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The Lost Queen by Carol McGrath #Review

  We travel back to the 12th Century for this gorgeous historical novel, The Lost Queen by Carol McGrath . It was published by Headline Accent on 18th July. 1191 and the Third Crusade is underway . .  It is 1191 and King Richard the Lionheart is on crusade to pitch battle against Saladin and liberate the city of Jerusalem and her lands. His mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine and his promised bride, Princess Berengaria of Navarre, make a perilous journey over the Alps in midwinter. They are to rendezvous with Richard in the Sicilian port of Messina. There are hazards along the way - vicious assassins, marauding pirates, violent storms and a shipwreck. Berengaria is as feisty as her foes and, surviving it all, she and Richard marry in Cyprus. England needs an heir. But first, Richard and his Queen must return home . . . The Lost Queen is a thrilling medieval story of high adventure, survival, friendship and the enduring love of a Queen for her King.   My Thoughts

The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone #Review #SkelfsBook3


We are returning to Doug Johnstone's Skelf family for The Great Silence. This intriguing family first appeared in his crime novel, A Dark Matter, which was one of the most read posts on my blog when I reviewed it. You can check out my review here. You can also read the second novel featuring the Skelfs, The Big Chill here

I also have the chance for you to win a print copy of The Great Silence. Details on how to enter this UK Giveaway are at the foot of this post.  

Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private-investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking thedog, a perplexing case presents itself.

Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying woman have led them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has a devastating experience.

Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’sviolent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace anda wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelf’s are in peril.

Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of usall – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment inthe addictive, unforgettable Skelf’s series.

 My Thoughts

Having met the Skelfs before, it felt easy to slide back into their world of funeral directors and private investigators. The three generations of the family had their own stories as before but the family feeling between them counterbalances their rather grim findings and the death which is part of their daily lives. I enjoyed the black humour and the relationships between the characters. 

    It took me a little time to work out who some of the other characters were. and how they fitted in. Craig, Jenny's ex-husband is on the run but always in her thoughts and there is the added complication of his new partner and child. Dorothy's lodger has her own turmoil and the most intriguing of all, is Hannah's colleague who claims to be receiving messages he can't explain. I felt that Hannah's investigations gave flight to some really thoughtful parts of the story with some soul- searching issues and important questions to answer. Always in the background is the prowling big cat, with all its symbolism of dark forces and wild motives.  

    This has been an entertaining and engrossing series, with plenty of dark moments, rounded characters and shocking incidents. The opening scene of The Great Silence certainly counts as the latter!

In short: smart, funny, thought-provoking.

About the Author

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The BigChill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo 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 here: Twitter   |  Website 

 Book link: Amazon UK


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

Don't forget these other great bloggers!

Giveaway (UK only)

To win a print copy of The Great Silence, just Follow and Retweet the pinned tweet at @bookslifethings and good luck!
Closing date is 22nd August 2021 and there is one winner.    
*Terms and Conditions –  UK only  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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