Engaging new book set in Isles

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Since he released The Blackhouse in 2011 Peter May has consistently sparked the imagination of readers with his own unique crime storylines.

This is a pattern that his latest release Coffin Road certainly follows.

Coffin Road tells the story of a man washed ashore on the beach at Luskentyre with no idea of who he is or what events have led him to his situation.

This creates an incredibly engaging scenario where the reader learns with Neal Maclean, the main character, as he pieces together his past to uncover the answer to a dark mystery.

The novel as with May’s previous works delves into the history of the islands making connections with our current way of life and using this to enhance the story.

Another key idea that May has incorporated into the story is the extensive research that he has carried out into the memory loss of bees, caused by the use of certain insecticides. This runs well with the main character’s amnesia and makes for an informative and interesting story.

Such is the way that Peter May writes about the islands that it has been a huge boost to the tourist industry with the author himself describing the numerous people from all over the world who have contacted him telling of their trips to the Western Isles to visit the various locations that he has depicted.

However the widespread potential of the Western Isles as a setting was not appreciated by everyone as May was initially unable to publish the first book of The Lewis Trilogy in the UK. He described how publishers in London saw it as being too remote and far removed from the lives of people in the rest of the country. He eventually published in France and the book went on to be a huge success.

Much of Peter May’s knowledge of the area comes from the time he spent living in the Western Isles as producer of the Gaelic soap Machair. During this time he by his own admission, ‘fell in love with the place’ and ‘caught the bug’, it is this that has fuelled his desire to continue to return to the islands and share his passion with others.

In preparation for the writing of Coffin Road, May returned to the Western Isles spending two weeks in Luskentyre, the setting of much of the book, to both gain additional knowledge of the area’s history and to seek inspiration for descriptions of the landscape and people of this beautiful area of South Harris.

The end result in the case of Coffin Road is a fast paced page turner that is arguably May’s best yet. The Glasgow born author has now set four books in the Western Isles and with him already planning his next visit there could very well be more to follow.

Coffin Road by Peter May is published in hardback on 14th January (£18.99, Quercus).