I’m beyond excited to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone, which is the third incredible instalment of his The Skelfs series of books. Thank you as always to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this fantastic series of books.
About the book:
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.
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.
As someone who loved the first two books in Doug Johnstone’s brilliant series of books featuring The Skelfs, I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Great Silence, his latest and possibly last book in the series. And oh wow, it did not disappoint! The Great Silence is a wonderful, character driven story that was everything I hoped it would be and more and, although it could easily be read as a standalone, I would recommend reading A Dark Matter and The Big Chill first for a much richer and more rewarding reading experience.
The story alternates between three generations of Skelf women as they continue to run the family business following the death of Dorothy’s husband. Assisted by daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah, Dorothy combines burying the dead with helping the living. With a strong undercurrent of dark humour, the book follows the story of each woman and their individual lives as well as the chilling cases they undertake (pun intended) as part of their private investigator business. Now also joined by Abi, the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger who was introduced in the previous book, the women find themselves immersed in some of their most challenging cases yet.
Opening a year after the events of The Big Chill, the story begins as Dorothy, the matriarch of the family, discovers a human foot while out walking Einstein and, as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, we also catch up with Jenny and Hannah as they find themselves in the midst of an unexpected family drama. Add to that the strange claim of Hannah’s astrophysicist colleague that he’s receiving messages from outer space, a traumatic experience for young lodger Abi, a missing child, and a wild animal spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, and we have yet another deeply personal and action packed slice of Skelfs’ drama to happily sink our teeth into.
I love everything about this series. With strong female characters and a compelling storyline, I found myself completely immersed in the lives of the Skelf women, so much so that I didn’t even want to come up for air until the final page had been turned!
I think one of the things I love most about this series of books is that they aren’t only thrilling crime novels with all the twists and turns you would expect them to have, but they also tell the story of a family in turmoil, who are trying to come to terms with not only the death of a loved one, but also the long held secrets that have been kept hidden for so long, secrets that have the potential to change everything the three Skelf women thought they knew. I fell in love with these strong but flawed women from the moment they were introduced, and have enjoyed seeing them begin to come into their own as the series continued, each contributing to the family and the business in their own unique way.
Fast paced and gripping, The Great Silence is a classic mystery story with family at its heart and is another brilliantly written book in a series that I would highly recommend. Doug Johnstone’s sharp wit and dark humour comes through with every page in a book that’s full of shocks and intrigue, but also one that has a warm centre running through it that captures your heart.
I’ve loved every moment of this brilliantly written and deftly plotted series and was left feeling bereft when I heard that The Great Silence was going to be the last. But more recently, much to my delight (and the delight of #Skelfaholics everywhere!), I’ve been hearing rumblings that author Doug Johnstone may be considering to extend the series after all! So this may not be the last we hear of the Skelf women and, if it isn’t, I can’t wait to see what new adventures Doug Johnstone has in store for them next.
With characters who very quickly get under your skin, The Skelfs is a superb series of books that I adore. A dark, chilling and thought-provoking rollercoaster of a ride that is as warm and human as it is exciting. Simply outstanding!
The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone is available to purchase now:
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