems with the actual recording can be disregarded, as any problems have been repaired. Enjoy!

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Ok book

I was hoping this book would really grab me but that was not to be. It's just ok. I got it on Audible so I could listen as I was working around the house. This is the first Ann Cleeves I've read. I love the Vera TV show which is based on her other series. I still may try one of those. Gordon Griffin does do a good job narrating.

7 people found this helpful

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  • E.
  • 02-23-15

Defective Production

Good story, excellent reader, problems with the audio, as has been noted by other reviewers. I'll probably just read this somewhere, and return this book, as it is much too disconcerting to hear "Chapter 29" in the middle of a description of our protagonist reeling from a punch in the face -- this defect is at 1:05 and I have already heard several of these recorded overlays, which are interfering with the actual story.

I even deleted this from my library and downloaded again, in case Audible had decided to fix the problem. But they haven't as of 2/23/15.

31 people found this helpful

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A Cozy With Technical Trouble

I wanted to love this award winning thriller but to me it just had too many issues. Several other reviewers commented on production problems and I have to agree with them--it was pretty terrible. There seemed to be a secondary recording that did random parallel voice overs that made no sense at all--and spoke with the narration. It was disturbing and almost jarring. Even more than this the book is most definitely not a thriller but a cozy police procedural. In the end a very slow, plodding and careful story telling and delivery. Can't recommend.

55 people found this helpful

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Another Ann Cleeves Hit!

Ann Cleeves' stories about the Shetland Island are really good! This one was a bit different than the rest and at first, I had trouble getting that fact straight in my head. But once started, I couldn't stop listening. This one features what some might term "the village idiot" and the villagers' belief that he (Magnus) was responsible for the death of a young girl a decade earlier and now for another girl found dead. Cleeves uses the procedures of the police and in particular of a singular detective inspector to work through the assumptions, circumstantial evidence and true evidence to seek the killer and justice. Gossip, lies and hypocrisy are confronted -- and a number of the more colorful villagers are outed in the process. Cleeves' descriptions take you to the Shetlands and the characters she creates are wonderfully developed. A good listen!!

16 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Thoughtful and well-done.

Any additional comments?

Quite a good mystery that kept me guessing til the end. Would love to hear more from Anne Cleves. Atmospheric and good characters!

4 people found this helpful

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Audio problems

Any additional comments?

Noticing the same problem as others with the bad audio interruptions. I also tried erasing it and re-downloading. No change. Is the book worth finishing or should I return it?

18 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Island Far Far Away

Would you listen to Raven Black again? Why?

I definitely would.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Jimmy Paris is a keeper.

What does Gordon Griffin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

For me listening to an audible brings the story more to life. Gordon Griffin is an excellent narrator.

Any additional comments?

Many readers/listeners will not have ever been to the Shetland Islands. I found myself Googling and learning about the Islands with great interest. Living there is NOT like places most of us live. There is a special personality to the area that adds to the story.

3 people found this helpful