The Lewis Man by Peter May

The Lewis Man
by
Peter May

Rating:

When villagers on the Isle of Lewis discover a perfectly preserved body in a peat bog, officials assume it’s from another time, long gone. They think they are looking at ancient remains, for bog bodies usually date back centuries, if not thousands of years. But when clues point to a violent and more recent death, investigators know they have a murder case on their hands. Is there enough evidence to identify the body and find his killer?

Fin Macleod has quit his police detective job in Edinburgh. The death of his young son, Robbie marked the end of his marriage and now he returns to his Lewis home, hoping life on the island will help.  And hoping, too, that he might fix his broken relationship with Marsaili and become a real father to their son Fionnlagh. Once a detective, always a detective, however, and he soon discovers shocking connections between the bog body and the people close to Fin.  Is there enough time to find the truth before the official DCI from Inverness arrives?

The Lewis Man is the excellent second book in The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May. It begins nine months after the conclusion of The Blackhouse, a gripping and dramatic murder mystery surrounding the death of Fin’s classmate, schoolyard bully Angel Macritchie.

This story is focuses on Tormod Macdonald, Marsaili’s father, who is suffering from dementia and trying hard to hold on to details about both his present and past. Fin is sure this information will help solve the mystery of the bog body.

The Lewis Man is a lot more than a mystery as the reader learns more about the characters from The Blackhouse and the hard life on the islands of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. The influence of weather and landscape figures prominently with relentless rain, wind, an imposing sea and the constant shifting of clouds and sun. It’s a beautiful but difficult place to live, yet villagers hang onto their lifestyle and traditions with proud stubbornness.

Fin’s character develops even more in book two, shedding light on the reasons behind his loneliness, his loss of faith and need to find a place called home. As in The Blackhouse, May includes themes of friendship, love and religion and introduces new subjects, including family compromises, obligations and caring for loved ones with dementia.

I enjoyed reading The Lewis Man very much.  Although it’s always best to read the books in order, The Lewis Man could be read independently, as important details from The Blackhouse are clearly explained. It may be harder to understand and appreciate the character development, however, without knowing events and dynamics of the first book. I’ll definitely be reading The Chessmen, the final book of the trilogy and look forward to Fin’s now hopeful search for happiness.

I recommend The Lewis Man to readers who like mysteries set in a dramatic place and stories about characters and their search for happiness.

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Want to start from the beginning? Click here for a review of The Blackhouse.

The Blackhouse by Peter May


The Blackhouse
by
Peter May

Rating:

Edinburgh detective Fin Macleod tried to escape a troubled life on the Isle of Lewis, but now he’s been pulled back home to investigate a copycat murder.  Set in the small village called Crobost, an isolated point of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, Fin must confront his painful past, broken friendships and loss.  What follows is an excellent crime story, the first in The Lewis Trilogy, and one which is clouded by Fin’s conflicted character and Scotland’s ever-changing landscape.

The Crobost victim is schoolmate Angel Macritchie, the playground bully who preyed on the weak.  No different now, most in town were not sorry to see him gone, but his brutal murder leaves many questions.  Fin’s investigation is intertwined with the people he knew on the island, and he can’t avoid facing his boyhood friend, Artair Maccines and the girl they rivaled over, Marsaili Macdonald.

Clues point to several suspects, whose stories help depict what life is like in this treeless and remote land, where young and restless teenagers face bleak futures as crofters or mariners.  One of these stories is the ritual of the guga harvest, an annual trip to the rock island called An Sgeir, where a selected group of men spend two weeks killing young gannets to bring back to their people.  The trip through rough seas is dangerous, the time on the rock is treacherous and is a rite of passage for those who are chosen.  Reference to an unspoken tragedy leads the reader through an additional investigation of what happened the year Fin was selected to go.

May tells the story, bit by bit, alternating between the present and Fin’s first-person telling of the events that drove him off the island years earlier.  As Fin uncovers motives and truths, they lead to an incomprehensible finish, explained only in the book’s final pages and suggesting future relationships between its characters.

Mystery and crime readers will enjoy this interesting plot and setting.  I recommend The Blackhouse to these readers and anyone who likes conflicted characters and complicated relationships.  Enjoyed and highly rated by everyone in my library Whodunits Book Club, we are looking forward to completing the series!

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