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The Blackhouse by Peter May
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The Blackhouse

by Peter May

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Lewis Trilogy (1)

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1,3001069,426 (3.97)201
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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English (103)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
I was first attracted to this book due to the setting, in the Outer Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland, specifically the Isle of Lewis. I was hopeful that there would be fabulous descriptions of this wild and at times treacherous coastal landscape, and I was not disappointed. But I found much more to like about this book than the author’s talent in describing the natural landscape. The author demonstrates great skills at character development, and at building a multi-layered and engrossing plot.

In Fionnlagh Macleod the author has given us a complex man, a detective in Glasgow who has mostly escaped his memories of his childhood growing up on the Isle of Lewis. We hear a great deal of detail about Fin’s early life, from his first days at school where he was the sole child who spoke only Gaelic, and had to quickly begin to learn English; to the loss of his parents at a young age; his teen years where he was guided toward a university education by a friend’s father, and his later career in policing in Glasgow. The story about the current murder investigation alternates a great deal with these back stories, so much so that this seems every bit as much a coming-of-age story as it is a mystery and detective one. And as the story unfolds, we learn more and more about how the events of the past are still having a tremendous and sometimes horrible impact on the present.

I am very glad to have found this new-to-me trilogy, and will be looking forward to the next one. ( )
  jhoaglin | Aug 21, 2019 |
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 confronts 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 | May 19, 2019 |
The Blackhouse by Peter May

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the first of a series set on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Detective inspector Fin Macleod is sent from Edinburgh to the island to investigate a murder. Sounds straightforward, an ordinary police procedural, but the novel is far from that.

Peter May seems, in his novels, to like the theme of Deal With The Past. Unless it is dealt with honestly at the time it will indeed come back to haunt, destroy or radically change people. So the novel is a tightly written, well plotted story with solid 3D characters and Fin Mcleod indeed finds that the past is not just going to bite him, it's going to kill him.

A depressing read in some ways - I wonder how the people of Lewis regard their depiction - Fin's early experiences and mistakes form his character. Can he overcome those disadvantages and strike out again to a better future? We are left with the hope that he can and the second novel in the series becomes a must read. Clever Author!

Peter May provides an excellent read. ( )
  p.d.r.lindsay | Jan 13, 2019 |
Fin Macleod grew up on the Isle of Lewis, a remote outpost in the Hebrides off the coat of Scotland. His childhood wasn't exactly idyllic and he couldn't wait to bolt for the mainland and university, thinking he'd never return.

And yet here he is, a policeman from Edinburgh sent back to the island of his birth to investigate whether a recent brutal killing there is related to a similar murder in Edinburgh. Solving the crime will involve confronting old ghosts and nemeses, both alive and dead.

The descriptions of the setting are fabulous. I understand more now about what life on a remote Scottish Island is like than I could have gotten from any nonfiction guidebook. The bleakness of the physical scenery is matched by the bleakness in the lives of the people who continue to live there despite the lack of modern amenities and prospects.

The mystery is absorbing, though I felt the ending relied a bit too much on the surprise twist without doing the foundational work to support it. And I've probably read enough about the annual harvesting of young birds from a smaller and even more remote island to last me a lifetime. Some of it is necessary for plot purposes, but I think it could have been pared down a bit without harming the book's structure.

This is the first in an apparent trilogy. I didn't read anything to actively discourage me from reading the remainder, but I'm not ready to haunt the library for No. 2 just yet. So many books, so little time. ( )
1 vote rosalita | Dec 2, 2018 |
Fin McLeod has been on leave since the death of his son. Now his marriage is on the skids. He is called back to his home, the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides, to investigate a crime with the same M.O. as one he'd been investigating in Edinburgh before his leave. He must face the ghosts of his past in the course of the investigation. While the story ended up coming together, I really did not like the amount of time spent on the past story in contrast to the present investigation which received very little attention. I understand why the author to his time with the backstory and it does provide more insight into Fin for future installments, but it took a little too much time to do so. ( )
  thornton37814 | Aug 9, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Mayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mioni, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
First words
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.
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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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