Friday 30 September 2022

BLOG TOUR: Black Hearts (The Skelfs Book 4) - Doug Johnstone

The Skelf women live in the shadow of death every day, running the family funeral directors and private investigator business in Edinburgh. But now their own grief interwines with that of their clients, as they are left reeling by shocking past events.

A fist-fight by an open grave leads Dorothy to investigate the possibility of a faked death, while a young woman’s obsession with Hannah threatens her relationship with Indy and puts them both in mortal danger. An elderly man claims he’s being abused by the ghost of his late wife, while ghosts of another kind come back to haunt Jenny from the grave … pushing her to breaking point.

As the Skelfs struggle with increasingly unnerving cases and chilling danger lurks close to home, it becomes clear that grief, in all its forms, can be deadly…

What did I think?

I love The Skelfs series so I was very excited to read Black Hearts and I was not disappointed.  This series is just getting better and better and I hope Doug Johnstone has a lot more ideas up his sleeve for the Skelf women as I don't ever want this series to end.

You could read Black Hearts as a standalone as it has a brilliant self-contained plot, however, to fully appreciate the characters it is better to read the previous books in the series.  There is just enough of their backstories included in the book to intrigue and inform new readers without being too repetitive for long-standing fans of the series.

I'm purposefully avoiding talking about any of the various threads of the plot as it would spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet, but oh my word it's a good 'un.  Each character has something different to deal with and I couldn't read fast enough to see how it would all end; I certainly couldn't have predicted any of it.

I love how Doug Johnstone explores grief in all of The Skelf novels but Black Hearts is particularly poignant as it mentions something from Japanese culture that some readers may have never heard of before.  It allowed us to see a bit more behind Dorothy's character and it shows us that grief never leaves us, it merely becomes less painful as time goes on.

Unpredictable, suspenseful and addictive, Black Hearts is another fantastic installment in The Skelfs series.  I've loved every single one of them; keep 'em coming, Doug!

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve novels, most recently The Great Silence, described as ‘A novel [that] underlines just how accomplished Johnstone has become’ by the Daily Mail. He has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year three times, and the Capital Crime Best Independent Voice one; The Big Chill was longlisted for Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions, 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.

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