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 acompelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.
Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours and Orenda Books for my copy of this cracking new book and start to a new series, A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone.
My first read by this author is an absolutely brilliant start as this new series introduces the Skelfs, an Edinburgh family of funeral directors but also private investigators. The owner, husband and father, Jim passes away, and in turn the baton is handed over to the women of the family, 3 generations, Mother Dorothy, daughter Jenny and Granddaughter Hannah.
The story is told in chapters from each of the characters point of view as they all take up their own investigations, Dorothy into an apparent misdemeanour from now passed Jim, what seems a standard case of adultery for Jenny, and then Hannah, whose friend seems to have vanished without trace.
A really quite brilliant tale is weaved by Johnstone as the investigations move forwards, all in the midst of a working and functional funeral home. This is a top drawer thriller that will entrance and enthrall as you are drawn into this family saga and quality crime writing.
With dark humour throughout, the pacing of this book is perfect as the 3 stories entwine to a shocking and quite brilliant finale.
I for one can not wait for more in this series, and am certainly going to be reading much more of Doug Johnstone if this is anything to go by.
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 writerin 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.
Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan
was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted
for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a
host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson,
Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.