You may recall that back in the early days of 2020 I was lucky enough to read and review A Dark Matter, the first book in the quirky crime series by Scottish writer Doug Johnstone. You may also recall that I loved it that much that I included it in my Cracking Books To Read in 2020 blog post.
Since then, not only has A Dark Matter been optioned for TV and longlisted for the 2020 McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book (deservedly so on both counts) but Doug Johnstone has released a sequel – The Big Chill. And it’s another cracking read full of dark humour with the return of its kick ass female protagonists – the legendary Skelf women.
If you’re looking for a refreshing new crime series to try and still not acquainted yourself with the Edinburgh based Skelf family, I strongly recommend these enthralling books. I also love that the leading characters are called Skelf. For anyone that doesn’t know, a skelf is the Scottish word for splinter; and just like a skelf, these women get under your skin. 🙂
The Big Chill picks up from the dramatic climax of A Dark Matter six months on. Dorothy Skelf, the 70 year old matriarch misses her late husband but is beginning to emotionally move on. Yet turmoil is never far away as Dorothy continues to run the funeral directing and private investigating family businesses alongside daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah. And believe me – the turmoil – with diverse, intriguing plot threads makes exciting reading.
The main plot is full of tense, gripping drama that would have me hiding behind a cushion if I was watching it on screen – especially as it reaches its dramatic conclusion! This story further explores an intense plot from the first book. The plot development is raw and emotional, brilliantly enhancing the dramatic tension.
However for me what set this book apart are the fresh, new subplots full of heart and humanity as they explore issues ingrained in our society. The story thread that really gripped at my heart, shocked and surprised me is the story of Abi, Dorothy’s 14 year-old drumming student. It comes with an almighty twist that tore at my heart.
It is obvious from The Big Chill‘s ending that Doug Johnstone has definitely not finished with the Skelf women yet. With a dramatic conclusion and intriguing unfinished plot threads, Johnstone has cleverly set it the story up for a third instalment. I’m so excited about that.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour to help publicise this great book. Thank you also, along with Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books for arranging my advance copy of The Big Chill in return for my honest review.
To read the reviews of my fellow book bloggers also on The Big Chill blog tour, please see below.
The Big Chill is released on 20th August 2020.