1 EAGLETON NOTES: The Blackhouse by Peter May

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Friday, 20 May 2016

The Blackhouse by Peter May

Arising from a comment by Carol on yesterday's post the following is the text of a post on A Hebridean in New Zealand on 11 December 2012.
I really should resurrect my book blog because last night I finished Peter May's book The Blackhouse.  I can think of no book I have read for many years that kept me so riveted to it: particularly towards the end when I couldn't put the light out until I'd finished it.  It's complex (though not really complicated)  and, in parts, implausible (are not most novels?) but the characters and places are so real it's uncanny. 
Having lived the majority of my years on Lewis makes it all the more poignant and I can see many of the characters in people I know or am acquainted with.  Contrary to at least one reviewer I do not think it is insulting in any way to the people of what has long been my home.  Every place has it's characters both good and bad and Lewis is no different.  Some of the less central characters who are there for the embellishment of the story though not from Ness are immediately recognisable (sometimes as an amalgamation of real people).
The descriptions of the Island and the places (I'm fortunate enough through my work, for example, to have been all over the Lews Castle before it was declared dangerous and closed to the public) are wonderfully evocative of the place and reading the book here in New Zealand I was transported back to Lewis: almost like being beamed there à la Star Trek.
Oh yes, the story.  Police officer, unpleasant senior police officer, friendly and loyal police officer colleague, murder, deaths and so much more (some of which would sow ideas which could give the stories - this is not one story - away).  Frankly you don't need to have a synopsis: it seems to me in many ways that the murder is just a way of having a setting on which to hang (sorry) the characters who are really what I think the novel is all about.
I would stick my neck out and say that I think that anyone I know who reads this book will enjoy it at one level or another.  
I bought it on Kindle (as I will now do the others in the trilogy) but when I return to Lewis I will have to have the real copies as well. 
I subsequently read the other books in the trilogy and I would thoroughly recommend them too.
I have yet to read the other books that I have by him but I'm sure that when I do I will not be disappointed.

16 comments:

  1. Maybe I was not yet reading your blog(s) in 2012, but I remember you having written about Peter May's books before, and they do indeed sound like something I'd really enjoy. Must have a look for them on kindle.

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    1. They can be expensive on Amazon. See if you can buy them as a job lot.

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    2. Adrian's right Meike Peter May's books are still relatively expensive in paper form anyway.

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  2. I have read them all and enjoyed them. He isn't consistently good but he is entertaining. I sometimes find that he digs himself a hole he can't get out of and then the stories become implausible. The latest one about bees is the worst. Worse than some of his Enzo books. He isn't a Stuart McBride or Ian Rankin as his books lack the black humour that makes or breaks a Whodunnit.
    Cor! Hark at me, Adrian the literary critic.

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    1. PS. Entry Island I did enjoy a grand read written to the same formula but set in Nova Scotia or some such place.

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    2. Thanks for that information Adrian. I just haven't got around to the books other than the Hebridean trilogy yet. Certainly he isn't an Ian Rankin but he has a very considerable general appeal.

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  3. You have deleted the quiz....I knew I'd won.

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    1. Adrian I haven't deleted anything. Blogger has a mind of its own at the moment.

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  4. Thank you for the synopsis of Peter May's book Graham. I will see if I can find it here or order it online. I think I would like to read it.

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    1. I hope you do Carol. I think it's worth it. (Sorry for the delayed reply).

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  5. I will have to look for this book. It sounds like one I'd enjoy.

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    1. I hope you find it Red. (Sorry for the delayed reply).

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  6. Just finished this. You are right as you get towards the end you can't put the light out until you finish it. A good read and I enjotpyed the descriptions of the island and people.

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  7. I wrote a comment in the early wee hours of this morning, but must have forgot to press 'publish'. Thank you for the heads up with this book. I had been getting a bit disillusioned with some of the books I had read lately, but not this one. It was a great read and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the place and characters. You are right..as you get near the end, it is impossible to turn the light out before finished!

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    1. I'm glad that you enjoyed it Serenata. I think you probably did press the send button but I have comment moderation on for posts over two weeks old and it must just have caught that. I was finishing reading a book last night that I too couldn't put down until I finished it which hasn't happened to me for ages either.

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    2. Ha ha, so I see - I am so used to you being really prompt I must have forgotten you have comment moderation on! ;-)

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