May, Peter - 'The Lewis Man'
This, the second novel in Peter May's 'Lewis trilogy', is another fantastic book and every bit as excellent as THE BLACKHOUSE, the first one. Fin McLeod is once again the central character. He has resigned from his job as a detective inspector in Edinburgh and returned to Lewis, in an attempt to rebuild his life, as well as his parents' old house.
Meanwhile, a body has been discovered in the peat. It is originally thought to be one of the prehistoric bog men but the Elvis Presley tattoo on its arm dates it as being rather more recent. DNA testing of the body and comparison with a DNA database indicate that the body is closely related to Tormod Macdonald, the father of Fin's first love, Marsaili. Tormod is now old and frail, with advanced dementia, and has no real understanding of what is going on around him. He has always said that he is an only child with no close family, so this find shocks everyone. Fin steps in to find out what is going on and the truth behind the man that his loved ones think they know, and that he has spent a lifetime trying to forget - or at least prevent from coming to light - is extremely black and disturbing.
As ever, Peter May weaves his wonderful magic and the story unfolds before you in vivid detail, with chapters alternately detailing the present with Fin and Marsaili, and Tormod's distressing childhood in the past. The ferocity of the storms he describes leave you shivering and cold, while you can hear the sounds of the seas that surround the islands and almost touch the desolation of the hard lives that people experienced living on Lewis in times gone by. The story is so well written that it absorbs you completely. You are a hidden spectator behind the rocks on the beach, or behind a parapet on the bridge that fateful night where the tragic story begins.
Very often the second book in a trilogy seems to be a linker between the first and third and doesn't have much to say for itself. This is very definitely not the case with THE LEWIS MAN and it isn't essential to have read THE BLACKHOUSE first, although it is preferable to do so, as it sets the scene and introduces the characters.
An excellent start to my reviewing for 2012! Very highly recommended.
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland