‘Entry Island,’ by Peter May

Entry Island

A warm sun slanted out of the autumn sky, transforming every tree into one of nature’s stained-glass windows. The golds and yellows, oranges and reds of the fall leaves glowed vibrant and luminous, backlit by the angled rays of the sun, turning the forest into a cathedral of color. Sime had forgotten just how stunning these autumn colors could be, his senses dulled by years of gray city living.

Another novel by Peter May. Another home run, in my opinion. This guy can write.

As Entry Island begins, a man has been stabbed to death on Entry Island, in the Madeline Islands on the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. Detective Sime Mackenzie is sent to act as translator for the investigators. The province is francophone Quebec, but the people on Entry Island still speak English, which is also Sime’s (short for Simon’s) childhood tongue. He’s not eager to go – he’s exhausted, debilitated by chronic insomnia. And he doesn’t get along well with the other officers – especially the one he used to be married to.

The murder victim was the richest man on the island, and suspicion centers on his wife, who says she was attacked by a knife-wielding man, and her husband died defending her. But the moment Sime meets Kersty Cowell, he has an irrational sense that he’s seen her before. Then she remarks on the signet ring he wears, an heirloom from his father. She has a pendant that matches it exactly, she says – though she can’t find it when she looks for it.

As he pursues the investigation, Sime is tormented by brief, vivid dreams during his short periods of sleep. In these dreams he relives the experiences of an ancestor who bore his name, who was a victim of the 19th Century land clearances in the Scottish Isles (his grandmother read to him from the man’s journals). He loved, tragically, a woman also called Kersty. History, dreams, and police work come together in a drama that might save Sime, or drive him mad – or kill him.

Once again, Peter May presents a fairly far-fetched plot, but closes the deal with style. His characters are good, his dialogue vivid, and his descriptions cinematic. As a Christian, I had trouble with suggestions of some kind of reincarnation, but the faith of the Christian characters is presented with sympathy and no axes are ground.

Cautions for the sort of things you’d expect. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes transcendent, Entry Island is a superior reading experience for mystery fans.

One thought on “‘Entry Island,’ by Peter May”

  1. Don’t keep avoiding Runaway. It’s such a good story about relationships and aging. They aren’t really rock musicians, merely wannabes who make some bad choices. You’re ahead of me. I’ve not read Entry Island.

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