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Blackhouse by Peter May
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Blackhouse (edition 2011)

by Peter May

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4734321,857 (4.03)55
Member:Sonny_Bramblett
Title:Blackhouse
Authors:Peter May
Info:Quercus (2011), Edition: UK airports ed, Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Blackhouse by Peter May

  1. 20
    Raven Black by Ann Cleeves (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Similar settings; Shetlands/ Hebrides
  2. 00
    Naming the Bones by Louise Welsh (tina1969)
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English (42)  French (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
This book starts with a detective that gets sent back to his hometown to investigate a murder because it is similar to a case he was working on. The story starts as a relatively typical mystery, but soon evolves into more of the telling of the life story of the detective. I really enjoyed the book. It is a bit hard to read at times because of the subject matter, but it is worth it. Recommended. ( )
  booksgaloreca | Jul 12, 2014 |
DS Fin MacLeod is sent to the island where he was born and grew up when a murder there is eerily similar to one he’d been working on in the mainland of Scotland. He’s a mess, when he arrives, due to the death of his son and the subsequent breakup of his marriage. He hadn’t wanted to go but it was go or lose his job, so he went.

From the moment of his arrival, his childhood memories and connections to the murder victim and all the suspects force him to remember things from his childhood he’d buried and did not want to resurrect now. But the longer he stays, the worse it gets, and the more we learn of the murder victim, Fin, and the others on the island.

This is a powerful novel, not easy to read or stomach in parts, Fin comes across as a not very likeable fellow. But as we learn more of his childhood, we see how his past has formed him and how he’s had to deal with it.

The ending is very emotional, and I’d advise abuse victims that there are lots of triggers especially in the second half of the book. ( )
  majkia | Jun 30, 2014 |
A place I've never seen before became vivid in my mind through Peter May’s writing. Most of the book is set on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Sense of place was stunning.

"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." p.176

The title has reference to a type of house on Lewis. The houses are mainly either the old-style blackhouses (rock walls with thatch roofs) or whitehouses (concrete).

A pivotal part of the action occurs on a tiny, treacherous island of rock, forty miles from Lewis, called An Sgeir in the book and Sula Sgeir if you research it online. Here, a small group of men annually harvest birds according to the government quota.

” . . . 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.” p.168

What about the story, though? He pulled that off, too. At first, the point at which the plot turned put me off. Nah, that couldn’t happen. But as I considered it, I decided that I’m no judge of such things. So, yes, I say – it is a good story, wonderfully descriptive, with fully realized characters. ( )
1 vote countrylife | Jun 18, 2014 |
The Outer Hebrides are pretty special and the book does them some justice. And the web of human characters is well crafted - I enjoyed getting to know them very much. I like the way that the place with it's geography and history, and the people and their histories combine to underlie the tale. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
It's not very often that I put a book down without finishing it, but I just could not get interested or care enough about either Fin, or the mystery to read it. I know it is an award winner, but I am finding that winning an award doesn't automatically make it a book I will like. Example: I did managed to finish Expats but only to give it the lowest rating I'd ever given before this one. This one will go to the library booksale. ( )
  mysterymax | Jun 8, 2014 |
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For Stephen, with whom I travelled those happy highways.
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They are just kids.
Quotations
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.

A MURDER

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

A SECRET

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

A TRAP

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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