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Publisher's Summary

It is a cold January morning and Shetland lies buried beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter's eye is drawn to a vivid splash of colour on the white ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbour Catherine Ross. The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man – loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when police 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 neighbours nervously lock their doors, whilst a killer lives on in their midst.

©2006 Ann Cleeves (P)2018 Isis Publishing Ltd

What listeners say about Raven Black

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great narration

A most enjoyable audiobook. Excellent narration ; I enjoyed the accents very much and unlike Some of the Vera narrations not strident and .off putting. Engaging storyline and as someone completely unfamiliar with the Shetlands full of fascinating detail. detail

16 people found this helpful

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Great start to the Shetland series.

I really enjoyed listening to this book as I walked around my neighborhood during the CoVid 19 pandemic. Having an intelligent and thoughtful novel to engage me as I walked was a wonderful experience in an otherwise bleak time. I thought the narrator with his soft Scottish burr was wonderful too. Yes, I agree that the narrative pertaining to the death of two girls is very sad, as is the loneliness of the somewhat challenged elderly man who is a recluse and the preferred suspect, but these characters were handled skillfully by the author and it is, after all a work of fiction.
I thought the personality of the detective Jimmy Perez was perfect for the setting. I made sure he was featured in the second novel in the series before purchasing it from Audible. I liked learning more about the Shetland Isles, which has a markedly different culture from anywhere else in the UK.
In conclusion, this was a totally enjoyable listening experience. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a well thought out murder mystery set in an unusual location with characters that are for the main part likable despite being somewhat flawed.

5 people found this helpful

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Raven Black

Generally very enjoyable. A bit slow in some places. The narration excellent. The ending was a surprise. Look forward to more in this series.

2 people found this helpful

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Easy listening

Story was entertaining, not too predictable or slow and I love the accents.
A joy to listen too.

2 people found this helpful

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Raven black

Excellent well read,enjoyed this audio book looking forward to the next one. Thank you

1 person found this helpful

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Character-driven and unexpected

The story is clever, with engaging characters. Cleeves’ writing painted a beautiful backdrop for the story. The pace is slow, with lots of detail.

1 person found this helpful

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A worthy start to the Shetland series

This story starts very well, slows a little in the middle and ends well. This is my first book by Ann Cleeves and I will listen/read more of her books. I like her writing style.

The narration by Kenny Blyth is spot on.

1 person found this helpful

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Keeps you hooked

First, I was impressed with the narrator’s vocal range making it so easy to differentiate between the various characters. It also gave credibility by using a local flavour. The author threaded the story keeping you guessing until the end. She writes very well and you feel that you are actually there. I’ll get the next audiobook in the series for sure.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent UK Procedural

Ann Cleeves makes full use of her setting in this mystery: the assumed secure, touristy, family-friendly Shetland Islands off the Northern coast of Scotland.
The isolation, "small-town" gossipy feel, and inexperienced constabulary combine with miserable weather to create an uncomfortable dreary atmosphere that matches the themes of failed ambition, lost innocence & unfair suspicion that make the story so intriguing.
Hard-luck Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, bucking the general opinion of the community, doubts the guilt of the village oddball (accused of involvement in a disappearance eight years previous) and works to uncover the real murderer of a young girl with a suspicious bent.
The inquest is loaded with suspects, the plot is full of unexpected revelations, the dialogue & interviews are strikingly true-to-life, and the characters are fascinating. BBC did well to turn this series into a Television show.

That's not to say the book doesn't have flaws:
• First - as the first in a series - one would expect more attention to background and setting than we get (local residents, etc).
• Second, Cleeves delivers the entire novel with the feel of an introduction. The first few chapters sound as though they're teasing an in-depth rollercoaster-ride of a story, but we never really get a "meat & potatoes" delivery on that promise. The tone remains expository throughout (giving the impression that we're basically listening to an outline)
• Last, the character revelations (e.g. Perez's broken marriage) aren't woven into the overall chronicle very well - they feel tacked-on.

Kenny Blyth's natural brogue fits the text/setting perfectly and his diction, timbre, and tone are fantastic, but his cadence occasionally falls into a lilting pattern that gives the impression of mechanical delivery (as though he's disinterestedly reading a book sitting in his lap) and his characters all sound fairly similar. Fortunately, Blyth's pacing is spot-on (a necessity with a Scottish voice-actor).. which makes up for most of the deficiencies.
This is an imperfect but solidly "above-average" audiobook performance.

Taken altogether, I rate 'Raven Black' 9 stars out of 10. I was able to get the recording on sale.. and it's easily worth the $5.20CDN I paid for it. It would actually rate a Credit for any fan of quality modern mysteries.

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Interested through the whole story.

loved it. voices were captivating. Great twists. Very thoughtful insights to the human condition and frailty.

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  • Robyn
  • 2020-09-01

I am so glad it’s a series!

Fantastic book narrated by an excellent voice. I loved the slow burn of the story as we get to know the characters and the island itself. The ending threw me totally, which I loved, and I’m just so happy to know it’s the first of a long series! Downloading the next one immediately.

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  • Sharon
  • 2020-02-12

Treat yourself to a taste of the Shetlands!

I love this series. I actually read book 2 first, but now I have finally read the first one. Love the characters, and they seem very very realistic. The author really knows how to give you a taste of life in the Shetlands. Her language is wonderfully descriptive when talking about places, characters, and thoughts. It may seem a little bleak at times, but not nearly so compared to Scandinavian fiction. Jimmy Perez is a great hero, and is relatable to any of us who have felt a bit different at one time or another. I can only recommend this book and series!