May, Peter - 'Entry Island'
The 'Entry Island' of this story is the lesser well-known entry island for immigration to Canada; the Canadian equivalent of Ellis Island, just outside of New York. The French name for the Canadian 'Entry Island' is Les Īles de la Madelaine (English: the Magdalen Islands). The normal peaceful setting of the island is shaken up when a man, James Cowell, is stabbed to death in his house. Sīme (Simon) is one of the detectives sent to investigate his murder. Although it seems to be an open and shut case, in that James's wife Kirsty seems to be the only suspect, Kirsty claims that an unknown masked intruder attacked her and then stabbed her husband. In an island so safe that no-one locks their doors, can this be true? No one saw anyone and there doesn't seem to be any evidence to support Kirsty's story.
Sīme feels an instant connection to Kirsty, even feeling that he's seen her somewhere before, although this can't be possible, as Kirsty never leaves the islands. She feels she has to stay as she is 'waiting for something'. He wants to believe her story, but is he in any fit state to investigate? He is barely sleeping after his recent breakup with fellow detective Marie-Ange. Is he too tired to think properly?
While he is questioning Kirsty, she notices that the design of a ring he is wearing is similar to a pendant that she owns, something that has been in her family for generations. But when she looks for it to show him, she can't find it. Has it been stolen? Who by, and why? Is there really a connection between them and is it something to do with the long distant past. During the small amount of sleep that Sīme manages to have, he dreams about a story set in Scotland at the time of the potato famine. In his dreams, the daughter of a local laird falls in love with the son of a local peasant, living in a blackhouse on the Lairds estate in the village of Baile Mhanais on the west coast of Lewis and Harris. This was a forbidden love that had tragic consequences. The dreams remind Sīme of the stories told to him as a small boy, by his grandmother, about the family's history.
ENTRY ISLAND is more a love story with a crime twist that a crime story with a bit of love interest thrown in and it's not hard to guess where this story might lead, but there are quite a few threads to the story, including false clues and trails to keep one entertained. There is some delving into the type of island mentality that appears to make everyone eager to keep secrets and protect their friends. And there is the back-story of Sīme's own personal life, his relationship with his sister, and the breakdown of his relationship with Marie-Ange and its consequences. An easy read, enjoyable, and if you've enjoyed the previous Peter May books you'll like this one.
Read another review of ENTRY ISLAND.
Michelle Peckham, England