The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone

Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone.


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 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 immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone is available now on ebook and will be published in paperback on August 20th.

My thoughts

This is the second novel in the Skelf women series and it’s as gripping and ballsy as the first. So, we have moved on six months after the events of A Dark Matter and the Skelf women are still reeling from their close shave with death. Sadly, life isn’t about to get any easier for them just yet. The psychological effects of what happened is casting a shadow over all of them but they are made of tough stuff and throw themselves back into their lives. Danger, however, is snapping at their heels and they begin to doubt they will ever be able to leave the past behind.

Way back in january I reviewed A Dark Matter I said that it was ‘an outstanding novel; quirky, complex, with humour and real heart’, well I can honestly say that The Big Chill lives up to it in every way. Doug is a solid writer, he knows what he’s doing. I really enjoy this group of characters. There is real grit there, darkness too. They are a complex group of women but I love how they stick together. They are vulnerable in their own way but courageous and not afraid to face their demons. This is a unique take on the crime novel. A family of undertakers working as private detectives too – life is anything but peaceful.

If you haven’t read A Dark Matter then do start there first. But both books together and read them back to back. 🙂 This was a very welcome return to the Skelf women and I do hope that book three won’t be too far behind!

Thank so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the fabulous team at Orenda books for provinding me with a digital copy to review.


About the author

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers
(2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. 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, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – 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.

You can follow Doug Johnstone on Twitter at @doug_johnstone

You can follow Orenda Books on Twitter at @OrendaBooks

The blog tour continues until August 14th 2020.

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