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The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy) by Peter May
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The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy) (edition 2011)

by Peter May

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3062536,480 (4.14)20
Member:Amsa1959
Title:The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy)
Authors:Peter May
Info:Quercus (2011), Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Collections:Your library, Crime
Rating:*****
Tags:audio, 2013, Scotland

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The Lewis Man by Peter May

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This second novel of the Lewis Trilogy opens with the discovery of a body in a peat bog. Fin Macleod, a retired police detective who has returned to the Isle of Lewis, the Hebridean island of his birth, is drawn into the murder investigation when it is determined that the body has DNA links to Tormod Mackenzie, the father of Marsaili, Fin’s first love.

The book has two points of view. Part is narrated in third person, focusing on Fin; other sections are in first person with Tormod as the narrator. This latter point of view is interesting because Tormod suffers from dementia. We learn about his life from his memories of the distant past. Some of the suspense in the novel is derived from our wondering whether Fin will be able to uncover that past without Tormod’s assistance. The problem is that Tormod’s memories are formed into such clear and detailed narratives; this hardly seems believable in a person suffering from progressive dementia.

One aspect of the novel that bothered me is the lengthy descriptions of the landscape and weather. Here’s an example: “The night was filled with the whispering sound of the sea. It sighed, as if relieved by the removal of its obligation to maintain an angry demeanour. A three-quarters moon rose into the blackness above it and cast its light upon the water and the sand, a light that threw shadows and obscured truths in half-lit faces. The air was soft, and pregnant with the prospect of coming summer, a poetry in the night, carried in the shallow waves that burst like bubbling Hippocrene all along the beach’ (252). The descriptions are poetic, but when virtually every chapter includes such descriptions, they soon become tedious. The author is certainly trying to establish the beauty and desolation of the Outer Hebrides, but so many references to the weather are not necessary to do so.

It is best if one has read the first book in the trilogy, The Blackhouse, because characters from it reappear and their stories are further developed. Fin’s relationships with Marsaili and her son Fionnlagh are better understood if one knows what transpired earlier. One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is these relationships. The past weighs heavily on Tormod but it does as well in Fin’s life.

Besides the weight of the past, this book also touches in the mistreatment of children. Fin’s childhood was less than ideal and Tormod’s was even less so. The novel touches on "the homers" - children from broken homes who were relocated to foster families in the Hebrides.

The resolution relies too highly on coincidence. The number of characters who come together at the end is unbelievable. And the foreshadowing of Fin’s comment, “’I wish you hadn’t told him your dad’s name’” (279) doesn’t make the ending more credible.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series; this second one was less satisfying, but I will certainly read the third to find out how it all ends. ( )
  Schatje | Dec 10, 2014 |
The second book in this trilogy. As good as the first book, Blackhouse. In this book, Fin has left the police force and come back to Lewis. When a bog man is unearthed and DNA ties him to Fin's first love, Fin becomes part of the investigation. Once again the setting, both in geography and atmosphere play a huge part in this story. ( )
1 vote librarian1204 | Sep 29, 2014 |
The Lewis Man is the second book in author Peter May’s Isle of Lewis trilogy and is just as good as the first book, The Black House, which, in my humble opinion, was brilliant. Fin Macleod has quit the police force, left his wife and Edinborough, and returned to the island. A corpse is found in a bog and is at first thought to be ancient but it quickly becomes clear that it can’t be older than the ‘50s. DNA shows the man was somehow related to Tormod MacDonald, now suffering from dementia and father of Fin’s first love. Outside investigators have been called but Fin determines to solve the crime before they arrive to protect the people he loves.

The narrative is divided between Finn and Tormod who remembers vividly his early life and what led to the boy in the bog but has little grasp of what is happening in the present. Like the first book, The Lewis man is part coming-of-age tale, part literary fiction and part mystery. It also gives a fascinating look at the terrible treatment of orphans and throw-away children in the early part of the 20th c as well as a sensitive and sympathetic look at the effects of Alzeimer’s on the elderly. The characters here are all well-drawn and, again, the island itself plays an important role. This is a beautifully drawn lyrical tale of hard lives lived in hard places. It is almost unrelentingly bleak and dark and, as such, it will not appeal to everyone. But for those willing to embrace this remote landscape, it is a story well worth reading. The Lewis Man, although part of a series could be read as a standalone but I can’t imagine why would anyone want to do that. ( )
  lostinalibrary | Sep 20, 2014 |
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.

The Lewis Man, the second in the Lewis trilogy, set in the westernmost of the Outer Hebrides. It’s a sort of police procedural. One of the main characters, Fin McLeod, returns to the Isle of Lewis and unofficially investigates the murder of a man found somewhat preserved in the peat bogs. It sounds like an Elly Griffiths novel, but the story doesn’t dwell too much on forensic archaelogy. The mystery of the deceased is an important element of the story, but the story of Fin and his old girlfriend’s Marsaili’s father, suffering from advanced dementia and remembering his childhood, are the main elements of the story. While the first book in the trilogy focused on Fin’s childhood, this installment focuses on the childhood of someone from his parents’ generation.

The murder investigation doesn’t feel like the center of the story because May spends so much time on the characters childhoods on the island. He touches on how religion has worked in the last fifty years on the island and beyond, and its shameful part of the care of orphans and children from broken homes. Both books in the trilogy so far have been harrowing because of the harsh setting, the murders, and the heartbreaking childhoods of their main characters.

One side note: this particular entry in the series does not make me want to visit the Isle of Lewis: lashing rain, fierce winds, and cold do not sound appealing to me. Maybe the third installment in the series makes a better case for visiting. Regardless of the harsh scenery, I enjoyed this story.
  rkreish | Sep 2, 2014 |
Didn't enjoy it as much as 'The Black House' - maybe I just wasn't in the mood. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
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'That is wher they live:
not here and now, but where all happened once.'

From "The old fools" by Philip Larkin
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In memory of my dad
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0857382209, Hardcover)

A MAN WITH NO NAME. An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. A MAN WITH NO MEMORY. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald - now an elderly man suffering from dementia - has always claimed to be an only child. A MAN WITH NO CHOICE. When Tormod's family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald - now an elderly man suffering from dementia - has always claimed to be an only child. When Tormod's family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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