Review: Coffin Road – Peter May 

Published on 14 January 2016 by Quercus

coffin road

The million-selling author of the Lewis trilogy brings murder back to the Outer Hebrides.

A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive and borderline hypothermic. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road. He does not know where it will lead him, but filled with dread, fear and uncertainty he knows he must follow it.

A detective crosses rough Atlantic seas to a remote rock twenty miles west of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. With a sense of foreboding he steps ashore where three lighthouse keepers disappeared more than a century before – a mystery that remains unsolved. But now there is a new mystery – a man found bludgeoned to death on that same rock, and DS George Gunn must find out who did it and why.

A teenage girl lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to discover the truth about her father’s death. Two years after the discovery of the pioneering scientist’s suicide note, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that he would wilfully abandon her. And the more she discovers about the nature of his research, the more she suspects that others were behind his disappearance.


Coffin Road follows three perilous journeys towards one shocking truth – and the realisation that ignorance can kill us.

My thoughts

Peter May is an author you should be checking out, crime fans. The latest Coffin Road is a class act.

The story takes us to Scotland and a man waking up on a beach with amnesia. This man is Neal Maclean and he has been renting a cottage on the Isle of Harris. We follow him, as he struggles to work out who he is and what he was doing. He is writing a novel about a historical case of missing light-housemen. Neil enjoys walking his dog along the Coffin Road. Another strand of the story gives us a rebellious teenage girl in Edinburgh, who is struggling to come to terms with the death of her father. Karen contacts her godfather demanding to know the truth. There is a body found by tourists on Eileen Mor and DS George Gunn is soon investigating. All of these things tie together beautifully, over the course of the novel.

May’s poetic use of language is amazing. He describes the scenery in the Isle of Harris in such a way, that he should be hired by the tourist industry. No one could fail to be moved by the location. You can tell the author loves the place. On top of that, this is just a fantastic story. I love a good amnesia tale and Neil’s memory loss just keeps you on tenterhooks. Peter May knows how to create the perfect amount of tension and empathy with his characters. There is also a clever scientific ecological strand to the book, that reveals how nature is being corrupted by global big business. I don’t think anyone can argue with the powerful way that the argument is set out.

If you have never heard of Peter May, this is an ideal place to start. Clever, beautifully descriptive and with a moving ecological theme.

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Please follow the Coffin Road Blog Tour from the 14th January 2016 for a chance to read exclusive extracts and win a copy of the novel.


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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7 Responses to Review: Coffin Road – Peter May 

  1. crimeworm says:

    Great review Christine – mine will be appearing in ShinyNewBooks, then on the blog. What are you reading now?

    • Christine says:

      Thanks, Linda. Look forward to your review. I’m finishing After You Die by Eva Dolan. Have you got to that one yet?

      • crimeworm says:

        Not yet, although I’m dying to – I instead up starting The Widow instead, which is quite a fast read. It’s trying to squeeze books in between blog tours, and try and get some other reviews up too, that’s the problem – there’s so many great books about ATM!

  2. Kay says:

    I can’t wait to be able to read this one. I love Peter May’s books. Nice review, Christine!!

  3. Pingback: Extract and Giveaway – Coffin Road by Peter May | #crime #thriller #books

  4. derek norton says:

    Peter May is a great author-enjoyed your review.Would love to read his latest

  5. liontamar says:

    I just finished reading this and enjoyed it. At first I wasn’t taking much in but I am glad I hung in there. A worth while read

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