The Blackhouse by Peter May (audiobook review)

The Blackhouse

Let me begin by saying that I enjoyed this audiobook. The writing is compelling, the pacing is good, the plot never feels bogged down, and the solution to the crime wasn’t easily guessed. The audio narrator was also very good. I appreciate listening to books where there are words that I couldn’t pronounce on my own, such as the Gaelic character and place names in this tale.

Edinburgh detective, Fin Macleod, hasn’t been back to his birthplace on the Isle of Lewis in 18 years. He’s called in to assist in the investigation of a brutal murder with similarities to a previous, unsolved case in Edinburgh. Fin must face his past, and the people he left behind.

And this is where we come to my complaint with many crime writers, especially the UK writers I’ve read in recent years. I will try to avoid spoilers, but it may be best if you stop reading here and pick up the book yourself, if you are interested in crime novels. As I said, I enjoyed it, whatever that says about me, and I recommend it to fans of Tartan Noir or crime novels in general, BUT…






Why do so many crime writers feel compelled to make their crimes the result of dark, heartbreaking family secrets? Ann Cleeves does this with her novels, as well as the TV shows based on her novels and characters. They often leave me in tears. Peter May does this as well, in this book. I suppose it adds a level of verisimilitude, and reinforces the idea that these crimes could happen anywhere, in any town, if they can happen in small, remote village. That doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. If I have to find a silver lining, it’s that I can feel a little better about myself, knowing that my brain didn’t jump to the conclusion that May did with the resolution of this novel, but it’s a small consolation. It’s a dark, dangerous world, and all too often, the villains are hiding in plain sight, masquerading as neighbors and friends and “good people”. But, just once, I’d like the perpetrator in one of these novels to be a true psychopath, someone purely evil, born that way, not made due to horrible childhood trauma. I don’t want to understand the why the criminal commits their heinous crimes. I don’t want to be sympathetic. Can’t I just have a murderer to hate? Is that really so much to ask?

~ by Rachel on February 5, 2020.

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