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The Blackhouse

By: Peter May
Narrated by: Peter Forbes
Series: The Lewis Trilogy, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (88 ratings)

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Summary

From acclaimed author and dramatist Peter May comes the Barry award-winning The Blackhouse, the first book in the Lewis Trilogy - a riveting mystery series set on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland's Outer Hebrides.  

When a grisly murder occurs on the Isle of Lewis that bears similarities to a brutal killing on the mainland, Edinburgh detective and native islander Fin Macleod is dispatched to the Outer Hebrides to investigate, embarking at the same time on a voyage into his own troubled past.  

As Fin reconnects with the people and places of his tortured childhood, the desolate but beautiful island and its ancient customs once again begin to assert their grip on his psyche. Every step toward solving the case brings Fin closer to a dangerous confrontation with the dark events of the past that shaped - and nearly destroyed - his life.

©2013 Peter May (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"A gripping plot, pitch-perfect characterization, and an appropriately bleak setting drive this outstanding series debut." (Connie Fletcher, Booklist, starred review)

"A thriller with an intensity that never slackens, chilling and igneous at the same time, like the great country that serves as its setting. A masterpiece indeed." (L'Humanite)

"Abundant local color... matches Macleod's tormented emotional landscape. The struggles of such multidimensional characters... add depth." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

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Most enjoyable

I liked the way the past and present combined to make this a very good book. Narration was excellent too. I will be reading more of this author's work.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Good narrator

Good believable story line, interesting setting and good narrator. Easy to follow, but not predictable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Unusual and brilliant.

Took a bit of getting into re narration and also plot but a gently intense story. You really are allowed to get to know characters and their stories. Very unusual location described really well Plot is slow and steady. Not boring tho. Good ending. Look forward to downloading next Fyn Macleod book!!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • ms
  • KIDDERMINSTER, United Kingdom
  • 08-09-19

Loved it

Fast moving story written in a now and then format. Narrator was excellent. I am about to start book two in the series.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Boring and pointless

This book was occasionally interesting but focused more on the life of this rather boring cop very little intrigue or suspense with a silly plot and ending

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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dull and tedious

i did not enjoy this book at all. it had very litte 'detecting' and far too much reminiscing and back story. it was like hearing water running. Won't bother with this author again as I have had similar experience with some of his other work. Sorry, Peter.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

I am relatively new to the crime fiction genre and did not previously know this author but i quite liked the sound of the sample so decided to send my “credit” on it. I so wish I hadn’t wasted it! Although I usually enjoy hearing a Scots accent, I found the delivery unbelievably dull and monotonous. This goes for the story too. It was more of a misery memoir with a bit of a crime story thrown in than a crime novel and the unrelenting dreariness of the narrator’s voice, description of scenery and weather and the story itself almost drove me to give up on it. I only stuck with it to find out “whodunnit” and I guessed that a couple of hours before the end anyway. All in all I was very disappointed particularly as I thoroughly enjoyed the previous books from Audible

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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good performance by narrator

however the story was 6 hours too long the first three quarters were a waste of time. ending was good though.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Constance Jenkins
  • 17-08-18

Miscategorized

I have no clue why this book was listed as a "police procedural", or even as a murder mystery for that matter. The mystery was almost an afterthought (and completely predictable).

That said, the character studies, the scene setting, and story of Fin's life were actually interesting and the writing is top notch. May's writing style is very engaging. I might even read the rest of the series...albeit I won't hold my breath for a mystery.

For those, like me, who prefer not to read about animal killings, be prepared to skip the bird hunt. It was grim.

The narrator was wonderful.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Betsey
  • 23-10-18

A tale of awakening and facing one’s deepest fears.

This was a wonderfully descriptive story of human emotion, death, and reawakening against the bleak backdrop of a remote island. Just as the island of Lewis is cut off from the rest of the world by its geography, Finn McCloud is removed from his memories and emotions until a catharsis occurs. The characters take life through the narrative and one becomes completely caught up in their inner dialogues.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • barry
  • 29-06-19

Best of the Three

I enjoyed all three of Peter May's Lewis Trilogy, and would recommend the whole series, but I enjoyed this one, the first of the three most (I would rate Chessmen higher than Lewis Man). First of all, it is the only one of the three that truly can stand alone; for the subsequent novels it really helps to have the previous development of Fin, the series protagonist. But the essential differential for me is how much more vividly the work of men on Lewis, especially the annual bird harvest, brings the place to life. All the books are quite good when it comes to landscape and with varying degree providing the place with cultural context, but there is something about the work of the place tied to its traditions that really makes The Blackhouse a special piece of writing within the suspense genre, and even moreso, the current crop of Scottish and Irish suspense writing.
Peter Forbes is simply terrific as a narrator. The narrator of the book I started to listen to after listening to Forbes' narration of the Lewis trilogy, somewhat average in her delivery, seemed by contrast even worse. Just as Gerard Doyle does a terrific job of bringing Adrian McKinty's novels to life, Forbes is simply wonderful in interpfeting characters and providing different points of view with equal sensitivity and brio.
I listen to quantities of this kind of writing. Of course, given the genre is somewhat limited while also being overpopulated in the market, characterization is an essential to the best writing, and to some degree May is quite good at presenting idiosyncratic characters. But a vivid sense of place brought to life not just from description but as fleshed out by the characters, setting that actually almost borders on a characterization enveloping the listener in the world in which the story is being told is a rare and entertaining pleasure. This one is really worth a listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Peter G. Buckley
  • 10-10-18

Solid writing and performance.

BUilds up to an overdramatic cliff top ending which seemed out of scale. May does such great work with character and scene and then pushes it too much

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • wbc
  • 07-08-18

Excellent

This book was even better than I’d hoped. Excellent narration. I felt as if I were there. The descriptive writing didn’t bog down the story line but enhanced the listening experience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gloria Ross
  • 01-10-18

challenging mystery

more delightful to hear because of the sonorous Scottish accents. A mystery with many emotion laden twists and turns, weather and Scottish lore told beautifully.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • puplhunt
  • 26-08-18

What a bloody miserable tale!

The story is as bleak and lonely as the island it is set on. The reading’s repetitive tone and meter is guaranteed to put you to sleep. Every sentence has the same rhythm and the paragraphs roll from one into the next without any change in tempo.
The murder is almost secondary to the resurrection of a sad childhood and a mixed-up adolescence of a policeman who doesn’t really want to be a policeman and who has been sent to the island without any real power to investigate anything.
The weather is always cold, gray and raining ... it seems that the islanders’ lives mirror their weather and their landscape... I keep waiting for the sun to break through but so far it hasn’t happened. Maybe something happy will happen in one of the next two books in the trilogy.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Yumi
  • 12-09-19

Fantastisk og nervepirrende

Boka er full av spennende vendinger og det som først virker opplagt, endres raskt rundt neste vending.

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  • JuliesJazz
  • 24-07-19

A wonderful surprise!

I don't remember selecting this book. I probably picked it up on sale. So glad I did. What a gem.

I know this is categorized as "Modern Detective", but I'd say it would be more aptly described as a great fiction with some detecting thrown in. Even though it's not the most uplifting story, I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in life on the Scottish Isle. I found that I could easily visualize characters and landscape based on the author's descriptions.

As for the narration, couldn't be better. I'd definitely listen to Peter Forbes again, he's terrific!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Snarky
  • 20-03-19

Too contrived

Too contrived to really enjoy. Some OK moments, but it seems like a product of a writer’s workshop.