Welcome to my stop on this epic blog tour! I’m delighted say I have a very exciting extract to share with you from The Night Gate, which publishes TODAY! Huge happy publication day to Peter May! (If you’d like to read the prologue first, head on over to damppebbles.com.)
Before we jump into Chapter One, here is a little more about the book and author:
About the Book:
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.
About the Author:
“Peter May is a writer I’d follow to the ends of the earth” New York Times
Peter May is the multi award-winning author of:
– the Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland;
– the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell;
– the Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France.
He has also written several standalone books:
– I’ll Keep You Safe (January 2018, Riverrun)
– Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK)
– Runaway (January 2015, Quercus UK)
– Coffin Road (January 2016, Riverrun)
May had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.
One of Scotland’s most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama. He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland before quitting television to concentrate on his first love, writing novels.
Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.
His breakthrough as a best-selling author came with The Lewis Trilogy. After being turned down by all the major UK publishers, the first of the The Lewis Trilogy – The Blackhouse – was published in France as L’Ile des Chasseurs d’Oiseaux where it was hailed as “a masterpiece” by the French national newspaper L’Humanité. His novels have a large following in France. The trilogy has won several French literature awards, including one of the world’s largest adjudicated readers awards, the Prix Cezam.
The Blackhouse was published in English by the award-winning Quercus (a relatively young publishing house which did not exist when the book was first presented to British publishers). It went on to become an international best seller, and was shortlisted for both Barry Award and Macavity Award when it was published in the USA.
The Blackhouse won the US Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel at Bouchercon in Albany NY, in 2013.
The Night Gate by Peter May is out today from Riverrun (Quercus Books) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats
To purchase a copy of this book, you can follow the links below:
Peter May is going out on a virtual tour! Join in and discover more about the story behind The Night Gate. To book your tickets and for more information, visit www.maypeter.com.
(Fantastic publication day launch event here!)
Wee Three Indies 7.00 – 8.30pm
Suffolk Libraries Day Book Festival, 7.00pm
Jarrold Bookshop, 6.30pm
Sheffield Library 6.30 – 7.30pm
At Home with 4 Indies 7.00 – 8.00pm
Griffin Books, 8.00pm
Toppings, Edinburgh, 7.00pm
SOUTH-WEST FRANCE, OCTOBER 2020
A notice pinned to the door warned that the maternity unit
was open only from 7 a.m. until 8.30 p.m., and Enzo wondered
what happened if a woman’s waters broke in the middle of the
night. Or were all births scheduled to fit into working hours
He held the door open for Sophie who stepped out carefully, her left arm linked through Dominique’s right. They all
removed their masks, and watched their breath billow in the
cold afternoon air that blew up the Rue Wilson from the River
Lot and the historic Valentré bridge that spanned it.
Sophie was radiant and just six weeks from full term. Her
check-up had gone well, and she had gazed in wonder at the
ultrasound images of her baby boy. But she was thirty-five
now, and with two miscarriages behind her, and a pandemic
still sweeping the country, it was impossible to be too careful.
Enzo walked behind his daughter and the woman who had
been such a large part of his life these past nine years and felt
a wave of emotion wash over him. They were just like mother
and daughter, even though Sophie’s birth mother, Pascale,
had died giving birth to her all those years ago. He found
himself fighting an internal conflict between happiness and
regret. But only briefly. How could he be anything but happy
for them both?
He listened to their excited chatter in the late autumn chill
and felt a twinge of sadness for Dominique. They had both
known from the start that she could not have children, and
she had claimed to have come to terms with it. But he had
seen that look in her eyes when glimpsing a baby in a pram,
or a heavily pregnant woman, and knew that the absence of
children would always mean there was something missing in
In a way she had lived through Sophie’s pregnancy vicariously, and Enzo knew that she anticipated the imminent birth
with the same unbridled joy of any grandmother. She had, too,
been the only mother that Laurent had ever known beyond
the first few months of his life. The child that he and Charlotte
had made together. And even after all these years, Enzo could
not shake off the image of Charlotte standing over the father
of her son in the rain, a gun in her hand. Preparing to kill him.
They passed plasticised posters tied to rusted railings, and
on the other side of the street the spreading branches of a pin
parasol cast its shadow over the facade of the Banque de France.
At the post office they took a right, and turned down towards
the Place Gambetta.
‘Can’t wait till this is all over,’ he heard Sophie say, ‘and I
can have a drink again!’ He grinned. Like father, like daughter.
In five minutes they were crossing the Boulevard Léon
Gambetta opposite the Théatre de Cahors, to stroll down the
Rue Georges Clemenceau to the little tree-lined square in front
of La Halle. The trees were almost naked now, drifts of brittle,
brown leaves blowing along the gutters. Tables and chairs still
stood on the pavement outside La Lamparo pizzeria, peopled
by a few hardy customers huddled in coats, to smoke or avoid
A familiar figure stood outside the door to Enzo’s apartment.
She was in uniform, her brown hair neatly pinned beneath her
hat. She had put on a little weight, but was still an attractive
woman. Enzo had not seen her for some years, and his first
thought was that something bad had happened. But her smile
when she saw them allayed his misgivings. His instinct was to
kiss her on each cheek, but he forced himself to leave a socially
distanced two metres between them.
‘Hello, Hélène,’ he said, a little awkwardly. It must have been
fifteen years since their nearly relationship.
‘Enzo!’ She beamed at him. ‘You’ve aged.’
He didn’t dare return the compliment.
