Entry Island by Peter May won the Deanston Scottish Crime Novel of the year back in 2014. Today, Kaye George brings us a review of the book ….
Entry Island by Peter May
Canada seems much more like a foreign country than usual in this polyglot setting. Amid the French-speaking Magdalen Islands (Madeleine in French), lies English-speaking Entry Island, settled in part by Scots who came during the potato famine years in the 1800s.
The story starts slowly, but builds gradually—two stories actually. The modern day narrative sends English speaker, Sime Mackenzie, whose Scottish/Gaelic family refused to leave Quebec when it went all French, to investigate a murder on Entry Island. The rest of the team are French speakers. He is ill at ease with them, but Thomas Blanc, with whom he works most closely, is friendly. One member of the team is his ex, Marie-Ange, a vitriolic, bitter woman who makes everything harder.
As soon as Sime sees the woman who is accused of murdering her husband, he feels he knows her. In spite of overwhelming opinion against her, he fights to find a shred of evidence that she didn’t kill her husband. Sime is suffering from chronic insomnia, but has waking dreams that put him into the tales from his ancestor’s diaries that were read to him by his grandmother when he was a child. The insomnia gets so bad that it threatens to impair his judgement and to get him ousted from his job as he retreats deeper and deeper into the past, imagining that he actually is his ancestor, and that the accused woman is his ancestor’s long-lost love as this story runs alternating with the other one.
This is a tale of two islands, two mysteries, and two places and times. A tale of misfits isolated within their own cultures, and a tale of cultures battling each other, both in the 1800s and today.
Reviewed by Kaye George, author of Death in the Time of Ice, for Suspense Magazine