Coffin Road - Peter May

Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Synopsis:  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. 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. 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 willfully 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.


Review: Almost universally, people I've spoken to preferred May's Lewis Trilogy, of which I have read the first book. While I thoroughly enjoyed it, I seem to be one of the very few people who actually prefers Coffin Road. The mystery and backstory are just more my kind of thing, I guess.

This book features an interesting use of adjectives, which at first I thought was going to be clunky and really annoying, but I got weirdly used to it and found I ultimately really enjoyed it. I'm reading another book by him now, and while still descriptive, it feels a little sparse by comparison! I loved the atmosphere of this novel - there's something about the isolation of a rugged, sparsely populated Scottish island that makes everything feel more intense and dramatic. The mystery starts on the first page, and while I got a little confused at times about who was who in the quest to solve the identity of Neal McLean (that's probably more on me than the writing), it turned out to be a really enjoyable journey. It didn't go quite as far as I might have liked into questions about who you become when you've forgotten everything you were, but it didn't really need to.

The story went in a completely unexpected direction (I'll admit, I was kind of hoping the story about the missing lighthouse men would feed into this a bit more) but it was an interesting direction which, in the context of this novel, was a pretty original spin on a not-entirely original concept. I don't want to spoil anything about this book, so it's a little difficult to describe why I liked the content of the second half of the book so much, but it might help if you like bees!

A genuinely compelling mystery thriller loaded with atmosphere. Really recommend it.

Rating: 4/5

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