The woman behind the popular Shetland crime series – Ann Cleeves – reveals which fictional detectives make it into her top five.
Kurt Wallander by Henning Mankell
Wallander is a classic lone detective, gloomy and a little tortured, but he’s definitely one of the good guys. The setting of rural Southern Sweden provides an interesting backdrop to his work.
Mankell has the ability to set up a story with an arresting visual image that remains with the reader throughout the book and to make the political very personal and close to home.
Salvo Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri
Just the read for a grey autumn afternoon, the Montalbano books, set in Sicily are full of sunshine and good food and wine. Montalbano is witty, humane and clever.
Even though he can’t quite manage it, he means to be faithful to his long term girlfriend Livia, and their stormy relationship brings humour to all the stories.
Fabio Montale by Jean-Claude Izzo
He might be French but Montale is a detective in the tradition of the US noir. The books, set in Marseilles, explore a city uneasy with itself and struggling to find a role in modern France.
Beautifully told, Izzo’s novels are a study of a diverse and often troubled city and the crimes that grow out of it.
Van der Valk by Nicholas Freeling
Unlike my previous choices the Van der Valk books were written originally in English. They are, however, set in Holland. Van der Valk appears more like a private eye than a police detective, eccentric, quixotic and given to flights of fancy. His is the one fictional marriage that works.
V I Warshowski by Sara Paretsky
I love V I – her courage, her tenacity and her refusal to be beaten by authority or big business. There’s a great cast of returning characters. Set in Chicago, the books explore serious problems but within a fast-paced and thrilling story.
Ann Cleeves is a best-selling author of the Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez books which have been turned into the hit TV dramas “Vera” and “Shetland”.
Her latest book is “Cold Earth”.