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review 2017-07-02 15:42
"The Blackhouse", by Peter May
The Blackhouse - Peter May

Book # 1, in the Lewis Trilogy

This is an intricately plotted story featuring Detective sergeant Finlay (Fin) Macleod of the Edinburgh police force. Fin has been dispatched to his home village of Crobost on the Isle of Lewis to investigate a gruesome murder that resembles another case he worked on in Edinburgh.

The story has a split framework told in alternating chapters. Narrated in a first person in a melancholy tone are chapters where Fin’s childhood memories come to surface by his homecoming then we switch to the thirst person narration in a tougher tone when the present- day police procedural investigating the grisly killing of the village bully kicks-in and we go back and forth. It takes a lot of time to get use to this but it is well worth staying put. 

There is so much going on with the tradition murder investigation which takes many twists and turns while Fin’s memories propels him in the past. After I got used to this style the recollections became quite interesting, it would be unfair to give away too many secrets. And as the story unfolds and all the threads are neatly tied by the end… it emerges that Fin and his childhood story are intimately linked with the murder……

With pitch-perfect characterization, this densely plotted story heavy on atmosphere and richly detailed local colour is addictive. Its strong vocabulary and traditional Gaelic names and terms (a glossary is provided) transports us to the island, a place where life is rugged and where people are fascinating. Some may shy away from the annual trip to kill guga sea birds but this hefty dose of Lewis custom is the perfect climax to wrap this unique story. The ending is huge and heart-pounding.

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review 2017-06-10 20:07
Cast Iron by Peter May
Cast Iron: Enzo Macleod 6 (The Enzo Files) - Peter May

West of France, 1989.

A weeping killer deposits the unconscious body of nineteen year old Lucie Martin, her head wrapped in a blue plastic bag, into the water of a picturesque lake.

Lot-et-Garonne, 2003.

Fourteen years later a summer heatwave parches the earth, killing trees and bushes and drying out streams. In the scorched mud and desiccated slime of the lake a fisherman finds a skeleton wearing a bag over its skull.

Paris, October 2011.

In an elegant apartment in Paris, forensic expert Enzo Macleod pores over the scant evidence of this, the sixth cold case he has been challenged to solve. In taking on this old and seemingly impossible task he will put everything and everyone he holds dear in a peril he could never have imagined.


**********
 

Once again I read the latest book in a series, and part of my wonder why on earth that I have not read any of the previous books? Especially since I love Peter May's Lewis trilogy.

Cast Iron is book six in the Enzo file series. Forensic expert Enzo Macleod made a bet to solve cold cases that journalist Roger Raffin has written about in a book, which includes the murder of Roger's wife Marie. In this, the sixth book is the murder of nineteen-year-old Lucie Martin that Enzo is trying to solve. However, it's a difficult case, and it gets personal when someone goes after someone Enzo loves.

I think that Peter May really have a talent for creating interesting characters and the Scottish-Italian Enzo Macload is a really fascinating character. He is a very good forensic expert with a very messy family situation. A baby with a woman that seems to loathe him (for some unknown reason), two daughters, Kristy who has a child with Raffin and Sophie who is not really his daughter after they found out that Enzo's ex-wife had an affair with his best friend. So, Enzo must also deal with a lot of personal stuff during the books progress.

I like the progress of the story, how Enzo starts off with Lucie Martin's murder, but soon realize that the case is bigger than just the one killing and the man suspected of killing Lucie, a serial killer who killed three prostitutes may or may not be Lucie's killer. The ending was really thrilling and intense. And I loved that there was a twist in the end that I did not foresee. I did think that the ending felt a bit too easy that there must be a game change and I was right, I just didn't see the one coming.

I really like the book and I hope to get the chance to read the previous five books some day!

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

 
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review 2017-04-16 00:03
"The Firemaker - The China Thrillers #1" by Peter May
The Firemaker - Peter May

 I came to Peter May via his rather bleak "Lewis" trilogy, with a dour Hebridean detective returning to his home island and uncovering dark deeds. It all seemed so authentically Scottish that I couldn't really imagine him writing anything else.

