Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.
This particular installment of the Lewis Trilogy focuses on former detective inspector Fin McLeod’s young adulthood, first at school in Lewis and then his first years at university in Glasgow. He was a roadie for a Celtic rock band until one of its members was lost in his small plane. The discovery of the small plane in an ingenious way starts the murder investigation in the present storyline, but the bulk of the book takes place in Fin’s past.
Looking back at the series as a whole, I prefer the first two installments to this one. The setting of the Isle of Lewis is still vivid in The Chessmen, but it didn’t feel as vivid action-wise compared to The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man. While I learned much about the Lewis Chessmen, this particular book did not include a setpiece as stunning as the guga hunt in The Blackhouse. I think, character-wise, it’s also difficult to get into this book because the focus is on Fin’s young adulthood where he was, understandably, quite self-centered. And part of me is disappointed in the book because I was expecting more storyline about Fin’s relationship with Marsaili or his newly-discovered son: those threads are still open as the story concludes. It’s still a very good series, but I was not as floored by The Chessmen as I was by the earlier books.