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THE NIGHT GATE BY PETER MAY

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

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REVIEWS

C Nixon

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book by Peter May, an author I have never read before. I was taken straight into the story, especially with the topical description of the lockdown in France. Enzo Macleod enjoys his cold case investigation of what happened in WW2 and the hiding of the valuable items from The Louvre and if there had been a fake copy of the Mona Lisa painted. At times, the change in storyline could be slightly confusing to a new reader, but well intertwined all the same. Enzo is a good character to follow and gives the story real page turning qualities that I have not experienced very often. All in all, an enjoyable read and I shall be looking for more of Peter May’s books in the future.

C Hunter

This was a compelling read and I was immediately hooked by the two parallel but interconnected plots set 75 or so years apart. This very topical thriller was written during lockdown last year. Much of it is set in south west France, where the author lives, and the idea for it arose following the discovery that many major art works had been hidden in his house during the last war. During lockdown in autumn 2020, retired forensics expert Enzo Macleod becomes involved in the investigation of a murder in south west France. Coincidentally another body from a murder in World War 2 is also discovered nearby tangled in the roots of a fallen tree. Meanwhile, in 1940 art expert Georgette Pignall is given the job, by General Charles de Gaulle himself, to protect the Mona Lisa (known as La Joconde in France) and prevent Hitler getting his hands on it. But it turns out that others are also after the painting. This makes for a very exciting story taking the reader from wartime London to the Outer Hebrides and occupied France. I’m a huge fan of Peter May and this was a terrific book, well up to his usual standard.

F Dowdeswell

A retired Scottish police inspector, Enzo, is persuaded to help identify a body from World War Two when a murder happens in the same village in south-west France. Coincidence? Enzo decides to help the local gendarmes find out more. Jumping between the past and the present, Peter May weaves a web of intrigue with a soupcon of romance with the inscrutable Mona Lisa at the centre. Fast paced and easy to read, this is perfect holiday reading in the style of the Da Vinci Code.

C Purnell

I must admit that when I started reading "The Night Gate", I didn't think I was going to finish it. It was quite confusing at the start as it spans three generations and seventy years, I had to keep going back to check who was who! It takes us from war time London in 1940 through to the COVID situation in 2021's France. However once I sorted out who was who I was hooked! The story centres around Da Vincis' Mona Lisa and the steps that were taken to ensure its survival during World War Two and to keep it out of the hands of Hitler and Goering. We were taken through the brutal survival training in the outer Hebrides of Art expert Georgette Pignal, tasked to look after "la Joconde", her airdrop into France, to the Louvre and then various chateaux to keep the painting concealed and safe. It was an excellent history lesson, although quite graphic and disturbing in parts. The final twist was unseen by me, but I sighed as I turned the last page and yes - I enjoyed it.

C Kitchener

What a story! I could not put this book down. Two killings, three generations, four countries. 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. The story starts during the second World War. General Charles De Gaulle tasks Georgette Pignall (Miss Pig Nall as she unfairly gets called by some) to keep the Mona Lisa out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940. The delicious plot develops when we learn rivals Hitler and Goring have independently instructed two German arts experts, bitter rivals, to steal La Joconde. No-one knows the extraordinary steps The Louvre has gone to in its efforts to keep the painting safe. Georgette is constantly in danger as the painting is moved from chateau to chateau. Then, during COVID, a famous art critic is murdered. Forensics expert Enzo uncovers the links between events of the 1940s and Autumn 2020 when France enters further lockdown. A real twist to the story. Drama, crime and love at its best!

T March

I struggled a bit with the book especially at the beginning as I found the characters confusing as it is set in France. This is the first Enzo MacLeod book that I have read and sometimes I found the story of two murders one set in the 1940s and the other in the present Covid a bit is a mix of history and thriller. Having said that I did enjoy the book and will try and read the earlier Enzo books.

C Gowdy

This book is the latest in a popular series of detective fiction and makes a useful holiday read- if only because it does require some concentration to keep up to date with all the various characters, time zones, settings and events! It thus helps to keep the brain alive while the body relaxes! The main action takes place in a small village in the South of France, described in effective and atmospheric detail, focusing at first on the investigation by the forensics expert Enzo MacLeod into the discovery of a body from the time of the Second World War; this then merges with the investigation into a 2020 murder which has alarmed the village. The first book I have read to acknowledge the restraints of living in a COVID era, the story nonetheless seems rather far-fetched as the storyline depicts how wartime relationships between French patriots and German officers acting as art thieves ( with the Mona Lisa as target !)are shown to haunt the lives of present day villagers. Enzo’s complicated family life spills over into the narrative and it requires concentration to identify his various relationships. The author employs a rather ponderous and unnecessarily opaque vocabulary- for example, ‘tenebrosities’ is used instead of ‘darkness’, sending me scurrying to the dictionary! So while engaging the reader’s curiosity, this latest novel cannot be called an easy read.

C Trower

This was my first book from Viking Book Club and I was delighted when it arrived in the post. My husband is a great Peter May fan but I had never read his books. This book is the latest in the Enzo series and, although it is the 7th in the series, I found it easy to follow and it worked well as a stand-alone novel - although it has wetted my appetite to find out more about the back story of Enzo MacLeod. The story revolves around a murder in 2020 and a discovery of a WW2 murder victim in the same village in South West France. The story moves between 2020 and the 1940s, building up both stories and gradually showing how they are connected. The author describes the scenery so well that I felt I was there. There was a good mix of the case and the personal life of Enzo and his family. As the book is set in 2020 there is mention of social distancing, mask wearing etc. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I didn’t see the ending coming! That, to me, is the sign of a good book.

C Goodwin

I have not read any of Peter May before, and understand that this is one of a series of books around the principal character. I fear the lack of prior involvement with Enzo, did affect my enjoyment of what, undoubtedly is an interesting and well written crime novel. Sadly though, I just could not get into the main story- I found the jumping about in 2 different time frames 70 years apart confusing - particularly if your normal reading habit is a chapter or 2 at a time- may have been different had I been able to devote a day or two to read it rather than having it spread out over a longer period. That said, it was an interesting story line and for avid readers who are able to plough through a book without putting it down- a good read I’m sure.

C Hooey

I am a slow reader, but the story gripped me right from the first page. The intrigue of two murders some 70 years apart - and perhaps a connection? The story around the Mona Lisa and the art world. The different characters and the description of their various nuances - some naughty-but-nice, some violent, so much flirting, some insecure - all so well depicted. Reminders of history and some inside stories was quite fascinating. I like the fact that it was written during the pandemic too.

Anonymous

This is my first post-lockdown novel. The first into which masks, social distancing, and sanitizing have all been incorporated into normal life. It is a strange experience: as if I am reading some sort of fantasy novel that I am also inadvertently experiencing. I still find it hard to accept that the events of the past year have really happened! The action is centred among the wonderful medieval villages and towns of the Dordogne area of France, though it also leads us to Germany, London, and the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is an atmospheric read. The storyline jumps between the present day and the Second World War with ease. It is an uncanny reflection on the way in which the events of the past can influence the actions of the present. There are several strands of story line to follow and multiple players, all twining tighter and tighter together as the plot progresses. There is plenty of mystery, bodies, and blood… It certainly kept me guessing. Who is double crossing who? You never quite know who to trust, and even at the end you are left wondering about the central thread. It is an absorbing, relaxing read, highly recommended.