Thursday, January 02, 2014

Entry Island by Peter May

First Line: It is evident from the way the stones are set into the slope of the hill that industrious hands once toiled to make this pathway.

When Detective Sime Mackenzie is told to board a flight from Montreal to Entry Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, he does so without a trace of regret. His life there is one of loneliness and what-could-have-beens.

The investigation of which he is to be a part involves the murder of the wealthiest of the tiny island's 130 inhabitants, and it seems to be a simple matter of formality. The crime has all the earmarks of a crime of passion with the victim's wife as the killer. But when Mackenzie meets the woman, he is convinced that he knows her even though they've never met. Already the odd man out in this case, things take an even more bizarre turn when his insomnia is broken by strange dreams of a long ago past on an island in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland-- a past in which the alleged murderer has a leading role. As a result of these dreams, Mackenzie's conviction turns to obsession as the evidence against the widow mounts. Sooner or later, Sime Mackenzie will have to choose between duty and destiny.

Entry Island is a terrific blending of two story lines: the classic murder investigation in Canada, and the Highland Clearances on the Isle of Lewis in the 18th century. Both are so well written that I couldn't tell you which is the stronger, but I can say that the scenes on the Isle of Lewis are beautiful, brutal, and heartstopping. May has always been a skilled storyteller, but since he's  begun writing of the Outer Hebrides, it's as though his heart and his emotions are flowing right onto the page. (His Lewis Trilogy is not to be missed!)

The two story lines run side-by-side, and events gradually converge without any obvious signs of how they're coming together. Sime is the perfect conflicted detective and part of an investigative team that includes his ex-wife-- a very uncomfortable and painful situation. May skillfully creates tension with his two main characters. While Mackenzie is a man the reader wants to support completely, the object of his obsession is clearly not as trustworthy to us as she is to the detective.

The marvelous sensory feast of place (both Scotland and Canada), a strong and intriguing main character, two vivid plot lines... part mystery, part historical novel, part romance... Entry Island is a powerful novel that should not be missed.

A few words of warning: This is a US-based book blog, and I've just written a review of a book that's only available in the UK right now. If you can't get your hands on a copy now, put it on your wish list. You won't regret it!

Entry Island by Peter May
ISBN: 9781782062202
Quercus © 2013
Hardcover, 544 pages

Suspense, Standalone
Rating: A+
Source: NetGalley, UK Release



  1. Cathy - Oh, this does sound wonderful! Peter May really does have a lot of talent, and this one sounds wonderfully atmospheric. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

    1. May comes to life when he's writing of the Outer Hebrides. I'd known about the Highland Clearances for a long, long time, but he brought them to life for me. My blood ran cold, and my anger rose at how humans so often treat each other!


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