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Good Literature for Children & Adults

I'll Keep You Safe by Peter May

For the many readers of the many books of Peter May, you will be happy to know there is a new one.

I’ll Keep You Safe flew in the door today just as I finished reading an advance copy. It is a stand alone novel and returns to the landscape of the islands of Lewis and Harris for most of the action.

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But, the story begins in Paris, where we meet Niamh and Ruairidh, fabric weavers and designers who are in Paris preparing to display their fabric at a prestigious trade fair.

We have, however, barely met them when we learn of a conflict between the two. Niamh has received an email from a “well wisher” telling her that her husband has been having an affair with a Russian fashion designer. Ruairidh leaves the hotel room, denying her accusation, and as she watches, he climbs into the woman’s vehicle, driving off just as the vehicle explodes.

With both driver and passenger dead, a grieving Niamh returns to Lewis to bury her husband and wonder how she will carry on the business without him. As the present day story progresses, the back story of the lives of Niamh and Ruairidh and their families is slowly revealed. A tragedy from their childhood has coloured all of the years since, and though their love survived, it divided their families. Even with the death of their son-in-law it seems unlikely that Niamh’s parents will forgive her for choosing Ruairidh for her husband.

The French police investigate, and after a few days, allow Niamh to return to Lewis with what is left of her husband’s body for burial. Without a suspect, the French detective Lieutenant Sylvie Braque is sent to witness the funeral and consult with the local policeman on Lewis. They attempt to discover who might have sent the emails, as not only did Niamh receive one but so did the designer’s husband, a man who has since disappeared.

Woven ( no pun intended) into the mystery of the murder is the story of the weaving of Harris Tweed, and fictional characters from the fashion industry provide a great collection of secondary characters and many possible perpetrators. The setting on the island of Lewis, is of course stunningly beautiful, where Niamh and Ruairidh have built a home overlooking the ocean on a remote point of land in a place of beauty and peace, even in grief.

I’ve often said that Peter May is not a great writer but he is a very good storyteller, and except for a few rather too long passages about the past that slow the pace, I’ll Keep You Safe is much what one expects from Peter May – a (mostly) fast paced action-packed story, set in a landscape to die for (again, no pun intended).  And, a satisfactory conclusion – though I’d surprisingly long since clued into who the murderer was and suspected the twist double-twist revelation at the end of the novel.

For fans of Peter May, I’ll Keep You Safe is a satisfying escape from our own troubles – as his characters always have so many more things to worry about than we do – not to mention the challenge of just staying alive.

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