Coffin Road

Written by Peter May

Review written by Amy Myers

Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.


Coffin Road
Quercus
RRP: £18.99
Released: January 14 2016
HBK

The Coffin Road of Peter May’s new thriller is a bleak thoroughfare crossing the Isle of Harris, and so named because in the past people carried their dead over the hills from the east side of the island to the west for burial.

The whole island, however, seems bleak to the man who wakes up on a beach without a clue as to who he is or how he came to be there. But the old lady walking toward him does know him and takes him back to his cottage in the dunes. His dog Bran knows him too, and yet nothing looks familiar to him, not even his appearance in the mirror.

What he finds in the cottage suggests he is keenly interested in the Flannan Isles, a small group of islands about twenty miles away, and famous for the three lighthouse keepers who disappeared without trace in 1900. His visit there, however, sparks off macabre and dangerous consequences for himself and others as the plot zigzags from mystery to murder and from one man’s plight to the machinations of international corporations.  

The novel is dedicated to ‘the bees’ and its title is Coffin Road – and the two are connected. The murder is a case for Detective Sergeant Gunn, a case in which teenager Karen from Edinburgh becomes unwittingly involved. These two strands, combined with Neal Maclean’s desperate groping into the past to recover his identity lead to an excellent thriller. At times I felt the storyline needed a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, but the pace and good writing swept me onwards.


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