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Blackhouse by Peter May

Blackhouse (edition 2011)

by Peter May

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972838,867 (3.99)136
Authors:Peter May
Info:Quercus (2011), Edition: UK airports ed, Paperback, 432 pages
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The Blackhouse by Peter May


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Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
The Black House, although the first in a trilogy, wasn’t my first book by Peter May so I knew that I could expect both a good story and good writing from this author. The setting and atmosphere are darkly haunting and slightly chilling, and blend well with the brutality of the murder that Fin MacLeod has been sent back to Lewis Island to investigate. As Fin investigates, the reader is taken on a journey back into Fin’s past and his reasons for leaving the island that he grew up on.

I totally enjoyed this rich story that was scattered with old skeletons and dark secrets. The close knit community added a touch of suspicion and isolation, while the island itself comes across as a land of stark beauty with a powerful hold on its inhabitants. I am looking forward to seeing where the next book in this trilogy takes us. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 21, 2017 |
There is something alluring (at least for me) with crime novels placed on islands, especially those far up in the north, with bad weather and people that have known each other for generations. I mean it wouldn't be the same if it would be set on a Caribbean paradise, for instance, who would ever want to leave in the first place. Too idyllic, I prefer more these dark and rugged places with old secrets.

Fin Macleod (From the clan Macleod…sorry I'm a child of the 80s and I love the Highlander) returns home to Isle of Lewis 18 years after he left the island to work as a police. An old classmate has been murdered and the murders similarities with a previous murder in Edinburg. But this is not an easy case to take on for Fin. He most both confront people and events from his past and at the same time find a killer who could be one of the people he used to know.

Peter May has written a very intense and dark crime novel. As we follow Fin in present day trying to find a killer we also get flashbacks to the past, to the events in his childhood that led to Fin, in the end, leaving the Isle of Lewis. This is one of the best crime novels I have read in a while, with a nerve-racking ending. Highly recommended! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
Black house
Fin MacInnes is a police officer in Edinburgh who is dispatched to Stornoway to investigate a murder near his birth place. It appears to be a copy cat murder, similar to one he is investigating in Edinburgh.
I found this hard to read because it is a long slog, there is a lot of dreary weather, sea and wind. Flashbacks to his childhood, the death of his parents, school and locals populate the story. His marriage is strained by the hit and run death of his eight year old son just a month previously. A lot of time is spent describing Fin's voyage with 11 others to a distant island to harvest 2,000 gugas which are the young of gannets. The trip is an important turning point in the story but we don't find this out until the final pages.
I found the outcome very disappointing after investing so much time in the narrative. I don't think I will ready another May murder mystery. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Mar 12, 2017 |
First of the "Lewis Trilogy", set on the island of Lewis, in the Hebrides. A gruesome murder occurs in Edinburgh; there is then one with the same modus operandi on Lewis. Is it the same killer or a copycat? And why on an isolated spot with conservative, Gaelic-speaking inhabitants? DI Fin Macleod is sent to investigate, as he is from there originally. There are really two narratives: one being the murder investigation and the other, an interspersing of Fin's childhood and adolescence until he leaves the island to attend college on the mainland--Scotland. He breaks all ties until he returns then as part of his investigation, resumes them. An annual trip to the rock "An Sgair", which can be a kin of coming-of-age to older teenaged boys coming along figures strongly in the story and the events on it are clues to the solution. A deftly written story with insights into the culture and language. I'm glad a short guide to pronunciation of some of the Gaelic names and expressions was included. ( )
  janerawoof | Nov 8, 2016 |
The Blackhouse by Peter May, first of a trilogy, isn't really so much a police procedural, as I'd expected, as a dark psychological study set in the Outer Hebrides. The island of Lewis provides an inhospitable setting and the author spends a lot of time describing the life, countryside and weather of this isolated part of the world. I learned more than I wished about the annual guga (bird) hunt.

