Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Pierce’s Picks: “The Blackhouse”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

The Blackhouse, by Peter May (SilverOak):
Scottish-born author May has had a rather varied career. He started out in journalism, but switched to TV screenwriting after being asked to adapt his first novel, The Reporter (1978), as a 13-part BBC series called The Standard. In 1996 he quit television to resume his book-writing career, producing half a dozen mysteries set in China (beginning with 1999’s The Firemaker) before embarking on a second series, this one starring Enzo Macleod, a half-Italian, half-Scottish forensic scientist turned university biology professor with a particular skill for solving cold-case crimes. (2011’s Blowback is the latest installment in the Enzo series.) And just last year, UK publisher Quercus released its edition of The Blackhouse, the first book in a trilogy, which originally saw print in French translation back in 2009. The Blackhouse takes place on the Isle of Lewis, part of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides archipelago, and introduces us to Detective Sergeant Fin Macleod, who grew up on that island but now works with the Edinburgh police. Macleod has come to the Outer Hebrides to investigate a ghastly murder that resembles another committed in the Scottish capital. One might think Macleod, still reeling from the accidental death of his only child, could find some solace in these rocky environs, with old friends. However, his boyhood among the island’s hardened souls and fundamentalist churches was less than thoroughly happy, and numerous ghosts--along with plenty of other dangers--await him there. If you enjoy The Blackhouse, keep in mind that it has two sequels: The Lewis Man, which is already available in Britain; and The Chessmen, due out on the other side of the Atlantic in January 2013.

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