The past casts long shadows…
😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
With this second part of his Lewis trilogy (the first being The Blackhouse), Peter May has again shown that he is up there in the top rank of the current crop of Scottish crime writers.
When a preserved body is discovered in a peat bog, DNA testing shows that the victim is related to Tormod Macdonald, the father of Marsaili, Fin Macleod’s childhood love. Fin has now left the police force in Edinburgh and returned to Lewis to restore his parents’ house and soon gets sucked into the investigation. Tormod is suffering from dementia and although he still has flashes of memory about the events of his youth he is unable to tell the story of what happened in words. However, the reader is allowed into Tormod’s mind and through a combination of his fragmentary recollections and Fin’s investigations a grim and moving picture gradually develops of Tormod’s childhood experiences first in an orphanage and then shipped as a ‘homer’ to a family in the islands. May’s story-telling skills bring this shameful and little known part of Scotland’s recent past vividly to life. And again, as in the first novel in the series, the long shadows of the past loom threateningly over the present day.
As always, May’s research is meticulous and the picture he creates has an air of complete authenticity. For me, the Lewis novels are his best – it seems he has an affinity with the life and natural world of the islands which makes his descriptive writing compelling. His recurring characters are likeable and their story is further developed in this book. May’s handling of Tormod’s difficult childhood and present dementia is sensitive and sympathetic. However, he also manages to inject some humour into the story to lighten the otherwise dark and bleak tone. I enjoyed The Blackhouse very much, but I believe this one is even better. I am only sorry that there will be just one more in the Lewis series. Highly recommended.