I bought myself this book for my birthday this year, having seen it in a bookshop and unable to ignore the blurb. I am fascinated by lighthouses – I believe it stems from having spent my childhood at airports, playing in and aound closed terminal buildings, under the watchful gaze of air traffic control towers. They would have a beacon, and my earliest memories involve countine to 10 in between every sweep of the beam of light.
In adulthood, I have visited a few lighthouses, but there are my top three – the lighthouse at Kaup Beach near my university town Manipal, the one at Ardnamurchan Point in Scotland and the Portland Bill lighthouse in Dorset. Anyway, author Emma Stonex has captured perfectly the thrill and mystery surrounding lighthouses in this ‘locked room’ thriller, based on the disappearance of the lighthouse keepers on Eilean Mor.
Three keepers vanish mysteriously, the table is set for dinner, the lighthouse is locked from within and there is no way anyone could have gone in or out. They leave behind families – wives, children and a girlfriend. The investigation of their disappearance yeilds nothing – no bodies, no clues, nada. Decades pass and then an author decides to do some more digging, beginning with interviews of the family.
The plot is watertight and Stonex builds up the pace brilliantly. And her style of writing is excellent, with every chapter like peeling away the layers of an onion, revealing more and more. However, I feel the author does herself a disservice towards the end by merging fact, fiction and imagination. To the point where it becomes hard to figure out who killed who, when and why. There are so many people with so many motivations, but somehow it doesn’t quite come together satisfactorily. I’d still recommend this book, for the journey rather than the destination. Enjoy!