Summary and book reviews of Coffin Road by Peter May

Coffin Road

by Peter May

Coffin Road by Peter May X
Coffin Road by Peter May
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2016, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2017, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

In his latest mystery set in Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, award-winning author Peter May spins a tale about three disparate cases that may or may not be linked...

On the remote Isle of Harris in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, a man washes up on a deserted beach, hypothermic and completely disoriented. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his condition is a map of the island showing a desolate, ancient path called the Coffin Road. With a sense of dread and no clear idea what lies at the other end, he knows he must follow the trail if he has any hope of discovering his identity.

Meanwhile, homicide detective George Gunn makes the rough ocean crossing to a remote, sea-battered lighthouse on a rock in the northern Atlantic, twenty miles west of the Outer Hebrides, to investigate a brutal murder. Despite its isolation, the tiny island has seen its share of tragedy: more than a century earlier, three lighthouse keepers disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. And now there is a new tragedy, and Gunn must figure out what happened.

At the same time, a teenage girl lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to discover the truth about her father's death. Two years after the discovery of the pioneering scientist's suicide note, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that her father would willingly abandon her. And the more she discovers about the nature of his research, the more she suspects that suicide had nothing to do with it.

CHAPTER ONE

The first thing I am aware of is the taste of salt. It fills my mouth. Invasive. Pervasive. It dominates my being, smothering all other senses. Until the cold takes me. Sweeps me up and cradles me in its arms. Holding me so tightly I can't seem to move. Except for the shivering. A raging, uncontrollable shivering. And somewhere in my mind I know this is a good thing. My body trying to generate heat. If I wasn't shivering I would be dead.

It seems an eternity before I am able to open my eyes, and then I am blinded by the light. A searing pain in my head, pupils contracting rapidly to bring a strange world into focus. I am lying face-down, wet sand on my lips, in my nostrils. Blinking furiously, making tears to wash the stuff from my eyes. And then it is all I can see. Sand, stretching away to a blurred horizon. Tightly ribbed. Platinum pale. Almost bleached.

And now I am aware of the wind. Tugging at my clothes, sending myriad grains of sand in a veil of whisper-...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Coffin Road perfectly combines a fast-paced murder mystery with a fascinating real-life environmental crisis. He also continues, as he did in his critically acclaimed Lewis Trilogy of novels, to exploit the grandeur, isolation and stormy beauty of the Hebridean Islands to create a chillingly atmospheric and gripping read.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

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Media Reviews

Suspense Magazine
An extremely chilling tale. From a man with memory loss, to a young girl dealing with the loss of her father, to a tale of a policeman unmasking the past, readers will have to pay close attention so they don't lose track of the amazing web May has created.

Publishers Weekly
May evokes his native Scotland as ruggedly dangerous, his well-drawn characters equally so.

Booklist
Starred Review. May keeps the stories clear and the pace fast, with the Hebrides atmosphere serving as a wild, unpredictable fourth character. Flat-out fantastic.

Library Journal
Starred Review. This intense, complex mystery will satisfy especially those who are environmentally conscious, but overall, this is one bang-up read.

Kirkus
An eminently satisfying, multilayered mystery populated with sharply drawn characters ... His images capture the capricious play of light and weather across the sea and the moors, matching the surprises in his tale.

Kirkus
An eminently satisfying, multilayered mystery populated with sharply drawn characters ... His images capture the capricious play of light and weather across the sea and the moors, matching the surprises in his tale.

The Daily Express (UK)
The bestselling [Peter May] returns to the Outer Hebrides... Another cracking story from a writer at the height of his powers.

The Guardian (UK)
Peter May is on a roll ... [Coffin Road] is a clever, twisty eco-thriller in the mode of Le Carré's The Constant Gardener.

Reader Reviews

Michael Haughton

Coffin Road by Peter May
The writer started off pretty good with what appeared to be a female laying unconscious on a sea bed or shore. the began to describe her breathing and the way she felt. She was not in a bad shape it appears. My first displeasure was this big ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Isle of Harris and the Flannan Isles

Acclaimed crime novelist Peter May is famous for a trilogy of novels set on the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Hebrides, but in his latest outing, Coffin Road, he has moved his sights south, to the harder, rockier terrain of the Isle of Harris.

Although Lewis and Harris are always referred to as if they are two separate islands, they are in fact one continuous landmass – most easily differentiated by their very different geography. Lewis is famous for its peaty soil and largely flat terrain. Harris on the other hand is much harsher, vividly displaying the volcanic and ice-age geological upheaval which shaped this part of the world.

Coffin Road May's choice of title indicates that landscape forms a vital part of the novel. Coffin Road is ...

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