Ann Cleeves is a very popular writer, mainly of crime novels, and especially those which have been televised, her ‘Vera’ series for example, and her ‘Shetland series’. Before she became so deservedly popular through the televising of both these series of books, I had come across her with other novels she had written. There is a series of eight, now republished, about George and Molly Palmer-Jones, birdwatchers, who become involved in crimes which as in all such novels, they help solve. Cleeves herself is married to an ornithologist, her husband was warden on an island reserve.

Another series of books, which I have recently re-read are the Inspector Ramsay books, published between 1990 and 1997, they are a police-procedural series, about as you may guess the eponymous Stephen Ramsay and as you might also guess, he is a police inspector; like the Vera series the books are set in a fictional area of Northumberland, and the county itself is a big character in the novels.

Written over twenty years ago, the crimes are set in a time before all the modern technology that we have; people rely on land-lines, there are computers but they don’t feature as intrinsically as they would in a ‘modern’ crime story. The stories are intriguing, the different detectives are given back stories but not so they intrude but just so it gives a context to why they ask the questions they do and follow (or don’t follow) certain lines of enquiry. The plots are complex but not so convoluted as to seem ridiculous, and there is a proper and complete resolution and explanation at the end… in fact my one small criticism is that the summing up is sometimes rather long and the book loses its impetus.

Here’s a list of the book:

The Inspector Ramsay books

  • A Lesson in Dying (1990)
  • Murder in My Backyard (1991)
  • A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy (1992)
  • Killjoy (1993)
  • The Healers (1995)
  • The Baby Snatcher (1997)

… and a link to Ann Cleeves’ site:

http://www.anncleeves.com/ramsay.html

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