Where Demons Hide by Douglas Skelton

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the latest instalment in the Rebecca Connolly series by Douglas Skelton, Where Demons Hide. Mandie and I are both fans of the series and she shared her thoughts last year, which you can read here. I’m playing catch up for a change, in preparation for the next book in the series, Children of the Mist, which is out later this year. Here’s what the book’s all about:

Source: Owned Copy
Release Date: 07 July 2022
Publisher: Polygon

About the Book

Something scared Nuala Flaherty to death. When her body is found in the centre of a pentagram on a lonely moor, Rebecca is determined to find out what. Was she killed by supernatural means, or is there a more down-to-earth explanation?

Rebecca’s investigation leads her to a mysterious cult and local drug dealings. But what she doesn’t know is that crime matriarch Mo Burke still has her in her crosshairs. Mo wants payback for the death of her son, and after one failed attempt to hurt Rebecca, she is upping the ante. And this time, it could be lethal.

My Thoughts

I’ve really been enjoying this series, loving getting to know Rebecca and her colleagues, Elspeth and Chaz, and Where Demons Hide, is another class instalment. Atmospheric crime fiction with a touch of the otherworldly about it, as the team find themselves in the midst of a case involving rumours of Witches and Wiccan’s and happenings altogether too strange to comprehend. From the very opening scenes you can feel the intrigue build, and I immediately wanted to know more about the who, what and why of it all. A tragic death once more troubles the fair folk of Stoirm, but was the cause of death natural or something far more sinister?

Well …. if you want to know the answer to that you’ll have to read the book as I’m not telling you, but with strange markings around the scene of death, and the sense of urgency and near mania we are shown in what we assume to be the victim’s final moments, it’s fair to say this is not going to be a straightforward crime caper. Chaz and his betrothed, Alan, are on the island in preparation for their wedding, and with Chaz drafted in as makeshift crime scene photographer, it is no surprise that interests are piqued. I loved the way in which Douglas Skelton has portrayed this part of the story, with mystery abound and a slightly off kilter part of the community making it very hard to pinpoint a single potential suspect if the death does end up being a touch hinky. It’s a device which works well, causing ample misdirection and hiding the truth in plain sight. It might not be what you think. Or maybe it just is …

As Rebecca is over on the mainland following up on her own stories of strange goings on, she is one step removed from the main investigation as we see it. It doesn’t put her out of danger though, and with Mo Burke waiting in the wings for her version of justice, you know pretty much anything can happen. There is that constant sense of threat that feeds through all of the Inverness action, as well as its own touch of the unexplained. I enjoyed this element of the story, some of the characters who are introduced adding a good splash of humour and banter which kept the story lighter than it might well have been given our heroine has a very clear price placed on her head. And speaking of humour, Chaz and Alan are a dream pairing, the quips and back and forth between them causing many a laugh. Alan especially is a wicked character as he gets the bit between his teeth as amateur investigator.

The ending is packed with tension, the conclusion to the stories not quite what I was expecting but ultimately satisfying. It’s fair to say that Rebecca, Chaz and the island Stoirm have quite a chequered and tumultuous history, and seeing it draw to a kind of conclusion here feels fitting. It felt throughout that all roads led back to Stoirm which, if you think about it, is quite a feat given it’s an island only accessible by ferry … Another brilliant case which kept me enthralled. So much action and detail in a story which unfurls over just four days. If you love the series, or even if you just love a really suspenseful mystery, it’s definitely recommended.

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.