Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

I’ll Keep You Safe – Peter May

Crime Fiction

Since The Lewis Trilogy goes down as a favourite read of mine of all time, I was delighted to be offered a copy of this, the latest standalone novel, by Peter May also set in the Outer Hebrides. You will just have to imagine my excitement when I opened the front cover to find that I’ll Keep You Safe has a wonderful map of the places on the islands mentioned throughout the novel. Even better for those with a lack of Gaelic, there is a list of pronunciations so I didn’t have to do what I normally do which is to make up a word that looks close all the while knowing that wouldn’t pass muster anywhere except in my head.

The action doesn’t start in the Hebrides though, the setting for the explosive opening is in Paris soon after a confrontation between and her husband Ruairidh (Roo-are-ee) of ten years. Niamh has read an email sent from a well-wisher, informing her that Ruairidh is having an affair with his Russian business associate Irina. Ruairidh and Niamh are in Paris on business, the one they built together selling Ranish tweed, spun locally and sold to high end fashion designers world-wide.

After the opening Niamh is left alone, traumatised by the unexpected turn of events and she starts reflecting on her life living in Ranish, her relationship with her parents and Ruairidh’s parents trying to understand events that have never been properly confronted before.

Peter May has chosen to narrate this tale from two female viewpoints. In the main we hear from Niamh, either reflecting on the past or in the present trying to come to terms with recent events. The other narrator is Detective Braque from the French Police, a divorced woman who is trying to balance her job with the demands of twins, and it has to be said on the most part failing.

I love Peter May’s writing and the picture he paints of life on the Scottish Isles is so vivid that as in his previous books, I felt I knew the place so much so that I could easily be convinced I’ve visited despite the fact I haven’t. The descriptions of summers full of midges, the rain never far away, and the joys of playing house in amongst a pile of peat all add to the picture. Equally well portrayed is what life is like on the island, both in the past when Niamh was growing up and in more recently where she and Ruairidh built their own house at the edge of the island. The claustrophobia of everyone knowing each other’s business, the churches that rule a whole way of life which means discos for the youngsters end earlier to ensure there is no carousing on the Sabbath and the funeral rituals are all presented to illustrate the traditional views held by the islanders.

Despite being swept away by Niamh’s tale I was slightly less convinced by the ending which involved a leap of faith that I didn’t quite manage but there is no doubt at all that I’ll Keep You Safe ends on a bang in keeping with the explosive opening. With a book full of luscious descriptions as well an introduction into traditional weaving this is a book that will conjure up a mass of images illustrating a way of life which is unique to these Scottish islands. Even better these qualities are combined with characters that walk out of the pages and into your life.

I was very grateful to be sent a copy of I’ll Keep You Safe by the publisher Quercus. This unbiased review is my thank you to them.

You can read an extract from this book in yesterday’s post which formed part of the Blog Tour celebrating publication of this novel today, 11 January 2018.

First Published UK: 11 January 2018
Publisher: Riverrun
No of Pages: 436
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

29 thoughts on “I’ll Keep You Safe – Peter May

  1. May is so good, isn’t he, at conveying a sense of place, Cleo. And I’m not surprised that you found the characters so compelling. In my opinion, that’s another strength of his. I’m glad to hear you liked this one as well as you did, and now I must move it up further on my own TBR..


  2. Peter May is one of my favorite authors of all time. And I still have so many of his books to sample. Looking forward to this one as the Lewis trilogy is a big, big favorite of mine. Just as a recommendation, you should try his standalone ENTRY ISLAND. It is set in Canada, but has ties to the Outer Hebrides. It’s really good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! And I’m going to try his China books and also his Enzo books.


    1. Hi Kay, thank you for taking the time to visit – I forgot to list the books I’ve actually read on this post for some reason – post flu fuddle I will put it down to – I did read Entry Island and also Runaway and Coffin Road which all came after the Lewis Trilogy which I read most of before I started blogging.


    1. Oh I didn’t struggle with the middle part and if it had been any other author that is without the fab writing and brilliant characters I might have been more upset about the ending – but overall I loved it.


    1. I love maps and it is the little things like pronunciation guides that make all the difference – I would still recommend The Blackhouse, the first in the Lewis Trilogy as these three books were really something special and this one reminded me in many ways of those – not just the setting but the brilliantly drawn characters.


  3. Great review, and I’m glad you enjoyed it! As you can tell, I’m finished and my review is written – just needs a bit of polishing and a few hundred words edited out and it’ll be good to go… 😉 I love his descriptive writing too – in fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that’s what I read him for more than the actual crime element. I quite often have difficulty remembering his plots, but I rarely forget his settings or characters. Hope he stays in Lewis for the next one… 😀


    1. Excellent and as I was writing this I came to a similar conclusion because I’m not sure this story would have been half as captivating in many other author’s hands. This meant that although I had my doubts about the ending, it really didn’t matter that much because the journey had been so special. I hope so too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How exciting! I read the Lewis trilogy last year. I love Peter May’s writing and now all I want to do is visit the Outer Hebrides. So glad to see he has a standalone book in the same place – I’ll definitely read this one too!


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