‘The Chessmen,’ by Peter May

The storm had passed by the Monday, but it was still overcast, dull light suffused with a grey-green, as if we were all somehow trapped inside a Tupperware box.

I’ve reviewed the first two books of Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy below. The Chessmen is the third (the title refers to the famous “Lewis chessmen,” a remarkable set of Norwegian chess pieces discovered on the Scottish island of Lewis, the site of these books, centuries ago. They represent a 12th Century king and his court and warriors).

This time around Fin Macleod, our hero, is still living on Lewis, where he grew up, having left the Edinburgh police force. He takes a job as a security officer on a large estate, to solve the problem of poachers taking wild salmon. This leads him to a hike in the mountains with “Whistler,” an old friend. They discover a rare phenomenon – one of the mountain lochs has spontaneously drained, and they observe a small private airplane lying on the newly uncovered bottom. They both know immediately who must be inside – their old friend Roddy, who was involved with them in a rock and roll group in their college years and disappeared in this very plane.

As with the other books in the series, the story takes us into the past, to old relationships and old secrets. An interesting subplot involves Fin’s old friend/enemy Donald, now the pastor of the local Free Church, who has to defend himself in a church hearing, accused of the trespass of killing a man to save lives. The ending is a shocker.

Very good, especially the high quality of the prose. Cautions for language, and hard (but not entirely dismissive) statements on religion. Recommended.

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