Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Book Reviews - Peter May The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man

I bought The Blackhouse when dropping off a load of stuff at the local charity shop, including some books making the bookcase strain a bit themselves. So I donate a load of stuff then return with a book - luckily Mrs F didn't complain :-)It was one of those - I've seen that book before and thought I wonder if it is any good - that is £1.50 can't lose - moments.

The Blackhouse

This initial book details the story of Finn who we meet just as he is recovering from his son being killed in a hit and run accident in Edinburgh. He is encouraged to return to work and an investigation he has been working on takes him to the Isle of Lewis his birthplace and where he grew up. You know from the word go that there is much more to his return than just co-incidence and the intertwining of the present day which is portrayed in a standard third person narrative style through to the memories of Finn which are written in his first person account of them.

He soon meets up with memories and people of his past and the story of his time on the island merges into the present day, leading to a climax that has several twists in it that make you just want to keep turning the page.

Excellently written with fantastic character portrayals, not the two dimensional flimsy ones in so many books but you really get to know the principle characters extremely well, warts and all which is one bit I like, there are parts of the characters you don't like - that is the point, no-one is perfect even the good guys.

The Lewis Man

The Lewis Man picks up just after The Blackhouse finishes. Finn has returned to Edinburgh but has quit his job and his marriage is finished too after he has admitted that he and his wife were only together because of the boy they lost. With the slate wiped clean not surprisingly he returns to Lewis to renovate his parents old croft and figure out a new future.

No sooner does he arrive but another mystery lands on his doorstep. This one involves a body being dug up from the Peat Bog that is more modern than first thought and then suddenly an old flames father is identified as being related to the body, which is news to everyone in the area and the family. Sadly he is now suffering from dementia so the simple route of asking him what happened isn't available. Finn is pushed into investigating what has happened before a full blown Police investigation starts.

Written in similar style but this time the recollections are from the poor man with dementia and those are stunningly written to my thinking - although someone with or who knows about dementia may well disagree. Again I found this a really engaging read with plenty of twists as the fog of the past is revealed. It is a very touching and melancholy end to the book as well. There is a big underlying message in the book that is around no matter how much you think you know someone there may well be very very hidden secrets they have that maybe should never see the sunlight again.

There is a third book in this series on the way The Chess Men - I for one will be definitely reading that.

A couple of the biggest and best double thumbs up on the FITUBRS (Furtheron International Thumbs Up Book Rating Scale)


  1. Thanks for the lovely reviews! Just thought I'd write to let you know that I wrote from the heart about the character with dementia as a result of looking after my father, who was an alzheimer sufferer, for several years. Much of what I wrote about the character of Tormod in the book comes from that experience.

    1. Blimey - with increasing frequency authors seem to pop up here reading my completely amateur reviews of their works... (Note to self, remember do to slander anyone!). Sorry to hear about your father and I did expect you had close association with the condition from the writing - one thing I will say from someone thus far with no real exposure to it in my family you certainly made me very conscious of it from the sufferers perspective.

      Two great books and I look forward to The Chess Men - which are also one of my favourite things in the British Museum... you can keep your marbles and mummy's show me stuff from Britain! :-)

  2. Sound good. Have to look out in my charity shops. Actually we're going to Egham this weekend and they have a high class of charity shop there including a whole book one.