First Thoughts

The Lewis Man

Peter May

Quercus,

€9.99; Kindle £7.00

Review: Laura Wurzal

This is the second part of Peter May’s Lewis trilogy (the first being The Blackhouse). The Lewis Man is a preserved body discovered in a peat bog on the Isle of Lewis, one of the islands in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.

The autopsy reveals he’s a young man who was murdered in the 1950s. A DNA test shows he was the brother of local farmer, Tormod MacDonald, now an elderly great-grandfather suffering from dementia, and supposedly an only child.

His daughter Marsaili asks her neighbour Fin Macleod for help. Fin, her childhood sweetheart, has just returned to Lewis after leaving the Edinburgh police force and feels duty bound to solve the mystery.

The reader enters Tormod’s mind, sharing his fragmented recollections combined with Fin’s investigation to discover his true identity, his grim and moving childhood and tragic secret.

But events of the past collide with the present, putting Marsaili and her family in grave danger.

May is a masterful story-teller. He skilfully combines pathos and the themes of identity, lost love and family ties to create an exciting, page-turning thriller.

Religion For Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide To The Uses Of Religion

Alain de Botton

Hamish Hamilton,

€13.99; Kindle £11.99)

Review: Claire Ennis

In an age where debates surrounding religion focus often on the negative — wars, sectarianism, fanaticism, fundamentalism, abuse, terror — philosopher Alain de Botton demonstrates the many positives it brings to the world.

Steering clear of theological arguments, he shows how religious rituals, rules and its sense of community help to bind a society, appeal to our primitive needs, provide guidance and help us experience art in a meaningful way. He argues that, once disconnected from any “supernatural” aspect, many of religion’s ideas can be used to solve the problems we face.

While some of the concepts may jar with many it is difficult to disagree with the notion that, whether a believer or not, religion’s more honourable ideals and rituals can enrich individuals and help bind communities.

Building A History: The LEGO Group

Sarah Herman

Remember When,

€19.80

Review: Lewis Young

The closest thing to a ‘complete’ telling of the story of LEGO, Building A History covers the company’s life from its humble beginnings in a Dutch carpenter’s workshop to the global empire it is today.

The public is impressed by what can be done with the tiny plastic bricks, from the creativity it brings out in a child to the awe-inspiring large-scale pieces found in the Legoland parks, and this 300-page image-heavy book panders to this need. Yet, sadly, much of the text is a dry, near-unreadable recounting of facts, that even LEGO obsessives may find overwhelming.

This is a passion project, and although visually pleasing, its literary merit is lacking. Given the patience needed to build a scale model of the Eiffel Tower, perhaps some readers will soldier through this extensive company manual.

Waiting For Sunrise

William Boyd

Bloomsbury,

€25.10; Kindle £10.25

Review: Robert Dex

The king of the literary thriller is at it again with this tale of spies and soldiers set against a backdrop of the West End and the Western Front.

Forced to flee Vienna under a cloud, actor Lysander Rief finds himself in debt to some of British diplomacy’s shadier characters as World War One approaches and is soon enlisted on the home front to help find a traitor undermining the war effort.

Boyd’s books tend to cut across genres as easily as his characters cross continents and the latest is no different.

More of a page turner than the usual thriller and much cleverer than the typical spy story, Waiting For Sunrise inhabits the best of both worlds.

A slice of smart, very readable fiction that is begging to be brought to the small screen like his earlier work Any Human Heart.

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