My thanks to Anne Cater for organising this blog tour for Black Hearts, the fourth in the Skelf series, and joins its predecessors in being enigmatic, funny and informative with some black humour thrown in. Written by Doug Johnstone and published by Orenda Books – Black Hearts is out on 29th Sept, pre-order it now.
The Skelf women live in the shadow of death every day, running the family funeral directors and private investigator business in Edinburgh. But now their own grief interwines with that of their clients, as they are left reeling by shocking past events.
A fist-fight by an open grave leads Dorothy to investigate the possibility of a faked death, while a young woman’s obsession with Hannah threatens her relationship with Indy and puts them both in mortal danger. An elderly man claims he’s being abused by the ghost of his late wife, while ghosts of another kind come back to haunt Jenny from the grave … pushing her to breaking point.
As the Skelfs struggle with increasingly unnerving cases and chilling danger lurks close to home, it becomes clear that grief, in all its forms, can be deadly…
Our Author – Dough Johnstone
Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve novels, most recently The Great Silence, described as ‘A novel [that] underlines just how accomplished Johnstone has become’ by the Daily Mail. He has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year three times, and the Capital Crime Best Independent Voice one; The Big Chill was longlisted for Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions, 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.
My Review – Black Hearts
The Skelf family series, Black Hearts being the fourth book lets you meet the Skelfs – Dorothy, Jenny, Hannah and Hannah’s wife Indy are 3 generations of women. Living and working in the family funeral directors they run. But add in the Private detective side of the business it all makes the day job far more interesting. Set in the stunning back drop of Edinburgh, Doug sets the landscape and scenery for this the forth Skelf edition.
Dorothy – Mum to Jenny and Grandma to Hannah, is still trying to save as many people as she buries, a born mothering instinct means she cant leave a situation alone if someone asks for her help, however weird it may turn out. This has got her and her family this time into a bizarre and lethal love triangle. It’s a good job she has policeman boyfriend Thomas to help her out of the sticky situations she finds herself.
Hannah would just like to live a normal life, but being embroiled with a PI agency and death on a daily basis basically means thats not going to happen. Her work on the galaxies that surround us seems to bring her into contact with even more oddities that you’d think possible. Indy is her saving grace, her light at the end of the tunnel, together, they can overcome. And this time with Hannah having a stalker, they need that strength to survive.
And Jenny, well ex-husband Craig’s body has washed up and although she knows what she’s doing, Jenny seems set on self destruct, and its not until she is the only one to stop what could be the end of the Skelf’s that she knows she cant continue like it. Main PI of the business she follows some shady characters and gets in all sorts of trouble.
Doug Johnstone has yet again made the funeral business respectful and crazy all at the same time. His writing is funny and filling with humour, yet the Skelf family characters do this with the kindness that death deserves. Even when the corpse or family involved may not deserve it.
Yet again Black Hearts could be read as a stand alone, by why deny yourself the chance to miss out on what could turn into one of your favourite series. Beginning with A Dark Matter, The Big Chill and The Great Silence all flow wonderfully into Black Hearts.
Orenda Books are well renownd for there forthright, sometimes quirky publishing, and I have never read an Orenda Book and thought I didn’t enjoy it. Theres all genres to chose from, but each one and every author are astute and aware of their subject, which just adds to the pleasure.
To pre-order – Black Hearts – https://bertsbooks.co.uk/product/black-hearts-the-skelfs-4/
Follow the rest of the Black Hearts blog tour here
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