Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Blackhouse by Peter May

I really should resurrect my book blog because last night I finished Peter May's book The Blackhouse.  I can think of no book I have read for many years that kept me so riveted to it: particularly towards the end when I couldn't put the light out until I'd finished it.  It's complex (though not really complicated)  and, in parts, implausible (are not most novels?) but the characters and places are so real it's uncanny.  Having lived the majority of my years on Lewis makes it all the more poignant and I can see many of the characters in people I know or am acquainted with.  Contrary to at least one reviewer I do not think it is insulting in any way to the people of what has long been my home.  Every place has it's characters both good and bad and Lewis is no different.  Some of the less central characters who are there for the embellishment of the story though not from Ness are immediately recognisable (sometimes as an amalgamation of real people).

The descriptions of the Island and the places (I'm fortunate enough through my work, for example, to have been all over the Lews Castle before it was declared dangerous and closed to the public) are wonderfully evocative of the place and reading the book here in New Zealand I was transported back to Lewis: almost like being beamed there à la Star Trek.

Oh yes, the story.  Police officer, unpleasant senior police officer, friendly and loyal police officer colleague, murder, deaths and so much more (some of which would sow ideas which could give the stories - this is not one story - away).  Frankly you don't need to have a synopsis: it seems to me in many ways that the murder is just a way of having a setting on which to hang (sorry) the characters who are really what I think the novel is all about.

I would stick my neck out and say that I think that anyone I know who reads this book will enjoy it at one level or another.  

I bought it on Kindle (as I will now do the others in the trilogy) but when I return to Lewis I will have to have the real copies as well.

20 comments:

  1. They are very good. I am waiting for Chessmen. I will have to get a Kindle.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I downloaded The Lewis Man to my Kindle for 20p this morning. I am tempted to start it straight away. The Chessmen is still at Hardback price even on Kindle.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have just been looking at Kindles. Looks very complicated. Can one just plug a 3G dongle into them? Which one do you use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have the Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, 6" E Ink Display (no need for a dongle and everything downloads free anywhere there is a wifi or 3G service but it looks as though it's been discontinued in the last few days. I think the nearest is the basic Kindle but the new Paperwhite looks much better. They are now pushing the Kindle Fire which is basically a tablet. Not sure what I'd do now. Most have 3G though so there is no dongle needed and books are downloaded free. I'm not sure what is free on the Kindle Fire. I'm trying not to look.

      Delete
    2. Yes I was leaning towards the Paperwhite. I'll have to look more carefully at the Fire.

      Delete
  4. I've read both The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man (both as actual books) and I agree they are fantastic stories, where the dead body is almost incidental to the character driven narrative. I'm not willing to pay the hardback price for the third novel though so will have to wait a little while longer before I read that one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm trying to decide whether to space out my reading of the trilogy or, like you Mark, gobble up number two and just wait for number three to come when it's not at a premium price.

      Delete
    2. We need a competent man who can split the book three ways.

      Delete
  5. I knew you would enjoy it. If I remember rightly, I was the one that first read it and said what a great read it was. The Black House was borrowed but I bit the bullet - couldn't wait until The Lewis Man came out in paperback and when I saw it for sale in hardback in "The Woodlands", I bought it. It was well worth every penny. So, if you can wait until May, it is here for you. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Pat, 'twas you who first recommended it which was why I bought it and, eventually, read it. I doubt I'll be waiting 'till May to read the sequel!

      Delete
  6. As you know I'm a really slow reader. It normally takes me ages to read a book but I gobbled up the first two. I loved being able to identify with the people and places. John said that he has never seen me so into a book before. Loved them and can't wait to get stuck in to The Chessmen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seems that there are a lot of fans for this one Sue.

      Delete
  7. Now I want to read these books as well....you have piqued my interest.
    Glad you enjoyed reading it, sounds like a real page turner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is Virginia and everyone here seems to agree.

      Delete
  8. 20p?! I just paid $11.68 for The Lewis man, and a bit more for The Chessmen. I really have to check if I have the option to buy Kindle books from the UK as well as the US! (the Kindle itself I had to buy from the US)

    Glad to hear you found the descriptions of the island and the characters believable. That was my impression too, but as I really only know the island from your blog, your judgement carries more weight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just checked... I can't buy Kindle books from the UK. I can order hardbacks and paperbacks and other physical items that need to be shipped manually... But not e-books! It's a strange world (and unfair). Well. I haven't got round to writing about The Blackhouse yet, but it should tell you something about my opinion of it, that I was willing to pay full price for the next two in the series!

      Delete
  9. Hi, I will definitely buy this book for my hubby and I, after reading this post. It sounds like you have set up two enjoyable places to live; well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome Terra. I am very lucky in the places I live and am very thankful too.

      Delete
  10. great book, still have the 3rd one to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm lucky: I still have two to read!

      Delete