REVIEW: I’ll Keep You Safe by Peter May

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Read this book for: atmosphere, UK novels, strong setting, character-driven stories, amateur detectives, police investigation

Quick Review: A novel that’s all about character stories and atmosphere; this deeply immersive is impossible to put down.



Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft.


Niamh begins to look back on her life with Ruairidh, desperate to identify anyone who may have held a grudge against him. The French police, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder – and sent Detective Sylvie Braque to shadow their prime suspect: Niamh.


As one woman works back through her memories, and the other moves forward with her investigation, the two draw ever closer to a deadly enemy with their own, murderous, designs.

I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE is a stand-alone novel by prolific crime author Peter May, largely set in the Hebrides and focussing on a woman named Niamh as she reviews her life with her husband looking for clues to his death after he is killed in a car bombing in Paris.

Peter May is generally known for his series, including the Enzo Macleod series, the China Thrillers, and the Lewis Trilogy. I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE feels much like the Lewis Trilogy, in both style and setting, but seemed stronger than the trilogy, with the plot boiled down to its essence and better pacing than the series.

As with many of May’s other novels, the first thing you will notice about this book is his stunning evocation of the culture and landscapes that he sets his stories in — and particularly the rugged beauty of the Scottish Hebrides. It’s so richly and atmospherically described, it’s well worth the read just to immerse yourself in the description of the life and feel of the islands.

This feeling of atmosphere is helped by the character focus of the story. I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE is really focussed on the telling of Niamh and Ruairidh’s past together, revealed a little at a time. That focus on their shared history is really where the mystery lies in this story — that background information is as central to the story as the car bomb, and it’s the most compelling part of the novel. As Niamh turns over her personal history looking for clues, you keep turning pages, needing to find out more.

The actual car bomb plot is also suspenseful but fairly straightforward. The real joy in this novel comes from the characters, while the plot just gently nudges it forward. So this novel is less a thriller, and more a suspense novel based in the pasts of the characters.

However, I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE is a wonderful read, and well worth picking up for the atmosphere and the character stories. Look to this novel to deliver an incredibly immersive and deeply interesting experience rather than a flashy but shallow thriller.

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