The Blackhouse is the first in The Lewis Man trilogy by Peter May. Set on the Isle of Lewis, the most remote of the Scottish islands, the novel weaves past and present together as Edinburgh detective Finn McLeod returns to the island after a sixteen year absence. His only other return was a brief visit to attend his aunt's funeral.
After investigating a brutal murder in Edinburgh, Finn is sent to the Isle of Lewis to see if he can make a connection to a hauntingly similar murder there. He is wary of returning to the island and confronting old friends and enemies, and he is not welcomed by the DCI in charge of the investigation.
The victim, as it turns out, is someone Finn knew well--the island bully and bad boy. As Finn investigates (he already feels sure that this murder is a copycat, not connected to the Edinburgh case, but he keeps that to himself), he finds himself returning to childhood memories.
Alternating between the first person perspective of Finn's memories and the third person perspective dealing with the investigation, it is clear that the memories will somehow become crucial to solving the case.
I'm not going to go into the plot any further, but it is a rewarding one with some surprises. The characters are three dimensional and complex, the atmosphere and landscape are beautifully depicted, and the traditions and culture of the isolated island community are skillfully related.
This is not simply a murder mystery or a crime novel--it is much more. I will be looking for the sequel and some of the other novels by Peter May. Highly recommended.
Some information about Peter May (via this source):
Peter May is the multi award-winning author of:
- the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland;
- the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell;
- the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France;
- and several standalone books, the latest of which is Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK).
Every book in the series has won prestigious awards.
A beautiful video of the Isle of Lewis:
Mystery/Suspense/Psychological. 2013. Print Length: 401 pages