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Cast Iron by Peter May

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

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Rowena Hensman

This book is not the usual genre that I read, but it intrigued me.

The book stars Enzo Macleod, a forensic expert who has previously taken on a bet to solve cold cases. This is the sixth book in the series and despite some references back to the previous ones, it stands well alone.

A body of a young girl found a few years earlier in a dried up lake in France, despite a French serial killer being suspected, no one was convicted of the murder.

The characters, even the minor ones, are very well drawn and you feel you know them personally. You are drawn in by the excellent descriptive writing and feel like you are there.

Not only is there a murder to solve but Enzo’s personal life is falling apart and family become involved and endangered.

There are many twists, turns, and false trails. I suspected various scenarios but nothing like the highly charged ending or the murderer!

I greatly recommend this book. It held my interest; I read it over two nights! I now want to read his other books.

Paddy Tutt

Fellow cruisers, it seems apt that I start with a confession; Cast Iron is not my usual genre of reading

Google research informed me that Peter May is a well-respected crime/ thriller writer with many awards. Cast Iron is the sixth and last of the Enzo investigations.

From the finding of the bones of a young woman in a dried up lake one arid summer May led me effortlessly through a complex plot. Set in France it brought back memories of the architecture, food, and culture experienced on our Viking Cruise in spring. May paints beautiful atmospheric pictures, which are a stark contrast to the more gruesome episodes.

I immediately fell for Enzo, as I am sure many readers and as we learn women have done before. The bear like man with the exceptional steely mind of a forensic expert re-examining cold cases contrasts with this warm compassionate family man, interrupted by his flawed personality, making him emotionally inconsistent, with dire consequences.

Other characters are keenly observed and the relationships between them deftly described, always leaving that question mark hanging!

May’s humour is subtle and I loved the reference to Val McDermott’s book.

Gordon Evans

Other than read one of the "Lewis Trilogy" with which I had struggled some years ago, I had not revisited Peter May's writings until receiving the Viking Book Club choice "Cast Iron." recently. What a contrast!

Presently recuperating from a series of operations, I have had many opportunities to catch up on my reading, which included "Cast Iron."

This was my first encounter with Enzo Macleod in what I thought was an outstanding and in places unnerving story line set for the main part in a region of France in which many family holidays had been spent. From that point of view, much nostalgia was revived.

If I had any "niggle”, it was sometimes trying to remember who was related to who and occasionally "backtracking" was required to pick up "the thread of the discourse". That apart this was a compulsive read.

I shall certainly revisit Peter May's writings in the future and coincidentally prior to my recent cruise on the River Douro with Viking, I had purchased another of the "Enzo Files" at the Edinburgh Book Fair. I have not started this book yet so am looking forward to exploring this with some anticipation now.

Pauline Martin

This is the sixth novel in the series about Scottish forensic expert, Enzo Macleod, who now lives in the south of France. He has taken up the challenge to solve a collection of published unsolved murder cases as a bet. Although this case is not directly connected to the previous ones, it would definitely be an advantage to have read the previous books in this series.

It starts rather slowly with descriptions of the area and many pages detailing Enzo’s complicated personal relationships, which lack only an incident board of their own to make them clear. Although it needs explaining for those who have not read the previous books in the series, which includes me, a few pages would have sufficed.

When the story finally begins, it moves along at a good pace, is very readable and action-packed, with a satisfying ending. I am now reading the first book in this series. A thoroughly good read.

Mike Roycroft

Peter May is a new author to me. Initially, I was disappointed to find the lead character, Enzo Macleod, to be yet another hard-drinking Scots detective with a complex family life but the quality of the writing more than overcomes that initial view.

The author has an impeccable pedigree of TV drama that comes through in his beautifully crafted characters and plot in a well-paced book that has several strands running in parallel, then intertwining and finally coming to an exciting conclusion. He has the knack of describing people and places in sufficient detail to make them believable but in very few words. This maintains the momentum so that this is a real "page turner" that, given the chance, I probably would have read in a single sitting.

