cover image Coffin Road

Coffin Road

Peter May. Quercus, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-68144-389-8

Neal Maclean, the amnesiac hero of this intriguing but overblown standalone from May (Runaway), washes up on one of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, where, unbeknownst to him, he’s been living. Neal later figures out that he’s supposedly an author who’s writing a book about a gale in 1900 that claimed the lives of three lighthouse keepers on the island of Eilean Mòr. When he travels to Eilean Mòr, he finds a dead man, whom Neal fears he may have murdered. Det. Sgt. George Gunn investigates the crime. A hidden trove of bee hives along ancient Coffin Road near Neal’s home, coupled with an elaborate laboratory setup in a locked garden shed, seems to indicate something more sinister than simply a historical delving into missing men from over a century ago. The action shifts between Neal and surly 17-year-old Karen Fleming, whose scientist father committed suicide two years earlier. As usual, May evokes his native Scotland as ruggedly dangerous, his well-drawn characters equally so, but the global conspiracy that’s behind everything is farfetched at best. (Oct.)