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Raven Black    by Ann Cleeves order for
Raven Black
by Ann Cleeves
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In rugged, northeastern Scotland - near the town of Lerwick in the Shetland Islands - you will find the humble home of Magnus Tait, a singular man who lives alone with only a raven in a wicker cage as his companion.

Most of the people in Lerwick know about Magnus, though few have ever taken the time to become acquainted with him. After all - as everyone in Lerwick believes - the ostracized Magnus almost certainly had some involvement in the disappearance of eleven year old Catriona Bruce some eight years ago. Little Catriona was never found. Magnus was questioned by police and never charged with any crime, but the fearsome suspicions linger in the minds of nearly everyone in Lerwick.

Now another terrible mystery (and crime) has fractured the peace and quiet of Lerwick: the body of sixteen year old Catherine Ross has been found by artist and mother Fran Hunter in a field near Magnus Tate's home. Police have virtually no clues but pressure in Lerwick continues to build as Magnus becomes the principal person of interest.

Then, however, Fran Hunter - a woman whose life is already more than a little complicated - makes another gruesome discovery; and when Fran and her five year old daughter become further enmeshed in something dark and terrifying, everyone in Lerwick begins to wonder: Can Magnus Tait really be responsible for all that is happening, or is something (or someone) else at the center of Lerwick's maze of crimes and secrets?

From the first page to the last, Raven Black - winner of the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award - sizzles with suspense and surprises. It is a pulse-pounding tale filled with sharply drawn characterizations and evocative atmosphere. Read this novel and you will not soon forget the people and the passions of this community in northeastern Scotland. Raven Black is a well-plotted entertainment from a writer who knows how to spin an inescapable web of terror and mystery. Don't miss it!

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