We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

Reviews of The Blackhouse by Peter May

The Blackhouse

by Peter May

The Blackhouse by Peter May X
The Blackhouse by Peter May
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2012, 368 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2014, 501 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Guidarini
Buy This Book

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 ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

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...continued

Full Review (846 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Lisa Guidarini).

Media Reviews

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.

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.

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.

Reader Reviews

S. Paul

Fantastic
By far the best book I’ve ever read.
Lois Brown

The book cover says it all!
This story is as eerie as the book cover. A very bleak and dark storyline that centers more on the back story of the main character's childhood growing up on Lewis Island that you sometimes forget a murder is supposed to be solved. It all comes ...   Read More
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!

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

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 ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Blackhouse, try these:

  • The Word Is Murder jacket

    The Word Is Murder

    by Anthony Horowitz

    Published 2019

    About this book

    More by this author

    Anthony Horowitz has yet again brilliantly reinvented the classic crime novel, this time writing a fictional version of himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes.

  • A Great Reckoning jacket

    A Great Reckoning

    by Louise Penny

    Published 2017

    About this book

    More by this author

    Winner of the 2016 BookBrowse Fiction Award

    Bestselling author Louise Penny pulls back the layers to reveal a brilliant and emotionally powerful truth in her latest spellbinding novel.

We have 14 read-alikes for The Blackhouse, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Peter May
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Wild and Distant Seas
    Wild and Distant Seas
    by Tara Karr Roberts
    Tara Karr Roberts is a newspaper columnist who also teaches English and journalism. Wild and Distant...
  • Book Jacket: The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years
    The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years
    by Shubnum Khan
    Shubnum Khan's eloquent and moving debut novel opens in 1932, when a djinn that haunts a house by ...
  • Book Jacket: Transient and Strange
    Transient and Strange
    by Nell Greenfieldboyce
    Throughout her powerful essay collection, Transient and Strange, science reporter Nell ...
  • Book Jacket: Prophet Song
    Prophet Song
    by Paul Lynch
    Paul Lynch's 2023 Booker Prize–winning Prophet Song is a speedboat of a novel that hurtles...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Adversary
    by Michael Crummey

    An enthralling novel about a small town struggling to survive, and a bitter vendetta between two rivals.

  • Book Jacket

    Leaving
    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.