Book Review: White Nights

Shetland’s high latitude brings about very long summer days with no true nightfall, what the locals call “white nights”. It is a time when strange happenings can be expected so when a man bursts into tears at an artist reception, Inspector Jimmy Perez is not unduly alarmed, especially since he’s busy trying to figure out the best way to comfort his new girlfriend, Fran Hunter. He questions the man who claims amnesia, then disappears before Jimmy can do much to assist.

Painter Bella Sinclair, known for her rather eccentric parties and superior attitude was hosting Fran’s work with her own and public turnout was dismal. The discovery of a peculiar handbill claiming the event was cancelled explained the poor response, but why is the amnesic man discovered the next morning, the victim of an apparent suicide? Shortly after Jimmy begins his investigation, the remains of another body are discovered and before long, he is on the trail of closely guarded secrets that could hold the key to a series of deaths.

Greed and revenge figure prominently in this unevenly paced thriller that provides a window on the social complexities of island life. The characters are fully developed, sometimes to the point of slowing forward momentum. Jimmy’s budding relationship with Fran is a nice if predictable subplot and while the ending ties everything together, it has a rushed feel given the slow buildup.


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