Jaine Blackman simply can’t put down Peter May’s novel with twists and turns aplenty

A man is washed up on a deserted beach with no idea of who he is or how he got there in the striking beginning to Peter May’s latest novel, set on the Hebridean island of Harris.

He knows something bad has happened but not what ... and nor does the reader.

Found wandering dazed and borderline hypothermic by an elderly dog walker who knows him, he pieces together his name and that he has been living in a rented cottage for 18 months.

He’s supposedly writing a book about the mysterious disapperence of three lighthouse keepers on a nearby island but can find no trace of any manuscript.

He also discovers he’s been having an affair – and that he has no passport or driving licence.

Other revelations follow but so do more mysteries, it’s still not clear just what he has been doing there.

Then a body is found and he fears he may be a killer. He also starts to question if he is who people say he is.

The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road. He does not know where it will lead him, but filled with dread, fear and uncertainty he knows he must follow it.

The plot trots along nicely at a brisk pace with some interesting twists and turns.

Rather than being a straightforward thriller, this book comes with an added stark environmental warning.

But while it’s worthy – and it really is, it’s shocking to discover that this fiction very much mirrors the facts – it’s certainly not dull.

And along with the cracking story, sharp writing and important message, it also offers a travelogue that must have delighted the Hebridean tourist board.

Wild and dangerous but also fascinating ... rather like Coffin Road.

Coffin Road by Peter May, Quercus, hardback £18.99

Peter will be interviewed by award- winning author and feature journalist Lucy Atkins at Blackwell’s Oxford on Monday. Lucy is the author of best-selling titles The Missing One and The Other Child.