‘Coffin Road’ is a standalone novel by Peter May. Like several of his other novels, it is set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
The story is told from three different perspectives. Neal Maclean lives alone in a small town on the Hebridean Island of Harris. George Gunn is a detective based in Stornaway. Karen Fleming is an Edinburgh teenager with a bad attitude. Gradually their three stories come together to a dramatic climax.
Neal wakes up on a beach, obviously washed ashore. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. He eventually finds out that he is Neal Maclean and that he is writing a novel. But when he looks more closely, he can find no evidence of the novel he is supposed to be writing and he soon comes to the conclusion that Neal Maclean is not his real name. But he can’t find out who he is or what he has been doing in his rented cottage for the last 18 months. Along with his confusion, he has a feeling of deep dread.
DS George Gunn is called in to investigate the murder of a man whose body was discovered on the remote lighthouse island of Flanan. The body is difficult to identify and when ‘Maclean’ becomes a suspect, his identity is just as elusive.
Karen Fleming has found it difficult to get over the suicide of her father. Her last words to him were spoken in anger and she wishes she could take them back. She and her mother don’t get on and Karen has collected tattoos and piercings to show her rebelliousness. She has now reached the stage where she wants to find out more about her father and what made him take his life. But her inquisitiveness could endanger lives.
The stories were brilliantly woven together along with the wild and beautiful Hebridean landscape and unpredictable weather.
There was an underlying environmental theme about the steps that major chemical companies will go to to make money including suppressing evidence, endangering lives and maybe even murder.
Peter May is a brilliant writer. His plots are excellent and he manages to portray his environments in such a way that you can live in his novels. I have loved all of his novels that I’ve read and ‘Coffin Road’ is one of the best.
Book Published 2016