Book Review: Blacklight Blue


Author: Peter May
Publisher: Quercus Books
ISBN: 9781681443591
Genre: Mystery | Suspense


Former forensics expert and current Toulouse professor Enzo Macleod is forced to take a break from his personal and professional pursuits when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Worse, though, it seems he has become the victim of someone who is trying to destroy his life–by ruining his credit, threatening him and his family, and finally framing him for murder.

With no choice but to fight back, Macleod stashes his family in a safe house and sets to work. Increasingly convinced that the cold case he’s investigating is connected to his persecution, Macleod tries to connect the dots before it’s too late to save his life and the lives of those he loves.


This is Peter May’s third installment in the Enzo Macleod mysteries, I read and reviewed the first installment, Extraordinary People, in 2017. This one, like the first, has an intriguing premise, and, for the most part, the story itself twists and turns—although, somewhat predictably—as Scottish forensic scientist, Enzo Macleod, delves into a cold case: the death of a rent boy years earlier.

The part I thoroughly enjoyed about the first book, and this one as well, is the setting. Set in France, May’s detailed descriptions of each place is wonderfully depicted. You really get a feel for the locales as the characters move from one town and city, to the next.

What I have a problem with, is May’s depiction of his female characters, and the tawdry, sexist descriptions of every woman featured, except his two daughters. Thankfully, the author decided not to debase these characters with Enzo’s appraisals, making the man sound like a dirty old sod. Which I’m sure wasn’t the author’s intention, or, maybe I’m wrong.

I just find it annoying that the entire novel is sabotaged by this kind of erectile-dysfunctional writing by middle-aged white dudes who seem to pigeon-hole women as sexual objects, and visualized as ‘lookers,’ ‘hookers,’ and ‘one-night stands.’

Even the Commissaire (Chief of Police in Cahors) Hélène Taillard, someone who should command respect, get’s the Enzo treatment, and is reduced to someone he almost had sex with, but was interrupted by his daughter in flagrante delicto. Not that this fact has anything to do with, nor any baring on, the story as a whole.

The plot also struggled with a number of contrivances, as in Enzo’s one night stand with a woman he meets in the bar, in Strasbourg, who—later on in the plot—conveniently offers him, his two daughters (by different marriages), their boyfriends, and a young grad student, lodgings at her remote farmhouse, as if it were nothing to worry about—does she do this all the time?

Sarcasm aside, what could have been an enjoyable romp through the French countryside, solving a cold case homicide, is undermined by the author’s depiction of the female characters and, therefore, made for an irritating read rather than an enjoyable one.

Rating: 5 / 10

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  1. *sigh* How very tiresome for an author of his caliber to resort to misogyny tactics. I had the same issues with John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, which was more subtle. I understand he cleaned up the character’s act but it stalled me in the series.

    • February 19, 2019

      Tiresome and then some. Because you’d think an editor or the publisher might, you know, say something. But, apparently not. Unfortunately, there are still quite a few male authors who still think this is okay, and, of course, get away with it. As you say *le sigh*

  2. Oh I do love cold cases but if the novel is dominated so much by these opinions then that would have an impact on me as well I think. I do know there are a lot more men who think like this walking around though (you don’t even want to know some comments I heard at work) so I don’t know how big my irration would be. It might come as a surprise but I’m not writing this one off entirely 😉

    • February 19, 2019

      That’s the problem with this author, and his character in this series, Inge. The novels, themselves, are intriguing and generally engaging. It’s just annoying having to wade through this kind of sexism, which just drags down the over-all enjoyment.

      If you can over look this kind of writing, then you might enjoy the novels.

  3. February 18, 2019

    Bwahahahahahahaha erctile dysfunctional writing! Love this Alexandra. :-D)))))

    • February 18, 2019

      Glad I made you laugh, Sophie! 😉

  4. February 18, 2019

    “erectile-dysfunctional writing by middle-aged white dudes” Oh that made me laugh so hard!

    • February 18, 2019

      My best line ever, Kelly! I’m going to have cards printed up with that written on. 😉

  5. February 18, 2019

    Ahaha, another one for my “nope” list.
    I don’t mind reading about characters who are assholes, or have “opinions” about women, but there should be a balance somewhere with these things 😀

    • February 18, 2019

      Agreed, Norrie. If the author doesn’t balance this kind of attitude/behaviour or have a damn good reason for them being like they are, then please, don’t do it. Ever!

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