When a grisly murder occurs on the Isle of Lewis that has the hallmarks of a killing he’s investigating on the mainland, Edinburgh detective and native islander Fin Macleod is dispatched to see if the two deaths are connected. His return after nearly two decades not only represents a police investigation, but a voyage into his own troubled past.
As Fin reconnects with the places and people of his tortured childhood, he feels the island once again asserting its grip on his psyche. And every step forward in solving the murder takes him closer to a dangerous confrontation with the tragic events of the past that shaped–and nearly destroyed–Fin’s life.
Synopsis from paperback book, 396 pages, copyright 2009 and published by Quercus.
Lately I have discovered some great authors. I am so thrilled to have come across Tana French and now Peter May!
I am over the moon to have stumbled upon Peter May’s The Blackhouse. What a great book! The Black House is book one of the Lewis trilogy. The Chessmen and The Lewis Man are books 2 and 3 which I am looking forward to reading soon!
The Blackhouse just works all around. Here’s why:
The best part of any murder mystery is who done it and why. And without a doubt, The Blackhouse has a great plot.
The Blackhouse gives you an impressive story line set in the Outer Hebrides.
Fin Macleod returns to the Isle of Lewis after being away from his home town of Crobost for nearly twenty years to investigate a gruesome murder that resembles another murder case that he is working on in Edinburgh.
Childhood friends of Fin are interviewed for the investigation.
What drew me into The Blackhouse was the setting. The bleakness of the Isle of Lewis combined with the intriguing story line just makes it a fantastic read.
Intricately plotted, what won me over are the surprises in the book. As the story unfolds there are some surprising twist and turns as we build up to the end.
I really enjoyed the balance between character driven elements and solving the murder.
May’s writing style is brilliant!
The Blackhouse is beautifully written. You don’t usually get this kind of wonderful writing in crime fiction.
May’s writing is so fluid that it pulls you into the story. It’s not a rapid read like a traditional thriller, though you want to continue reading because it’s compelling.
The tone set for the book is quite depressing in parts but it’s evocative. What I like about May’s style is that it feels so real. May transports you to the Outer Hebrides and you can just feel like you are there in that bleak yet beautiful place.
Also, when Fin flash back to his childhood memories, you can empathize with him as you explore his miserable childhood. Yet at the same time, May also creates excitement and intrigue along with the melancholy. May moves seamlessly between the present and the past.
May’s insertion of to the Guga hunt (young gannets or sea fowl) an annual tradition that the men of Ness of the Isle of Lewis perform, was an interesting aspect of the story that I enjoyed. I didn’t know about this hunting tradition. May richly detailed the harsh and unforgiving seas and the most desolate island in an awesome way that I felt like I was there.
Although this book is about a murder mystery, it is the characters in the book that makes it so much more. I really liked that it was strongly character driven. Fear not, the murder does get solved!
- Fin Macleod
May does a great job in developing the main protagonist Fin.
Told in most parts of Fin’s life in flash backs, you get to discover Fin’s miserable up bringing. The death of his parents left Fin an orphan. He was raised by his aunt who seem uninterested in him and showed him no love.
I love discovering Fin’s past, especially how he met his first love, Marsaili, on the first day of school. I liked the contrast of happy memories dotted in the with the miserable and depressing times in his boyhood.
The other characters also felt very realistic and believable.
What a great exciting ending!
I loved the build up to the end. Also it’s exciting not to know who did it until the end. We have some vague ideas but no real clues were given but the possibilities were limited anyhow.
The story does have a closure and it came together well. We end with finding out who the murderer is at the annual guga harvest on the barren island of An Sgeir.
I liked that some of the twists were revealed at the dramatic end.
My Final Thoughts
I loved The Blackhouse for its character driven murder mystery. This was a a gripping and compelling read that will keep you guessing about the murderer until the end.
It was beautifully written, with well developed characters and set in the Isle of Lewis, Scotland.
I am eager to get back to the Isle of Lewis in the sequel The Chessmen!
I highly recommend The Blackhouse to people who enjoy intelligent crime fiction.