The Lewis Trilogy

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The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy #3) – Peter May

Published March 31, 2014 by bibliobeth

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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):

four-stars_0

The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy #2) – Peter May

Published March 13, 2014 by bibliobeth

The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy, #2)

What’s it all about?:

A MAN WITH NO NAME. An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. A MAN WITH NO MEMORY. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald – now an elderly man suffering from dementia – has always claimed to be an only child. A MAN WITH NO CHOICE. When Tormod’s family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.

What did I think?:

This is the second book in the Lewis Trilogy, featuring Fin Macleod, a former police detective who has a troubled and heart-breaking past. When we meet him in The Lewis Man, he is finalising a divorce and escapes to the Scottish Highlands where he grew up to get away from it all for a while. However, when an unidentified corpse is dug out from a peat bog he can’t help himself and becomes heavily involved in the investigation. This is due to DNA tests being carried out on the body which reveal a sibling match to his old flame Marsaili’s father. Unfortunately for the police, the elderly man is suffering with a quite advanced form of dementia and his hazy recollections cannot be relied on.

The captivating story in this novel is told from a number of viewpoints which I loved. First we have our main character Fin Macleod whom I am really warming to in this series. The scenes that involve his interactions with Tormod, the elderly man with dementia, are both touching and heart-warming. Then we hear from Tormod himself, during the present where we get slivers of information about his muddled state of mind and when he is reminiscing about his childhood.  Some of the events he recalls are truly tragic and harrowing with additional titbits about how brutally orphans were treated during the 1950’s. As in the first novel, the author’s descriptive and rich prose brings the Outer Hebrides to life, and I was blown away by how the landscape seems intensely beautiful but in some ways, highly desolate. The answer to the mystery of the body in the peat bog is fascinating and one definitely worth the unravelling for the reader. Peter May is fast becoming one of my favourite authors in this genre and I can’t wait to read the third book in the series – The Chessmen.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0