Wild Fire is the eighth, and final book, in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Shetland series – a major BBC One drama starring Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez.
Shetland: Welcoming. Wild. Remote.
Drawn in by the reputation of the islands, a new English family move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life. But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire.
With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate. For him it will mean returning to the islands of his on-off lover and boss Willow Reeves, who will run the case.
Perez is already facing the most disturbing investigation of his career, when Willow drops a bombshell that will change his life forever. Is he ready for what is to come?
In CWA Diamond Dagger winner Cleeves's excellent eighth Shetland Island mystery (after 2017's Cold Earth), designer Helena Fleming and her family have settled in a remote community on Shetland, where she has become a local celebrity by using "Shetland wool to create garments that were shown at London Fashion Week." One day, Helena is dismayed to find a crude drawing tucked inside a copy of the Shetland Times depicting a gallows. Soon afterward, her 11-year-old son discovers the body of their neighbor's young nanny, Emma Shearer, hanging from a beam in their byre. Det. Insp. Jimmy Perez, who initially takes charge of what could be a murder case, calls in a crime team from Inverness, which includes his occasional lover, Willow Reeves, who brings emotional complications to the investigation. A number of local residents appear to have had some sort of an ax to grind with Emma, and several suspects emerge. Intricately plotted and elegantly written, this installment is billed as Perez's final case. Series fans will be sorry to see the last of him.
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Farewell to Shetland
Wild Fire is the eighth and final book in the Shetland series by Ann Cleeves. We rejoin Jimmy Perez just as Daniel and Helena Fleming relocate to Shetland from London in the hope of their autistic son Christopher finding some sort of acceptance within the smaller community. There is an undercurrent of resentment towards them though after the previous owner of their house hung himself in their barn shortly after their arrival. This escalates when Emma Shearer, nanny to the local GP is also found hanging in the same barn. Closer examination quickly rules out suicide and soon the rumours and accusations start to fly. Jimmy Perez however is off his game. Not only is Helena an old friend of his late fiancée Fran, perhaps clouding his judgement when it comes to her involvement in the crime but when Willow Reeves arrives to head up the investigation she brings with her a bombshell that will rock Jimmy’s world and force him to confront the guilt he has carried since Fran’s death.
I love this author’s work. Her books are so well written and her love of Shetland shines through in her descriptions of the islands. They are so vivid I can visualise the scenes in my head as they play out. The development of her characters throughout the series has left them so well rounded and believable that they’ve almost become real to this reader. The plot develops slowly perhaps because no one really knew who the first victim was or anything about her to give a motive as to who would have wanted her dead but ultimately everything is explained and at the end, once the killer is exposed you can look back and see how this came about, unlike some crime novels where you have to suspend believe in the outcome especially when the killer is an eleventh hour addition to the plot.
The only slight issue I have with Wild Fire is the ending. Yes, the killer is denounced and the crime solved but the situation with Jimmy is left quite vague but then again perhaps that’s just my preference for having a line drawn under things especially when it’s the end of a series.