Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Review: 'The Lewis Man' by Peter May

Editor's note: This review was originally published at the Daily Kos, which notes that its "content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified." The original page can be found here
Review by Susan Grigsby

The Lewis Man
by Peter May
Published by Quercus
September 2, 2014
368 pages

I am in love with the work of Peter May. I suspected this may have been the case when I read the first book in his Hebrides trilogy, The Blackhouse. This novel has confirmed it. Rarely have I found the second novel to be better than the first, but this one seems much stronger than The Blackhouse.
Our protagonist, Fin Macleod, has left Edinburgh behind. Newly divorced, he has resigned his position as a Detective Inspector and is hard at work restoring his parents whitehouse on the Isle of Lewis. Meanwhile, a body has been discovered in the peat bog on the island's north side and his help is requested in identifying the young man whose skin carries an unmistakable tattoo of the words "Elvis Presley."
DNA from the body suggests that it was closely related to Tormond Macdonald, father of Finn's childhood sweetheart, Marsaili. As far as anyone knows however, Tormond was an only child when he arrived on Lewis so many years in the past. Sadly in the grip of demetia, Tormond is unable to provide the answers that Finn needs to find the identity of the young man in the bog.
Peter May alternates the voices of Finn and Tormond, as we explore the reality of today on the Isle of Lewis and the memories of Tormond's childhood and his arrival there. May handles the the issue of dementia as sensitively as he does the Outer Hebrides themselves, neither ignoring the pain or glorifying the pleasure. And there is pleasure in memories, just as there is confusion and fear in the failure to recognize the present.
As Finn befriends Tormond and searches for answers to the murder of the young man, he finds that some memories that refuse to stay buried can endanger the present and the future, as well.

Peter May is a fascinating author of many talents as I wrote about last September. His final book of the trilogy, The Chessman, was released in the States on February 3, 2015, but is not yet out in audiobook format.