If you were with me back in 2019 you would have heard me raving about Doug Johnstone’s most recently published Orenda book Breakers, which to this day still sits in my book heart. You could imagine my excited delight when a glorious proof of the first installment in Doug’s Skelfs series A Dark Matter – thankyou Karen you absolute jewel! You can order your copy here!
Three generations of women from the Skelfs family take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a taut, page-turning and darkly funny new series. Meet the Skelfs: 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 woman, 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…
As we’ve already been made aware of, A Dark Matter is the first in the Skelfs series, it begins with a death of the ‘man of the family’ and the aftermath ripples of grief, loss and three generations of the Skelfs women trying to come to terms of what role they play in the family business now, as well as one family member down. If you’ve read Doug’s most recent book Breakers, you know that the emotion he entwines within the storyline is raw and feels absolutely real – I felt the same as the opening of A Dark Matter took a more emotive dive into the family’s loss. The confused, lost and at times the personal numbness that comes with grief experienced by the characters not only provided a great foundation for character development, but also a air of mystery and at times desperation that a captivating crime fiction needs. Do we always know our loved ones as much as we think?
The whole storyline of A Dark Matter is told through alternating chapters from Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah’s point of view, I haven’t read a multi-narrative novel for a while so it did take me a little while to get into who the characters were but simple enough as you get going. Each character has a different personality, even the tone of their literary voices alternate, I feel that they were all strong characterised women who have learnt to own their faults but are yet to bond on the communication with one another, at one or two parts I just wanted to bang their heads together, but this is real, this is family with their own personal waves crashing into one another. The chapters are really well laid out and flows from one to another in a way that is easy to follow. I found the storyline to be an equal proportion of character and plot driving, with shock revelations and historic emotional burdens rearing their ugly heads that happens after someone dies – there’s always something in the woodwork. Drenched with murder, mystery and intrigue, you’re going to want a buddy reader because you WILL want to talk about it.
The tension injected into A Dark Matter is the kind that makes you put the book down, walk away and breathe, while constantly wanting to pick it up and see where this crime thriller is going to take you. This tartan – domestic noir read may have made me shout out multiple times and the fact that it is the first in series is getting me all excited for the next book. It’s a new captivating series, keeps you on your toes read with a cosy close-knit community feel. I can’t wait to cuddle back up with the Skelf ladies as they journey through their next mysterious case.
1 thought on “#SkelfSunday A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone @Doug_Johnstone @OrendaBooks #ADarkMatter #MeetTheSkelfs #Orentober #Throwback”
Ohhh I definitely can’t wait to read this one!