This is the second book in a trilogy; I haven't read the first but it seems to stand by itself. There was quite a lot of back story. I hope they weren't spoilers!
A body is discovered in a peat bog on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. At first it is assumed that the body is hundreds if not thousands of years old ... until they discover a tattoo of Elvis. Fin Macleod, retiring from the polis is Edinburgh, returns to his native home on the Isle to discover that the closest DNA match to the body is his first girlfriend's father. Unfortunately, the father, Tormold, has dementia and cannot tell what he knows.
This book is brilliantly evocative of the wet and windy Hebrides and the hardy people who hunker down in bungalows in the face of eternal gales. The people scratch a meagre living in the face of poverty and hardship but in the end they cannot bare to be torn away from the bleak and barren beauty of their land. It is brilliant on dementia: Tormold has little idea of what is happening to him and gets even his closest relatives confused but he has detailed memories of the past (although he rarely voices these aloud, leaving tantalising clues for his daughter). It is wonderful in describing the intermingled relationships in the close-knit community where everyone seems to have slept with everyone else, and betrayed everyone else, and fought everyone else. It is fascinating in its dissection of religion: a single isle can have five different warring Protestant sects. It is haunting in its sense of loss and in its description of the awful things that happened to orphans in Scotland in the not-too-distant past. And it is a pretty good whodunnit too (although I had it worked out about two thirds of the way through and I was a little disappointed at the ending which seemed to reduce a work of powerful literature to a thriller).
Definitely one to read. May 2015; 373 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57