- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: SilverOak; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781454901273
- ISBN-13: 978-1454901273
- ASIN: 1454901276
- Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 787 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Blackhouse: A Novel Hardcover – October 2, 2012
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*Starred Review* Scottish novelist May (whose series include the Enzo Files, starring a Scottish forensic scientist working in France) starts a projected trilogy, again with a Scottish sleuth, with a shotgun blast of a debut. Two bodies are found hanging from trees: one in Edinburgh, the other on the Isle of Lewis, the most northerly isle in the Outer Hebrides. Edinburgh cop Fin Macleod, originally from Lewis, is assigned to the case for no more reason than that he speaks Gaelic. Two narratives vie with each other. One involves Macleod’s struggles with confronting people whom he left behind years ago. The other, which eventually informs the first, is Macleod’s first-person memories of his life on the island. The reader knows that Macleod, against all odds, overcame poverty and bad schooling to win a spot at the University of Glasgow and that he threw it all away in his sophomore year and became a cop, a decision he’s regretted ever since. The two narratives are brilliantly executed until they converge in an absolute stunner of an ending. The isolation and desolation of Lewis is an apt metaphor for Macleod. For once in crime fiction, a detective confronting demons from his past is not merely a stock plot device. May gives it an urgency that, by novel’s end, makes perfect sense. A gripping plot, pitch-perfect characterization, and an appropriately bleak setting drive this outstanding series debut. --Connie Fletcher
Top customer reviews
Detective Inspector Fin Macleod is sent from Attenborough to investigate a murder on the remote Scottish island where he was born and raised. He doesn't want to go. He struggled so hard eighteen years ago to get away from his insular, claustrophobic homeland, the place where his parents died, his aunt died, and something inside him died.
The Isle of Lewis is windswept and battered by the sea. Fin's interviews with old friends and other locals reveal hard lives, wasted lives and lives beset by tragedy.
The arrogant chief investigating officer doesn't want Fin's help on this case, but Fin goes his own way. As he works on the mystery surrounding the murder, many of the mysteries and perplexities of his own past become clarified.
Peter May beautifully captures the brooding, weirdly beautiful landscapes of the Outer Hebrides. Much of the story revolves around the barbaric, centuries-old ritual followed by the locals of hunting the nesting gannet on the desolate island of An Sgeir. This treacherous and remote rock is the setting of the most dramatic scenes in the book. The hunt is in fact an ancient Hebridean tradition, and it's vividly brought to life in Peter May's account.
I found this book fascinating. It crosses the boundaries of several literary genres to create a rich reading experience.
Our Library mystery group LOVED this book. Some are already reading the next in the series.
Given the similarities of the two murders Fin is sent to investigate the murder on the island, his former homeland he left eighteen years ago never to return. Thus begins the story as Fin returns to confront his tortured past, one he has chosen to forget, In the process of solving the crime Fin must dredge up past memories and friendships and relive the pain he has ignored for eighteen years.
This is an extremely melancholy story written in an excellent manner, very atmospheric and full of personal conflict. I totally enjoyed this book and look forward to the next two volumes in the trilogy. This is an excellent mystery set in an atmosphere that totally absorbs the reader. Well done Mr. May!