Cover image for The chessmen
The chessmen
May, Peter, 1951- , author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Quercus, 2015.
Physical Description:
308 pages ; 24 cm.
Ex-Detective Inspector Fin McLeod discovers a light aircraft at the bottom of a spontaneously drained loch while investigating illegal activity on the estate of a poacher and former childhood friend.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Living again of the Isle of Lewis, ex-Detective Inspector Fin Macleod is working as a security officer for a local landowner. While investigating illegal activity on the estate, Fin encounters his former childhood friend and bandmate, the elusive poacher Whistler Macaskill.
When Fin catches up with Whistler among the windswept hills of the estate, the two witness a freak natural phenomenon--a bog burst--which drains a loch of all its water in a flash, revealing a mud-encased light aircraft with a sickeningly familiar moniker on its side.
Both men immediately know what they will find inside: the body of Roddy Mackenzie, a friend whose flight disappeared more than seventeen years before. But when Whistler's face appears to register something other than shock, an icy chill of apprehension overtakes Fin. What secret has Whistler been hiding from him, and everyone else on the island?

Author Notes

Peter May is the multi award-winning author of the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland; the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell; the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France; and Entry Island . One of Scotland's most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than a thousand credits in fifteen years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama. He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland before quitting television to concentrate on his first love, writing novels.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* May brings his acclaimed Lewis trilogy to a close with a novel that is both wrenching and hopeful and absolutely in line with the broader themes of death and redemption explored in each preceding mystery (The Blackhouse, 2012, and The Lewis Man, 2014). The last title is a nod to the famous find in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis of twelfth-century Nordic chess pieces carved out of whalebone. The mystery also involves the sudden discovery of something with links to the past. Fin Macleod, the series hero, who has devolved from Edinburgh cop to security overseer for an estate owner on Lewis, and an old friend, Whistler Macaskill, are on the bogs when they come across a downed plane, one that had been buried under layers of peat and muck until a bog burst slid the layers off. Inside the plane is the body of one of Macleod's and Macaskill's best friends from their youth, Roddy Mackenzie, a Celtic rock star of the past, whose plane disappeared almost 20 years before but who, apparently, died from foul play rather than the crash. The narrative zips back and forth between Macleod's unofficial investigation into Roddy's death and his memories of a golden past. This is an utterly absorbing mystery, but what will stay with readers most is what becomes of series hero Macleod.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The final volume of May's darkly lyrical trilogy, set largely on the remote Hebridean Isle of Lewis, works better as a standalone, given that plot threads and characters integral to its two predecessors, The Blackhouse (2012) and The Lewis Man (2014), are all but forgotten. Former Edinburgh police detective Fin Macleod, now living back in his birthplace of Lewis and working as the head of security at a sprawling estate, is tasked with stopping the widespread poaching of salmon. One local poacher happens to be a childhood friend, and he and Macleod witness a rare "bog burst," where a lake drains itself dry, in a remote area of the island. At the bottom of the dried loch, they find an airplane, which a Celtic rock star and mutual friend was flying 17 years earlier when he disappeared. A story line that strains credibility coupled with a contrived ending may leave fans of the earlier installments unsatisfied. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Scottish author May's final installment in "The Lewis Trilogy" (after The Lewis Man) finds retired Detective Inspector Fin McLeod taking on a security job to investigate illegal poaching on a private estate. McLeod reconnects with Whistler, a childhood friend, who is also a suspect in the poaching incident. McLeod's investigation takes a turn when he and Whistler stumble upon a crashed airplane in a peat bog with a dead body inside, which happens to be that of a former classmate who mysteriously vanished almost 20 years ago. Narrator Peter Forbes brings the characters to life and adds richness to the author's beautifully detailed descriptions of the desolate landscapes of the Isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides of Scotland. VERDICT Recommended for fans of the series and other Scotland-set mysteries.-Phillip Oliver, Univ. of North Alabama Lib., Florence (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.