 

Then I discovered that, more than a decade earlier, he'd written a set of thrillers set in China in the late nineties, in which none of the characters are Scottish. I was intrigued, picked up a copy of "The Firemaker"and discovered a whole new side to Peter May.

In "The FIremaker", Peter May shows great skill in merging genres and tropes to produce something new and interesting.

 

It has many of the hallmarks of a RomCom; a cute-meet between the two principals that set them at odds, a plot that keeps forcing them back together, and a finely paced set of will-they? won't-they? moments that stoke up the unresolved sexual tension in the best tradition of such things.

 

This is overlaid with massive culture clashes as the small, blonde, female American pathologist, running from her troubled past to her first assignment in China, meets ambitious and newly promoted Chinese Policeman who is dedicated to his work and wants to help build the new China.

 

Wrap all of that around political intrigue and a set of gruesome murders that seem connected but make no sense together and you have the makings of a very good book indeed.

 

This was the art of the exotic thriller being practiced at its best. The resarch was used to add an authentic sens of place without ending up feeling like a lecture on China and its recent history. Neither the American nor the Chinese culture walks away unscathed or undefenced. The people seem real and the plot unfolds with enough surprises to keep me turning the pages.  The ending... well see for yourself. It works but is perhaps more RomCOm than Thriller.

 

I'cw already downloaded the next book in the series and hope to be returing to Peter May's China very soon.

 

 

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review 2016-12-12 20:12
Entry Island by Peter May (SWE/ENG)
Entry Island - Peter May

SWEDISH REVIEW


När det isolerade ösamhället Entry Island skakas av ett mord, det första i mannaminne, beger sig kriminalpolisen Sime Mackenzie till ön som del av ett utredningsteam från Montréal. Affärsmannen James Cowell, en av öns drygt hundra invånare, har knivhuggits till döds i sitt hem, och det mesta talar för att det är hans hustru, Kirsty, som hållit i vapnet.


Utredningen ser först ut att bli en formalitet, men när Sime träffar Kirsty överväldigas han av en märklig känsla. Trots att han vet att de inte kan ha träffats förut känner han igen henne. Det är något hos den mordmisstänkta kvinnan som rör upp djupt begravda minnen inom honom.


I takt med att utredningen fortskrider börjar Sime hemsökas av drömmar om ett avlägset förflutet på en skotsk ö, femhundra mil bort – historier som hör till en fjärran värld men ändå tycks sträcka sig in i nuet, mot Entry Island och de mysterier som ön ruvar på.


***********
 
Kombinationen brott och romantik fungerar alldeles utmärkt ihop i denna bok. Själva idén med denna bok, en man som möter en kvinna för första gången och känner igen henne och i egenskap av polis måste förhöra henne för mordet på hennes man är fascinerande. Hur kan Sime känna igen Kirsty? Hon har inte lämnat Entry island på flera år och han har aldrig någonsin besökt ön. Och vad har Simes förfäders gamla dagböcker med det hela att göra? Sime känner att han måste finna ut koppling mellan dem samtidigt som han måste finna ut vem som mördade hennes man och rentvå Kirsty.

Jag älskar verkligen hur Peter May blandar ihop det förflutna med nutid, hur sammantvinnande det hela blir ju mer man läser om hur Sime försöker reda ut hur hon kan kännas så familjär. Att det samtidigt är en mordutredning gör det hela mer intensivt.

Jag tyckte speciellt mycket om bokens slut. Att man får svar, men att slutet ändå är öppet vilket gör att att man börja fundera på vad som kommer att hända härnäst. Det kan kännas lite frustrerande, men i slutändan så är det nog ändå ett perfekt slut, för det slutar så hoppfullt.
 
Tack till Modernista för recensionsexemplaret!
 
