The Blackhouse by Peter May
I first met Peter May some years ago in 2014, the year he won the McIlvanney Prize, for his novel Entry Island at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writers’ Festival. He is a quiet, courteous man, but one whose work I had never read until The Blackhouse became book of the month for our book group. The Blackhouse is the first novel of The Lewis Trilogy by this Scottish writer. A suspense thriller, the action takes place mostly on the remote and weather-beaten Isle of Lewis off the coast of northern Scotland.
Peter May was born in Glasgow on 20, December 1951. He is a Scottish television screenwriter, novelist, and crime writer. He is the recipient of writing awards in the UK, Europe and America. He is married to the Scottish screenwriter Janice Hally.
The Blackhouse is May’s most popular novel. It starts when a brutal murder on the remote Isle of Lewis bears the same modus operandi as a recent Edinburgh killing, Detective Fin MacLeod is sent to investigate. Sergeant Gunn, a local policeman, knows the islanders, and keen for MacLeod to uncover the murderer embarks on a mission to both help him, and protect him. Artair, Fin’s old school friend, learns of his return, but all Fin sees is what the island has done to his childhood friend as his own mistakes in Edinburgh catch up with him.
Gigs MacAuley, whom Fin remembers from his youth, prepares his men for the guga cull, an annual ritual that sees two thousand gannet adolescents killed to produce the island’s delicacy. Home to the gannet colony, the rock they journey to is a brutal creation of nature that threatens to destroy all that visit it. As Fin investigates, he scrambles to piece together the events that led to the brutality on the island. Events that unravel show him his past, his investigation and his future are all intertwined; it is a race to save his future from becoming another of the rock’s victims.
It is an exciting novel, enhanced by a fabulous setting. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy and highly recommend The Blackhouse.