What’s it about?
A body is found in a bog and the police were at first convinced it was an ancient burial but on closer inspection it is found to be dating only from the 1950’s or 60’s. The story is told partly in the first person by Tormod, an elderly gentleman well in the grip of dementia in flashbacks to his childhood, and partly in the third person centring on the people around him. Who is buried in the bog? How is he connected to Tormod? And is Tormod really the person his family and friends think he is?
Where is it set?
It is set on the Isles of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides.
Who are the main characters?
This is the second instalment of a trilogy and some of the main characters from book one appear here in the second. We meet Fin Macleod again, this time as a resident on the island not a visitor as he was before. We also meet Mairsali and Fionnlagh, Fin’s friend/ex-lover and his son and their stories move on from the point we left them at the end of The Blackhouse. The “new” main characters are Johnny, Peter and Cath as children at The Dean, an orphanage in Edinburgh.
How well is it written?
Absolutely superb. I couldn’t see any holes in the plot, the narrative was spot on and the descriptions of the landscape and the sheer remoteness of the islands were breathtaking. I felt the story moved along at a nice pace and didn’t get bogged down anywhere – pardon the pun – and the ending was just one twist after another which was thrilling. There were just enough loose ends for me to anticipate the next book, but it was nicely wrapped up to be complete in its own right.
My overall impression?
I am loving this trilogy and can’t wait for the next one! This is a book that is so satisfying if you read it as book two of a threesome, but is equally good if you read it as a standalone. The relationship and family story of Fin, Mairsali and Fionnlagh only add to the main thrust of the book, which is about the identity and connection of the body in the bog, and even if you didn’t have their back-story from the previous book you will easily follow what is happening in this one with them.
Will I read the next in the series?
Oh yes! I was disappointed to find that the hardback edition of this will be available in January 2013 but then when I looked for the Kindle edition I was thrilled to find it is available before Christmas. Woohoo!!! I’ve pre-ordered it and will keep checking my Kindle to see when it has been delivered.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
Absolutely yes, without a doubt. Read it if you like thrillers. Read it if you like family sagas. Read it if you like double identity stories. Read it if you want to know more about the Scottish islands. Read it if you just love a thumping good read. In fact, just read it.
- Book Review – “The Blackhouse” by Peter May (sterlingsop.wordpress.com)