Friday, July 28, 2017
"The Blackhouse", by Peter May
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.