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 Skelf’s 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.
The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone is the third in the Skelfs series and the finest to date and that is saying something, as book one A Dark Matter and number two The Big Chill were stunning as well.
What makes this book and the series as a whole, some of my favorite books of all time? Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah, that’s who, a trio of females, all of whom are strong, passionate and intelligent women, protagonists in a story in which they hold centre stage. How rare is that? How marvelous that they command a story in which the humour is dark, in which they are not there to support the male lead, but masters of their very unique and marvelous world.
They are frankly some of modern literatures best characters, rounded, emotional, fragile and yet strong, creative and brave. Mother, daughter, granddaughter all work as undertakers as well as private investigator’s, what more is there to love? Best of all, as the series progresses we get to understand them more and more, we cheer their success’s, we cry tears at the losses they suffer, we fear for their lives and we turn the pages at a relentless pace, because we care, we love them and the thought of losing even one of them feels like a physical pain. Doug Johnstone understanding this, takes the reader in The Great Silence right to the edge of what they can bear, as he places all three in terrible danger. But he never losses sight of why I love this trio so much, they are authentic, they make mistakes, they love with every inch of their being, they are kind and they have an instinctive need to help people. In this installment that includes a postgrad researcher who worries his colleagues are trying to tip him over the edge, by making him believe that aliens are sending him messages. A family at war and a wild animal on the loose and most worrying of all, Jenny’s murderous ex-husband is still haunting them. It is physically impossible to turn away in case by taking a breath, we miss a moment, a clue that solves the mysteries the women are investigating.
He takes us and them on a journey racked with danger, but remarkably manages to fill the story with human experiences that will have you in tears, as he touches on some of life’s greatest agonies, grief, loss, loneliness, the intrinsic need to be loved, to make a connection with others. All that would be unbearable, if not balanced out by the community he creates around them, by how they as individuals reach out to help others, to help them find peace, by making that human contact that chases the pain away, or at least makes it infinity more bearable.
Where there is silence, Doug Johnstone fills it with a wonderful story and three remarkable women. Showing in this, his finest work to date, that thrillers can be beautifully written, that women can not only carry a story, they can command it.
The Great Silence is utterly compelling and everyone needs to buy it, because you will not regret it!
You can purchase this novel directly from the publisher at Orenda Books.
Or why not order it from one of the wonderful Independent Bookshops we are blessed with?
About the author
Doug Johnstone is the author of eleven novels, most recently The Big Chill, the second in the Skelfs series, which has just been optioned for TV. In 2020, A Dark Matter, the first in the series, was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and the Capital Crime Amazon Publishing Independent Voice Book of the Year award. In 2019, his thriller Breakers was also shortlisted for the prize. 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, 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.
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