October 12, 2013

Review - The Black House by Peter May

Inspector Fin McLeod is returning home to assist with a murder inquiry to the Isle of Lewis off northern Scotland, a land of harsh beauty. He hasn't been back for many years. It was a brooding landscape that in a moment of sunlight could be unexpectedly transformed. Fin knew the road well, in all seasons, and had never ceased to marvel at how the interminable acres of featureless peatbog could transform by the month, the day, or even the minute. The dead straw colour of winter, the carpets of tiny white spring flowers, the dazzling purples of summer. To their right, the sky had blackened, and rain was falling somewhere in the hinterland. To their left, the sky was almost clear, the summer sunlight falling across the land, and they could see in the distance the pale outline of the mountains of Harris. Fin had forgotten how big the sky was here. When Fin grew up, the swings were chained up on a Sunday. The community was close-knit, united in a harsh and dour faith. Fin has escaped but never really left. The current investigation brings him back to where it all began. I particularly liked the way in which Fin comes to revise his thinking about his best friend and the school bully who made their lives miserable. An evocative probing of human failings and the long term effects of choices you make along the way. Wendy

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