Entry Island by Peter May (2014)
If you liked Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy (The Blackhouse, The Lewis Man and The Chessmen), I think you will most probably enjoy Entry Island as well. This too is a detective novel, but with different characters, and set mainly on another island, in another part of the world: Entry Island, belonging to the Madeleine Islands in the French-speaking province of Quebec in Canada. However, the population on Entry Island (less than 130 people) forms an isolated English-speaking community.
Which is why, when a murder takes place on Entry Island, the police team sent there from Quebec, includes Sime Mackenzie (Sime pronounced Sheem; a Scottish variety of the name Simon), fluent in both languages: English as well as French. One of the other members of the team is his ex-wife, Marie-Ange.
The murder victim is a man named Cowell, who lived on the island; and one of the main suspects is his wife Kirsty. When Sime first meets her, he is struck by a weird feeling of recognition, for which he can’t find any logical explanation.
Sime suffers from insomnia since his divorce, and the few hours he manages to doze off at all are filled with weird dreams. On Entry Island, not only does Kirsty Cowell pursue him even into his dreams, but the dreams also become mixed up with memories of stories he was told in his childhood, about his ancestor who emigrated to Canada from the Hebredian Isle of Lewis in the mid 1800s.
Throughout the novel, the perspective shifts between the contemporary murder investigation, and a diary kept by Simes ancestor (by the same name), who grew up on the Isle of Lewis as the son of a crofter.
While I loved the double or triple layers of mystery as such, to begin with I found myself questioning the old diary entries. Did they not seem a bit too detailed and modern in narrative style?
Then I remembered Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters and Charles Dickens; and decided to give up that line of criticism and just enjoy the story!
Reaching the end, I really could not find any reason to give this book any less than five stars. There is a depth to Peter May’s storytelling (in this novel as well as in the Lewis trilogy) that goes way past being just entertainment for the moment. These books leave me with a feeling of having “been somewhere”, rather than just having read about it.