I first read Raven Black, by Ann Cleeves, when it was published, and much enjoyed it. What I didn’t quite foresee – since, as regular readers of this blog know, I’d been a fan of her writing for years and had loved, for instance, earlier but nowadays much less renowned novels such as The Healers and Murder in My Back Yard – was that this particular book would transform her career. Her publishers really got behind it, reviewers were extremely positive, and it went on to win the CWA Gold Dagger. Since then, she’s never looked back.
One of the many pleasing spin-offs of her success has been massive interest in her work from radio as well as television. A 60 minute version of Raven Black was featured on Radio 4 earlier this year, and although I missed it, Ann kindly provided me with a CD version, to which I’ve now listened.
I thought the way in which the novel was condensed was very effective. Iain Finlay McLeod’s adaptation conveyed the plot very economically, whilst also getting across the Shetland atmosphere which is integral to the story-line. Grant O’Rourke did a good job as the local cop Jimmy Perez.
For those who don’t know the story, it opens with two young girls enjoying an evening together. They talk to a strange old man called Magnus, and when one of the girls is found to have been murdered, Magnus becomes the prime suspect – just as he was when a young girl went missing some years before. Listening to this version improved my commute no end, and I hope it won’t be long before more of Ann’s books are adapted for radio.