Book Review – “The Blackhouse” by Peter May



Why did I read this?

It was a book that was offered on the Amazon “deal of the day” page. I fancied it because it seemed to be a locked-room murder type story that I like, with it being set on a remote island and a finite number of suspects. It cost me 20p to download it so I figured that for that price if it was no good then I hadn’t lost too much. It’s the best 20p I’ve spent on a book for ages!!

What’s the plot?

A man is murdered and displayed in such a way that the authorities are alerted to a possible connection to a murder hundreds of miles away in Edinburgh. A detective in Edinburgh is sent to find out whether they are indeed connected or if it is a copycat killing. He finds out a lot more than the murderer and the reasons behind the killing.

Where is it set?

It is set on the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland.

Who are the main characters?

DS Fin Macleod, his childhood friends Artair and Marsaili and the murdered man, Angel Macritchie. I could argue that the rock, An Sgeir, is a character too as it features so heavily in the story.

How well is it written?

Fantastically well written. I loved the way that the story was told alternatively between the present day in the third person, and in the first person from the viewpoint of Fin as a child and an adolescent. I was a little bit lost right at the start – the discovery of the body was almost a story in its own right and didn’t really relate to the way the rest of the story unfolded – but I couldn’t see any plot holes or any twists that were unfair or unexplained in the rest of it. Great stuff. Clearly written by someone who had spent a lot of time on Lewis! Peter May also dealt with the emotions of love and betrayal brilliantly and it was refreshing to get this side of the story told from a man’s point of view. Women tend to go a bit “flowery” for me, and I loved the way Peter May wrote it.

My overall impression?

This is one hugely atmospheric book and everything about it is totally believable. I didn’t doubt the authenticity of any of the characters or the events in the story and I was totally hooked on it after the first couple of pages. The ending was dramatic and thrilling, and even right up to the last paragraph I couldn’t guess the outcome of the “is he, isn’t he?” question. It has made me want to go and visit Lewis to experience the scenes I’ve just read about and to see the way the light plays on the sea and the mountains. I almost expect to meet Gigs and Podraig loading up the trawler, and I almost want to taste guga….almost.

This is one of those books where the sub-plot overtakes the main plot early on and you end up with a wonderfully weaved tale about people you genuinely care about and want the best for.

Will I read the next in the series?

Absolutely yes. I have to make a return visit to Lewis but there are so many threads of the previous story to pick up on I am going to start reading it straight away. I have fallen a little bit in love with Fin and I need to see what he does next.

Would I recommend it to my friends?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!! It is a little light on the police procedural and forensic evidence type stuff, but this is a story that is so much more than that. The murder is almost secondary to the events in Fin’s life and if you’re a people person like me then you will absolutely LOVE this.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review – “The Blackhouse” by Peter May

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  1. Oh goody! Another book to add to the queque! You know I have to have a waiting list for me to delve into when I finish a book and I like to have a choice. This sounds like a good one.

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