The Big Chill

Written by Doug Johnstone

Review written by Andrew Hill

A former Customs and Police Officer, Andrew Hill is just putting the finishing touches to the first book in a crime series set in the New Forest, where he lived for 30 years. An avid reader across the crime genre and regular at Crimefest, he now lives in West Sussex and works in property.


The Big Chill
Orenda Publishing
RRP: £8.99
Released: August 20 2020
PBK

A young man gatecrashes a funeral in his Nissan, ending up in the open grave - dead. When the Police cannot identify the deceased, the funeral organizer Dorothy Skelf feels compelled to uncover who this John Doe’s identity. The trail leads into the darkest recesses of Edinburgh’s top echelons.

This being the Skelf women, nothing is ever simple. Daughter Jenny’s husband, Craig might be banged up, but he knows how to disrupt the family’s lives. With relish he’ll get under their skins in such a way that nothing will be the same again.

As for Dorothy’s granddaughter Hannah, her bond with an elderly professor at her university provides her with a ‘grandfather figure ‘in her life. When that changes abruptly, she feels compelled to investigate why.

Doug Johnstone makes use of the Skelf women’s funeral and investigation businesses adroitly. The author clearly has an encyclopedic knowledge of Edinburgh that’s employed with a deft touch that brings the city to life. I’m sure Johnstone visited many of the locations that pepper this novel in the course of his research.

The triple strands of the story are cleverly entwined and skillfully paced. There is warmth from the inner story of the Skelf family. There is a rawness when the author shines a light on the plight of the homeless within the city, and an almost permanent note of danger as the tension ratchets up in this dark narrative.

This is the second installment in the Skelf family series and I’m looking forward to number three - to find out what’s in store for these clever, caring and canny women.



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