Sophie said, ‘My dad’s always been old. Ever since I’ve
‘Ancient,’ Dominique chipped in.
Enzo spread his arms in despair. ‘My life is full of women
who do nothing but abuse me.’
Hélène examined him more closely and frowned. ‘What
happened to your hair?’
‘It’s still there,’ he said, reaching back to grasp his ponytail
and run it through his hand, as if for reassurance.
‘A little thinner, perhaps. But that’s not what I meant. Your
white stripe. It’s gone!’
Enzo pulled a face. The white stripe in dark hair running
back from one side of his forehead had been a distinguishing
feature for most of his life. A physical manifestation of a condition known as Waardenburg syndrome, which had also gifted
him one brown eye and one blue, but left him otherwise unaffected. At school it had earned him the nickname Magpie. ‘It’s
still there, too,’ he said. ‘You just can’t see it any more for all
‘Shame.’ Hélène stifled a smile. ‘Now you’re just plain old
Enzo Macleod. Nothing to distinguish you from any other Enzo
‘Except for the ponytail,’ Sophie said, ‘and the donkey
jacket, and the cargoes.’
‘And the hippy canvas shoulder bag.’ Dominique gave it an
And Sophie added, ‘He still looks like an exile from the
Hélène seemed to notice her bump for the first time. ‘Looks
like you and Bertrand have been busy.’
Sophie’s pleasure showed in her smile. ‘Due next month.’
‘Are you coming up?’ Enzo said.
But Hélène shook her head. ‘I won’t invade the Enzo bubble.’
It’s what the government was calling allowed family groupings
to prevent spread of the Coronavirus. ‘I just came to pass on
‘See you upstairs, then,’ Sophie said, and she and Dominique
pushed open the door of the brick tenement to release a breath
of warm, damp air into the late October afternoon.
When they were alone, Enzo said, ‘So who’s trying to get a
message to me?’
‘An old friend.’
‘Professor Magali Blanc.’
‘The forensic archaeologist? Why didn’t she get in touch
‘Lost your contact details it seems. She’s based in Paris these
days, and her request for help in finding you landed on my
Enzo frowned. ‘What would she want with me? It’s years
since I worked with her.’
‘She appears to be engaged on a rather interesting unsolved
murder, not far from home. Your home, that is.’
Enzo let his eyes wander towards La Halle and the little
bistro that had opened on the terrace. He and Dominique
quite often caught lunch there. In the square beyond, in the
shadow of the twin-domed cathedral, he still took coffee every
morning at the Café Le Forum. Life in south-west France, in
this 2000-year-old Roman town contained by a loop of the
river, flowed by as gently as the Lot itself. No stress. And he
was enjoying it. He sighed. ‘I’m retired from all that these
days, Hélène. Five years since I packed in my position at Paul
‘I thought cold cases were your speciality.’ There was mischief in this.
He narrowed his eyes. ‘Only when I get conned into it by
accepting a bet after too many glasses of wine.’ He had solved
all seven murders in journalist Roger Raffin’s book on French
cold cases, but still lost his bet with Hélène and the préfet on
‘I wouldn’t have thought that a man with your forensic
talents would ever lose his appetite for the challenge.’
Enzo smiled wryly. ‘You’re a wind-up merchant, Hélène,
you know that?’
‘Is that a technical term, or one of your quaint Scottish
He glared at her. ‘What’s the case?’
A smile divided her face, ear to ear. ‘I knew it.’
‘Hélène!’ The warning was clear in her growled name.
‘It’s an old one, Enzo.’
‘If Magali’s looking at it, it must be a very old one.’
‘Seventy-five years or more.’
He frowned. ‘That would make it Second World War. A lot of
people died then. What makes anyone think it was a murder?’
‘The remains of a ranking officer of the Luftwaffe with a
bullet hole in his skull, shallow-buried in a tiny medieval village on the banks of the River Dordogne, wouldn’t exactly fit
a conventional wartime scenario.’
‘They’re not likely to catch whoever did it now.’ He was
interested, in spite of himself.
‘I don’t think that’s the object of the exercise. Isn’t it the job
of archaeologists to unravel the mysteries of history? I think
she just wants you to cast a professional eye over the grave, if
one could call it that. She’s been unable to visit the site herself.’
‘Where is it?’
‘The village is called Carennac. It’s in the north of the
Département. Not much more than an hour away.’
The grey cast in the cold southern sky had been dispelled by
the dark. Enzo came through from the kitchen to find Laurent
sprawled in his father’s armchair by the light of a standard lamp
at the window, idly picking out chords on his father’s guitar. He
stopped in the doorway for a moment, gazing with unadorned
affection at his son, who was oblivious to his presence.
He was a gangly kid, tall for an eleven-year-old, puppy fat
shed during a recent sprouting. He took his hair from his
mother, dark and falling across his forehead in luxuriant
curls. He showed no signs of having inherited his father’s
Waardenburg. Alexis, Enzo’s grandson by his Scottish daughter,
Kirsty, had hearing issues, the faulty gene having skipped a
generation. And although tests on Sophie’s unborn child had
proved negative, it was still a niggling worry.
Wasn’t that fabulous?!
If that’s whet your appetite for more, be sure to book your tickets for Peter May’s launch event today with Wee Three Indies led by The Edinburgh Bookshop!! And follow the bloggers on #TheNightGate blog tour for lots of reviews and exciting content!
Huge thanks to Sophie, Midas PR and Quercus for my blog tour invite and ARC.