Tuesday, April 17, 2018


A version of this review previously appeared in Shelf Awareness and is reprinted here with permission.

While in Paris for an international fabric fair, Niamh Macfarlane accuses her husband and business partner, Ruairidh, of having an affair with fashion designer Irina Vetrov. He vehemently denies being unfaithful and storms out of their hotel, only to be picked up by Vetrov and driven away in her Mercedes as Niamh looks on. Distraught, Niamh rushes to chase after them and is rocked by an explosion that obliterates the Mercedes.

Niamh is dumbstruck by the bombing and its odd aftermath, including missing belongings, mysterious phone calls and a sudden visit from a long-estranged friend and business associate. Her return home to the Hebrides does not bring normalcy, and clues to Ruairidh's death are cleverly woven into the timeline via flashbacks to the couple's shared childhood and tragic inter-family drama. 

I'll Keep You Safe, a standalone thriller from Peter May, starts with a bang, and continues as a twisty slow burn that explores decades of history between Niamh and Ruairidh, their families, associates and friends. May treats his readers as intelligent and curious, writing in English, French and Scots Gaelic, and using local jargon, adding to the atmosphere and authenticity.

As always, May brings a glorious sense of place to the narrative. To read Peter May is to believe Mother Nature invented the Hebrides for him to describe them. His storytelling overshadows a few errant plot arcs and some bent boundaries of believability, resulting in an entrancing tale of romance and intrigue.

STREET SENSE: Decades of tragedy and romance unfold as the backdrop to the mysterious death of a husband accused of betrayal. This is not my favorite of May's works and while I loved the family history and mystery aspects, it took off on some arcs that just weren't for me. Overall, it's still Peter F'ing May.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:  This passage is part of a description of a house built by Niamh and Ruairidh with curved windows that overlook the ocean:

In architect had been concerned by the size of the windows that Niamh and Ruairidh demanded. In the end he had come up with a design that divided the view into five still-life paintings which together framed the panorama. Except that these paintings were never still. They spooled an ever-changing movie of seascape illuminated by sunlight or moonlight, dramatized by a sky that sometimes raged, sometimes smiled, and often glowered.

COVER NERD SAYS: The covers of Peter May's work have become so distinctive that one could cover up the words and make a fairly educated guess who wrote the book. In this instance, that's a good thing, as the black and white images, usually of the Hebrides, are normally fantastic. Even on those occasions when a color image is used, the stark, haunting effect remains.

No comments:

About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP