A well-written who dunnit in remarkable and seemingly authentic settings. The actual story line is a mite far fetched but very readable. Having read some of his earlier works and enjoyed them I plan to try his Chinese series. If you are interested in the Scottish and Irish clearances and the awful impacts they had - or the toughness of early settlers in the wilds of Canada -along with a hint of thwarted love - this is for you. Well worth the effort.
I first came across Peter May when he came to the Perth Writers Festival this year. This is the first book of his I have read and I was delighted with it. I found it extremely funny and enjoyed the bits and pieces of history about Entry Island
I really enjoyed this book and was taken totally and pleasantly by surprise with this story, told in two timelines it is as much historical fiction as murder mystery. I'm not sure what I was expecting but the historical parts were equally compelling and gave some insights to this ignorant reader on historical events involving the eviction of Scottish tenants on the Hebridean Islands after their potato crops failed during the famine of the late 1800's. (Hope I've got my historical places in the right order :() I was unaware that the potato famine had affected such a wide scope and so many more people suffered starvation and further dire consequences of the effects.
Set on a very small island called Entry Island among the group known as the Outer Hebrides, with a population of around 100 people, they are connected to the mainland only by means of a two hour ferry trip. The island is only two by three kilometers in size and is therefore well traversed by its inhabitants who all have a long history there and are all very well known to each other... So when the wife of the wealthiest man on the island screams of the murder of her husband and assault on herself by an intruder, it shocks the inhabitants to the core...in a place where nobody locks their doors crime is not an issue.
This is more than a murder mystery, it is also a love story that transcends time, and a journey back through generations connecting the past to the present to connect the dots in a most intriguing way.
Detectives from the Québec Sureté in Montreal have been assigned to this case, and as they board a short flight from St. Hubert airfield they anticipate a pretty quick and straight forward investigation, all obvious clues quickly point to that end. Homicide detective Sime Mackenzie (pronounced Sheem in gaelic) shares the leading investigator position with his french speaking partner because, although the Entry Islanders speak english, most of the visitors from surrounding islands speak only french.
Things start to get complicated when several people appear to have motives, and other uncommon activities on the island start to affect the investigation. To compound their problems there is some tension among the assigned group of investigators and some, with a personal history have trouble containing their simmering emotions which causes some discomfort among the group. Not to mention an all consuming and inexplicable attraction between the senior investigator and the victim's wife, who happens to be the lead suspect.
The overall combination of all of these issues makes for some very volatile situations both inside and outside of the investigations, giving the story lots of added spice and drama...not to mention a few red herrings.
The story keeps building all the way, keeping the reader captive with stimulating changes of pace between past and present stories, making subtle connections as it goes. This could easily be two separate books, and yet they flow together so well to build this amazing multifaceted story. I will definitely be reading more from this author.
Highly recommended 4★s Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my copy to read and review.