Sunday, 5 January 2020

#BlogTour A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone.
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.

Follow @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks on Twitter, Follow Doug on Goodreadson Amazon,
Visit, Buy A Dark Matter

About the book
After an unexpected death, three generations of women take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a brilliant, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

The Skelfs are a well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators. When patriarch Jim dies, it ’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another women, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything… It ’s a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.

When it comes to this particular author I find it fascinating how his stories have a chameleon like tendency to them. It's almost as if settling on one genre is simply not fulfilling enough, especially when inspiration takes one in a completely different direction every time. You just never know where a Johnstone story will take you next.

I loved the way this story began. It's slightly morbid and yet at times wonderfully entertaining. It's also exactly what my father said to do in the event of his demise, and he wasn't joking either. Meet the remaining stronghold of the Skelf family - Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. The grandmother, mother and daughter funeral parlour and private investigator team.

When the patriarch of the family dies each of them is drawn into a mystery of sorts, which in a way helps them overcome the grief of his passing. Dorothy wants to know why her husband has been paying a stranger a lump sum of money every month. Hannah believes something has happened to her close friend, and Jenny gets dragged into murky personal issues.

It's a domestic noir - a story of death, love and betrayal.

There were a few moments or scenes in the book when I thought the author was crossing the line. Inappropriate, crude and violent behaviour. Then I took a step back and thought about the point he was trying to make. Johnstone isn't one for gratuitous violence or scenes - there is usually a subtle message, although one could argue about the subtlety.

The question of double standards arises in regards to sexual assault. Women and girls of all ages grow up dealing with the reality that they will become the victim of some type of inappropriate transgression towards them. It is systemic and has become the norm. Not all men fall into that bracket, but those that due have a lack of comprehension when it comes to consent.

What happens when the tables are turned. Do two wrongs make a right? There is a sentence in the book about the #Metoo era -  it is quite poignant in regards to the way Jenny acts. Whether the uprising against the systemic abuse nullify the validity of men as victims.

There is also a scene with Hannah, which is sort of waved away as if it were merely a moment of female hysteria. If she were a man the reaction to her violent response would be completely different. In that respect I think Johnstone makes some valid points about the way we as a society view gender in regards to violence, assault and inappropriate behaviour.

I wonder if the Skelfs will return again to solve crimes and bury the dead.

Buy A Dark Matter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books; pub date 23 January 2019 | Paperback Original | £8.99. Buy Kindle edition. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Breakers and Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone.

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