Love Is Blind, his latest offering, is no exception. The novel opens with a prologue in the form of a letter written in 1906 by a mysterious woman in the Andaman Islands to her sister.
We read that the woman has taken on an assistant in the form of 35-year-old Scot, Brodie Moncur. So we know from the outset that Brodie ends up on an island in the Indian Ocean but we don’t know why.
The main action opens 12 years earlier in Edinburgh. Brodie is blessed with perfect pitch and works as a piano tuner of near genius. He is sent by his firm to help run the ailing Paris branch and is only too happy to escape his tyrannical clergyman father who holds Brodie’s other siblings in thrall.
He soon turns the company’s fortunes around, although he is hampered by the owner’s son Calder Channon embezzling the profits.
Then Brodie has the idea of the firm asking a virtuoso pianist to endorse their instruments.
This leads him to working for fiery pianist John Kilbarron. Once brilliant, Kilbarron is dulled by alcohol and drugs but Brodie designs a piano precisely for his needs and is then indispensable to Kilbarron.
For Brodie the chief attraction of working for the pianist is Kilbarron’s lover, Russian-born singer Lika. He travels with Kilbarron and his sinister brother Malachi to Russia where he embarks on a passionate and dangerous love affair with Lika. Events spiral out of control and Brodie finds himself on the run.
As the title suggests this is a love story focusing on the misconceptions lovers have about one another. Lika warns Brodie: “You don’t see me as I really am,” and he in turn acknowledges: “You saw what you wanted to see or you saw what the other person wanted you to see.”
This emotionally charged novel is also a thriller, moving across Europe and beyond as the 19th century turns into the 20th.
In his deceptively easy, readable style, Boyd creates well-fleshed-out characters and a strong sense of place: he describes Russia as having “ringing, shivering cold, almost audible, as if some vast ice gong had sounded, freezing the earth”.
I guarantee Love Is Blind will grip you, and then after you’ve finished reading it, haunt you.