In some ways, The Blackhouse, has a Scandi-Noir flavour. Nearly all the characters have secrets, especially our protagonist, Fin Macleod, an Edinburgh policeman who grew up on the secluded island.

Fin's story unravels very slowly and is told via
alternating chapters of the present in third voice and his past in first voice. This device worked fairly well and didn't impede the flow of the narrative for me.

I was disappointed with the outcome of Fin's story, feeling May relied on a too-often used backstory. Also, what should have been a suspenseful ending was too quick and easy in my opinion.

Overall, I liked, rather than loved, The Blackhouse, partly because I never developed a strong connection to the any of the characters. I'll likely try the next book, The Lewis Man, since I've already invested time with the author, who I found slightly long-
winded. ( )
  Zumbanista | Nov 3, 2016 |
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That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
- A. E. Housman, “Blue Remembered Hills”
Tri rudan a thig gun iarraidh: an t-eagal, an t-eudach’s an gaol.
(Three things that come without asking: fear, love and jealousy.)
- Gaelic proverb
For Stephen, with whom I travelled those happy highways.
First words
They are just kids.
Marsaili and I went down to the beach at Port of Ness. We picked our way in the dark through the rocks at the south end of it, to a slab of black gneiss worn smooth by aeons, hidden away from the rest of the world by layers of rock that appeared to have been cut into giant slices, stood on end, then tipped over to lie in skewed stacks. Cliffs rose up above us to a night sky of infinite possibilities. The tide was out, but we could hear the sea breathing gently on the shore. A warm breeze rattled the sun-dried heather that grew in ragged, earthy clumps on shelves and ledges in the cliff.
...someone had a fire lit in their hearth. That rich, toasty, unmistakable smell of peat smoke carried to him on the breeze. It took him back twenty, thirty years. It was extraordinary, he thought, how much he had changed in that time, and how little things had changed in this place where he had grown up. He felt like a ghost haunting his own past, walking the streets of his childhood.
... there was an unspoken bond between them all. It was a very exclusive club whose membership extended to a mere handful of men going back over five hundred years. You only had to have been out to An Sgeir one time to qualify for membership, proving your courage and strength, and your ability to endure against the elements. Their predecessors had made the journey in open boats on mountainous seas because they had to, to survive, to feed hungry villagers. Now they went out in a trawler to bring back a delicacy much sought after by well-fed islanders. But their stay on the rock was no less hazardous, no less demanding than it had been for all those who had gone before.
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Book description
A brutal killing takes place on the isle of Lewis, Scotland — a land of harsh beauty and inhabitants of deep-rooted faith.


Detective Fin Macleod is sent from Edinburgh to investigate. For Lewis-born Macleod, the case represents a journey both home and into his past.


Something lurks within the close-knit island community. Something sinister.


As Fin investigates, old skeletons begin to surface, and soon he, the hunter becomes the hunted.

The isle of Lewis is the most desolate and harshly beautiful place in Scotland, where the brutality of daily life is outweighed only by people's fear of God. When a bloody murder on the island bears the hallmarks of a similar slaying in Edinburgh, police detective Fin Macleod is dispatched north to investigate. Since Fin himself was raised on the island, the investigation represents not only a journey home but a voyage into his past, as he attempts to rediscover the life and people he left behind.

Each year twelve island men, among them Fin's boyhood friends, sail out to a remote and treacherous rock called An Sgeir on a perilous quest to slaughter nesting seabirds. No longer necessary for survival, this rite of passage is fiercely defended against all the demands of modern morality. But for Fin the hunt harbours a horrific memory which might, after all this time, demand an even greater sacrifice.

The Blackhouse is a crime novel of rare power and vision. It is a murder mystery that explores the shadows in our souls, set in a place where the past is ever near the surface, and life blurs into myth and history.

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When a grisly murder occurs on a Scottish island, Edinburgh detective Fin Macleod must confront his past if he is ever going to discover if the killing has a connection to another one that took place on the mainland.

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