A(nother) Year Of Orenda – The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone

Today it’s over to Mandie who is sharing her thoughts on the third (but not final – two more to come yay!) book in the Skelfs series by Doug Johnstone, The Great Silence. We both love this series and reading it has given us great pleasure. If you’d like to read my review (ish) you can find it here. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: Ebook – 19 June 2021
Paperback: 19 August 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books

About the Book

The discovery of a human foot in an Edinburgh park, the inexplicable circumstances of a dying woman, and the missing daughter of Jenny’s violent ex-husband present the Skelf women with their most challenging – and deadly – cases yet…

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 the dog, a perplexing case presents itself … with potentially deadly results.

Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: The mysterious circumstances of a dying woman lead 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 yet another devastating experience.

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

Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series, and the stakes are higher than ever.

Mandie’s Thoughts

The Great Silence is the third in the Skelf series and with each book I am falling more and more in love with these characters. Each one is fiercely independent, yet they also have that strong family bond that they know they can rely on when things start to get a little tough.

With the book opening with Dorothy finding a human foot whilst out walking Einstein you just know that nothing is going to be normal. Added to this Jenny is looking into the disappearance of her ex-husbands young daughter and Hannah is investigating strange messages her new university colleague has been receiving. You would think that these three different threads would have you confused but somehow they just work… well after all if you have got to book 3 then you are well and truly immersed in the world of these funeral directors/private detectives. 

Out of all the things going on it is Hannah’s case that is probably the most normal and straightforward. The fact that is dealing with someone who believes he is receiving messages from things that are not of this planet shows just how brilliant whilst also a little bit warped Doug Johnstone is. Hannah has never felt totally comfortable in the business but with this case she does seem to come out of her shell and into her own as she is dealing with a subject she knows and understands. She is also supported by her partner Indie who is dealing with her own family issues but throughout it all, the strength of their relationship shines through.

As much as Jenny doesn’t want to get sucked into the life of her ex-husband there is a young child in the mix, and she would never forgive herself if anything happened to her. Despite what the police think, she knows he is behind it, and she just wants him found and back behind bars paying for what he has done.

Dorothy’s case is the strangest of all, it’s not technically anything to do with the Skelf funeral business and its not a PI case but she just can’t leave it alone, especially when Einstein finds another foot and what follows did have me sulking for a little while.

This is possibly the most gruesome of the books, but it is also the best and am definitely pleased that there are a couple more coming in the series as I cant wait to see what these funny but feisty women will get caught up in next.

About the Author

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three 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.

Books by Doug Johnstone:

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