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The Chessmen - Peter May

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Peter May / Hardcover / 400 Pages / Book is published 2013-01-03 by Quercus

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    2 Reviews
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      06.10.2013 11:23
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      Disappointing suspense story

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      Fin Macleod after a long absence has returned to Isle of Lewis. He was born and grew up there before going to University on the main land and joining the Police force. However following the death of his son in a hit and run accident he decides to return home and seek out the ghosts from his past. One of these was his boyhood friend Whistler Macaskill. He is an eccentric man and rather than go to University he decided to remain and basically live of the land.

      Fin's new job is in Security for a rich and powerful landowner. This will bring him into conflict with his old friend as he is a notorious poacher. However soon after meeting after so many years apart these old friends discover a light aircraft that has crashed into a bog many years before. The plane is hardly damaged and only a severe storm has finally revealed this prize. Both men recognise the plane as being that of Roddy Mackenzie who disappeared 17 years before. They were both involved with him in a successful band and now finally his remains can be laid to rest. However, Fin quickly realises this a murder scene and the body they have found that they believe is Mackenzie has been murdered. Can Fin solve this unusual mystery?

      ==My thoughts on this novel:==

      I thought this was a disappointing murder mystery. I had expected much more from it but found it quite dull and hard going to read, enjoy and even get through. For me it dragged on and I found the story carried little interest for me. Although to give the author credit the ending was certainly different and not something I had expected.

      This is the third story in the Lewis trilogy featuring as the lead character Fin Macleod. It was written in 2013 and follows hard on the heals of Peter May's other best sellers in this series. The other two stories I loved and I suppose that is why I am so disappointed with this one,because my expectations where so high. I found little in this story to interest me and while it was full of great detail about the Island and its characters the story never appealed to me in the way the previous one did.

      Although when I read the summary of the story on the rear of it all the ingredients where there for another fascinating story. I liked the concepts it brought up such as a new beginning for Fin and the meeting up with an old very unusual friend. Although I was soon to discover this was not the summary as this was on the inside cover so I do not know what you would call this maybe the pre-summary?

      The real summary was excellent. It was one of the longest I have ever seen being five paragraphs long and full of interesting detail. It talked about Fin's new life, meeting with Whistler and the discovery of the plane with the body in it. If anything it was too long as I think in retrospect the last two paragraphs really were not required. As it would have been nice to discover more in the story itself as this gave for me too much of the story away. Although at this point I wondered why the author had selected the title he had as there were no real clues in the summary and I wondered like the game of chess it would be a cleverly thought out mystery.

      The story began with a prologue. This was very short and just over a page long. It in the context of the story had little relevance to it and I think it was a waste of time even putting this in. The story began with Whistler and Fin discovering the plane with the dead man inside. And while this had impact and get me wondering what had happened I thought it was the wrong start to the third story of this series. My reason for saying this is Fin had not met Whistler in either of the previous books despite him being a key friend when they were both growing up. So I thought a better start would be their reunion after so many years apart. And while this did happen it happened later in the book and as a result seemed a bit disjointed to me anyway.

      This characterised the story for me, although in some respects it did make sense. For example the way it returned to the Band days well over 17 years ago and Fin's relationships with various band members. I found this interesting but it never touched me in the way his previous stories did. I suppose this might be because I know so much more about Fin now and for me his first love and finding out about happened to them has already been dealt with in the previous story.

      On the positive side I did find Whistler a very interesting character. Although a few of the things I found out much later in the story about him I found a little hard to believe bearing in mind his previous characteristics and personality. The story was quite slow and while I had no real idea about any of the solutions to the story it all seem quite laboured getting to the point where the truth would start to reveal itself. Indeed at times I found this story hard going, I think it was the previous stories that get me through and the hope that it would all suddenly click together and I would start enjoying again what I was reading.

      There was always mystery within the story especially as I had no idea where it was going to happen next. Some of the answers to the story impressed me although there still remained something quite unbelievable about it. It was this that bothered me and while the concepts behind the story were all good I failed to really believe in it. Although I did enjoy some of the excellent descriptions of the island and the way the author set the scene, it really made me feel like I was there.

      The concluding chapter for me where the highlight of the story. I liked the answers to the story although again they seemed a little unlikely, especially in relation to Whistler ( you have to read it I will say no more than that!!). The answers always had me foxed until they were explained and I enjoyed the suspense of it all. There was certainly the element of surprise at the end and I never expected it or saw what actually happened happening, if that makes sense!

      Fin clearly is the main character in these stories. He is a strong character and one I had really taken to and liked in the first two books. Although I felt in this one I learnt little about him and there was little to impress me about the way he went about solving this mystery. It was the history of the band and its unusual members that intruded me. And sadly I did not think the author did them justice as he focused just on a couple of them so I never felt I knew or understood them. Something about the band and what they became seemed totally unbelievable especially when Fin arrived and came back from Spain.

      Having really enjoyed the first two books in this series this novel was a huge disappointment to me. I think the author has told the reader enough about Fin and early life, it is time to either move on and focus on someone else or the crimes he gets involved in rather than the man himself. For me the story was much too long and while it did have suspense about it, it was far too long and drawn out and as a result to was hard going.

      ==Conclusion:==

      This is not a crime thriller I can honestly recommend. For me while it was full of detail and well thought out it was also slow going and I found it somewhat unbelievable. The ending of the story was very unexpected but this failed to make up for the slowness throughout it. For me even the leading characters Fin's involvement was disappointing and while previously I had found him very interesting this time he was dull by comparison.

      ==Other Information:==

      Paperback version:

      Pages: 400
      Price: 6.99
      Publisher: Quercus
      ISBN-10: 0857382241
      ISBN-13: 978-0857382245
      Year first Published: 2013
      About the author: www.petermay.co.uk

      Thanks for reading my review.

      This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.

      ©CPTDANIELS October 2013

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      • More +
        25.09.2013 22:15

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        Fabulous book. Peter May is a fantastic writer and this last book in the series does not disappoint.

        Book Synopsis:

        Fin Macleod, now head of security on a privately owned Lewis estate, is charged with investigating a spate of illegal game-hunting taking place on the island.

        This mission reunites him with Whistler Macaskill - a local poacher, Fin's teenage intimate, and possessor of a long-buried secret.

        But when this reunion takes a violent, sinister turn and Fin puts together the fractured pieces of the past, he realizes that revealing the truth could destroy the future.

        Review:

        This book is the much anticipated third in the series of a trilogy of crime novels set in the hebridian isles. The writing is fantastic, the location is so perfectly described and is such a fantastic setting for the genre. Peter May definitely has a way with words. The main characters by this point have become rather like old friends, and they are such full and well rounded characters that you really take an interest in what is/has happened. I really found myself caring about them. Very gripping. You could read this book without going near the previous in the trilogy, it would stand alone, but I really would recommend that you start at the beginning. Several of the characters are permanent throughout and you really get a feel for the relationships between them and the motives that drive them.

        Twists and turns a plenty, past and present revealed by turn, I certainly didn't see 'it' coming.

        I have read this trilogy about 4 times now. And have an obsession with the hebrides that refuses to go away! They are simply that good.

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