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Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Blackhouse - Peter May

The Blackhouse by Peter May

First Paragraph(s):

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.

My Thoughts:

This is not the first time I've read Peter May's The Blackhouse.  In fact, I think this might be the third or fourth time I've read it.  A couple of times in print and a couple on audio, narrated by Peter Forbes.  He does a great job.  I've mentioned more than once that I love this author's trilogy set on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  May will be 'Peter May' month for our mystery group.  Each of us will read a book or several books by the author and then, well, we'll talk about them.  I decided to fulfill part of my job as 'moderator' by immersing myself in the Isle of Lewis - audio style.  I've completed The Blackhouse and am on to The Lewis Man and then The Chessmen.

The Blackhouse tells of Detective Inspector Fin Macleod who returns to his home village in order to consult about a recent murder on the island.  Fin hasn't been back for 18 years.  Lewis contains a lot of memories, old friends and a special woman, and some deep, dark secrets from his youth.  As he investigates and questions the locals, along with DS George Gunn (great character, by the way), Fin is reminded of many things that he has tried to forget.  His marriage is definitely on the rocks and he and his wife in Edinburgh are dealing with the accidental death of their young son.  Fin is in a dark place in his head, but there are darker places still to discover.

Word of warning - this book contains a local custom or tradition of hunting a certain type of bird and killing large numbers of them.  Just so you know.  There are some fairly graphic descriptions of this, plus a number of violent crimes mentioned.  These islands are quite interesting to me and starkly beautiful.  I've included a video below that comes from Peter May's research on the Isle of Lewis.  A lovely musical accompaniment is Capercaillie's 'An Gille Ban'.  More info here on the author's website.  The music is haunting and perfect for this book.  Let me know what you think if you decide to read the book or just watch the video.  Peter May has also written a 'coffee table' type book entitled Hebrides.   It has the most gorgeous photographs and history.  These books are highly recommended.

Blurb:

When a grisly murder occurs on the Isle of Lewis that bears similarities to a brutal killing on the mainland, Edinburgh detective and native islander Fin Macleod is dispatched to the Outer Hebrides to investigate, embarking at the same time on a voyage into his own troubled past.

As Fin reconnects with the people and places of his tortured childhood, the desolate but beautiful island and its ancient customs once again begin to assert their grip on his psyche. Every step toward solving the case brings Fin closer to a dangerous confrontation with the dark events of the past that shaped--and nearly destroyed--his life.



30 comments:

  1. One of my favorite trilogies, and one of my favorite parts of the world.

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    1. Have you guys been to the Hebrides? I couldn't remember.

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    2. I've planned a trip to Lewis and Harris, but not made it yet. I've only been to the Inner Hebrides...and have looked out across the Minch with longing for those outer islands.

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    3. Hope you get to go and then you can share your pictures!

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  2. I haven't read this yet, but it sounds intriguing. You did a very thorough job with the review and I like how you broke it down in subsections. Hoping to explore your blog more thoroughly later! :)

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    1. Thanks so much! I've finally hit upon a method that works for me in reviews. And explore away!

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  3. "Just so you know." I wish more reviews would say this! I did like this book, and the scenery in the video is beautiful, but I couldn't live on an island. I would feel trapped by all that water and weather. I think I am more of a land girl than a water girl. I'm not all that drawn to the ocean. I am so impressed with the work you put into your job, and I am so lucky that I will be able to see you in action!!!

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    1. I don't always remember or maybe rarely remember to say 'just so you know'. However, I did this time. Yes, I think I'm more of a mountain lover than a sea lover, but still...

      Me in action - ha! Well, we'll see what you think.

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  4. I'm neither a big talker or joiner, but I feel like I should be both and rush to join your mystery group for May's May month! LOVE these books! I've also read and listened to them all multiple times. Agreed, Peter Forbes is a superior narrator. Can't say enough good things about this series and May's writing in general. Greatness!

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    1. Isn't this a great set of stories? And, yes, Peter Forbes is great. I'm not a joiner by nature either, but book groups are different. For me anyway. :-)

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  5. Read this a few months ago. Loved it. Definitely plan to read the others.

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    1. You really should. The Lewis Man is wonderful and sad.

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  6. You know I love me some Peter May! I enjoyed this trilogy and everything else I've read by him, although obviously some of his books are better than others.

    Thanks for sharing this video. I hadn't seen it before. Wow, such orgeous scenery and music!

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    1. I loved the video when I found it on his website. Just had to include it.

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  7. When I saw this post in my reader, I was thinking that I was astonished you'd never read this before, since it seems so much like your kind of thing. But a re-read makes more sense! I still think this trilogy is Peter May's best work even though I've enjoyed many other of his books before and after. Have an enjoyable re-immersion!

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    1. I agree with you. I wish he would revisit the characters, but maybe he's said all he needs to say about them.

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  8. This is such a brilliant trilogy and I really should read it again. The Blackhouse was a book I picked up as an eBook on a whim when I was ill and it blew me away and I read the next one straightaway (something I never do) and then had to wait for the third to be published. Thanks for bringing back the memories of this one.

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    1. Sounds like your experience was as good as mine was. Yes, one day you should read it again. :-)

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  9. I've had this on my radar for the longest time. Hope to get to the trilogy one of these days.

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    1. I bet you'd enjoy it, Catherine.

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  10. I too love Peter May ... I am several novels behind and must remedy that.

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    1. Glad to know so many really like his work.

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  11. I love the background on this series that the author provides on his website. I have only read this one but I have The Lewis Man on the shelf. And I have the first in the Enzo Files series.

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    1. The Lewis Man is my favorite of the trilogy. Have not yet read any of the Enzo books.

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  12. I've heard of Capercaillie, and I loved that video. Stark beauty indeed. I would love to see the Hebrides someday...

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    1. Isn't it beautiful? I'd love to see that area too.

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  13. Just added this to my Audible library! Now to finish the book I started listening to over a month ago.

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    1. Argh! Audible only has it in German. Caught myself before purchasing! I'll have to see if I can get it from the library.

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    2. I think it used to be on Audible in English and I picked it up then. It disappeared for some reason and now isn't available. Maybe they will come out with it at some point there. I never understand when that happens.

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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!