Tuesday 8 September 2020

Thunder Bay by Douglas Skelton @DouglasSkelton1 #ThunderBay @PolygonBooks #RebeccaConnolly #BookReview

When reporter Rebecca Connolly is told of Roddie Drummond's return to the island of Stoirm she senses a story. Fifteen years before he was charged with the murder of his lover, Mhairi. When he was found Not Proven, Roddie left the island and no one, apart from his sister, knew where he was or what he was doing.
Now he has returned for his mother's funeral - and it will spark an explosion of hatred, bitterness and violence.
Defying her editor's wishes, Rebecca joins forces with local photographer Chazz Wymark to dig into the secrets surrounding Mhairi's death, and her mysterious last words of Thunder Bay, the secluded spot on the west coast of the island where, according to local lore, the souls of the dead set off into the after life. When another murder takes place, and the severe weather that gives the island its name hits, she is ideally placed to uncover the truth about what happened that night fifteen years before.

Thunder Bay by Douglas Skelton was published in paperback on 5 March 2020 by Polygon. I bought a signed copy from the author.

It's two years since I last read anything by this author.  I have reviews of his novels The Janus Run  and Tag - You're Dead on the blog, please do check those out too.

Thunder Bay is the first in a new series from this author and features journalist Rebecca Connolly. I do love a new series, and if this first instalment is anything to go by, readers are in for a treat in the future.

Rebecca works on a local newspaper, budget cuts have depleted the staff and her editor, whilst a die-hard journalist, has to balance the books for the owners, rather than concentrate on getting big stories When Rebecca receives a tip-off from photographer Chaz that Roddie Drummond is returning to the island of Stoirm, she cannot help but be intrigued. She knows that this has the potential to be a huge story. Despite orders from the editor, Rebecca takes the ferry to Stoirm, determined that she will find a story.

Roddie Drummond hasn't been on the island for fifteen years. He left, and hasn't been heard of since, after he was tried for the murder of his girlfriend Mhairi. Whilst the jury returned a verdict of 'Not Proven', and he is a free man, everyone thinks that Roddie killed her.
Roddie's mother Mary has died and he is returning for the funeral. He's also returning to a great deal of hate, anger and indeed, worry from some residents.  For Stoirm is an island that doesn't welcome anyone from the mainland. It is a place where islands keep their secrets to themselves, where local justice is dealt ... it's the island way.

Rebecca herself has links to the island, despite the fact that she has never visited. Her late father was brought up on Stoirm but left many years ago. He never returned, he never spoke about why he left, or what happened to make him leave. When Rebecca learns that an ex-girlfriend of her father still lives on Stoirm, she decides that she will investigate her own story too.

Douglas Skelton excels in bringing location to life. His depiction of the isolation of Stoirm is incredible, with the bleak landscapes and the incoming storm adding so much tension to what is already a gripping story. Incorporating local legend and bringing to life the close-knit, yet often troubled community, this is a crime thriller that really does capture the imagination of the reader.
From the wealthy landowner Lord Henry, to the grieving family of Mhari and the troubled Roddie Drummond, each and every character is finely crafted. Rebecca herself has a spark and energy that propels the plot, not afraid to make waves, but fearful of just what she may find. She is determined and her integrity shines through.

Thunder Bay is a complex story made up of many threads that are tightly and cleverly woven together. I had no idea what was coming and the final reveal is both shocking and quite heartbreaking in equal measures.

This is a fabulous start to a series that I'm really looking forward to following. Atmospheric, tense and intelligently written.

Congratulations to the author on being longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize 2019.

Douglas Skelton was born in Glasgow. He has been a bank clerk, tax officer, taxi driver (for two days), wine waiter (for two hours), journalist and investigator.
He has written several true crime and Scottish criminal history books but now concentrates on fiction.
His novel Open Wounds (2016) was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize.
Douglas has investigated real-life crime for Glasgow solicitors and was involved in a long-running campaign to right the famous Ice Cream Wars miscarriage of justice.

Twitter @DouglasSkelton1
Instagram @douglasskelton1

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