When a brutal murder on the Isle of Lewis seems similar to a previous murder in Edinburgh, Detective Fin McLeod is sent to investigate. Fin McLeod was raised on the island: going back is a journey into the past. His trip starts just before the annual guga hunt, a hunt in which he once participated and which resulted in tragedy. There are memories from the island that Fin would prefer to forget. But he had friends there too, even if he’s not seen them for a long time.
‘There was no greater reminder of your own mortality than to witness another human being laid bare on a cold mortuary table.’
Fin knows the man who was murdered, he was at school with him. He’s a man who many had reason to dislike. But as Fin investigates, he finds memories of his own life on the island, events he’s not thought of for a long time. There are people whose lives have been blighted in different ways, people trapped on the island who would have preferred to leave it as Fin did. The story moves between the past and present of various characters, of the children they were and the adults they’ve become. Fin needs to come to terms with his own past as part of the process of finding the murderer.
‘It was no good looking backwards, even if you had no notion of where it was you were going.’
I really enjoyed this novel. Mr May’s depiction of Lewis, of the characters he’s peopled the island with, the difficulties associated with living in such an isolated place. This novel is the first in a trilogy, and I’m about to start the second.