The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #RandomTTours #TheSkelfs #TheGreatSilence #CrimeFiction

The Great Silence
by Doug Johnstone

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Great Silence is the latest book in The Skelfs series. They are back. Thanks to Random T. Tours for inviting me to the blog tour and to Orenda Books for gifting me the e-book. Find out more about this Edinburgh based crime book in the blurb and my review below.

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The Great Silence cover with quotes and author name (1)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.
Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying woman have led 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 a 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.

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It is great to be reunited with Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah, of whom each have a chapter dedicated to them and it rotates through them until the end of the story. It starts with a nose-wrinkling moment with Dorothy and her collie dog – Einstein. It’s definitely a most unexpected opener.

The Skelf family own a funeral business in Edinburgh, but also there are investigations to conduct. This isn’t your usual funeral parlour, this is one where investigations also occur, so it’s quite a lot for the Skelf’s to juggle.

In a way, like previous books in this series, it presents itself as something a bit more genteel, but when you get into the detail, nestling amongst some humour and the beauty and fun of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas, such as Leith and Portobello including the zoo and Cramond, (which Doug Johnstone adeptly leads his readers round), it’s actually quite dark and full of mystery. There seems to be many mysterious deaths that turn up in the mortuary; there is one presenting with no clear cause of death or DNA match. There are also mysterious limbs by Leith, not necessarily matching up with each other. There’s mystery and black humour in the way it is written, including some strange embalming.

Nothing is straight forward and some people aren’t either, as Hannah’s got a new colleague who is an astrophysicist and absolutely convinced there are aliens. To add to this strangeness, there may be a mystery surrounding a big cat. As well as mysterious deaths, there is also grief, high emotion, much tension and family dramas; it’s a story of multi-layers that also sees the Skelf’s in danger and a lot of life questions and contemplations about life, religion and more, being questioned are considered.

About The Author

Author Doug Johnstone poses for a portrait near his home in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The Big Chill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.
He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo 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. Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website:

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