Monday, 19 April 2010

Raven Black


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.

10 comments:

BooksPlease said...

I read Raven Black last month and thought it was excellent and I listened to the Radio 4 version afterwards - again excellent.

I think Raven Black is one of the best books I've read this year and I found out about Ann Cleeves from your recommendation when I asked on my blog about writers from North East England - many thanks. for that.

Fiona said...

I read Raven Black because of your recommendation and loved it; I'm holding off buying the other 3 in the series until just before I go on holiday to Mull so I can take them with me. I cannot have a TBR pile: I've no self control where an unread book is concerned....

I'm also enjoying your own books, Martin. I liked your style when I first found your blog and hoped your books would also be to my taste; yes, they are! I've read a few Harry Devlin and am moving on to the Lake District series.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Magnus does sound like a likely suspect, doesn't he? I have a feeling though that he might not have done it! Thanks for the tip on the book...

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Roger Cornwell said...

After reading your excellent review, how could anybody not want to visit Ann's web site at anncleeves.com? I should add that we run it for her!

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I'm so glad you enjoyed the radio version of Raven Black. Sometimes, the "translation" from book to radio doesn't go smoothly, so I'm glad that this one did. I agree with you that Ann Cleeves is a superbly talented writer, so I'm glad, too, that she has been getting the notice that's due one of her skills.

Dorte H said...

It was a great opening scene. I remember it vividly, and usually my memory for books is rotten.

Right now I am reading the fourth book in another excellent series, and I think I am going to remember that one as well. Burning books indeed! ;)

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments about a very good writer who is also a terrific friend. And I can confirm that Roger does a great job with Ann's website!
Fiona, I am delighted you like the Devlins and I do hope the Lakes books are equally to your taste.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Boy, don't I wish our radio did some of that here.

Linda said...

I've just finished The Arsenic Labyrinth and enjoyed the setting for the plot, the connections to arsenic mining and your extra notes on this. Having just started The Serpent Pool, I'm building up a picture of the characters who appear in the series such as DCI Hannah Scarlett.
The next on the list is Ann Reeves' Raven Black.
Thank you for your interesting posts.

Martin Edwards said...

Linda - many thanks, and I do hope you enjoy The Serpent Pool.