Shetland’s Red Bones

It’s not uncommon to read the book after watching a TV series or movie. And it’s not uncommon to find that the book in infinitely better than the said TV series or movie. But Ann Cleeves’ “Red Bones” is so much better than the TV version, “Shetland”, as to be quite ridiculous.

To begin with, her description of the central character, Detective Jimmy Perez. An odd sort of name for a Scot, especially one living in Shetland, you would think. ms Cleeves writes “Perez was what the locals a black Shetlander; his ancestor had been washed up from a sunken Spanish Armada ship. He’d inherited the name, the dark hair and Mediterranean skin.” Now go and look at a picture of Douglas Henshall, who played Perez at the Internet Movie Database. Go on, I can wait.

Back? See what I mean? I know, it doesn’t really matter. Douglas Henshall is great in anything he does. I love that craggy, worn to a frazzle look. (But no woman would be allowed to look like that and still act. Even Brenda Blethyn as Ann Cleeve’s other detective, Vera, was allowed to be frumpy but relatively unlined, compared to Mr. Henshall.) But it was just incongruous to have such a pale, Scottish looking man with the surname Perez and still be a native of Shetland!

Mind you, that wasn’t the only oddity. In the novel, the two warring families are the Wilsons and the Coulsons. But in Shetland, they were the Haldanes and Wilsons. Cassie, Jimmy’s stepdaughter, is a baby and her mother is still alive, in the novel. While in the series she’s a teenager and her mother is dead. Again, I know it probably doesn’t matter as the TV plot had to pared down to fit. But arghhh!

It’s such a shame that the TV version was so, not great. It’s second episode clashed with Broadchurch, which is so much better. I liked Shetland, really. I quite fell in love with the islands. They’ve always been so for me. I live in a semi-rural area of Wales and it’s just not rural enough or isolated enough for me. I could see myself living in a croft, with no neighbours and just a few black rock hens for company. (I’m not so much a mad cat lady as a mad hen lady!) The two-part series was interesting enough to make me want to read the book. But oh how disappointing when I figured out the reason for the murder in the first episode. I wear glasses and am both short-sighted and near-sighted with astigmatism, but I could see the valuable clue before Perez did.

Ah well, I enjoyed it despite the bad adaption. And I wouldn’t mind seeing more of DI Perez on the small screen. Though that may be a tad difficult as “they” went with adapting the third book in the series instead of the first. So I’d guess that it’s going to stay as a one-off. And Broadchurch is still on, for another five weeks!

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