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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Chessmen by Peter May


The Chessmen by Peter May returns me to my Scottish roots via Inspector Fin Macleod on the Outer Hebrides that involve the Lewis chessmen. Last time we saw Fin was after he solved a case in his hometown, Uig on Lewis. He had been a detective in Edinburgh and the case brought him home when he retired after that case. He also discovers a son he didn’t know he had from his high school sweetheart. They are now living together. His retired life finds him as head of security for an estate that wants him to rid it of poachers. One of the poachers is an old friend from high school, Whistler. Whistler is a genius but lives like tramp in a croft. Fin and Whistler discover the plane of a rock star who died seventeen years earlier when a bog burst, that is drained and left a huge hole with the plane. Upon first look, Fin determines the pilot was murdered and that the plane didn’t crash. Once a cop always a cop.
Berserker rooks, people going berserk, and simply following the berserker is enough to make one go berserk. It has to be the peat. Anyway, a suicide note begins and ends our tale, a priest has saved his daughter and granddaughter by breaking the sixth commandment and put his job on the line, and Fin is settling into life with a second family. Oh and his past comes back again and provides the drama for the day.
Fin is looking at his Aunt’s derelict house, the one he grew up in after his parents died in a car crash when he was very young: “As he frequently did, he wondered what point there was in it all. Were we really just here to procreate and pass on, leaving our seed upon the earth to do as we had done, as our fathers had done before us, and theirs before them? A meaningless cycle of birth, life, death?” (page 128) What brings this on has to be the death of Roddy who was the main guy in a band in which Fin was a roadie.  Once again the past returns and becomes the present, bringing the surviving band members and others back on stage for one more act: to find the murderer of Roddy seventeen years ago. Another common bond for these lads is the famous Iolaire disaster. The survivors’ kin now people the towns. They are all linked by the few who saved a few more when so many died after surviving WWI, just yards from home. These grandchildren of the survivors are again in a situation that could bring another tragic event to the town’s doorstep.
Stay clear of the Bridge to Nowhere is the message for me. How many Bridges to Nowhere are there.
What we have here is the continuation of a beautiful relationship between Fin the retired cop, and the protégé, George Gunn. Keep ‘em coming Mr. May.

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