The Black House

Peter May, Author
Peter May. Sterling/SilverOak, $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4549-0127-3
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Paperback - 477 pages - 978-1-84916-386-6
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Television dramatist May’s brilliant first in a trilogy set on the Gaelic-speaking Isle of Lewis, northernmost of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, introduces Fin Macleod, a Lewis native and Edinburgh CID detective sergeant. While grieving over the accidental death of his only child, Fin investigates a grisly homicide nearly identical to a previous case in Edinburgh. Back in Macleod’s home village of Crobost, first-person flashbacks gradually unveil contradictory episodes of horror and compassion in his youth, counterpointing the third-person account of the present-day murder case. Abundant local color—much of it physically and psychologically wrenching, like the islanders’ annual culling of seabirds, a primitive rite of passage—matches Macleod’s tormented emotional landscape. The struggles of such multidimensional characters as Artair, Macleod’s boyhood friend, and Marsaili, the girl they both loved and Artair married, add depth. In the acknowledgments, May (Blowback) reveals that he drew much of his inspiration from five years filming on the island. (Oct.)
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