 
ENGLISH REVIEW

When Detective Sime Mackenzie boards a light aircraft at Montreal's St. Hubert airfield, he does so without looking back. For Sime, the 850-mile journey ahead represents an opportunity to escape the bitter blend of loneliness and regret that has come to characterise his life in the city.Travelling as part of an eight-officer investigation team, Sime's destination lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only two kilometres wide and three long, Entry Island is home to a population of around 130 inhabitants - the wealthiest of which has just been discovered murdered in his home.

The investigation itself appears little more than a formality. The evidence points to a crime of passion: the victim's wife the vengeful culprit. But for Sime the investigation is turned on its head when he comes face to face with the prime suspect, and is convinced that he knows her - even though they have never met.

Haunted by this certainty his insomnia becomes punctuated by dreams of a distant past on a Scottish island 3,000 miles away. Dreams in which the widow plays a leading role. Sime's conviction becomes an obsession. And in spite of mounting evidence of her guilt he finds himself convinced of her innocence, leading to a conflict between the professonal duty he must fulfil, and the personal destiny that awaits him.

 
 
***********
 
I think the combination of a crime and romance works splendidly in this book. The very idea of the book, about a man meeting a woman for the first time a recognizing her and at the same time having to question her for the murder of her husband was fascinating. How could Sime recognize her? Kirsty has not left Entry Island in years and he has never been there. And what has Sime's ancestor's diaries to do with everything? Sime knows that he must find out and also try to clear Kirsty's name.

I love how Peter May in this book mixes the past with the present, how intertwined the past becomes with the future as Sime tries to make sense of how someone that is a total stranger to him can feel so familiar. To add the murder of her husband and Sime being there to question her and finding out if she killed him. Well, that just makes the story more intense.
I especially liked the ending of the books that you get the answer, but it still ends with an open ending that makes you wonder what will happen next? A bit frustrating perhaps, but in the end, I think that it should end that way, a hopeful ending.
 
Thanks to Modernista for the review copy!
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-10-22 15:00
Halloween Book Bingo 2016: Eleventh Update and BINGO No. 11
The Blackhouse - Peter May
The Prague Cemetery - Umberto Eco

 

Home stretch – 24 books down, 1 to go!

 

 

Bingo No. 11 – the Books:

Magical Realism – Isabel Allende: La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits)

Isabel Allende's breakout success and still one of my favorite novels by her (surpassed only by Of Love and Shadows): A multigenerational allegory on the story of her native Chile – seen through the eyes of the novel's female protagonists, the women of the Trueba clan; particularly the paranormally gifted Clara, as well as the Patrón, Don Esteban Trueba (Clara's husband and the father and grandfather of their daughter Blanca and granddaughter Alba) – and at the same time, Allende's attempt to come to terms with her own family's involvement in Chile's history.  A gorgeously lyrical narrative, as expansive as the plains surrounding the Trueba estate of Tres Marías; at times harsh, at other times, delicate, and a paen to the will to survive and to live exhibited by the Trueba women in the face of all adversity.  Of all books labeled as exponents of magical realism, to me this one, alongside Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, is the quintessential magical realist novel.

 

 

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses – Henry James: The Turn of the Screw  

A perfectly-timed, profoundly unnerving fireside tale of a young governess's experiences on her very first job, guarding two children – a boy of ten and a girl of eight – who appear charming and innocent initially, but are slowly and bit by bit revealed to be possessed by the evils spirits of their former governess and her paramour, the household's former manservant.  By Henry James's standards rather short and concise (even in its language), and all the more memorable for its blend of succinct language and masterfully crafted, eery atmosphere.

 

 

Genre: Mystery – Peter May: The Blackhouse

Book 1 of May's Lewis Trilogy; a darkly atmospheric tale of childhood ghosts rearing their ugly heads to bring down the lives of a group of former schoolmates some 30+ years later; set on the northern end of the largest and northernmost of Scotland's Outer Hebrides islands, the Isle of Lewis.  May does an excellent job of bringing to life both the starkness of the Lewis landscape and nature and its dramatic coastline, and the inner demons haunting his protagonist (DI Fin Macleod, on secondment from Edinburgh CID because a recent murder on Lewis bears hallmark similarities to a case he's working on in Edinburgh) and Fin's former schoolmates, one of whom – a much-feared bully – turns out to be the victim of this latest murder.

