The Chessmen … a review

This is the last and final book of The Lewis Trilogy. I wrote about the earlier books here and here. While the personal story of Fin has advanced quite a bit, there was bound to be some part of his dark and brooding head that we hadn’t seen. That part turns out to be a fabulously beautiful and famous woman who was the vocalist for the band that Fin drove a van for! I know, right!
Anyway, the opening bit of the book is when Fin starts a new job investigating a serious spate of illegal game poaching at a local estate. But when he runs into an old school friend Whistler Macaskill, whose turns out to be a poacher; Fin is faced with the tough choice of his principles against his loyalty.
A dead body is discovered again, this time, at the site of a plane crash. And as Fin, with the adorable George Dunn’s ‘assistance’ starts digging deeper into what he thinks is an odd coincidence and the death of an old friend, the reader is drawn deeper into another can of worms. It made me think how hateful it would be to be part of such a small community, where everyone would know everything about everyone!
Although the books in this trilogy may be read as standalones, I think that if you read them back to back, their effect is very powerful. The way Peter May writes makes the characters set up shop in my head, especially Fin. And his stories of the past, along with the dark grim truth of deaths that seem to follow him made this series a very enjoyable read.

The Lewis Man … a review

I read this book a while ago, just after the first book. This is the second book of The Lewis Trilogy, where ex Detective Inspector Finlay Macleod has now moved back to the womb, back to his native village of Crobost on the Isle of Lewis, one of the remotest of islands in the Outer Hebrides. I was going to write a little intro to the fact that there is so much that is part of this book apart from the discovery of a murdered man in a peat bog, but The Scotsman did it better, and I quote:

“like all the best crime fiction its interest is not restricted to the investigation.
It’s about the weight of the past, failed relationships, lives gone wrong and the ill-treatment of children. It may also be called a hymn in praise of the beauties of the islands and the miseries of their weather. There is a great deal of description of landscape and the elements, too much perhaps for some tastes, but you can always skim these paragraphs.”

However, I would judge you if you skimmed ‘those’ paragraphs. Scottish islands, most beautiful landscapes in the world. Anyway, the only DNA that matches that of the corpse’s turns out to be Tormod MacDonald’s, who turns out to be Marsaili’s father, who has advanced dementia. Marsaili, of course, is Fin’s love interest. In trying to prod through an ailing old man’s foggy memories, Fin finds out about the history of the island and its people. More and more people are intertwines in so many ways, like a giant spider web. And Fin finds himself right at the centre of it.
I really liked the character of George Dunn, who is on the island police force and helps Fin gather evidence even though it is against the law to give away information. It adds and element of dry humour to the book, very nicely done. Fin’s relationship with Marsaili and his new found son Fionnlagh also goes through some radical changes. More family is discovered and harder choices are made. Some very potent observations about organised religion as well there.
This book is just right as the second of a trilogy. The action is enough to bring some resolutions from the first book, but enough loose ends added as well so you have to have to read the last book! Like I said before, if you are into crime thrillers, tartan noir, handsome messed-up men, Scottish islands, go for it!

The Blackhouse … a review

You might start to see a pattern here related to the Isle of Lewis. But I can assure you that it was pure chance that I mentioned The Guga Hunters to a friend and she had read something similar in this book. So I felt I should read it too. This is the first book of The Lewis Trilogy, where Detective Inspector Finlay Macleod of Leonard’s Land Police Station in Edinburgh (sigh!) faces the ghosts of his past as horrible murders and island histories unfold around him. He is pulled into a case when his island background is deemed advantageous. In any case, it is almost a full move for him as he leaves his wife of many years in Edinburgh. The death of their young child has forced them apart and our dark and brooding hero makes the long journey to one of the remotest of island in the Outer Hebrides. Practically the edge of the world, if you ask me.

 This is a very good book. The pace is not very fast, no car chases, no gunmen, no drama. Just a careful unravelling of the close ties that knit an island community together. There are shared histories that follow every character around, and even if, like Fin, you had left years and years ago, you still got sucked into it as soon as you stepped back onto the island. There is more about the annual guga hunt. In fact, it has a bit with all of the details of how it is actually conducted. And eventually, it is here that the drama ends up, on this rock surrounded by the Atlantic – ruthless and relentless.

 The resolution of events was a bit predictable. Or maybe that is the wrong word, let us just say that it did not surprise me. But there were plenty of elements on the way that did, and kept me hooked. Fin is very likeable, with his confusion and his good looks. He has been dominating my reading scene since, and I’m on the last part of the trilogy just now. If you are into crime thrillers, tartan noir, handsome messed-up men, Scottish islands, go for it!