Peter May, The Blackhouse (2009) & Lewis Man (2011)
Alright, I feel all the shame, because you can’t know it, but this post draft has been started in June, and at that time I was already late. Back in April I sat on a bench in a public park in Paris (in my previous home! in my previous town!) after finishing the second of these two mysteries and I wrote a blog post on my phone to declare my love to these two books. And even then I was already late, because I had not written about the first novel, and I read it at the beginning of the year!
WordPress apparently thought I should be punished, so it ate the April post while I wasn’t looking (too busy with real estate shenanigans), and I started over in June. Then life happened and I never got round to finish it. All the shame, I tell you.
Because these mysteries are awesome, and that is worth mentioning, even with almost-half-a-year of delay (!) [insert apologies here]. What I liked best was the atmosphere, and the suspense, and the twisty plot.
Peter May is Scottish, but he lives in France now and has been naturalized French (although I decided to keep his book in the British authors category). He has written several mysteries set in French countryside, and several mysteries set in China. I remember trying them years ago, and both settings I didn’t find 100% convincing (to my overly critical eyes), but I was fascinated by the Outer Hebrides (which I have never visited).
The investigator in this mystery series is Edinburgh police detective Finn McLeod, but he was born and raised on the island so there is a lot of back story to unravel. Finn McLeod’s childhood, relations and reasons for leaving the island make a great story line, and one book was not enough. The second book’s main character is an old man who had Alzheimer’s, whose memories are slowly going awry and whose past and childhood events are progressively taking the precedence over his adult and later years. Then a corpse is found in a peat bog, and the suspected murderer is the old man himself. Is it possible to even prove if he did it or to clear him? The credibility of this particular part was a bit stretched, but I liked it all the same. Finn McLeod is your traditional melancholy cop / gumshoe with a dark past, and his development was satisfying and interesting.
I’m quite ready to finish the trilogy in 2018, and I promise it won’t take me six months to let you know about it!