Are you a fan of the BBC crime drama Shetland and the fictional detectives Jimmy Perez, 'Tosh' McIntosh and Ruth Calder? Find out about the real Shetland, the show’s locations, the best-selling books behind the TV series and more.

If you are one of the millions of people around the world fascinated by Jimmy Perez and his crime-solving adventures in Ann Cleeves' Shetland books and the BBC TV series inspired by them, we think you'll love the real place. It's every bit as spectacular and fascinating as the stories and series but, thankfully, with very little crime!

To celebrate the books, the series and the much-loved characters, we've pulled together lots of useful information for fans of Shetland. As well as some brilliant self-guided tours and videos of some of the show's locations, we hear from author Ann Cleeves on what first motivated her to write about Shetland and why the islands will always hold a special place in her heart.

Let's not forget that in 2023, there is a new 'chapter' to the 'Shetland' story – a new detective inspector Ruth Calder, played by Ashely Jensen, replaces DI Perez now actor Douglas Henshall has retired the role.

Self-guided trails

Location area guides

We've compiled a series of self-guided tours across Shetland inspired by the filming locations that have graced our screens in the Shetland TV series. The Central and North Mainland tours require a car, but the Lerwick trail is best made on foot.

Locations area guides

On location in Shetland

Some of the beautiful locations featured in the TV series

Discover more about the Shetland crime drama

  • I feel so lucky that I've been able to spend so much time here. It's under my skin and I can see myself visiting again and again. I loved it when I could hire a car and spend days driving from one insanely beautiful spot to another. And I love it now when I've got my family in tow and it's all parks and beaches and going swimming and to the library. I've made some wonderful friends here and many, many memories.

    Alison O'Donnell, who plays Tosh
  • “Everybody loves a murder mystery and everyone loves a remote place because it sparks your imagination. Shetland’s beautiful, I think those things combined with fantastic stories are what makes this show a hit around the world. I’m very proud of Shetland – it’s a place that warrants visiting. There’s something very special about Shetland and the only way to discover that is to go there.”

    Mark Bonnar, who plays Duncan
  • These things don’t come along too often for any location - any place - so most people realise it’s fundamentally a good thing and shows off Shetland all over the world. Things like these don’t happen by accident - it started with Ann Cleeves' extraordinary books and then the TV series has grown and grown...It’s an unusual and a positive thing for the Shetland Isles and there’s certainly an open minded approval of the TV series filming here.

    Steven Robertson, who plays Sandy

    About Shetland - the series

    Featuring characters from the novels by award winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, and acclaimed worldwide, Shetland follows DI Ruth Calder, who replaces Jimmy Perez in series 8, and her team as they investigate crime within the close-knit island community.

    Amid spectacular scenery, in an isolated and fascinating environment, the team have to rely on a uniquely resourceful style of policing.

    Meet crime novelist Ann Cleeves

    Ann is an award-winning crime writer who has published eight novels set in Shetland featuring police detective Jimmy Perez. She is also the creator of Vera Stanhope, the detective who features in ITV's popular series Vera.

    Her last Shetland book Wild Fire was published in September 2018. Ann has a long association with Shetland and confesses to being in love with the place.

    Her relationship with the archipelago began in 1975, when she took a job as assistant cook at the Fair Isle bird observatory. On Fair Isle Ann met her late husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist, and it was on a return trip that a single stark image provided inspiration for her first Shetland novel.

    “There were lots of ravens, very black against the snow. So, because I’m a writer, I thought, ‘What if there were blood as well? And would ravens eat a body?’ I checked with Tim, who said they would.

    “Initially it was going to be a short story, and my editor said it would stretch credibility if I wrote more than one novel. But after the good reviews and winning the Dagger (an award for crime fiction), we decided we could stretch to a series.”

    I enjoy writing about the islands just because they are dynamic, changing and energetic. Don’t come to Shetland imagining a Viking theme park, a place fixed in the past. History is important here, but the community looks to the future...

    Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland books

    Discover more from Ann Cleeves

    Ann Cleeves' Shetland books

    • Raven Black

      The first in the Shetland murder mystery series. On a cold January morning, the body of teenager is found beneath the snow in Shetland. The locals focus on one suspect, but it is up to detective Jimmy Perez to investigate. Soon fear is spread over the whole community, while a killer lurks in their midst.

      Buy now from The Shetland Times Bookshop

    • White Nights

      In the second Shetland murder mystery, a hanging body is found on a remote island and at first seems to be suicide. Detective Jimmy Perez soon realises this is no accident and, when another body is found, he must race against the clock to find answers. When a community doesn’t want to reveal its secrets, Jimmy must quickly break the cycle before another death occurs…

      Buy now from The Shetland Times Bookshop

    • Red Bones

      This is the third novel in Ann Cleeves' Shetland series. An elderly lady is shot in what seems to be a tragic accident and detective Jimmy Perez is called to investigate. The silent islanders provide little information, and Jimmy finds instead a tangled bitterness between two feuding families that has lasted generations. Can he uncover the mystery?

      Buy now from The Shetland Times Bookshop

    • Blue Lightning

      Detective Jimmy Perez returns to his home Fair Isle. A body has been found and the islanders react with fear and suspicion. Perez has no way off the island until the autumn storms subside. Cut off from the outside world, he must use whatever means he can, and fast, to find the killer.

      Buy now from The Shetland Times Bookshop

    • Dead Water

      When the body of journalist Jerry Markham is found in a traditional Shetland boat, outside the house of the Fiscal, down at the marina, young Detective Inspector Willow Reeves is drafted in from the Hebrides to head up the investigation. Since the death of his fiancée, Inspector Jimmy Perez has been out of the loop, but his interest in this new case is stirred and he decides to help the inquiry.

      Buy now from The Shetland Times Bookshop

    • Thin Air

      A group of old university friends leave the bright lights of London and travel to Unst, Shetland's most northerly island, to celebrate the marriage of one of their friends to a Shetlander. But late on the night of the wedding party, one of them, Eleanor, disappears - apparently into thin air. Detective Jimmy Perez heads north to Unst to investigate.

      Buy now from The Shetland Times Bookshop

    • Cold Earth

      In the seventh Shetland novel, torrential rain triggers a landslide across the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea. Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress and a new mystery begins to unfurl.

      Buy now from The Shetland Times Bookshop

    • Wild Fire

      In the eighth and final Shetland murder mystery, an English family move to Shetland, eager to give their autistic son a better life. But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire. With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate, knowing that it will mean the return to the islands of his on-off lover and boss Willow Reeves, who will run the case. Perez is facing the most disturbing and personal investigation of his career. Is he ready for what is to come?

      Buy now from The Shetland Times Bookshop

    TV series reviews

    • Henshall seems almost weathered into the part, as if, like the hills and cairns around the windswept isles he serves, his mournful visage has been lashed by the North Sea for millennia.

    • It’s easy to see why the BBC’s hugely successful export has so many fans all over the world – with its beautiful scenery and knotty plots, it’s pure escapism.

      Tim Dowling, The Guardian
    • Douglas Henshall’s performance as Perez is the heartbeat of the show, projecting a dishevelled and slightly vulnerable warmth even while he’s putting the skids under his team of coppers.

      Adam Sweeting, The Arts Desk
    • Besides the always stunning scenery, the show rests, not falls, on the likeability of Douglas Henshall as Perez, and he's doing a grand job, juggling his pursuit of justice with an evident compassion and admiration for these steely folk, living without the usual urban comforts.

      Caroline Frost, The Huffington Post