I am delighted to have been introduced to this author. However, the background to this book is a bet made by Macleod to investigate cold cases using modern techniques and is the last of a series of six novels. Everything concludes in this book so, if you want to enjoy the previous volumes (and I wish I had had the opportunity), read them all in order, before you read this.

Jan Carter

I have just read Cast Iron (The girl in the lake) by Peter May. I thoroughly enjoyed the book & thought it was easy to read and is not caught up in elaborate tales to confuse you.

I have not read any of Peter May's books before but think he is an extremely good writer that creates excitement & interest & I did not want to put the book down.

I would definitely look to read more of his novels.

Debra Lowe

Cast Iron was an enjoyable read. I particularly liked the believable character depictions, which evolve alongside the story line. Enzo is a likeable and imperfect character who has a colourful personal life and this is at the heart of the plot. I felt the beginning was a little bit disjointed and it took me a while to get my head round all of the different threads. However, this picked up pace as time went on with a twist at the end that made for a satisfying ending.

Les Barnfield

Initially irritated by the complicated and completely unlikely family life of the hero, Enzo Macleod, that appeared to add nothing to the story, together with some pretentious use of vocabulary, I was relieved when the plot started to unfold, however improbable it seemed to be. It was then that my interest was captured. The fast pace of the storyline enhanced by its short, action-packed chapters reminded me of Dan Brown’s novels.

The need to discover the ending, certain that Enzo’s detective work would succeed and that good would triumph over evil meant that I made a point of finding time to finish it quickly. The flyleaf indicates that there are five previous “Enzo Files”. It may well be that this is the last as the author rapidly ties up all the loose ends of the private life as he tracks down the murderers. It certainly has echoes of Harry Potter’s final victory over Voldemort and can, perhaps, be seen as adult’s equivalent of that series.

A great holiday read but does it make me want to buy the earlier Enzo Files or other Peter May novels? Probably not, unless I see them in the airport bookshop next time I want some light holiday reading.

Jacquie Snuggs

This is a series of firsts for me: the first time I have reviewed a book for Viking Book Club; the first time I have encountered Enzo MacLeod; in fact, the first time I have read anything by Peter May! I can only say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and he is now added to my search list when hunting for a good book.

'Cast Iron' is the sixth book in May's Enzo Files series. Unlike many books which leave me frustrated when I come late to a series,such as now, I was catapulted straight into the action: the discovery of a decomposed body during a long period of drought in France. Enzo MacLeod is trying to solve the murder of a nineteen-year-old girl. The case is complicated and becomes personal when someone close to Enzo becomes involved. This case is bigger than just the one that he is pursuing, with twists and turns along the way, and much of the action frequently refers to action from the previous five books. But readers who like me are unfamiliar with these previous novels in the series should not be put off. Peter May skilfully weaves these threads into the narrative and never leaves one at a loss.

The book is well written and action-packed, finally culminating in a thrilling finale, which leaves the reader satisfied with the conclusion, only to be brought up short with a twist that I certainly didn't expect. I really enjoyed this book and now even feel drawn to seek out the previous five novels in the series ...in the right order.

Eileen Brown

This was my first introduction to Peter May and I am so pleased to have found his books. ‘Cast Iron’ is a detective story, as Enzo tries to solve a ‘cold case’, with very little to go on, requiring all his ingenuity and determination. His family life is complicated and intertwines with the story line, so that he is emotionally involved with this, as well as trying to solve the murder case. It makes for exciting and gripping reading, with several unexpected twists, so that it is difficult to put down until the end.

Peter May has done his research, and background details feel authentic, adding verisimilitude to the story. His descriptions are wonderful, evoking the atmosphere of the situation, and I particularly like his description of the weather In Paris as “not the raw cold of a grey and humid Paris, but a crisper cold, like chilled wine on a summer’s day”.

This book has made me eager to read the previous books in this series, and others Peter May has written.