Tuesday 12 September 2023

The Opposite of Lonely by Doug Johnstone BLOG TOUR #TheOppositeOfLonely @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TheSkelfs #BookReview


Even death needs company…

The Skelf women are recovering from the cataclysmic events that nearly claimed their lives. Their funeral-director and private-investigation businesses are back on track, and their cases are as perplexing as ever.

Matriarch Dorothy looks into a suspicious fire at an illegal campsite and takes a grieving, homeless man under her wing. Daughter Jenny is searching for her missing sister-in-law, who disappeared in tragic circumstances, while grand-daughter Hannah is asked to investigate increasingly dangerous conspiracy theorists, who are targeting a retired female astronaut … putting her own life at risk.

With a body lost at sea, funerals for those with no one to mourn them, reports of strange happenings in outer space, a funeral crasher with a painful secret, and a violent attack on one of the family, The Skelfs face their most personal – and perilous – cases yet. Doing things their way may cost them everything…

Tense, unnerving and warmly funny, The Opposite of Lonely is the hugely anticipated fifth instalment in the unforgettable Skelfs series, and this time, danger comes from everywhere…

The Opposite of Lonely by Doug Johnstone is published in paperback by Orenda Books on 14 September and is the fifth book in the Skelfs series. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

This review originally appeared in the September edition of the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners magazine. 

The Opposite of Lonely is volume five of The Skelfs series from Doug Johnstone. Whilst this is a series, this is also a fabulous stand-alone thriller set in Edinburgh and featuring three of the strongest and wonderfully created female characters in fiction. 

The Skelf women; Dorothy, her daughter Jenny, and granddaughter Hannah run a funeral director business in the heart of Edinburgh. They are also private investigator and over the years, their name has become famous throughout the city.

Strong and capable and assisted by a colourful and eclectic supporting cast of characters, the Skelfs have endured many things in the past few years, including a murderous ex-husband and an arson attack at their home. 

They are back, recovered and determined to carry on. In this tale there are cases that involve travellers at an illegal campsite, missing relatives and astronaut related conspiracy theories.  That is a lot to take on! 

Doug Johnstone’s writing is both darkly comic and seriously emotional. He throws so much at his characters, revealing the dark and dangerous parts of Edinburgh that are hidden from the tourist. 

There are so many relevant social issues raised, along with a wonderful look into the world of funerals and undertakers. 

Packed with colourful and perfectly created characters. There are those who the reader will love, and others who are devilishly despicable. There are scenes of violence and moments that will shock, but all are done so well, adding layers of depth to the story. 

This is a compelling story, told with empathy and compassion. The Skelf family are a unique and welcome addition to the world of crime fiction. 

Doug Johnstone is the author of sixteen novels, many of which have been bestsellers. 

The Space Between Us was chosen for BBC Two’s Between the Covers, while Black Hearts and The Big Chill were longlisted for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year. 

Three of his books – A Dark Matter, Breakers and The Jump – have been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize. 

Doug has taught creative writing or been writer in residence at universities, schools, writing retreats, festivals, prisons and a funeral home. 

He’s also been an arts journalist for 25 years. 

He is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. 

He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club and lives in Edinburgh with his family.

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