The Isle of Lewis is the most desolate and harshly beautiful place in Scotland. When a bloody murder on the island bears the hallmarks of a similar slaying in Edinburgh, police detective Fin Macleod is dispatched north to investigate. Since Fin himself was raised on the island, the investigation represents not only a journey home but a voyage into his past. Each year twelve island men sail out to a remote and treacherous rock called An Sgeir on a perilous quest to slaughter nesting seabirds.
No longer necessary for survival, this rite of passage is still fiercely defended. But for Fin the hunt harbours a horrific memory which might, after all this time, demand an even greater sacrifice.
©2011 Peter May (P)2011 Isis Publishing Ltd
This is my first Peter May book. It won't be my last! I finished the novel in 2 days; I just couldn't stop listening. What an intriguing plot set in the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Steve Worsley does a fantastic job as narrator. Unfortunately, as I was looking for another May book, I noticed that Worsley was not the narrator listed in other novels. The ending of the story, though joyous in one way, is quite surprising in another. The book is filled with marvelous real life characters all portrayed quite authentically by the narrator.
This is well-worth the credit.
I'm a retired professor of geography. A few years ago my health deteriorated and I had to give up reading. Audiobooks are my life-saver.
This is mystery writing at its very best, to which I would add that it is also contemporary fiction at its best. That might sound a little elitist, but I think there tends to be a perception that somehow mysteries don’t quite rank up there with modern “literature”. Actually, I do find that what I consider to be a 5-star mystery isn’t always a great novel, but The Blackhouse is definitely both.
I think what distinguishes a great mystery from the very good is the richness of the sense of place created by the author, and the emphasis on character rather than plot. That’s why I think that this book by Peter May puts him alongside some of the other “mystery” writers whose work I most enjoy and respect: James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell and Tana French to name but five. Like Dave Robicheaux and Clete in Burke’s Lousiana/Montana books, Finn is a wonderfully constructed – and highly flawed – character.
A bonus of this novel is that the story of Finn’s first two decades is interspersed throughout the book with the contemporary murder mystery. It’s like having two novels for the price of one. In a way each part could stand alone as a novel, but in The Blackhouse they are so skilfully interwoven as to complement the understanding of the other.
Let me tell you how good this book is. About three years ago I had to give up reading because of illness, since when I’ve listened daily to audible.com books (probably 400 by now). Unfortunately the second and third parts of the trilogy of which The Blackhouse is the first are not available as audio books in Canada, but I so much want to continue following Finn’s story that I’ve ordered printed copies of both books.
One drawback, if you can call it that, goes back to the richness and decriptions (indeed the integral nature) of the setting (the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides off the north-west cost of Scotland; unfortunately I’ve never been there but I did once spend two weeks camping on the adjacent islands of Benbecula and South Uist). The playing time of Part 1 of the audio version is a little over five hours, but it took me at least eight hours to listen to, because I had my iPhone at hand and was constantly looking up place descriptions, photographs and maps. I even searched for a song that was mentioned in the story, and watched videos of the gaga hunters.
There’s no need to say any more, except buy and enjoy!
Descriptive, enthralling, satisfying!
Yes I loved the way it kept on unravelling....with surprises all along the way. All loose ends were tied together nicely by the final chapter. It also painted a vivid picture of the island and it's people
Steve Worsley told the story beautifully capturing the essence of each character. So well done!
It is hard to say, I think that it would be a great read/listen either way.
Kind of. It was more the visualisation of the island and the lifestyle that had me enthralled.
No, this was the first one.
It makes me want to travel to the Hebrides and explore the islands!
A good story in a great setting. Give it a try.
This novel popped up as an Audible recommendation and I decided to toss it into my library a few months ago. Finally got around to listening and was quite surprised. It was a really good listen.
The setting combined with the narration was fantastic. The flashback and forward structure worked really well and the found the narrator did a great job and pulling me into the story.
This is much more than the typical murder mystery and I really can't say anything bad about this title. I look forward to starting another novel by Peter May and hope the next novel in this series arrives soon.
A very entertaining story told back and forth over the years and a really surprising ending. Being Scottish myself, the book transported me back in time and brought back many memories of the rugged west coast of Scotland and of words I had not heard in a great many years. A terrific story and beautifully narrated.
I bought this book as I was running short of reads and it was on sale. What a wonderful surprise! I loved learning the customs and traditions of the people of the Isle of Lewis and the wonderful description of this tiny Scottish island. Finn's memories of his childhood were well incorporated into an intriguing plot. I would certainly reccomend this book.
loved this book. slow to start but good. looking forward to the next chapter of Finn McLeod!
"Peter May, exceptional."
This is the first of the Lewis trilogy that I've read after firstly reading Peter May's Runaway. The book is amazing. The author takes you to Lewis, his writing is wonderful & can bring you up & take you down in equal measure. The characters are completely believable and I loved this. Can't wait to start the Lewis Man.
"A slightly trashy feel"
A more mature writing style
I only listened for an hour
The writing style is slightly childish and full of cliches. In the first few pages I found these examples: eyes like a hawk - like a cuckoo in a nest - a shock of black hair - skin like leather - she was a lovely woman - she had a sunny disposition - he thrust a large hand - they had backed the wrong horse - I stopped in my tracks - I tried it out for size.
Great narration good characters and story.
I think this is the first one in the trilogy of detective Fin MacLeod who is returning to his home on the Scottish Isles after many years in Glasgow. He is sent back to work on a murder and is confronted by his own past and demons in the process.
An excellent read well worth a go.
This author can do no wrong for me. What a story teller and what wonderful narration. Loved it and have now read the whole series.
Gripping story. Found it very difficult to put down. Reminded me of situations and people from school days within a remote rural situation.
Very engrossing read. Excellently narrated. Big reveal unexpected, but ultimately satisfying. I will probably read more of this author
"There was a murder but not really a crime novel..."
Yes. Descriptions of the island and characters was great.
Living in the Black House collecting the gulls.
Really brought the characters to life.
Added the other books in the series to my wishlist!
I bought this on the strength of the other reviews and although did not find it as gripping as many have appeared to, I did listen to the end and enjoyed it overall. A passionate narration although my attention did wander at times, however it was a good story that built to an exciting denouement. Glad I stuck with it. Some chapters were very compelling.
Gripping tale that I was not able to leave and with more twists and turns than the average grand prix circuit. I can't recommend this book strongly enough. If you are listening to the audio book, Steve Worsley is an excellent narrator who brings the words of Peter May to life in a way that you will find yourself on Lewis feeling the events of Fin's life unfurl. A single word of caution however beware of the adult content if youngsters may over hear the words.
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