The #Bookvent Calendar 2020 – Day 7

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#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2020

My day seven #bookvent selection is actually the second book in the series, although both books were released this year. I could, in honesty, have chosen either book as they both had very unique opening scenes and the premise of the overall series is something pretty special too. The reason I chose this book over its predecessor? Well I think it was probably just instinct. I would heartily recommend both books and am very much looking forward to the third as the author has delivered something pretty special in this trio of strong female protagonists who somehow balance an unconventional business partnership of Funeral Directors and Private Investigators. In case you hadn’t worked it out, my day seven pick is …

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The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone

Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of this darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new series!

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.

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Now pick up either of the books in this series so far, A Dark Matter, or The Big Chill, and you will be greeted with a somewhat unforgettable opening. From the unconventional goodbye to family patriarch, Jim Skelf in A Dark Matter, through to the unexpected interruption at a graveside in The Big Chill, Doug Johnstone really does grab your attention. I’m already aware of the fact that he is able to create some unforgettable characters and this is very much the case with Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah, the three generations of Skelf women who lead us through these stories. They are recognisable because of their doubts, their humanity and the way in which they struggle to navigate and process all that has happened to them in the past year. This time around we see much more of Dorothy’s innate compassion as she strives to find a missing student whilst also challenging daughter Jenny to track down the family of a John Doe who ‘drops in’ on the action very early on. Then there is Hannah who is struggling with the fallout from the first book and strives to find out exactly what led to the death of one of her University Professors. There is s strong sense of family running through the book, of those you love and trust implicitly, and of those who let you down. It is, at times, heartbreaking, and yet absolutely compelling and I was hooked into the story from the start. It is definitely a series that needs to be read in order as some of the action, and the tension, is derived from something that happens in book one. And be warned because this book leaves off with such a huge revelation that I cannot wait to see what happens next. Dark humour, compassion, tension and empathy abound – this is definitely a recommended read.

You can read my full review here.

Happy #bookvent reading all

Jen