A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone #Review #Giveaway

Today I am happy to be part of the Orenda Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of Doug Johnstone's crime novel, A Dark Matter. I also have a great Worldwide Giveaway with the chance to win a print copy of the book - details on how to enter are at the foot of this post. 

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 a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil. 

My Thoughts

I was hooked from the opening chapter, with its arresting imagery and dark, dark subject. Beneath the writing runs a seam of subtly black humour which roots the writing in the everyday. There are plenty of family dynamics going on in this story. Told from the perspective of three generations, we have Hannah, Jenny and Dorothy. As the three Skelf women take over the family businesses of Private Investigator and Funeral Directors, there are plenty of story threads to follow and a murder mystery to decipher. 

   A mix of crime, mystery and family relationships, with a huge dollop of science, makes this one of those novels which allows your mind to wander off onto quite philosophical directions. Death is ever present, not just in the physical sense, but also with the death of characters' illusions and memories as the past is rewritten. I believe this is the first in a series about the Skelf family. If so, there is plenty to come in this format. The plotting is exceptional and the prose eminently readable.

In short: Edinburgh provides the setting for some inter-generational sleuthing.
About the Author

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 writer in 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 playermanager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

You can follow Doug here: Twitter   |  Website 

 Book link: Amazon UK (You can pre-order here - published 23rd January 2020.)

 Thanks to Doug Johnstone, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater of Orenda Books for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.

Don't forget these other great bloggers!
Giveaway (Worldwide)


To win a print copy of A Dark Matter,  just Follow and Retweet the pinned Tweet at @bookslifethings and good luck!

 Closing Date is 22nd January 2020 and there is one winner.

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide.  The winner will be selected at random via Tweetdraw from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


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