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Wednesday 31 December 2014

‘Extraordinary People’ by Peter May

Published by Quercus,
8 May 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-78206-208-0

Enzo Macleod, former forensic biologist with the Strathclyde Police, and now professor of biology at the University of Toulouse, has accepted a wager to re-open a cold case, the ten years old disappearance of government adviser and high-flying intellectual Jacques Galliard.  He soon finds that there are still  powerful people who want the case to stay unsolved ...

I loved Peter May’s Lewis-set trilogy, so I came to this book with high expectations, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The plot is fast-moving, with a classic treasure-hunt puzzle at its heart and a satisfyingly least-likely perp.  The narrative is centred on Enzo Macleod, a strongly-realised character, and we soon got a sense of his troubled past without too many side-track flashbacks.  He worries about two daughters: Kirsty, his Scottish daughter now living in Paris, who wants nothing to do with him, and Sophie, the child he brought up alone after his French wife died, who’s now deeply involved with the nose-studded gym-owner Bertrand.  During the book Enzo has to re-assess his judgements of others, including enigmatic Charlotte, the highly attractive ex-girlfriend of his helper, journalist Raffin who also wants to know what happened to Galliard.  France is a real presence in the books: the Parisian cafes, Enzo’s flat in Cahors, Charlotte’s secluded rural cottage, and most of all the Paris catacombs which are vividly evoked in the gripping finale.  Best of all, when Enzo wins this wager – as you know he’s going to, this is fiction – there are another six cold cases to go.

A real treat of an outsider-detective novel, with interesting characters and a vividly-realised French setting.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Peter May is one of Scotland's most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 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. The first book in the Lewis Trilogy, The Blackhouse, set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.was the winner of France's Cezam Prix Litteraire. The follow-up, The Lewis Man, was winner of the French Newspaper Le Telegramme's 10,000 euro readers' prize for the best book of 2011 as well as Les Ancres Noires 2012.  The trilogy concludes with the publication of The Chessmen.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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