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Monday, March 16, 2015

The Chessmen by Peter May

The Chessmen is the 3rd book in Peter May's trilogy, set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  I finished this book and immediately felt like going back to the first book, The Blackhouse, and beginning the tale again.  I have loved these books, and I'll be sorry to leave the Isle of Lewis and Ex-Detective Inspector Fin McLeod.

After the dramatic conclusion to the 2nd book, The Lewis Man, Fin has taken a job as head of security for a local landowner.  While investigating illegal activity, Fin runs across several old buddies, one by the name of Whistler Macaskill.  Fin and Whistler were good friends as teenagers when they were both at school in the town of Stornoway.  They were also both connected with a local rock band that ended up having great success with their Celtic music.

Whistler and Fin are caught in a serious storm while in the mountains and near a small loch.  When the storm is over, they realize that the loch is gone, drained away - a rare 'bog burst'.  What is left is a lot of mud and a gruesome discovery of a light airplane with an occupant that is very dead.  Both men recognize the plane as one that belonged to another school friend and the leader of the band, Roddy Mackenzie.  This plane and Roddy himself had disappeared 17 years before.  Fin realizes that he is the only one shocked to find the plane.  What did Whistler know about the disappearance and what other secrets has he been keeping?

Each of these books has given us some background into Fin McLeod's life growing up on the Isle of Lewis.  The Chessmen reveals his teen years and how events during that time period shaped his decisions.  The story goes back and forth from the present to those school days, introducing us to yet more characters from the island and bringing others that we've already met into the narrative.  The setting is spectacular and I was fascinated by the descriptions.

Another interesting part concerns the Lewis Chessmen, an actual discovery in the 19th century of 78 chess pieces, probably created in Norway in about the 12th century.  These chess pieces play a tangential part in this book as well as inspiring the name.

The story moves at a slower pace for much of the book.  I was almost a little disappointed that there were not more "aha!" moments for me.  And then I got to the sweet spot.  Ah, I thought.  There it is.  This is why I love Peter May's writing and this set of books.  A speech made by Fin toward the end of the book brought tears to my eyes and prompted my desire to pick up the first book and begin again.  This is a great trilogy.  Highly, highly recommended.

  

18 comments:

  1. I really really need to get to The Blackhouse. This sounds like a great trilogy.

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    1. Do start with THE BLACKHOUSE. It sets the stage and since this is only a trilogy - not too many books. :-)

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  2. I almost picked up one of his books but put it down after learning it's part of a series and I wasn't sure if it's the first book (not all of his books were displayed, you see). Now I'll have to consider reading them. :)

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    1. The first is THE BLACKHOUSE and since it's only to be a trilogy - 3 books - not too many.

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  3. I really think the Lewis trilogy is Peter May's best series and I say that as someone who has been a fan since way back in his China Thrillers days. However, his next book, Entry Island, is a brilliant standalone, still with a Lewis connection and I loved it. If you haven't got to it yet, then I highly recommend it. :)

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    1. I haven't read the China Thrillers, but have them on my list. I do want to read ENTRY ISLAND. It seems to have a similar cover as the Lewis books. Not published here yet, but we'll see what I can do. ;-)

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  4. I really liked The BlackHouse, but still haven't gotten around to The Lewis Man. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Jenclair, I think THE LEWIS MAN may be my favorite of the 3.

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  5. I have to admit this trilogy has been one of my best finds of recent years - I adored learning more about Finn in each episode and more than a year after finishing I still mourn that there will be no more. A great review of a fantastic book although as you say it has a slightly slower pace than the previous two.

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    1. I suspect that I will mourn as well. I really liked the characters. I did hear there will be a new book, ENTRY ISLAND, that will have some Lewis connections.

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  6. That's so fascinating about the chess pieces! I do want to read this trilogy.

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    1. I know. Wasn't it? I found 1 picture that showed Harry and Ron using Lewis Chessmen or I guess ones that look like them when they played Wizard Chess. How cool was that?

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  7. I still haven't read the second book but I'm so glad to hear this is a standout trilogy! Great review Kay.
    By the way did you recently change your blog picture? Beautiful!

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    1. Yes, I did change the picture. Took this one on a vacation to Scottsdale, AZ a couple of years ago. When we went, the cactus was blooming everywhere. I loved it. If I get a bluebonnet picture later this spring, I'll use it.

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  8. I enjoyed thye Pocket Wife and like all your other choices.

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  9. I think I have time to start a trilogy! Off to add this to my list :)

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    1. This would be a good trilogy to read.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!