Book reviews, Family drama, Thriller

A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

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.

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MY REVIEW 

Set in Edinburgh, this starts with a funeral pyre in the garden, just as Jim wanted it, melting feet aside!

It is the story of three women, Dorothy, Jim’s widow, Jenny, their daughter and Hannah, their granddaughter. All grieving, but carrying on with their family business, the Skelf funeral directors and private investigators.

When Hannah and her girlfriend, Indy’s flatmate goes missing she is determined to find out what has happened. Did she really know her friend? And what she finds will be devastating……

Meanwhile, Dorothy finds out her husband has kept secrets from her, namely a missing employee and regular monthly payments to an unknown account. So she and her friend, a police officer, try to find out more. Oh and an old man who thinks his carer is stealing from him..

And Jenny, is investigating a potential cheating husband for a client. 

Can they find the answers they want and need? 

I love this book, it’s full of secrets and a dark humour that makes you laugh and cringe at the same time…there’s love, family, empathy and a spot of gravedigging too. The Skelf’s are just so well developed characters, strong and very likeable, the 70 year old drummer, Dorothy,  shows age is no barrier and man, can she wield a shovel! 

A tense thriller, but also tells of a family dealing with grief…..heart pounding and heartwarming too. This is a read in one sitting novel and I’m already waiting for the next in this new series. Brilliant.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/377uWpj

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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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.

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