Summary and book reviews of The Blackhouse by Peter May

The Blackhouse

by Peter May

The Blackhouse by Peter May
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2012, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2014, 501 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Guidarini

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About this Book

Book Summary

From acclaimed author and television dramatist Peter May comes the first book in the Lewis Trilogy - a riveting mystery series set on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, a formidable and forbidding world where tradition rules and people adhere to ancient ways of life.

When a grisly murder occurs on the Isle of Lewis that has the hallmarks of a killing he's investigating on the mainland, Edinburgh detective and native islander Fin Macleod is dispatched to see if the two deaths are connected. His return after nearly two decades not only represents a police investigation, but a voyage into his own troubled past. As Fin reconnects with the places and people of his tortured childhood, he feels the island once again asserting its grip on his psyche. And every step forward in solving the murder takes him closer to a dangerous confrontation with the tragic events of the past that shaped - and nearly destroyed - Fin's life.

The Blackhouse is a thriller of rare power and vision that explores the darkest recesses of the soul.

PROLOGUE

They are just kids. Sixteen years old. Emboldened by alcohol, and hastened by the approaching Sabbath, they embrace the dark in search of love, and find only death. Unusually, there is just a light wind. And for once it is warm, like breath on the skin, caressing and seductive. A slight haze in the August sky hides the stars, but a three-quarter moon casts its pale, bloodless light across the compacted sand left by the outgoing tide. The sea breathes gently upon the shore, phosphorescent foam bursting silver bubbles over gold. The young couple hurries down the tarmac from the village above, blood pulsing in their heads like the beat of the waves.

Off to their left, the rise and fall of the water in the tiny harbour breaks the moonlight on its surface, and they hear the creaking of small boats straining at ropes, the soft clunk of wood on wood as they jostle for space, nudging each other playfully in the darkness.

Uilleam holds her hand in his, sensing her ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Peter May's tight prose and gorgeously rendered sense of place keeps the reader turning the pages. An accomplished writer of mysteries, at no time does Peter May let up the sense of suspense; this is a masterful work by a masterful writer, likely to hook mystery fans, especially those with an interest in the British Isles.   (Reviewed by Lisa Guidarini).

Full Review (846 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Abundant local color - much of it physically and psychologically wrenching, like the islanders' annual culling of seabirds, a primitive rite of passage - matches Macleod's tormented emotional landscape.

Library

Starred Review. Order, read, and pass it on! Well known for novels and television dramas, Scottish author May (Backlight Blue; Chinese Whispers) has written a mesmerizing new trilogy opener. May brings the story to a breathtaking conclusion with an astonishing twist at the end. Compare to Simon Beckett's Written in Bone for locale and Tana French for tone.

The Scotsman

I have only one criticism of this genuinely absorbing novel, and that is its final few pages. There is something about them that feels just a little rushed, a little cliched - as if the end credits threaten to roll just a few moments too soon and catch the writer off-guard. But the criticism is a minor one, and the rather abrupt conclusion certainly does not overshadow almost 400 pages of pitch-perfect dialogue and creepy, spine-tingling storytelling.

Reader Reviews

Emmy

When you "return home", you find what you left -- and more.
I wouldn't dream of giving away the ending, which was not at all what I expected it to be -- great mix of character development, police procedural and atmosphere. Want to read more by this guy!

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Beyond the Book

The Isle of Lewis

Outer Hebrides IslandsIf you look at a map of the United Kingdom, you'll find Scotland at the top and, to the west, a cluster of islands which are known as the Hebrides (pronounced heb-ree-dees). The islands are split into two groups - the Inner Hebrides and the Outer Hebrides. The islands in the Inner Hebrides lie close to the Scottish mainland, so close that a number of them are indistinguishable from the mainland in the map to the left. The Outer Hebrides are the chain of islands that lie further to the west, about 40 miles from the mainland; they stretch about 130 miles from top to bottom. Of the approximate 65 islands in the group, 15 are inhabited with a population of about 26,000, most of whom live on the Island of Lewis and Harris, which is the large ...

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