Have any of y’all read any Swedish (Nordic set) mysteries or possibly watched Wallender with Kenneth Branagh?  He plays a tortured homicide detective in Sweden. Obsessed is putting it kindly. When Kurt’s on a case he eats, sleeps & breathes it.  He’s flawed and not a good companion but you can’t help but like & admire him.

THE BLACKHOUSE put me in mind of this type of mystery, the stark, barren, melancholy they portray.  If you can walk on the dark side for a bit it can be rewarding as in THE BLACKHOUSE.

the black house

 

My thoughts 4.5 stars

First in a trilogy featuring DS Finlay (Fin) Macleod of the Edinburgh police, THE BLACK HOUSE returns Fin to his roots on the Isle of Lewis, most northern in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  Fin has been on leave for a month following the death of his son when he receives a call to come in to the station.  HOLMES has suggested Fin be called in on a murder investigation on the Isle of Lewis as it closely resembles one he was investigating in Edinburgh.  

The murder of Angel Macritchie, eldest of the two village bully brothers, has forced Fin to return home.  Angel and Murdo plagued Fin and his friends from the first day of school onwards so there are plenty of suspects.  However, similarities with an Edinburgh murder have prompted HOLMES to suggest Fin be included in Angel’s murder investigation against his and the officer in charge’s druthers.   

THE BLACK HOUSE alternates between the present and flashbacks to Fin’s childhood growing up on the starkly beautiful but harsh island.  Fin escaped a life of stagnation on Lewis by scoring well enough to go to the University in Glasgow. 

Fin, past and present, is doleful and borderline depressed.  His melancholy becomes more pronounced on Lewis faced with the people he left behind eighteen years ago.  As he investigates his memories return, coinciding with evidence, clues, and hints to the killer.  Angel’s murder was personal and has much more to do with Fin than Angel, a way to kill two birds with one stone.  To find a killer Fin must face and, most difficult of all, come to terms with the past he’s tried so hard to leave behind, especially his last summer on Lewis.   

Gritty, dark, and bleak THE BLACKHOUSE isn’t for everyone.  For those who don’t mind a walk on the dark side, THE BLACKHOUSE holds many rewards.

 ~The atmosphere and location are characters as much as the people making THE BLACKHOUSE truly compelling.  I didn’t want to stop reading and when I did have to it preyed on my mind. 

~Mr. May educates as well as entertains.  The Isle of Lewis is brought to life by his vivid depiction of its landscapes, seasons, people, language, customs, and traditions.  Intertwined with the mystery and playing a pivotal role is the unique history of the Isle of Lewis. 

~Deep complex characters I can’t wait to get to know better.  Fin is one of the most tortured protagonists I’ve come across.  He spends a lot of time inside himself and seems to feel things deeper than others, even as a child.  While it doesn’t make him the easiest of companions it does make him extremely interesting. 

~Beautiful writing that draws the reader despite the forlorn atmosphere. 

~A mystery that’s more psychological-mental in its solution than procedural.  It’s personal. 

While I can’t wait to visit Fin and the others I will take the time to read some lighter fare before venturing back to the Isle of Lewis.

Visit Peter May    Aamzon

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