I’m absolutely thrilled to have a copy of The Night Gate by Peter May on my TBR and even more delighted that Peter has chosen an extract from his latest Enzo Macleod book for me to share with you today. My enormous thanks to Sophie Ransom at Midas PR for sending me a copy of The Night Gate which I’ll be reviewing later and for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.
You might also like to know that Peter is supporting local independent bookshops and libraries by taking part in an online tour to celebrate The Night Gate. Tonight, 23rd March 2021, he will be speaking at Sheffield library from 6.30-7.30 PM and you can register for this FREE online event here. You’ll find the full details and dates of Peter’s virtual tour here.
The Night Gate was published on 18th March 2021 by Riverrun and is available for purchase through the links here.
The Night Gate
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.
An Extract from The Night Gate
‘Have you ever been to the Isle of Lewis, monsieur? It’s in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.’
‘I know of it, but I have never been.’
‘A brutal place, by all accounts. It is first in line to welcome the gales that have gathered their strength across five thousand kilometres of Atlantic Ocean. A windbreak for the mainland beyond.’
He wonders where on earth this can be leading, but forces himself to contain his impatience as he waits for her to resume her story. Which, at length, she does . . .
Poor Georgette was as sick as a dog during her six-hour ferry crossing from Mallaig to the Isle of Lewis. It was the furthest north, and west, she had ever been, and she was not enjoying it. The rail journey from London to Fort William the previous day had been long and tedious. Poor weather had denied her any sight of the magnificent views afforded by the west coastline of the Highlands of Scotland. The remainder of the journey from Fort William to Mallaig had passed almost entirely in cloud, mist descending from the heavens, and she spent an uncomfortable night in a basic lodging house in the town.
The blackout was still in force when the ferry left at first light, cleaving a difficult passage around the Isle of Skye and across a stormy Minch. In spite of the rain and the sea spray she had spent most of the journey on deck, her coat flapping furiously around her legs, back to the wind as she retched into the brine.
The wind died a little as they sailed, finally, into the lee of the island’s east coast, and the fishing port of Stornoway emerged from the mist. Headlands to north and south took dark shape before vanishing into the featureless bog of the hinterland beyond. And it was with shaking legs that Georgette stumbled down the gangplank on to the dock and felt the world still moving. Even though the concrete beneath her feet was sunk in solid bedrock.
Sea-weary fellow passengers pushed past her, greeted by loved ones, friends or family, and were quickly swallowed by the smirr that drifted across the town like a mist. She heard idling engines rev, then accelerate into the gloom of the day, and it seemed that only a few minutes had passed before she was left standing on her own, a wet and forlorn figure clutching a sodden cardboard suitcase. The road that ran off around the southern flank of the town was lined by houses and shops that seemed painted on gauze, insubstantial, almost transparent, and she watched for the lights of the vehicle she had been told would pick her up.
It was nearly fifteen minutes before finally she heard the distant rumble of a heavy motor, then saw the lights of a canvas-covered military truck taking shape as it rumbled on to the quay. A cheery, ruddy-faced young soldier flung open the passenger door and leaned out an arm to give her a hand up.
‘You look a bit wet, love,’ he said.
‘So would you if you’d stood for six hours on the deck of a ferry emptying your stomach into a storm, then waited twenty minutes in the rain for your lift.’ She hauled herself up the passenger seat and hefted her suitcase into her lap. She glared at the driver. ‘You’re late.’
His grin widened. ‘Feisty one, aren’t you? They can be a bit rough, them crossings. Never know when the ferry’s going to arrive.’
He crunched into first gear, manoeuvred his truck through a three-point turn, and pulled out on to the road, turning hard left and over the narrow spit of land dividing inner and outer harbours. The inner harbour was packed with trawlers and small fishing vessels sitting cheek by jowl on a high tide and towering over the quayside. Beyond water that reflected a pewtery sky, a hill rose darkly into darker trees, and the lights of a forbidding-looking building emerged from the shadow of the hillside, fighting to penetrate the murk.
The driver lowered his head to look up at it. ‘Lews Castle,’ he said. ‘That’s where you’re staying.’ ‘Is that where you’re stationed?’
‘No, we’re at the RAF base out towards Point.’ And he flicked his head vaguely to the west. Then he snuck a glance in her direction. ‘I thought you was French. They said you was. And here’s me practising my parlez-vous anglais.’
‘Sorry to disappoint.’
He grinned. ‘Not disappointed at all, love. Whatever nationality you is.’
And in spite of herself she blushed.
And now, of course, I need to bump up The Night Gate and read it sooner rather than later!
About Peter May
Peter May was an award-winning journalist at the age of just twenty-one, winning ‘Young Journalist of the Year’. He left newspapers for television and screenwriting, creating three prime-time British drama series and accruing more than 1,000 television credits. May is published in 32 languages, has sold several million copies worldwide as well as winning numerous awards. His novel I’ll Keep You Safe (2018) was no.1 and his next novel, The Man With No Face, no.2 in The Times charts. His most recent novel Lockdown was in The Sunday Times bestseller lists for 6 weeks. In recent years, Peter has won the Best Crime Novel Award for The Blackhouse at Bouchercon in the US, Entry Island won the Deanston Crime Book of the Year and Specsavers ITV3 Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read Award.
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