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 this darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new series!
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?
I was so excited when I read that Doug Johnstone had a PI series in the works with a trio of female protagonists, the Skelfs. This series has breathed new life into the classical PI writing genre with a mixture of dark humour and a great sprinkling of delicious tension. I have read all of Doug’s books that were Orenda Books published, and you can find my reviews for A Dark Matter here, and for Breakers here. The paperback of The Big Chill was published on the 20th of August last year, you can purchase a copy here.
The Skelfs are back, and it was awesome to be reunited with Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah Skelf, back in the world of funeral director recently become private investigator after the family patriarch dies (Not a spoiler, but I recommend that your read A Dark Matter before hand, but it’s your choice) The Big Chill is the second instalment in The Skelf series and I loved it – for many of us readers the characters are a huge part of a storyline and I absolutely adore all three protagonists in this novel. Obviously, we meet the trio of women from three generations in A Dark Matter while they were drowning under their own grief, but in The Big Chill I’ve fallen further in love with all of the ladies as you begin to get to know them more independently of one another with the use of alternating narrative chapters. Although each of the Skelfs have their own storylines, Doug has also interwoven them together in the perfect literary cross-stitch.
The Big Chill begins when a car is driven into an open grave during a funeral that Dorothy, Skelf matriarch is conducting, with a dead driver on her hands Dorothy takes it upon herself to find out who this John Doe is and get to the bottom of where he came to be actually crashing the funeral she is working. I love Dorothy’s character, she has so many layers to her, as do the other Skelfs but she is my absolute favourite. Not only does she give these awesome gran vibes off, but she’s both strong and vulnerable, empathetic and kind. This is one of Doug’s superpowers, creating characters that you can identify with on some sort of levels, whether it’s Hannah who is emotionally and mentally struggling with the aftermath of events from A Dark Matter or Jenny who is trying to grab the reigns of her life.
The second series instalment promises tension and pitch – black comedy, you will not be dissapointed – you’ll be hooked on the sinister and suspense filled storyline, one that drags the Skelf women into a web of darkness and danger. With intoxicating storylines, atmospheric writing that makes you feel like you’re a fly on the wall and heart-pumping events, you’ll breeze through it, being left breathless. The Big Chill is a book that is so difficult to put down. So, do yourself a favour and grab a copy of both A Dark Matter and The Big Chill now, you won’t regret it!
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