The Blackhouse by Peter May
Format: Trade Paperback and ebook
Series: #1 in the Lewis Trilogy
Publication Date: 2009
From the publisher:
From acclaimed author and dramatist Peter May comes the Barry award-winning The Blackhouse, the first book in the Lewis Trilogy — a riveting mystery series set on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.
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.
This book has been on my TBR list for a long time. Many of my friends have recommended it. I was hoping to get the audio edition but I wasn’t able to get my hands on it. I managed my way through the Gaelic names with the help of a pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book.
The story is part murder mystery and part psychological thriller. It’s told in alternating chapters with the present-day story told in third person but the story of Fin’s childhood is told by Fin in the first person. It worked well and I liked the format.
The murder investigation doesn’t play out like a typical police procedural. Fin’s connection to the people and the place keep the investigation from being typical. Both the present-day story and Fin’s remembering his past play out in a slow build that brings them spiraling to a conclusion.
The setting on Lewis Island added additional elements to the story. The isolation and insular community are part of Fin’s life but also one that he escaped. His return brings him back to people and places that he hasn’t seen in 18 years.
I do plan to read the next book in the trilogy but I think I’m going to get the audio edition so I don’t have to wonder about the name pronunciations.