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?
Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.
Having read and loved Dark Matter which is the first book featuring The Skelfs, I would strongly recommend reading that one before embarking on this one. More for the background than anything else, although the author does cover the basics of what you need to know.
Dorothy was the main character that stood out to me in this story. For all that she has been through, she goes above and beyond in her care and concern for others. She is definitely the matriarch of the family and someone to be looked up to and respected. The threads to do with her and her investigation, made for some melancholy reading at times.
The story as with the previous novel, alternates between the three generations of women. Due to this there are a few different threads within the story that run alongside each other. There is definitely plenty going on to hold the readers attention and I particularly enjoyed the growing relationship between Dorothy and a certain policeman. I think this is what draws me to the author’s books more than anything else is his characters. The way he writes them, they come to life in your head. Some definitely worm their way into your heart.
The Big Chill is a dark and enthralling read that kept me on edge. I could never fully relax as throughout I seemed to be waiting with bated breath for what these women were going to come up against next. Am sure I said this in my review for the previous novel but this is crying out to be made into a television series. It’s crime but with a unique take and I am still loving that it’s base is a funeral home. That gives me chills in itself!
My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be on the blog tour and to Orenda Books for a readers copy of the book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.
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.