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!
The detective's memories of his childhood on the Isle of Lewis made the story come alive. My monthly credit will be used for the next installment of this trilogy.
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.
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
No to the author.
Yes to the narrator if the book interested me enough.
No, but I won't read the rest of this series. The story was depressing, not that that makes it a bad book but it meandered around without any anchor for any of the characters. Especially the lead. The landscape could have been the main character here, but that fails to happen also.
I'd run out of ink.
"I loved this book"
I had already listened to and enjoyed another book in this series but for some reason I hadn't got around to buying this one. I loved it and I felt lost when I reached the end because I'd become so wrapped up in the story.
I can understand why some people haven't liked the style because there is a lot of description, but the pace and the detail is vital to the story. I loved the way that the story sucked me in and created a vivid picture of the people and events. It's beautifully written and it has a haunting quality which will stay with me and cause me to listen to it again (probably more than once).
It's very well read in an effortless way which suits the book perfectly. I would be happy to listen to other books narrated by Steve Worsley and I will certainly look out for more books by Peter May.
This was not at all what I was expecting, it is not so much a crime novel but a thriller that moves between past and present with a hugely likeable, sympathetic main character. Evokes the atmosphere of life on the Isle of Lewis, mesmerising narration and a gripping storyline. Can't wait for part 2 in the series.
"A Gripping Read"
Peter May has blended the past and present seemlessly in this story. I know the island of Lewis well (and have eaten guga) so I had a head start in enjoying the descriptions of its beautiful north and west coastline. A bit dour in places, The Blackhouse intermingles a wonderful chronicle of island life with a different but gripping detective story. It is also beautifully narrated and I thoroughly recommend it!
"Not the crime thriller I was hoping for"
Not wishing to spoil because it's a good story but after the start and what happens I was expecting a chase for the perpetrators. It was more a tale which resulted in a predictable conclusion.
"Really good listen/read"
A sense of place, some novels just don't have it....this does in Spades! The remoteness, the parochial insularity, the feeling of claustrophobia echoed in Artair's breathing difficulties, invade the reader and trap him on the island until the dénouement. A wonderful but exhausting experience. More, please.
"good story, but shouldn't be in Crime and Thriller"
This was quite an involved tale about the life of a detective - Fin, Ok there WAS a murder in it .... but the story was more about the life of our hero rather than the detection of the crime, it was an interesting enough read - but I was disappointed as it was not what I was expecting and I probably would not have purchased it if I had known.
"A haunting thriller."
This is a truly remarkable book. It has remained with me for some time. It is almost an assault on the senses, you can hear the cry of the sea birds and feel the bite of the icy wind. The writer has captured the atmosphere and life on the Isle of Lewis in a wonderful and realistic way. Woven between his descriptive narrative is a compulsive thriller involving many different characters. Beware, it is not for the faint hearted but beautifully written and read with style. Very, very highly recommended.
"Desolate and Depressing"
I found myself enjoying how well written and narrated the book was but hating the story. I had bought the book expecting a really good murder mystery with twists and turns along the way. What I got was a book where the murder was actually only a secondary storyline to the early life of Fin Macleod.
It was dark, dismal and desolate. Listening to the slaughter of the seabirds on the annual barbaric guga hunt was ghastly, something which does actually take place and was very descriptive. Certainly not something you want to be listening to whilst having lunch!
I won't be listening to any more by this author as this one was just not my kind of book.
"the blach house"
This was my fist audiobook. I really enjoyed it and found it excell and well narrated
Brilliant story, brilliantly read! The author paints amazing pictures along the way, and the story kept me on the edge of my seat. Can't wait to get stuck into the next book in the trilogy.
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