Sunday, April 14, 2019

Entry Island: Peter May

Entry Island blends historical fiction with a present-day police procedural. Both stories come together in the end, as we expect. The historical focus is on the Highland Clearances which take place on the Isle of Lewis and Harris in Scotland. The current investigation centers on a death on a small Canadian island (Entry Island, which is a part of the Magdalen Islands, in the province of Quebec). This was an unusual and compelling story.

A rich businessman, James Cowell, who lives on Entry Island has been murdered. Sime Mackenzie, a homicide detective with the Sûreté in Montreal, is attached to the police team sent to the island solely because he is an English speaker and the inhabitants of the island speak English. When they arrive they find that the man's wife, Kirsty Cowell, is the most likely suspect. Entry Island is very small, with only 130 residents. No one believes that Kirsty Cowell is innocent, except Sime.

There are many tensions in Sime's life. Simes marriage has ended; his ex-wife is also on the police force and taking part in this investigation. He has suffered insomnia since the end of his marriage, affecting his health. He is a loner, and as an English speaker in Quebec, he doesn't fit in.


My favorite thing about Peter May's books is the background on each book's setting and its history. In this case there are two settings (in Scotland and in Canada) and I learned a lot about each. In addition to that, the book provided some insight into Quebec and the tensions in that area due to the change to French as the official language. I am seeing that a lot in Canadian fiction set in this area.

I find it interesting that various reviewers differed on which story line they found the most compelling. I thought they were blended very well, even though the connections are almost too coincidental and stretched my ability to suspend disbelief. Regardless, I was impatient to find out the resolution to each part and it was an enjoyable read. 


To learn more abut the Highland Clearances and the relationship of the Magdalen Islands off the coast of Canada, see these two resources.

I wish I had read that last article before reading the book, because it explains that the main character's name, Sime, is a corruption of Sim, the Gaelic for Simon, which is pronounced “Sheem”.


Publisher:   Quercus, 2015 (orig. publ. 2014)
Length:       448 pages
Format:       Trade paperback
Setting:       Scotland and Canada
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:       I purchased my copy.


Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, I'm so glad you liked this one, Tracy! I thought May did a very effective job of evoking both Canada and Scotland. And, yes, the stories blended quite well, in my opinion. He's just a really skilled author.

TracyK said...

Yes, Canada and Scotland were a perfect combination here, Margot. Very enjoyable book.

Rick Robinson said...

Tracy, is this part of a series, or a stand alone? I have read a couple of May's books, but set in China (I think), not the western continents.

TracyK said...

Rick, this is a stand alone book. I also have two of the books in the series set in China to read. And there is another stand alone I would like to get.

Mathew Paust said...

Haven't yet read anything by Peter May, Tracy, but you have whetted my appetite!

TracyK said...

He certainly writes well, Mathew, and picks varied settings and and does a good job depicting them.

Clothes In Books said...

This is another author where I have been circling round but don't know where to settle! I am sure I am missing out, but there are so many authors around...

TracyK said...

Well, I started with the China thrillers, Moira, early books of his, but have only read one. I think the later books are better. Hard to say where to start. And I agree, so many authors, there is no way you can read them all.

col2910 said...

Similar to Moira, I have a few from him - randomly scattered from some of his series. There seems so many and I'm lost about where to start. Probably best if I select the closest one and just get on with it!

TracyK said...

Good question about where to start with books by Peter May, Col. Not all of his books are series books, so if you have some of those, that might be good. I have read one China Thriller, an early book. The first of the Lewis Trilogy. And the first of the Enzo Macleod series. And this one. He writes very well, so I don't think you would be bored.