The Blackhouse

The Blackhouse

Book - 2013 | Large print edition.
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Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, 2013.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9781410455635
1410455637
Branch Call Number: Large Print X
Characteristics: 591 pages : maps ; 23 cm.

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m
macierules
Aug 30, 2018

A great read!

b
ba_library
May 23, 2018

Interesting murder mystery set on the island of Lewis in the Hebrides (off of Scotland). A murder has been committed on the island that is very similar to a murder committed in Edinburgh. Fin MacLeod a policeman in Edinburgh is sent to the island to see if the two murders are related and because he is also a native of the Lewis island. As a child, he could only speak Gaelic and there were a group of bully boys who picked on most of the kids. One of the bully boys is the murder victim, so no one really regrets his passing or misses him. Most of the kids on Lewis dream of getting off the island and when Fin returns he has to relive some of his past which he has buried in his present life. Gets a bit bogged down with his teenage life, but the setting is interesting and the story is a bit bleak, like island life. The main highlight of the story and of island life occurs during the annual hunt of the guga. A seabird considered an island delicacy, hunted only once a year on a remote rock and what happens on the rock stays on the rock. Part of the Lewis trilogy by Peter May which includes 1) The Blackhouse, 2) The Lewis Man and 3) The Chessmen.

d
dorothy1
Mar 14, 2018

Great murder mystery in a unique setting!

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

Had similar sentiment as lbeast and D_Kyle while reading the book. The first third of the novel reminded me of James Burke’s “The Jealous Kind 2016” which was more a time piece about teenage infatuations and hormones than murder. However, once past the romance bit, the rest of the story turned into a slow burn mystery, disguised behind May’s captivating prose on the island’s forbidden landscape, hard characters, unique customs particularly the Hebridean guga hunt on the rocky island An Sgeir. A great adventure thriller. On the other hand, wish readers were spared the lengthy puppy love "bit" early on ... though at the end, that "bit" was an integral part of the story.

Note: Decided to read my first Peter May novel; thanks to Lagercrantz's 2017 "The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye" --- "He decided to treat himself to a taxi to Örebro Central Station, and on the train to Stockholm he read a novel by Peter May, a Scottish crime writer."

r
Rumpel11
Jun 28, 2017

First of the Lewis trilogy.
The Blackhouse
The Lewis Man
The Chessmen

d
D_Kyle
May 08, 2017

I read the Lewis Trilogy, of which The Blackhouse is the first, all in one go this year, and as a person drawn to British mysteries I found this to be a wonderful mix of well developed characters and page turning suspense. ​It is the story of Fin MacLeod an Edinburgh detective, who returns to the Isle of Lewis to begin again after the death of his son, but he is soon surrounded by old animosities and affections and a murder as well. The central cast of characters remain throughout the series, and though there are new characters that come in, there is a strong sense of continuity. Descriptions of the scenery and environs were so evocative, I found myself on Google Earth traveling the Isle of Lewis and reading about its unique history and culture. The series continues with The Lewis Man and finishes with the Chessman - all are available in e-book format.

multcolib_susannel Feb 13, 2017

When Edinburgh detective, Fin MacCleod is sent to the Outer Hebides to investigate a grisly murder, he finds himself caught in the secrets from his own past.
Book one in a trilogy.

m
maipenrai
Nov 08, 2016

The first book in the Lewis Trilogy series, FIN MACLEOD

l
lbeast
Jul 27, 2016

For me, a good mystery has a great story and interesting characters, with just enough details about the detective to make him (or her) appealing. Unfortunately, The Blackhouse is a melodrama about the unhappy detective and the mystery is a minor plot element. A trip to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides feels like a visit to a clan of Neanderthals who have managed to survive into the 21st century. Lots of grim, belligerent townsfolk in a grim, belligerent landscape. And the big climax is like a scene out of a Thomas Hardy novel, waves crashing, rain pouring down, lots of drama. However, I was intrigued enough to finish the book and will likely read the others in the trilogy.

m
mceder
Jul 11, 2016

Loved this book. Bought it a couple of years ago and have loaned my copy to several friends, all of whom raved about it, too. Mays makes you feel the cold and damp and bleakness of the islands. Complicated enough to keep you guessing and racing to the end. Don't miss if you are a mystery fan.

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Quotes

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j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

How is it possible that things can have changed so little on this God-fearing island?
===
But time never passes so quickly as when it is in short supply. And now it is all but gone.
===

But life moves on, and us with it.
===
Back to a place where life had once seemed simple. A return to childhood, back to the womb. How easy it was now to ignore the fact that he had spent most of his adult life avoiding just that. Easy to forget that as a teenager nothing had seemed more important to him than leaving.
===
But in fourteen years all they had achieved was a kind of accommodation, a space that each of them had made for the other in their lives. A space that they had occupied together, but never quite shared. They had been friends. There had been genuine warmth. But he doubted if there had ever been love. Real love. Like so many people in life, they seemed to have settled for second best.

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

“One thing that never changes, though. The wind. Never gets tired of blowing.”
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“First of the new millennium,” Gunn said. “And we only had one in the whole of the twentieth century.”
===
It was not illegal, after all, to drink on the Sabbath, just unthinkable. At least, to be seen doing it.

===
The police station was a collection of pink, harled buildings on the corner of Church Street and Kenneth Street, next door to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Peking Cuisine Chinese Takeaway.
===
He knew all about shortcuts. He’d learned very early in life that they could lead you off on tangents.
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My old boss in Inverness used to say of the brass, they’re no different from you and me. They still have to get their legs out of their breeks one at a time.

