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The Blackhouse: Book One of the Lewis Trilogy and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
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The Blackhouse Hardcover – 3 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (3 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849163847
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849163842
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,489 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 265,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"Peter May is a writer I'd follow to the ends of the earth" New York Times

Peter May is the multi award-winning author of:

- the award-winning Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland;
- the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell;
- the Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France;
and Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK) the latest of several standalone books.

He has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

One of Scotland's most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama. He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland before quitting television to concentrate on his first love, writing novels.

Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.

After being turned down by all the major UK publishers, the first of the The Lewis Trilogy - The Blackhouse - was published in France as L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux where it was hailed as "a masterpiece" by the French national newspaper L'Humanité. His novels have a large following in France. The trilogy has won several French literature awards, including one of the world's largest adjudicated readers awards, the Prix Cezam.

The Blackhouse was published in English by the award-winning Quercus (a relatively young publishing house which did not exist when the book was first presented to British publishers). It went on to become an international best seller, and was shortlisted for both Barry Award and Macavity Award when it was published in the USA.

The Blackhouse won the US Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel at Bouchercon in Albany NY, in 2013.


Product Description

Review

'vivid ... fascinating' Literary Review.

From the Inside Flap

The Isle of Lewis is the most desolate and harshly beautiful place in Scotland, where the brutality of daily life is outweighed only by people's fear of God. When a bloody murder on the island bears the hallmarks of a similar slaying in Edinburgh, police detective Fin Macleod is dispatched north to investigate. Since Fin himself was raised on the island, the investigation represents not only a journey home but a voyage into his past, as he attempts to rediscover the life and people he left behind. Each year twelve island men, among them Fin's boyhood friends, sail out to a remote and treacherous rock called An Sgeir on a perilous quest to slaughter nesting seabirds. No longer necessary for survival, this rite of passage is fiercely defended against all the demands of modern morality. But for Fin the hunt harbours a horrific memory which might, after all this time, demand an even greater sacrifice. The Blackhouse is a crime novel of rare power and vision. It is a murder mystery that explores the shadows in our souls, set in a place where the past is ever near the surface, and life blurs into myth and history.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

258 of 265 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Jun. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The novel is set on the remote island of Lewis far off the coast of northern Scotland. This is an area that the author will know well since he spent several years there producing and filming the Gaelic language TV series, Machair. This gives an authenticity to the very strong descriptions of this remote, rugged, weather-beaten corner of the British Isles. In particular, May's description of the annual guga (gannet) hunt is fascinating both in its detail and in the light it sheds on the island community's strong attachment to its ancient traditions.

DS Fin Macleod is sent back to Lewis to investigate a murder that resembles one that took place earlier in his Edinburgh patch. Returning home after 20 years away, Fin is thrown into remembering and re-assessing his difficult childhood and adolescence. The book alternates between the present day and Fin's past and it gradually emerges that the shadow of that past may be involved in the current investigation.

At first, I found the alternation between the present and the past irritating as it seemed to break the flow of the story. However, as the links between the two became clearer, the tension gradually mounted and came finally to an unexpected and dramatic climax. Along the way, May describes a community more inclined to deal with problems internally rather than involving the authorities, a place where the young people are beginning to challenge the traditions and strict religious observances of their elders and where dark secrets can sometimes come back to haunt.

Not a traditional whodunit crime novel, this is more an examination of the why of the mystery and is ultimately perhaps more satisfying for that.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Peter Franklin on 11 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
I was after an easy read and bought this book as it appeared at face value to be a fairly simple whodunnit murder mystery. Not a bit of it. It worked for me on many levels. There is the murder and it's investigation, which drives the plot forward, but it's the skeleton that everything else is attached to. The central character, Fin is telling his own historical story and the author relates the present day action. This works pretty well, ensuring you don't go wrong as the story dovetails between the two. I was bitten by the descriptions of the island, even going as far as peering at Google Earth to enhance my understanding. (Wish I'd known Crobost was fictional beforehand though.)

The telling of Fin's early life and loves brought to mind Thomas Hardy, both in the style of May's writing and how his relationships seem doomed to complicated failures, the fault of Fin's flawed character as much as the other characters. You wonder if there's autobiographical elements here. There is a sense of foreboding that builds as the book progresses through the setbacks of Fin's life that gives the ending an unexpected feel. I would also agree May builds a real sense of claustophobia, no mean feat in the open, practically tree-less island with stunning beaches and wild but picturesque landscapes. Sub-plots include the changing ways of island life over a 30 year period, Fin's job and the annual controversial guga cull.

So did I get my easy read? Not as I thought. The book was much more involved and demanding that I anticipated. But it so easily draws you in and carries you along. Ultimately much more rewarding than a simple murder mystery. I like to read in the bath and a good judge of a book for me is how much I read at a time there. Cold water and prune-like skin became a problem.

I certainly recommend this book and will look forward eagerly to the next two.
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93 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Bloodaxe on 26 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read several of the authors' previous works (from his two crime series The China Thrillers and the Enzo Files) so knew the kind of things to expect - or so I thought. But The Blackhouse is even better.

Peter May's great storytelling soon drags you in to a number of strands. On the face of it, The Blackhouse starts as a relatively simple murder mystery. But it soon becomes much more than that, a tale of rediscovery and childhood memories interspersed with some great descriptions of the harsh landscape and unique way of life of the islands. And the way the author handles the same character in the both present and the past is excellent. I don't usually like childhood growing up stories, but this one kept me gripped.

Typically, the plot is compelling. Right up until almost the last page, you are kept guessing - and wanting to know what will happen next. I read the book over 4 nights and on each the light didn't go out until after 1am. This book is very hard to put down!

Like the previous reviewer said, once it's over and the last page has been turned, you do keep on revisiting the story in your head. And wishing there was a bit more... because it's addictive. I've not actually been to the Outer Hebrides, but I certainly feel like I know the place now.

I understand there's likely to be a second book in the pipeline, so hopefully won't have to wait too long for my next fix.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M MYDDLE on 29 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Blackhouse isn't the usual crime thriller. In fact the murder which brings Fin back to the island of Lewis rather fades into the background as he faces up to and comes to terms with the story of his own troubled past. I liked the juxtaposition of first and third person voices. This allowed us to get to know the young Fin well, while at the same time developing all three main characters into rounded people. This was cleverly done, though I did find some of the dialogue between the five year olds a little unconvincingly 'grown up'.

The island comes across as a wild place, battered by gales and rain, but also stunningly beautiful. It is the perfect setting for the story; the brutality of the crimes committed there contrasting with moments of unexpected goodness and kindness.

Poor Fin is shown at a traumatic moment in his turbulent life, and things get worse before they get better. Let's hope that the author will show us other sides to his character and fortunes in future books - and maybe give the poor man a break please!

First time for me reading this author, but all in all a very enjoyable book. Difficult to put down and I look forward to reading more.
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