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Entry Island    by Peter May Amazon.com order for
Entry Island
by Peter May
Order:  USA  Can
Quercus, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've long enjoyed Peter May's China thrillers, and he's also well known for his Enzo Files cold case mysteries and his Lewis trilogy. Now he brings us an unusual standalone police procedural, set on Entry Island in the Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada.

Why unusual? The story moves back and forth in time between the modern murder investigation on Entry Island (with less than a hundred inhabitants) and the terrible eighteenth century Highland Clearances on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. And two key characters, the main detective and his chief suspect, knew each other well in their earlier lives.

The Montreal detective, Sergeant Sime Mackenzie, has been an insomniac since his wife Marie-Ange left him. He's assigned to investigate a murder on the Magdalen Islands as part of a team of eight (including his ex-wife, a crime scene investigator). Most of the islands are French-speaking but on Entry (whose inhabitants are mostly descendants of Scottish immigrants) they speak only English, so Sime is needed.

Most of the team see the case as a slam dunk - the victim's wife, Kirsty Cowell (who has not been off the island in the last ten years), was found with the corpse, covered in blood. Kirsty claims that a masked intruder attacked her and then stabbed her husband. Strengthening the case against her, said husband had 'up and left her' the week before.

The investigation proceeds, the case against Mrs. Cowell steadily growing. But Sime, who felt a strong sense of recognition the moment they met, fights for her innocence. And she recognizes an engraving on his ring as being identical to one on her pendant, a family heirloom that has gone missing.

While all this develops, Peter May takes readers back to the Isle of Lewis, where Sime's ancestors struggled to maks a living as crofters, while Kirsty's father was the local laird. Sime's grandmother told him stories of that time. A Romeo & Juliet relationship developed, the clearances began, and the young lovers were separated - forever?

Of course, you can see by now where this is going but there are quite a few twists and turns - and escalating violence - to get there. I enjoyed Entry Island very much and will happily read anything by Peter May.

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