Appropriately for Book Week Scotland (and St. Andrews Day of course!) I’ve been reading a Scottish mystery which has thrown up some fascinating connections. The Lewis Man is the second in Peter May’s trilogy and I’m grateful to the friend who tipped me off about it as it’s a haunting and intriguing read against a backdrop of the Outer Hebrides, which to be honest are as remote to me as a foreign country.
It’s about ex-cop Fin who returns from Edinburgh to his island home to find that a body accidentally exhumed from a peat bog cannot be, as previously assumed, a well-preserved specimen from a previous age – not with an Elvis tattoo on his arm. As the story of family secrets and vengeance unfolds I loved the all-pervading wind, sea and sky of the Hebrides and the depiction of an island culture, but what also caught my attention were the scenes in Edinburgh, centering on The Dean, the art gallery which features in Kettle but which was previously a children’s home.
The Dean is still a forbidding building and I did know a little of it’s history, but leaving aside that the Lewis Man is fiction, the book added a creeping chill to my memories of going there.
May also takes his character into the neighbouring cemetery, one of those great Victorian burial grounds which make such great locations for fiction and where I also had Ailsa and Danny spend some time.
The Lewis Man is no. 2 in the Lewis trilogy and I sensed the continuing story of Fin’s love for Marsaili and his search for a number of truths, but the novel stands perfectly well on its own and I particularly liked the touching portrait of the dementia victim who knows the whole story but is no longer able to tell it.
I bought this book for a ridiculous 20p on Kindle, but would be happy to pay full whack for parts one and three.
As it happens Melanie Robertson-King, my hostess over at Celtic Connexions also knows something of Scottish children’s homes, hopefully happier places than The Dean.Do hop over to Canada today where we’re having a wee dram. who knows what might happen next?