Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Blackhouse, by Peter May

The Blackhouse,

by Peter May

Published by Quercus

This is the first part of the Lewis Trilogy and the only one I've read so far, though I have down-loaded the others.  The Blackhouse is Tartan Noir - very, very Noir, so be prepared for some gruesome twists and turns.  A man is discovered hanged and mutilated in a boat shed at a small village on the Isle of Lewis.  Fin Macleod is sent to investigate, partly because it's a copy-killing of a murder he's been investigating in Edinburgh, and partly because Crobost is his home village.  The timing is bad - Fin is grieving for his young son, killed in an accident, and for the marriage that couldn't survive the loss.

Fin has rarely been back to his roots, for reasons that gradually become very clear in the novel.  But, as he investigates the brutal murder, he has to confront the fall-out from things that happened in his childhood - a youthful obsession with Marsaili, now married to his old friend Artair - and the strange events that happened on a coming-of-age trip to cull the 'guga' on a remote rocky island - events that have had long-reaching consequences.

The claustrophobic nature of the Hebridean island is perfectly evoked in the novel - you can smell the peat and feel the constant Atlantic wind tugging at your hair.  The roots of the crime lie in the nature of the island community, with its gossiping tongues and bleak Calvinist values, as well as strong codes of honour that protect both the innocent and the guilty.

Peter May is a Scottish author, born in Glasgow, who has written literally hundreds of television plays and episodes for series and also has a dozen best-selling thrillers on the shelves as well.  That kind of experience shows in the taut dialogue and the spare writing - not a wasted word. Definitely a must-read!

The Blackhouse, Peter May, Quercus


  1. Sounds compelling.Now I want to read it. I had not heard of him before. I think his experience with drama scripts will influence the pace of his stories. Great cover. wx

  2. Yes, I agree Wendy. You can see the inflluence of all that TV writing in his choice of locations and the dialogue. Just read the other 2 in the trilogy and they're all brilliant!