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!

Smokeheads … a review

I picked this book up from a friend’s bedside table and when I began reading it, I was pleasantly surprised at the style of writing. The author has a very free flowing style which makes it one of those books that are very easy to read in one go. Problem for me since I picked it up on a Sunday night! But this is about four friends from Scotland who have been together since their University days and have a common bond through being lovers of scotch. They plan to take a trip to Islay. Those who know Scotland will know it as a western isle famous for its distilleries and A class single malt. Various motives and back stories start to come to light as and when the trip progresses and it is very nice how the author has brought out the different natures of the men very well. Apart from some shared common history and the trip, the men seem to have nothing in common. That is, until, a series of unfortunate events occur on the island that will change the way they view their lives forever.

Now, I must tell you, when I read a thriller, I don’t try to guess who the villain is and nor do I try to guess where the story is going. I just read. If you are one of those more prodding readers, then you might be disappointed because the plot is quite predictable. I  did not mind it, it was fast paced and well written. And finally, when I looked the author up, I found that this book is a genre called tartan noir – so sort of like the Scottish version of nordic noir. This interested me greatly and I will be reading more of this genre for sure – i combines two of my favourite themes. I have already picked up another one of this same author’s books.