Quercus, September 2014
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.
The Lewis Man, the second in the Lewis trilogy, is set in the westernmost of the Outer Hebrides. It’s a sort of police procedural. One of the main characters, Fin McLeod, returns to the Isle of Lewis and unofficially investigates the murder of a man found somewhat preserved in the peat bogs. It sounds like an Elly Griffiths novel, but the story doesn’t dwell too much on forensic archaelogy. The mystery of the deceased is an important element of the story, but the story of Fin and his old girlfriend’s Marsaili’s father, suffering from advanced dementia and remembering his childhood, are the main elements of the story. While the first book in the trilogy focused on Fin’s childhood, this installment focuses on the childhood of someone from his parents’ generation.
The murder investigation doesn’t feel like the center of the story because May spends so much time on the characters childhoods on the island. He touches on how religion has worked in the last fifty years on the island and beyond, and its shameful part of the care of orphans and children from broken homes. Both books in the trilogy so far have been harrowing because of the harsh setting, the murders, and the heartbreaking childhoods of their main characters.
One side note: this particular entry in the series does not make me want to visit the Isle of Lewis: lashing rain, fierce winds, and cold do not sound appealing to me. Maybe the third installment in the series makes a better case for visiting. Regardless of the harsh scenery, I enjoyed this story.