Published 30th August 2012 by Quercus
An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald – now an elderly man suffering from dementia – has always claimed to be an only child. When Tormod’s family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.
Book one in the Lewis Trilogy The Blackhouse
This is the second part of the Lewis Trilogy and once again we are back in Scotland, with Fin Macleod.
A body is found in a Lewis peat bog, well preserved and linked genetically to a local man. The man is Tormod Macdonald, a relative of Fin’s ex-girlfriend. Tormod is suffering from dementia and is not able to help identifying the body. His mind is confused. Fin is no longer in the police force and has come back to stay on the island. George Gunn, the local policeman, and Finn both try to identify the body in the peat bog and to find the truth about the past. Who is Tormod Macdonald and what happened to him as a child?
Once again we get a story with a lovely historical slant. Tormod may not be able to speak with clarity in the present or tell his story. In the present day, Tormod is a victim of his illness and is soon kicked out by his wife. As the story travels to the past, we see Tormod’s first person account of life in the care system. I was fascinated by his time in the care home and then his resettlement on the island as a ‘homer’. Children were basically dumped with families, with little regard for their emotional needs. A very brutal time for children. It is very moving.
This is such a great mystery, with a sensitivity and a clarity about the history of the care system in remote Scotland and about dementia. I enjoyed the return of Fin and his complicated personal life. It is good to see Fin and Marsaili properly reconnecting. Fin is due a little happiness. A sad tale of the past, but one definitely worth discovering.