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The Lewis Man (Hardcover)
Peter May is the first author I’d ever met who came to a signing in a kilt. He’s a tall Scotsman, but his first series was set in China and his second was set in France. I nagged him (as did other folks) to write about Scotland, and he has. When he drops by I’ll be able to thank him.
The first in the “Lewis” trilogy is The Blackhouse, where we meet Fin Macleod, a detective inspector sent to his home island of Lewis in the outer Hebrides to investigate a murder that seems suspiciously like one that has happened in Edinburgh, where he’s living now. Still reeling from the death of his son, Fin isn’t sure he’s up to the task, especially since his memories of his time in Crobost. But it gets him out of the house and away from his wife, so he goes. The man who has been murdered was a bully back when Fin was in school, and he’s not entirely surprised Angel’s come to a bad end, but the more he investigates, the stranger things appear.
The second in the trilogy is The Lewis Man. Fin is now living on the island, rebuilding his parents’ home, when a body is discovered in the peat. At first it’s believed to be an ancient mummy, but closer examination reveals a tattoo of Elvis on the arm, so obviously the body’s been in there a much shorter time than originally believed. Fin becomes drawn into the investigation when it turns out that the dead body is related to his old flame’s father.
The third one in the series, The Chess Men, won’t be out until at least next year and I am wildly curious to see what happens there. This is a beautifully dark series, and the people are shaped by their culture and the unrelenting weather. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the wind itself is a character in the books, and Peter May’s writing makes me want to visit these harsh and unforgiving islands in the worst way. Despite the bleakness of the countryside and the resigned acceptance of so many people making what they can of their lives, there’s a fierce independence and resolute strength that just shines through, and I fiind that I truly care what happens to Fin and Marsaili and George and young Fionnlagh.
It’s interesting to note that, in The Blackhouse, the book is written in third person for modern events, but when seeing what happened in the past, we’re viewing it through young Fin’s eyes in the first person. In The Lewis Man, the same is true except our portal into the past is from Marsaili’s father’s point of view. It shouldn’t work, it should be choppy and disruptive, but Peter May is such a skilled storyteller that it flows beautifully and smoothly. And even when things are darkest – and they are, frequently – there’s that thread of strength and hope and determination, regardless of the time frame, that makes these books incredibly powerful.
I can’t wait to read The Chess Men. And I can’t help wondering if Peter will show up in a kilt. Probably not, because it is only a stock signing (so you will reserve your books, right?), but hey, I gotta have dreams, right?— Fran
Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times raved: "Peter May is a writer I'd follow to the ends of the earth." Among the many honors received, The Blackhouse, the first novel in May's acclaimed Lewis trilogy, won the Barry and Crime Thriller Hound awards.
In The Lewis Man, the second book of the trilogy, Fin Macleod has returned to the Isle of Lewis, the storm-tossed, wind-scoured outer Hebridean island where he was born and raised. Having left behind his adult life in Edinburgh--including his wife and his career in the police force--the former Detective Inspector is intent on repairing past relationships and restoring his parents' derelict cottage. His plans are interrupted when an unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog. The only clue to its identity is a DNA match to a local farmer, the now-senile Tormod Macdonald--the father of Fin's childhood sweetheart, Marsaili--a man who has claimed throughout his life to be an only child, practically an orphan. Reluctantly drawn into the investigation, Fin uncovers deep family secrets even as he draws closer to the killer who wishes to keep them hidden.
Already an international bestseller and winner of numerous awards, including France's Prix des Lecteurs du Telegramme, The Lewis Man has the lyrical verve of Ian Rankin and the gutsy risk-taking of Benjamin Black. As fascinating and forbidding as the Hebridean landscape, the book (according to The Times) "throbs with past and present passions, jealousies, suspicions and regrets; the emotional secrets of the bleak island are even deeper than its peat bog.
About the Author
Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BBC, he quit journalism and during the high-octane 15 years that followed, became one of Scotland's most successful television dramatists. He created three prime-time TV drama series, presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland as script editor and producer, and worked on more than 1,000 episodes of ratings-topping drama before deciding to leave television to return to his first love, writing novels. His passion for detailed research for his books has taken him behind the closed doors of the Chinese Police force, to the kitchen of a 3-star Michelin chef, and down the Paris catacombs; he has worked as an online private detective, was inducted as a Chevalier of the Grand Order of Gaillac wines and earned honorary membership of the Chinese Crime Writers' Association. He has won several literature awards in France and received the USA's Barry Award for The Blackhouse, the first in his internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy.
“As good as its superb predecessor . . . not only a good mystery, but also a moving and evocative portrayal of a place where the unforgiving weather is matched only by the church's harsh patronage.” —Laura Wilson, The Guardian
"The depiction of the island atmosphere is as impressive as the action." —Julia Handford, The Sunday Telegraph
“In mood and texture, Peter May’s novels, set on the Isle of Lewis, are essentially Nordic, and he bears comparison with some of the best writers from those cold desolate climes . . . the plot throbs with past and present passions, jealousies, suspicions and regrets; the emotional secrets of the bleak island are even deeper than its peat bog.” —Marcel Berlins, The Times
“May is a masterful story-teller. He skillfully combines pathos and the themes of identity, lost love and family ties to create an exciting, page-turning thriller." —Laura Wurzal, The Irish Examiner
“The strength and beauty of this book lies in the exploration of the relationships between people. The characters are beautifully drawn and so true to life . . . The plot is intricate and cleverly fitted together . . . I absolutely loved this second book in the series and can safely state that May is currently unveiling a cracking series.” —CrimeSquad
“Every bit as excellent as The Blackhouse . . . Peter May weaves his wonderful magic and the story unfolds before you in vivid detail.” —Amanda C M Gillies, Eurocrime
“Spell-binding . . . the book’s a delight: bringing people and place alive in equal measure.” —Jim Kelly, ShotsMag
“Like all the best crime fiction its interest is not restricted to the investigation . . . the scenes set in the orphanage in the Dean Village are moving . . . crime novels may be primarily entertainments, but the best ones always offer something more. Fin’s investigation of this long-buried crime forces him to make a reassessment of his own life.” —Allan Massie, The Scotsman