The Big Chill
by Doug Johnstone
It’s my stop on the “The Big Chill” blog tour! Orenda Books have provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, so thank you to Anne Cater for the invite!
Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of this darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new series!
Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.
While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.
But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?
Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.
“The Big Chill” is well written and updates the reader in a way that means this could be enjoyed as a stand-alone book, but I would personally recommend going back to start with book one to get the full picture.
As we learned in book one, the Skelf family run a well-established and reputable business with two branches: funeral directing and private investigation. It’s a little bit of strange combo and the family are aware of that, but it works! Following the dramatic events in the first story, the Skelf ladies are picking up the pieces and trying to get back to normality just six months later.
All three Skelf women, Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah, have their own investigations in this story. Dorothy is searching for a young girl who has failed to turn up to school, her daughter Jenny is searching for the family of an unidentified man killed in a car crash, and granddaughter Hannah is keen to find out why one of her teachers suddenly killed himself.
I really like all three generations of this family and one of the things I enjoyed most about both of these books is the characterisation of them all. They’re all strong women, sure, they’ve all got their flaws and vulnerabilities but they are women that you can’t help but root for.
Once again, I was fully engaged in this family focused mystery. I enjoyed trying to pull the pieces together to work out what was going on. I loved that the story never wavered which I think is partly because, with all three women investigating something, this is a fast paced story that’ll keep you guessing.
Another fab read that I’d definitely recommend, can’t wait for book three!
Overall rating: “The Big Chill” is a fantastic second book for the Skelf series. Full of secrets and deception, both this and book one, “A Dark Matter” are engaging stories with a cast of strong female characters. This is a fast paced read and one I really enjoyed – another 5 stars from me!
Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if you like what you’ve read about it, support the author by picking up a copy on Kindle or Paperback through Amazon UK.
See my other reviews of books by Doug Johnstone here: