Today Mandie is sharing her thoughts on The Night Gate by Peter May, the latest Enzo Macleod novel. Our thanks to Sophie Ransom of Midas PR for inviting us to join the tour and to publisher Riverrun Books for providing the advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house. The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart.
Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensics expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter. Two extraordinary narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown.
And Enzo’s investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders – the Mona Lisa.
Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as it is moved from château to château by the Louvre, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.
What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades.
Events that have led to both killings.
The Night Gate spans three generations, taking us from war-torn London, the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Berlin and Vichy France, to the deadly enemy facing the world in 2020. In his latest novel, Peter May shows why he is one of the great contemporary writers of crime fiction.
The Night Gate is book 7 in the Enzo files and I am going to have to admit that not only is this the first book in the series I have read, it is also the first book by Peter May I have read, neither of which statement stopped me from enjoying the book immensely but may have left me kicking myself that I had not ready any of the other books.
Enzo Macleod is called to assist when the body of a man is discovered after a tree falls over. The person was shot in the head and appears to have been in the ground for over 70 years. Whilst he is there an art critic is murdered in the house very close to the site and Enzo finds himself working on both cases. For him to work out what happened and if the two incidents are linked, he has to delve into the past, to a time when France was occupied by Nazi Germany during the second world war. Set over two timelines this is a fast paced and intriguing book that will keep you hooked to the end.
I quickly grew to like the character of Enzo as he is certainly very passionate about his job, but there is also an ease about him that seems to ensure that those he works with are happy to help him out when needed. I think that his investigations in an unofficial capacity get many of the people he talks to about events to open up to him as they do not see him as a threat in any way or out to cause trouble. He has a determination about him that sees him putting himself in danger to get to the truth behind both events and ensure that the wrong person is not blamed at least for the present-day crime.
For me the most intriguing part of the book are the stories of Georgette Pignal and her actions during the second world war. Part of this is due to my being a complete and utter history nerd and love delving into the past, but it is also where most of the action lies. Sent to guard the Mona Lisa from falling into Nazi hands, she is never sure who to trust or if she will survive.
They say that to understand the present you often have to understand the past and with The Ninth Gate this is most certainly the case. Peter May has managed to merge both effortlessly and ensured that I devoured this book in a couple of days. ( I will also now have to go and buy the rest of the series to see what I have missed so far) I will add a note that the present-day element is just that, set in the current times so there are mentions of coronavirus and all the restrictions that come with it, but they are only mentions and if I am honest once I got well and truly engrossed in the story it was not something I really noticed all that much and were handled brilliantly by the author.
About the Author
Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BCC, he quit journalism and during the high-octane fifteen years that followed, became one of Scotland’s most successful television dramatists. He created three prime-time drama series, presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland as script editor and producer, and worked on more than 1,000 episodes of ratings-topping drama before deciding to leave television to return to his first love, writing novels.
He has won several literature awards in France, received the USA’s Barry Award for The Blackhouse, the first in his internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy; and in 2014 was awarded the ITV Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year award for Entry Island. Peter now lives in South-West France with his wife, writer Janice Hally.
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