A Winter Grave: a chilling new mystery set in the Scottish highlands

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A Winter Grave: a chilling new mystery set in the Scottish highlands

A Winter Grave: a chilling new mystery set in the Scottish highlands

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So I wrestled with the idea of how would I write about this in a way that would draw attention to it. But how do you write about a subject so big and I’m a crime writer and readers don’t want to be preached at and I was well aware of all that. I knew that there had been some particularly brutal land clearances in the Hebrides, and since this was on my patch, so to speak, I decided to set the historical element of the story on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, creating a fictitious estate and township that would serve as a typical example of some of the more violent clearances. For this I drew specifically on real events that took place on Barra, the west coast of Harris, and the village of Solas in North Uist. Brussels, 1979. Jaded Edinburgh journalist Neil Bannerman arrives in the capital of European politics intent on digging up dirt. Yet it is danger he discovers, when two British men are found murdered. But before I tell you about the highlights of the year for me, I have some exciting news about my next book Entry Island. For those of you who don’t know, Entry Island is set in part on the Isle of Lewis and in part on the Magdalen Islands of Quebec. It was scheduled for release in early January 2014, but… ENTRY ISLAND RELEASED EARLY

But the British government, determined to dismantle the clan system and exact retribution, banned all things Highland – the playing of the bagpipes, the wearing of the kilt, the carrying of arms – and a lengthy and institutionalised persecution against Gaelic speakers was instigated (someone speaking Gaelic in a court of law was deemed not to have spoken). In the immediate aftermath of Culloden, a regiment comprising prisoners from English prisons was set loose in the Highlands, slaughtering Gaelic speakers and their families. If he had the least idea what curling was about, he would know that it is played week-in, week-out through the winter by thousands of curlers in dozens of leagues all over Scotland, and elsewhere in the UK. I should know, I was one of them for many years. It is a testing and skilful game, that requires intelligent strategy, technique, fitness and strength. It is a wonderfully social game that involves people of all ages, from children through to the very elderly (who can adapt their game to suit personal physical abilities). It develops competitive spirit, but also social and family skills – it is a game often played by whole families. And if Godwin had ever spent two hours on a curling rink he would know just how physically demanding it is – encouraging fitness and health in all. But, then, he probably never steps beyond the door of his local London wine bar. The latest to fall by the wayside is Partners & Crime in New York City. P&C has just announced it is to close its doors, following in the fatal footsteps of another NYC independent, Murder Ink.Mysteries To Die For in Thousand Oaks, California, closed its doors for the last time last week, while further north in the same State San Mateo’s independent Mystery bookstore, M is for Mystery, closed earlier this year. One installed computer systems all over the world for a multi-national corporation, the other was employed as a freelance consultant by major organisations initialising untried computer systems in areas of financial or logistical sensitivity. Each had an unerring propensity for rubbing employers and co-workers up the wrong way. Both manage to offend friends and family with regular ease, never with intent, but always with surprise and regret when the effect of their words becomes belatedly apparent.

Cameron Brodie, a veteran Glasgow detective, volunteers to be flown north to investigate Younger’s death, but he has more than a murder enquiry on his agenda. He has just been given a devastating medical prognosis by his doctor and knows the time has come to face his estranged daughter who has made her home in the remote Highland village. When it came to books, I seemed to be almost prescient. In the first of my China Thrillers, “The Firemaker”, I wrote about the introduction of a genetically modified strain of rice which goes wrong. Within a couple of years of publication the genetically modified “Golden Rice” appeared on the scene to be met with huge opposition from environmental and anti-globalisation activists. It has taken nearly twenty years for its successor to get tentative approval for commercial cultivation. It was shortly after his retirement that I first encountered him online, when I was looking for an expert to advise me on genetics for my book, “ The Firemaker”, the first in a series of thrillers set in China. He took me step-by-step through the process of genetically engineering foodstuffs – a highly complex scientific procedure not at all easy for the layman to understand. I had been shortlisted for the Dagger in the Library. This award recognises the popularity of an author’s body of work with readers and users of libraries. The judges committee is made up of librarians from across the country. Peter – originally a journalist who became a scriptwriter, then producer of the Gaelic drama Machair, before embracing fiction – turned down contract offers for another book. Writer Peter May, returned with a new thriller embracing the challenge of setting it in the near future.And though Peter’s vision of the future is bleak in terms of climate change, he still believes those playing fast and loose with the earth’s future can be stopped. But not long before the climate change conference in Glasgow, Peter – the former award-winning journalist – turned again to some of those reporter’s basic skills he has used over the years researching his novels to do some deeper study into the facts about climate change.

I feel privileged to have experienced Beijing and China as it had once been, and to have borne witness to its metamorphosis. The China Thrillers could hardly have been set at a time of greater change. And so I view the books now almost as modern historical documents. They tell us not only about the evolution in the relationship between Deputy Section Chief Li Yan and American pathologist Margaret Campbell, but bear testament to one of the most astonishing cultural transformations in recent history. Readers in the USA have had to wait a long time to catch up with The Lewis Trilogy, but I’m glad to be able to tell you that The Lewis Man will be coming to the USA in 2014. Three swimmers from the Western Isles – Ed Smith, Colin S. Macleod and Stuart Baird – are set to undertake a hugely dangerous relay swim from Eilean Mor, across twenty-one miles of treacherous Atlantic Ocean, to Uig on the south-west coast of Lewis. A Silent Death from 2020 is set in the contemporary Spain of crime, drugs gangs and introduced the world of a deaf blind character at the heart of a gripping plot to readers.

Social media has a lot to answer for

It was this persecution that prompted the workers at East Kilbride to boycott the servicing of the Chilean jet engines, thereby grounding many airforce planes, and undoubtedly saving civilian lives. It was dated January 25th, 1971, which seemed auspicious since it was also the birthday of the great Scottish Bard, Rabbie Burns. Cast Iron will be published in the UK on 12th January 2017 and I will be touring the UK visiting Glasgow Edinburgh, Perth, Norwich, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, and London. I began research on the subject and discovered that it was more prevalent than one might expect. There are nearly 400,000 sufferers around the world, with that figure expected to rise to 600,000 in the next fifteen years. One of the most common causes is a genetic disease known as Usher Syndrome in which the victim develops partial or total hearing loss that worsens over time.

This is a very special prize to win as it is for all my various books and series, and an endorsement from the readers, users and keepers of the UK library system.

About Author Peter May

I know a lot of people are pleased that I’m making a return to the Western Isles, and readers of the Lewis Trilogy will be happy to know that there will be at least one familiar face. Detective Sergeant George Gunn’s services are required when the dead body of a man is found near the lighthouse on the Flannan Isles. He says: “I suppose I have perhaps a slightly louder voice than most people. But in the end I decided I couldn’t write about climate change in itself, that’s not a story you can manage in terms of a book.”

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