Peter May, Coffin Road (2016)
This thriller was the perfect entertainment for our quiet, socially-distanced summer: it has intriguing premises, it is packed with twists and revelations, it keeps you up at night with some action, it transports you to faraway, exotic landscapes, and it is fresh… just enough to make you breathe through a heat wave.
The cover goes: “If you had killed someone you would remember, wouldn’t you?” Then the first chapter proceeds to show the thoughts and emotions of a narrator who precisely can’t answer these questions: who am I? what have I done? Am I a killer? The man washes up on a beach, soaked and beaten up, without a name for himself. From what he gathers, he is a loner who works by himself on the island of Harris, but soon enough, getting answers become both more dangerous and more important, as he is put in mortal danger again.
I didn’t really try to challenge this case of amnesia. I know that some readers find it too convenient a plot point, but I was here for the fun and I was all too eager to suspend my disbelief in exchange for a trip to Scotland.
I had really enjoyed Peter May’s Lewis trilogy (The Black House, The Lewis Man and The Chess Men) and so I knew more or less what to expect: a lot of wet and cold weather with strong winds, stormy sea with big waves, cold fear and strong characters, twisted motives and people who are not who they are supposed to be. This one was just as noir and entertaining, with a dose of environmental issues layered on top.
Well, I guess I’m a fan, so you won’t get a very objective account from me, and I certainly won’t spoil any of the story, so you’ll have to judge for yourself! Beyond summer’s heat waves, I guess it would also be a great November read with a warm cocoa and a comfy woolen shawl.