#TheGreatSilence by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #RandomThingsTours

Title: The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone

Date Published: 19th August 2021

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Thriller

Description:

From the discovery of a human foot in a park, to the missing daughter of Jenny’s violent ex-husband… the stakes have never been higher for the Skelf family

Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself.

Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying woman have led them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has a devastating experience.

Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.

Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series.

‘Compelling, compassionate … just brilliant. This series gets better with every book. I cannot get enough of the Skelfs’

Mark Billingham on The Big Chill

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this book tour and Orenda books for providing me with a copy of The Great Silence.in exchange for an honest review.

Ah, it’s lovely to be back with the Skelfs again, it’s a bit like visiting old friends. Dysfunctional old friends, mind you, but highly entertaining at the same time. 

This is the third book in the series and I would highly recommend reading the previous books to get a better understanding of the characters and they just happen to be fantastic too!

You know when you read a book and think, where does the author come up with these amazing ideas from? That’s exactly how I felt while reading The Great Silence. 

As usual, there are several investigations going at once during the novel. Dorothy discovers a dismembered foot while out walking her dog Einstein. Jenny is busy looking for her ex-husband, who escaped police custody. Hannah is investigating a case where her colleague thinks he’s getting messages from outer space. This is all while running their funeral directing business and dealing with their usual family dramas along the way.

Like the previous books, the storylines are expertly woven together, grabbing you from the outset and making you want to read to the very last page.

Of course, like the other books in the series, there’s some dark themes, i.e. abuse and suicide, but they’re handled with sensitivity by the author.

I heard this might be the last we see of the Skelfs, which I hope is not the case! If it is, then I will say it was a satisfying ending for the trilogy, but I’m crossing my fingers for more stories featuring Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah.

The Great Silence is a captivating and original read that I honestly couldn’t get enough of.

About The Author:

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The Big Chill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. 

He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. 

Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh. 

Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com

#BookReview The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone @OrendaBooks

Title: The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 20th August 2020

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of the darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new Skelfs series!

‘Compelling, compassionate … just brilliant. This series gets better with every book. I cannot get enough of the Skelfs’ Mark Billingham

‘Confirms the Skelfs as a classic crime clan. I can’t wait for the next one’ Erin Kelly

‘I LOVE the Skelfs … The only problem with The Big Chill is that you’ll devour it so fast you’ll feel as bereft as one of the Skelfs’ clients … Doug Johnstone has murdered sleep’ Val McDermid

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life. 

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

 But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.

Review:

I want to thank THE Book club Reviewer group and Orenda books for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read the first book in this series, A Dark Matter, at the beginning of the year and is still one of my top reads in 2020 so far, so I was very excited for The Big Chill! I can safely say it lived up to my expectations.

I will say before I get too far into this review, that you should definitely read the first book before reading this one as events from the first have a knock on effect in this one.

This story starts off six months after the first book. The Skelf women are still struggling with what happened at the end of the last book but they’re trying to push through it and carry on as normal, or as normal as their lives are as funeral directing private investigators. 

Dorothy is pulled into an investigation after a car chase ends in tragedy in the midst of a funeral she’s conducting. Jenny is still trying to put the pieces of her life together. Hannah seems to be suffering the most, shutting out her girlfriend Indy and becoming obsessed with the suicide of one of her professors.

What I love about this series is the way there’s several different storylines/cases that are woven together expertly, so they’re easy to follow without confusion and not one overshadows the other too much. Honestly, like the first there’s never a dull moment in this book.

The story is also strengthened by the relationships between the three generations of the Skelf family, Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. They’re complex and just so compelling, I genuinely love these characters!

The Big Chill is a fantastic piece of fiction that kept me glued to those pages. I can’t wait for more! 

About The Author:

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His tenth novel, Breakers, was published by Orenda Books in May 2019, and was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. His previous books include The Jump, shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Gone Again, an Amazon bestseller, and Hit & Run, which was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

Doug has been Writer in Residence with William Purves Funeral Directors. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow, and was RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh 2014-2016. Doug was also Writer in Residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. He is also a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy and Emergents in the Scottish Highlands. He has taught creative writing at festivals and conferences and regularly at Moniack Mhor, and he has mentored aspiring writers for New Writing North and Scottish Book Trust.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield as player-manager. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released three solo EPs. He plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a crime writing supergroup featuring Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

#BlogTour #Review A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #ADarkMatter #Edinburgh #TheSkelfs

Title: A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

Date Published: 23rd January 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

After an unexpected death, three generations of women take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a brilliant, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

The Skelfs are a well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators. When patriarch Jim dies, it ’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another women, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was.

Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything… It’s a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.

A Dark Matter BT Poster

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this epic blog tour and Orenda books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, A Dark Matter was a complex, dark and utterly fantastic!

There is so much crammed into the just over three hundred pages of this novel, it’s difficult to know where to start, there’s just never a dull moment!

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write; funeral directing private investigators are what crime fiction has been missing. Genuinely I don’t think I’ve come across this concept before, especially as all the main characters are all women, and I’ve read a lot of crime fiction over the years.

There are several mysteries run side by side through the novel, each one of them intriguing in their own right. After her husband Jim’s death, Dorothy finds that he’s been sending money every month to a mystery woman. An elderly man thinks his carer is stealing from him so he wants cameras set up to spy on her. Jenny gets involved in an adultery case that seems to be more complicated than she first thought. Jenny’s roommate Mel goes missing but it doesn’t get taken seriously by the police so she decides to investigate herself. 

The family dynamic really makes a dark matter. We follow three generations of the Skelf family, seventy year old Dorothy, forty five year old Jenny and Hannah who is in her twenties. Each one of these characters, at times are not all that likeable but they felt really and flawed.

A Dark Matter is an original, dark and gripping read, I can’t wait to see if there’s a second book. 

About The Author:

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018),

which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. 

He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years.

Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. 

He lives in Edinburgh.