It is inspiring and humbling to know that Ann Cleeves had been writing steadily for 20 years before attaining recognition for her work. As a newlywed living on a remote island with her ornithologist husband, she wrote the first of the Vera Stanhope novels that have been made into a long-running television series.
While I enjoy both those books and the dramatic interpretations, I have been drawn into the Shetland Island series with Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez. You can almost hear the waves crashing against the shore and feel the wind as the melancholy Perez methodically peels back the layers of the mystery at hand. Deeply atmospheric with a good dose of the culture of living on an island, I highly recommend the Shetland series.
For Vera Stanhope, start with the first:
For Jimmy Perez: