Somehow I managed to read two books almost back to back that are about bees. The Honey Farm (see review here) was a bit more obvious about its bee-driven story from the beginning – the title kind of gives it away. But Coffin Road by Peter May surprised me. I never anticipated that it would have anything to do with beekeeping.
Coffin Road actually surprised me in a few ways.
I should start by saying that I didn’t actually read this book. I listened to it. You can find my “First Audiobook Experience” blog post here to find out a bit more about that. Technically I did have a physical copy of the book with me as I listened, and sometimes would double check what I’d heard in print.
No matter the method of taking in this story, I have to say it was an interesting one.
Coffin Road is about a man who wakes up on a beach off of the Isle of Skye in Scotland with no idea who he is. He manages to find his way home, and over the course of several days learns that he has stolen the identity of a man he doesn’t know and has been living in a remote cottage under that false identity. The book also weaves in the story of a teenager named Karen, who is on a mission to find out what happened to her father who supposedly committed suicide two years previously.
I’m not going to get in to the details about how this book involves bees, because I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say that you’ll be surprised by how central they are to the story.
I’m glad I chose Coffin Road as my first audiobook. Since it’s a mystery, it kept me listening when I may have otherwise become bored or distracted. The writing was conversational enough that it doesn’t sound awkward being spoken out loud. It was very enjoyable.
May is an expert at describing scenery and atmosphere. He beautifully paints a picture of Scotland and, even listening to someone reading the book, I was able to visualize the people and the places in the story easily.
I would usually question the accuracy of a grown man writing from the perspective of a teenage girl, but May crafted Karen’s character nicely. He didn’t try too hard to get inside of her head or state what a teenage girl would experience, but through her actions and conversations he created a character that was believable and understandable.
At first, I mistook Coffin Road for a run of the mill thriller about a stolen identity. I was definitely wrong. As the story progressed, it became more and more clear that this was an intricate, exciting story, and a complex plot. There are several plot twists that I genuinely wasn’t prepared for.
I'm excited to read more of Peter May's books in the future!