Ever since I read The BlackHouse in 2012, it’s become traditional to review the new Peter May release at the beginning of the year. 2016 is no exception.
I’m going to keep this review short, because you’ll be hearing lots about Coffin Road over the next week. It is released tomorrow and I will be kicking off The Big Coffin Road Blog Read ….
…. with an exclusive extract from the beginning of the book, in which the protagonist is washed up, half-dead, onto a beach with no memory of what has gone before. It’s a fantastic piece which includes all that I enjoy in May’s writing. Specifically:
- Immediacy. The first person narrative puts us in the body of the washed-up man and so we don’t observe his discomfort, disorientation and bewilderment, we experience it.
- Precision with regard to both the man’s growing awareness and to the Scottish landscape in which he finds himself. No-one, but no-one describes The Hebrides better than May. Allow me an extract from the extract …
My lungs are trembling as I try to control my breathing, and I see the distant hills that surround me, beyond the beach and the dunes, purple and brown, grey rock bursting through the skin of thin, peaty soil that clings to their slopes.
- Moreishness. With the core mystery as to the man’s identity established by the end of first chapter and the readers inhabiting his skin, it’s imperative to find who he is, and, more importantly, what he has done.
Further human interest is added with the character of Karen Fleming, and a portrait of teenage alienation and rebellion that didn’t alienate me.
As additional plot elements are entwined, May expands the scope. If the purpose of the crime novel is to investigate matters of contemporary concern, this is one guaranteed to keep you thinking and researching long after the final page. All I’ll say on that score is neonicotinoids!
As I turned the final page, I thought this is May’s best since The Blackhouse. A few weeks later, I’ve revised that opinion. Coffin Road is his best. Full stop.
Want to read it? The Big Coffin Road Blog Read kicks off tomorrow. Same time, same place.
I also have a hardback edition to giveaway which, all being well, I will get signed for you at next week’s Glasgow event. To enter, please leave a comment below by 18:00 Sunday 17th January. Because of postage charges, this giveaway is restricted to UK and Europe only.
© Lizzy’s Literary Life 2016