The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy #3) – Peter May

Published March 31, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

The concluding part of the Lewis Trilogy. Fin Macleod, now head of security on a privately owned Lewis estate, is charged with investigating a spate of illegal game-hunting taking place on the island…

What did I think?:

This is the third and final instalment of Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy, set in the remote Western Isles in the Highlands of Scotland and I know for sure I have found myself a new favourite author – the fact that he is Scottish like myself is just an additional bonus, but he has a beautiful way of painting his landscape with words that make you feel like you know every inch of the island for yourself. The use of Scottish dialect such as “oxters” and “shoogle” really made me smile and was nice to see in a novel for me on a personal level. Our hero, Fin Macleod has returned to his home town in Lewis having retired from the police force and nets himself a job as the head of security on a private estate. The landlord, essentially Fin’s new boss is concerned with the amount of illegal poaching that is going on and requires Fin to nip it in the bud immediately. However, one of the suspected poachers is also one of Fin’s childhood friends, Whistler which puts Fin in a potentially tricky situation.

You might look at this synopsis and wonder at the direction Peter May is taking, and whether there is enough content here to work with and to develop a thrilling crime story. I must admit, I questioned it myself. However, I had nothing to fear, it wasn’t all about salmon snatching, our obligatory dead body does turn up and causes Fin a whole host of problems. The body is discovered sitting in a long-lost plane which has been buried for twenty years under a loch which has recently drained itself (an unlikely but true natural phenomenon) and exposed the crash site. Fin recognises the body as belonging to another childhood friend Roddy who formed part of a Celtic band that Fin helped out as a “roadie” when he was younger. And, guess what? The corpse shows evidence of a brutal death which Fin can’t help but investigate.

I’ve noticed some reviews of this book that veer towards the negative and it probably isn’t my favourite of the trilogy but I still really enjoyed the world that Peter May has created and have fallen in literary love with Fin Macleod as a character. What I found really nice about this book and the series in general is that I felt I learned a little something along the way. For example in The Blackhouse, the Guga hunt which still goes on to this day, in The Lewis Man we learn about the treatment of Catholic orphans sixty years or so ago and finally in The Chessmen I learned about the famous Lewis miniature chess figures, a group of 78 12th century pieces carved in walrus ivory which were thought to be one of the first medieval chess sets. A couple of reviewers have questioned the believability factor of May’s third novel but I really didn’t find this an issue or question it personally. Also, by referencing actual historical events, I feel that the author adds a little bit of authenticity into the story rather than take it away. It is a shame we’re not going to hear any more about Fin Macleod and part of me does wonder if I’d like to learn more about how he is coping with his son’s death and whether his relationship with Marsaili will have a happy ending. Do you think we can persuade him to write another?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


5 comments on “The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy #3) – Peter May

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