A murder mystery set against the stunning backdrop of the Shetland Isles.
Mima Wilson, an elderly woman is shot and killed in the grounds of her croft. Her grandson PC Sandy Wilson finds her body and alerts Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez. DI Perez is a native Shetlander who has returned to the islands with his fourteen year old step-daughter, Cassie, after a long spell away.
Perez and his partner DC Alison Macintosh (Tosh), investigate Mima’s murder and her family’s secrets. The Wilsons and Haldanes are cousins. The Haldanes – Ronald Haldane’s side of the family – became rich due to their ownership of part of the fishing quota. Sandy denies there is any tension between the Wilsons and the Haldanes but Perez reserves judgment. Perez questions the Haldanes and learns that Ronald was out drinking and claims he was shooting rabbits on the night of Mima’s murder. Sandy’s father, Joseph Wilson’s movements are also suspicious. Mima’s croft is the site of an archaeological dig and she had become close to one of the young archaeologists – Hattie James. Their recent find of coins and skull fragments were particularly exciting for the team but the discovery of the skull seemed to disturb Mima. Paul Berglund, the professor in charge of the dig, soon becomes another possible suspect.
With the influx of tourists for the annual Shetland festival, Up Helly Aa, adding more strain to their resources and with no solid leads, Perez is under pressure to find Mima’s murderer. Then Hattie James goes missing after stumbling across key information into Mima’s m
The young archaeologist Hattie James has been found dead on the site of the dig at Mima Wilson’s croft. Suicide is suggested but Detective Inspector Perez believes they have another murder on their hands. When Hattie’s mother indicates that Hattie had an unhappy love life, Perez strongly believes Professor Paul Berglund is withholding vital information.
With his efforts to prevent the annual festival ‘Up Helly Aa’ from taking place frustrated, Perez is forced to continue the investigation with a growing number of tourists descending on the island. Perez delves deeper into the lives of the Haldanes and discovers affairs and illegal gambling debts have contributed to Ronald Haldane’s drinking problem. When Joseph remains inscrutable, Perez is forced to dig further into their history to unravel the mystery surrounding Mima’s late husband’s death and the potential link to the skull fragments found on her land.
Perez finds answers to difficult questions, and appears to solve Mima and Hattie’s murder but the race is on. Through the crowded torch lit streets of Up Helly Aa, he has to find the suspect before someone else is killed.