 

The story is told in the third person when moving in the present and in the first person when revisiting Fin's and his schoolmates' past; something I ordinarily don't much care for and which almost threw me at the beginning of the book.  But here I stopped minding less than halfway through the narrative, and I'll admit that it did provide for a clear line of distinction between past and present.

 

Warning: The story's central episode revolves around the annual trip that a group of Lewis men take to a rock/island some 40+ miles north of Lewis in the North Atlantic named Sula Sgeir (or An Sgeir, as it's referred to here) to hunt and kill a total of 2,000 gannet chicks (locally known as gugas).  The killing and curing of the gugas is described in unflinching detail, which animal lovers may find disturbing (I know I did): my feeling is that the author wants readers to experience revulsion for the hunt while also exploring the mindset of the hunters and the place which the hunt occupies in local society today ... in addition to which, as I said, the An Sgeir trip operates as the major catatlyst in the book's narrative arc.

 



 Northern Isle of Lewis (photos mine)

 

 

Isle of Lewis: The Standing Stones of Calanais (Callanish) (photos mine)

 


Sula Sgeir (images from Wikipedia)

 

File:Northern Gannet juvenile RWD.jpgFile:Northern Gannet juvenile RWD4.jpg
Young gannets (gugas) (images from Wikipedia)

 

 

Locked Room Mystery – Gaston Leroux: Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room)

https://themoviemayor.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/3-5-star-rating2.jpg

This book is billed as the first-ever locked room mystery, which isn't entirely correct, as by the time it was published (1907), there already were several very well-known mysteries relying on the same feature (Edgar Allan Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue, as well as Arthur Conan Doyle's Sign of Four and The Speckled Band (see below)), even though their solutions are different than this book's.  The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Speckled Band are, interestingly, expressly referenced here, and it is quite obvious that Leroux was a huge admirer of Sherlock Holmes and his creator, to the point that I couldn't make up my mind to the very end to what extent he was copycatting and to what extent he was paying hommage.  By and large it's an enjoyable read, though, and I can well believe that the book's contemporaneous readership considered it a novelty and was seriously wowed by its solution.  (Side note: Grammar nuts reading this in French will have the rare joy of finding the chief narrative tense to be the first person plural passé simple, which greatly added to my personal reading pleasure.)

 

 

Supernatural – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sussex Vampire

 Sherlock Holmes receives an urgent request for help and advice from a former acquaintance of Dr. Watson's, who, having recently returned from an extended business-related stay in Peru (from where he has also imported his new wife) has been shocked into believing he has married a vampire, upon finding his wife sucking the neck of their newborn son – with a pinprick mark on the baby's neck and traces of fresh blood on his wife's lips providing seemingly undeniable evidence as to the lady's actions.  Sherlock Holmes, of course, derides the belief in vampires as "pure lunacy," insists that "[t]his agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain.  The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply" – and proceeds too demonstate, applying his trademark reasoning, that there is a perfectly logical (though rather tragic) explanation for the things that his client has witnessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 Currently Reading:

 The Prague Cemetery - Umberto Eco

 

 

Finished – Update 1:

 

Creepy Crawlies – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Adventure of the Speckled Band
Supernatural – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sussex Vampire
Set in New England – Shirley Jackson: The Lottery

 

 

Finished – Update 2:

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James Das Fräulein von Scuderi: Erzählung aus dem Zeitalter Ludwig des Vierzehnten - E.T.A. Hoffmann

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses – Henry James: The Turn of the Screw
Read by Candlelight or Flashlight – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi (Mademoiselle de Scuderi)
(read by flashlight, in bed)

 

 

Finished – Update 3:

The Canterville Ghost - Oscar Wilde, Inga Moore  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
 
Young Adult Horror –
Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost
Pumpkin –
Washington Irving: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

 

 

Finished – Update 4:

