Off-beat detective novels set in a lonely corner of the world

detective novels

The brooding landscape pictured on the cover of this off-beat detective novel sets the stage for the complex tale within, suggesting the depth of the multidimensional characters whose lives today intersect around a tragic event half a century ago.

Fin McLeod has returned again to the Isle of Lewis, the northernmost of the Outer Hebrides Islands off the northwestern coast of Scotland. In The Blackhouse, the first novel in the Lewis Trilogy, McLeod had returned from Edinburgh to the site of his childhood to assist the local police in investigating the murder of a man he had known as a schoolchild. Now, he has just left his marriage and his job as a detective in the capital to return to Lewis, perhaps to stay. McLeod is a troubled soul, tortured by the recent loss of his eight-year-old son to a hit-and-run driver and the failure of his marriage.


The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy #2) by Peter May @@@@ (4 out of 5)


No sooner has McLeod arrived on the island than a body turns up in the peat, obviously murdered some decades in the past. True to his nature, McLeod soon finds himself assisting, and then leading, the long, convoluted trail to the truth of the victim’s identity and the circumstances of his death. As the investigation moves forward, it becomes clear that those closest to him — his former lover, the son he fathered with her, his best friend from schooldays — are somehow involved in the tale.

Although The Lewis Man is a detective novel, a murder mystery, and a good one, it’s equally a portrait of a “wind-ravaged corner of the earth where warring factions of an unforgiving Protestant religion dominated life. Where men and women struggled all their lives to make a living from the island, or the sea, turning in times of unemployment to the industries that came, and went again when subsidies ran out, leaving the rusting detritus of failure in their wake.”

For additional reading

This is one of the many Mysteries and thrillers set in Scotland that I’ve reviewed here.

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