Monday, 27 January 2020

Books Read: A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

Meet the Skelfs: 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 woman, 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…

Amazon Affiliate Links: Kindle or Paperback

I'd like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and Orenda Books for my ecopy of A Dark Matter to review.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from A Dark Matter having not read a Doug Johnstone book before but what I didn't expect was such a dark and quirky read. The opening chapter sets the tone for everything that was to follow with the unusual send off of funeral director Jim Skelf, it certainly was different! Having organised many funerals and cremations for others, Jim knew how he wanted his own send off to be and his family followed his instructions to the letter.   

Jim leaves behind three strong women to take over the family businesses, his wife Dorothy, his daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah. I've heard of diversifying to keep a business afloat but this sure was an interesting combination, a long-established undertaking business alongside a fairly new venture, a private investigation firm. But as we soon discover, the death of a loved one can sometimes throw up some unexpected questions for which you desperately need, or want answers, so it looks like Jim had come up with the perfect solution by setting up his new business after all. 

The story is narrated in alternating chapters following each of the three Skelf women which gave us an insight to each of them and see how they were coping. But by picking up pieces of Jim's businesses, and the cases they handle, they find themselves thrown into unknown and unchartered territory. How on earth do you investigate a missing persons case, get potential evidence of adultery or of neglect if you don't have the necessary experience?

Alongside the main characters, we also meet Indy, Hannah's partner, who now works alongside them in the funeral home, she came across as such a caring person and the perfect fit for someone to welcome a grieving family when they come to visit their loved one.  As well as one of the oddest characters that you will likely meet, but you can't help but warm to him, assistant undertaker Archie who worked alongside Jim. He certainly was in the perfect job considering his belief about his own mortality!

You certainly don't expect a story that tackles death or private investigations to make you chuckle but that's exactly what I found myself doing, one minute I might have been squirming at some of the more gory aspects I was reading but then a short time later I found myself laughing. The author has such a way with words to lighten the mood in the darkest of moments. 

The more I read, the more intrigued I became as the cases they handle, plus their own investigations, throw up some unexpected surprises. There was so much more going on than I expected and I found myself second guessing what the outcome was going to be. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there will be more from the Skelf family in the future and I for one am extremely glad about that. I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted with Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah and see what bizarre cases they will be handling next...

1 comment: