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May, Peter - 'The Blackhouse'
Hardback: 432 pages (Feb. 2011) Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc ISBN: 1849163847

What a truly fantastic book this is! Set on the Isle of Lewis, in and around Stornoway, Ness and Barvas, THE BLACKHOUSE is the winner of the "Prix des Lectuers" prize at the Le Havre festival of crime writing and is the first in a trilogy about a Lewis-born, Edinburgh-based, detective, Fin MacLeod. If the next two books are even a tiny bit as good as this one, then the whole set will be a truly delightful feast for the soul. The nature of the story gets into your mind and won't leave you alone. It haunts you, taunting you to put down what you are doing and carry on with the story. If, like me, your ancestors come from Barvas, then you have even more of a reason to be gripped by the story, and be left exhausted at the end.

Fin is struggling to come to terms with life, after the death of his young son in a hit and run accident. When a virtually identical murder to that he is currently investigating in Edinburgh takes place in Stornoway, he is dispatched to see if there is a connection between the two. Glad to escape from the nightmare of his failing marriage, Fin is confronted by memories of a past that he has tried so hard to escape from. He meets old friends, reignites a few old feuds and comes face to face with his first love. Shocked by the way life on the island has changed so very little, he attempts to get to the bottom of this latest crime and is stunned by the lies and deceit that he unravels in this, seemingly God-fearing, community on the way.

The beautifully rich vocabulary used by May in this book transport you to the island. You can hear the screaming of the gulls, taste the freshness of the illegally acquired salmon and smell the saltiness of the sea. Above all, you can sense the hopelessness of a community made up of people that are jealous of Fin, yet angry that he left them, and totally despairing over the way their lives have ended up being the same as those of their parents before them.

Peter May is another excellent Scottish crime writer. I suggest you get your hands on a copy of this book as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed.

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
March 2011

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 1/01/2012 08:40