Ann Cleeves' Shetland series books in order

This bestselling crime book series is also a hit TV show on BBC One. If you can't get enough of Jimmy Perez, start reading the Shetland books by Ann Cleeves now.

The Shetland series is a bestselling, critically-acclaimed series of crime novels by Ann Cleeves, which has also been made into a hit TV series on BBC One, now in its eighth series, originally starring Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and now Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder.

Set in the isolated Scottish Shetland Isles, Detective Inspector Perez and his police colleagues become entwined in the tight-knit island community as they investigate mysterious disappearances, murders and the darkest secrets of Scotland's most northerly isles. The first novel in the series, Raven Black, was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger (CWA Gold Dagger) for best crime novel. Here are all Ann Cleeves' Shetland books in order. 

Looking for more gripping reads? Don't miss our edit of the best thriller books.

The Shetland books in order

Raven Black

by Ann Cleeves

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. As Fran opens her mouth to scream, the ravens continue their deadly dance. 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.

White Nights

by Ann Cleeves

When Shetland Detective Jimmy Perez finds a body in a hut used by fishermen it seems to be a straightforward case of suicide. He recognizes the victim – a stranger with amnesia who had disrupted a local party the night before his death. Yet this is no desperate act of anguish, but the work of a cold and calculating killer. As Perez investigates, he finds himself mired in the hidden secrets of the small biddista community. Then another body is found. Perez knows he must break the cycle before another death occurs. But this is a crazy time of year when night blurs into day and nothing is quite as it seems.

Red Bones

by Ann Cleeves

When an elderly woman is shot in what appears to be a tragic accident, Shetland Detective Jimmy Perez is called to investigate the mystery. The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness have lasted generations. Then there's another murder and, as the spring weather shrouds the island in claustrophobic mists, Jimmy must dig up old secrets to stop a new killer from striking again.

Blue Lightning

by Ann Cleeves

With the autumn storms raging, Fair Isle feels cut off from the rest of the world. Trapped, tension is high and tempers become frayed. Enough to drive someone to murder. . . A woman's body is discovered at the renowned Fair Isles Bird Observatory, with feathers threaded through her hair. The islanders react with fear and anger. Detective Jimmy Perez has no support from the mainland and must investigate the old-fashioned way. he soon realizes that this is no crime of passion - but a murder of cold and calculated intention. There's no way off the island until the storms abate – and so the killer is also trapped, just waiting for the opportunity to strike again.

Dead Water

by Ann Cleeves

When journalist Jerry Markham left the islands to make a name for himself in London, he left behind a scandal involving a young girl. Now, years later, his body has just been found in a traditional Shetland boat, outside the house of the local public prosecutor, and young Detective Inspector Willow Reeves is drafted in to head up the investigation with the help of Inspector Jimmy Perez who is still reeling from the death of his fiancée. Markham had few friends in Shetland, so why was he back?  Willow and Jimmy are led to Sullum Voe, the heart of Shetland's North Sea oil and gas industry. It soon emerges from their investigation that Markham was chasing a story in his final days. One that must have been significant enough to warrant his death . . .

Thin Air

by Ann Cleeves

A group of old university friends leave the bright lights of London and travel to Unst, Shetland's most northerly island, to celebrate the marriage of one of their friends to a Shetlander. But late on the night of the wedding party, one of them, Eleanor, disappears. The following day, Eleanor's friend Polly receives an email. It appears to be a suicide note. And then Eleanor's body is discovered, lying in a small loch close to the cliff edge. Before she went missing, Eleanor claimed to have seen the ghost of a local child who drowned in the 1920s. Her interest in the ghost had seemed unhealthy – obsessive, even – to her friends: an indication of a troubled mind. But Jimmy and Willow are convinced that there is more to Eleanor's death than they first thought. Is there a secret that lies behind the myth? 

Cold Earth

by Ann Cleeves

In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea. At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. In his mind, she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and soon he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity. Then it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house. Perez knows he must find out who she was, and how she died.

Wild Fire

by Ann Cleeves

Drawn by the welcoming reputation of the Shetland Islands, a new English family move to the area to give their autistic son a better life. But when a young nanny's body is found in the barn of their home, rumours of her relationship with the husband spread life wildfire. DI Jimmy Perez is called in, for what could be the most disturbing case of his career. 

More Shetland books:


by Ann Cleeves

An archipelago of more than a hundred islands, it is the one of the most remote places in the United Kingdom. In this gloriously illustrated companion to her novels, Ann Cleeves takes readers through a year on Shetland, learning about its past, meeting its people, celebrating its festivals and seeing how the flora and fauna of the islands changes with the seasons. Whether it is the drama of the Viking fire festival of Up Helly Aa in winter, or the piercing blue and hot pink of spring flowers on the clifftops, the long, white nights of midsummer or the fierce gales and high tides of autumn, Shetland is vividly captured in all its bleak and special beauty.

Too Good To Be True

by Ann Cleeves

Too Good To Be True is a gripping Quick Read from Ann Cleeves, featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez from the bestselling Shetland series. When young teacher Anna Blackwell is found dead in her home, the police think her death was suicide or a tragic accident. But Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez soon arrives from far-away Shetland when his ex-wife, Sarah, asks him to look into the case. The local gossips are saying that her new husband, Tom, was having an affair with Anna. Could Tom have been involved with her death? Sarah refuses to believe it – but needs proof.

If you love Shetland, you might also like:

The Crow Trap

by Ann Cleeves

The Crow Trap is the first novel in Ann Cleeves’s crime fiction series, following unconventional detective inspector Vera Stanhope. When three women come together at an isolated cottage in the North Pennines, they are each hiding turbulent secrets. On arrival at the cottage, a body is found – but the circumstances of their death seem suspicious. When another death occurs, Vera Stanhope enters the picture, and she might be the only person able to uncover the truth.

Discover all the Vera Stanhope books in order.

The Long Call

by Ann Cleeves

The Long Call is the first novel in Ann Cleeve’s latest crime fiction series. Detective Matthew Venn has returned to North Devon where he grew up in, and ultimately turned his back on, a strict evangelical community, losing his family in the process. He’s returned, not only because he is mourning the death of his father, but because he is taking on his first case in the Two Rivers region. A man has been found stabbed to death on the beach, and Venn’s investigation will take him straight to the heart of the community he left behind.

Find out more about Ann Cleeves's Two Rivers series.

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Discover all of the Two Rivers series in order

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The Sleeping and the Dead

by Ann Cleeves

In this standalone crime thriller from Ann Cleeves, Detective Peter Porteous is called to Cranwell Lake where the body of a teenager has been discovered. After trawling through the missing persons files, he comes to the conclusion that the corpse is Michael Grey, an enigmatic and secretive young man who was reported missing by his foster parents in 1972.

The news report that a body has been found leaves prison officer Hannah Morton in shock. Michael had been her boyfriend, and she had been with him the night he disappeared. And now the discovery is bringing back dreaded and long buried memories from her past . . .

In this video, Ann Cleeves introduces her bestselling Shetland series: