Today Mandie is sharing her thoughts on Thunder Bay by Douglas Skelton, a book named in her books of the year list for 2019. I like to think I had a hand to play in this as I recommended the book to her in the first place, but it probably has more to do with all the times she has seen the author at literary festivals. With a thank you to Telford and Wrekin Libraries for being sensible enough to stock a copy of the book, here’s what it’s all about.
About the Book
When reporter Rebecca Connolly is told of Roddie Drummond’s return to the island of Stoirm she senses a story. Fifteen years before he was charged with the murder of his lover, Mhairi. When he was found Not Proven, Roddie left the island and no one, apart from his sister, knew where he was or what he was doing. Now he has returned for his mother’s funeral – and it will spark an explosion of hatred, bitterness and violence.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
Defying her editor’s wishes, Rebecca joins forces with local photographer Chazz Wymark to dig into the secrets surrounding Mhairi’s death, and her mysterious last words of Thunder Bay, the secluded spot on the west coast of the island where, according to local lore, the souls of the dead set off into the after life.
When another murder takes place, and the severe weather that gives the island its name hits, she is ideally placed to uncover the truth about what happened that night fifteen years before.
I think I am a little bit late to the party on this book – but sometimes better late than never is not a bad thing. I was determined to start using my local library so when I came across this on their list it seemed the perfect choice. Having listened to Douglas speak about this and many other things at some of the book events it had been to it had been on my TBR wish list for some time.
The story centres on journalist Rebecca Connolly who has been told of the return of Roddie Drummond to the island of Stoirm for his mother’s funeral… this may not seem very newsworthy except for the fact that Roddy had been charged with the murder of his partner Mhairi several years before. The case was found Not Proven and Roddie just disappeared. The fact that he was returning did not sit well with many of the Islanders and Rebecca wanted to see if she could unearth anything new. She also had another reason for going there. This was the Island that her father was from, yet she knew nothing about it or his family as he had always refused to talk about it.
I have to say that I absolutely loved this book and everyone who had told be how good it was were 100% spot on. Douglas Skelton manages to describe the feeling of isolation of island life. With the rugged landscape and the impending storms, it all adds to the atmosphere of the story. The prologue certainly had me hooked from the beginning and I knew I had to find out what happened. Everyone has secrets and as the truth behind Mhari’s death is revealed then certainly Island life doesn’t seem so idyllic after all. As Rebecca finally uncovers the truth about her father’s family and why he left never to return, Stoirm reveals itself to be an island that is not really welcoming to outsiders… despite the efforts to create it into a tourist destination.
I loved the relationship between Rebecca and Island reporter Chaz. They had an easy friendship and when you add Alan into the mix you are treated to probably the only light moments in the whole book enabling it to not be completely dark. As for the ending… Well that was certainly not something I was expecting but it was what helped make it one of my favourite reads of 2019 and a book I think should be on others reading lists.
About the Author
Douglas Skelton was born in Glasgow. He has been a bank clerk, tax officer, taxi driver (for two days), wine waiter (for two hours), journalist and investigator. He has written eleven true crime and Scottish criminal history books but now concentrates on fiction. His novel Open Wounds (2016) was longlisted for the McIlvanney Award. Douglas has investigated real-life crime for Glasgow solicitors and was involved in a long-running campaign to right the famous Ice-Cream Wars miscarriage of justice.