The Blackhouse – Peter May

BlackhouseThe annual tradition of collecting guga (gannet hatchlings) from the rocky isle of An Sgeir off the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides dates to before the Middle Ages.  Today it is a rite of passage for young men of Ness.

A murder on Isle of Lewis has gruesome details similar to one that occurred in Edinburgh recently, so Fin Macleod has been sent to see if there is a connection.  He has been investigating the Edinburgh murder and, as it happens, he was born and raised on Lewis.  Fin had escaped to attend the university in Edinburgh years ago and except for a brief visit for a funeral had never come back.  As soon as he stepped off the plane, the memories hit him.  And they kept haunting him.

This is a beautifully crafted book, with chapters alternating from the present to the past.  The story told in the present is brisk and factual, a typical mystery style.  The chapters from the past are full of melancholy, of regret, of an aching that can’t quite be defined.  The focus soon changes from solving the mystery to uncovering Fin’s past, and the guga hunt seems to be the key.

I enjoyed being transported to the barren, windy, Scottish isle peopled with crusty, rugged individuals.  This is the first of a trilogy and I am eagerly looking forward to the next book.

eGalley review      Publication date 8.5.14

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