Book Review

A Dark Matter – Doug Johnstone

For my second blog tour of the day, I have a great thriller for you, in the form of A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone. Many thanks to Doug, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Blog Tours, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of 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.

Dark Matter Cover .jpeg


Amazon UK


The subject matter of this book, and indeed the opening scene, suggest that A Dark Matter should not be a funny book, so it came as a pleasant surprise to me that I could sense an underlying dark humour running throughout, as the Skelf women attempt to find their way without their patriarch. These three very different women all have their own unique ways of coping, which doesn’t always lead to the smoothest of sailings when they are forced to work together. Despite them coming from three very different generations, I found something instantly likeable and relatable in each of them.

With each of the main characters running separate, but equally complex, cases for the private investigation side of the family business, at the same time as juggling funerals and their own grief, this is a book that is jammed full of activity and drama. There are one or two scenes from the more funereal side of things that are not for the weak of stomach, but aside from that, I was engrossed from start to finish.

As each case reaches it conclusion, all shocking in their own way, the book itself reaches it’s dramatic climax in what, to me at least, was a totally unexpected turn of events. I will be looking out for what comes next from the Skelf women.


Doug Author PictureDoug 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.




Don’t forget to check out all the other amazing blogs taking part in this tour.

A Dark Matter BT Poster

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