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Coffin Road by Peter May

Coffin Road by Peter May is once again a stand-alone novel from this increasingly popular writer. Coffin Road is as fast paced as an out of control speeding train – and just as subtle. In spite of, or perhaps because of, the overly dramatic writing it is a book you can’t put it down.

The story takes place in the spectacularly beautiful Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. This is where we meet Neal Maclean, having barely survived drowning he crawls up the beach, not knowing who he is. All memory is gone though he is able to find his way home where his dog greets him with enthusiasm.

And the tangled tale begins, of a man who is running from something that is slowly revealed to the reader. Has he left a family wondering what has become of him? Is he the father of the troubled teenage Karen who struggles with the loss of her father? Who exactly is Neal Maclean – is he in fact really Neal Maclean or is that simply a name on a paper and not his real identity? When another man is found dead in a lighthouse on a remote uninhabited island is Neal the murderer? Who are the neighbours, the woman, Sally, with whom Neal seems to have been involved in a sexual relationship – and her husband who seems to turn a blind eye?

When the body on the island is discovered Detective George Gunn arrives to investigate. It does appear that Neal is most likely to have killed this still unknown man. He was there at the time, but why? What is his fascination with this island where there was once the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers? Is Neal really a writer, working on a book about the disappearance of these men, or does he have another reason for being there.

Woven into the story is everything you might- or might not – want to know about bees. Their importance in all of our lives – and their decline. The reason for the decline may or may not be the conspiracy that this novel suggests but it makes for a darn good story.

Of course the answers to all the questions raised are revealed in the end of another sometimes irritatingly over dramatic, but so absorbing, book by Peter May. Coffin Road is a totally escapist reading – a book that has no pretentions to be otherwise – and that is just fine.


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