The Dain Curse - Dashiell Hammett Hallowe'en Party - Agatha Christie

Free Space – Dashiell Hammett: The Dain Curse
Set on Halloween – Agatha Christie: Hallowe'en Party (novel)

 

 

Finished – Update 5:

  Der Sandmann - Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann

Scary Women (Authors) – Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn
Classic Horror – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman)

 

 

Finished – Update 6:

Le mystère de la chambre jaune - Gaston Leroux
Locked Room Mystery – Gaston Leroux: Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room)

 

 

Finished Update 7:

Feet of Clay (Discworld, #19) - Terry Pratchett 
Vampires vs. Werewolves – Terry Pratchett: Feet of Clay (Night Watch novel)

 

 

Finished – Update 8:

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil GaimanGood Omens: The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation - Terry Pratchett, Neil GaimanAnd Then There Were None - Agatha ChristieThe Norths Meet Murder (The Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries) - Frances Lockridge, Richard Lockridge

Witches – Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman: Good Omens
Black Cat – Frances & Richard Lockridge: The Norths Meet Murder
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night – Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None

 

 

Finished – Update 9:

La casa de los espíritus - Isabel AllendeFrankenstein - Mary ShelleyThe Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle, Anne Perry

Magical Realism – Isabel Allende: La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits)
Genre: Horror – Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
Reads with BookLikes Friends – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Castle of Otranto - Michael Gamer, Horace WalpoleThe Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allan PoeWhite Shell Woman: A Charlie Moon Mystery (Charlie Moon Mysteries) - James D. Doss


Gothic – Horrace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto 
"Fall" into a Good Book – Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher

Full Moon – James D. Doss: White Shell Woman

 

 

Finished – Update 10:

Reservation Blues - Sherman Alexie
Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun – Sherman Alexie: Reservation Blues

 

 

Finished – Update 11:

 The Blackhouse - Peter May
Genre: Mystery – Peter May: The Blackhouse

 

 

TA's Reading List:

Read by Candlelight or Flashlight – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi (Mademoiselle de Scuderi) (novella)

Magical Realism – Isabel Allende: La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits) (novel)

Witches – Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters (or possibly Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman: Good Omens (novel)

Genre: Horror – Edgar Allan Poe: The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether (short story); alternately E.A. Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart or The Masque of the Red Death (also short stories). Change of plan: Mary Shelley: Frankenstein.

Black CatNgaio Marsh: Black as He's Painted (novel) (black cat central to the story and therefore also black cat on the cover of the stand-alone paperback edition) change of plan: Frances & Richard Lockridge: The Norths Meet Murder (novel)

Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun – Possibly Edwidge Danticat (ed.): Haiti Noir (short story anthology); otherwise TBD Settled on: Sherman Alexie: Reservation Blues.

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses – Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (novella)

Young adult horror – Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost (novella)

Scary Women (Authors) – Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn (novel)

Reads with BookLikes Friends – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel)

Grave or Graveyard – Edgar Allan Poe: The Cask of Amontillado (short story); alternately Ngaio Marsh: Grave Mistake (novel) or Umberto Eco: The Prague Cemetery

Genre: Mystery – Peter May: The Blackhouse (novel)

Free Space – Dashiell Hammett: The Dain Curse

Gothic – Horrace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto (novel)

Creepy Crawlies – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Adventure of the Speckled Band (short story)

"Fall" into a Good Book – Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher (short story)

Locked Room Mystery – Gaston Leroux: Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room) (novel)

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night – Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (novel)

Set in New England – Shirley Jackson: The Lottery (short story)

Full Moon – James D. Doss: White Shell Woman (novel) (full moon on the cover, and the protagonist / investigator is called Charlie Moon); alternately Dennis Lehane: Moonlight Mile

Vampires vs. Werewolves – Terry Pratchett: Feet of Clay (Night Watch novel)

Supernatural – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sussex Vampire (short story)

Classic Horror – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman) (short story)

Pumpkin – Washington Irving: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (short story)

Set on Halloween – Agatha Christie: Hallowe'en Party (novel)

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