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

Fin reflected on what a sad existence it was for these kids. Little or nothing to do, strangled by a society still in the grips of a joyless religion. An economy on the slide, unemployment high. Alcoholism rife, a suicide rate well above the national average. The motivation to leave was as compelling now as it had been eighteen years ago.
===
I ordered plaice in the hotel last night. Aye, and it was fresh all right. Fresh out the fucking freezer and into the deep-fat fryer.
===
It seemed that no matter what you ate, it nearly always came back up looking like diced carrots in porridge.
===
The jugular veins that carry blood away from the head only require about four and a half pounds of pressure to cut them off. Whereas the carotid arteries carrying blood to the head require about eleven pounds to put them out of action. You’d have to apply about sixty-six pounds of pressure to cut off the vertebral arteries, and thirty-three pounds to choke off the trachea.

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

… sunlight coruscating across the bay, torn clouds chasing their own shadows over the deep, blue water.
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A shieling, once used by coastal crofters as a home during the summer, when they would move their beasts inland for better grazing.
===
Long stretches of empty road linked bleak and exposed settlements huddled around churches of various denominations. The Church of Scotland. The United Free Church of Scotland. The Free Church of Scotland. The Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)—the Wee Frees, as the free churches were universally known. Each one was a division of the one before. Each one a testimony to the inability of man to agree with man. Each one a rallying point for hatred and distrust of the other.

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

To their right, the peatbog drifted into a hazy infinity, punctuated only by stoic sheep standing firm against the Atlantic gales. To their left, the ocean itself swept in timeless cycles on to beaches and into rocky inlets, creamy white foam crashing over darkly obdurate gneiss, the oldest rock on earth. The outline of a tanker, like a distant mirage, was just discernible on the horizon.
===
Some comedian had obliterated the s from the “To the Shore” sign pointing toward the harbour.
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“What was he doing here? Protecting sheep from being molested after closing time on a Friday night?” Gunn laughed. “It would take more than an animal rights campaigner to put an end to that, Mr. Macleod.”
===
An Sgeir, they called it. Simply, the Rock. Three hundred feet of storm-lashed cliffs rising out of the northern ocean. Encrusted every year at this time by nesting gannets and their chicks.

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

I was thirteen, and in my second year of secondary school at Crobost. The exams I would sit at the end of that year would pretty much determine my future. And the rest of your life is a lot of responsibility to carry when you’re thirteen. If I did well I would go to the Nicholson in Stornoway and sit my Highers, maybe Sixth Year Studies, even A levels. I would have a chance of going to university, the opportunity to escape.
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Boys together have a habit of encouraging each other to a failure in concentration.
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It’s odd how people can get locked into a kind of time warp. There’s a time in their lives that defines them, and they hang on to it for all the subsequent decades; the same hair, the same style of clothes, the same music, even though the world around them has changed beyond recognition. My aunt was locked in the sixties. Teak furniture, purple carpets, orange paint, the Beatles. Mr. Macinnes listened to the Eagles.

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

It was extraordinary, he thought, how much he had changed in that time, and how little things had changed in this place where he had grown up.
===
All the hair on Fin’s neck and arms stood on end, and he felt fear slip over him like a glove, holding him in its grasp.
===
Salvation was in their own hands, he would tell them week in and week out, if only they would put themselves in the hands of the Lord.
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“I can’t tell when the record’s lying. With people, usually I can.”
===
Flounced out in a right tid, according to her pals.
===
It may be a tradition, but it just isn’t right in a civilized country in the twenty-first century.”
===
And overhead the gulls wheeled endlessly, scraps of white against a clear blue sky, catching the last flashes of sunlight and calling plaintively to the gods.
===
“Have you any idea how long it takes a fish to die, starved of oxygen, literally suffocating, when a trawler hauls its nets on board?”

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

Gunn waited for an explanation, but it quickly became clear to him that Fin did not intend to elucidate.
===
“Jesus wept and shrank His waistcoat,” …
===
Life went past you in a flash, like a bus on a rainy night in Ness. You had to be sure it saw you and stopped to let you on, otherwise it was gone without you, and you would be left with a miserable walk home in the wind and the wet.
===
Which sent Artair off into a fresh paroxysm of laughter, tears streaming down ruddy cheeks, until he couldn’t breathe and had to resort to his puffer.
===
They were both just schoolboys again, laughing inanely at childish memories. No matter how much they had grown apart in the intervening years, their memories were something they would always have in common. A bond for life.

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

Fin’s escape from the island had been physical. Artair had found other means.
===
My mother sat me down and told me the story about the boy who cried wolf. It was the first time I had heard it. And she had a talent for embellishment, my mother. She could have been a writer. I didn’t really know what woods were then, because there weren’t any trees where we lived.
===
I think my mouth must have been hanging open. Had it been June, I’d have caught flies.
===
The trouble with jealous revenge is that while you might inflict hurt on the other party, it does nothing to lessen the effect of the hurt you are feeling yourself. So everyone ends up unhappy. And, of course, once you have adopted a certain attitude, it is hard to change it without losing face.
===
“Maybe if he hadn’t devoted so much of his time to his God, he might have had more of it left for living.”

j
jimg2000
Jan 16, 2018

The cutting was the worst bit, though, especially if the wind dropped. Because then the midges would get you. Tiny biting flies. The Scottish curse. The single midge is so small you can hardly see it, but they gather together in clusters, great black clouds of them, getting in your hair and your clothes and feeding on your flesh.

===

Their predecessors had made the journey in open boats on mountainous seas because they had to, to survive, to feed hungry villagers. Now they went out in a trawler to bring back a delicacy much sought after by well-fed islanders.
===
It’ll all be there on the DNA database. Your grampa died of cancer, or maybe there’s a history of heart disease on your mother’s side. You’ll get knocked back for a job because your prospective employer’s discovered that your great-grandmother spent time in a mental institution, and your bar code looks a hell of a lot like hers.”

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