A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “first book in a new series”

Blog Tour – ‘A Dark Matter’ by Doug Johnstone ~ @annecater @OrendaBooks @doug_johnstone

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today.  ‘A Dark Matter’ by Doug Johnstone is the first book in the Skelfs series.  It is being published in paperback on the 23rd January 2020 by Orenda Books and is also available as an eBook.

I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour.  Thanks also to the publisher for my review copy of this book.

I will tell you all in a minute what I thought about ‘A Dark Matter’.

 

 

Book Blurb

After an unexpected death, three generations of women take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a brilliant, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

The Skelfs are a well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators. When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another women, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything… It’s a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.

 

My Review

It has been a long while since I have read anything published by Orenda Books but this year I will be changing that for sure.

I totally loved ‘A Dark Matter’ and I am so very happy that this is the start of a new series otherwise I would probably be in mourning by now. This is the first book by Doug Johnstone I have read, and I am seriously impressed. What an ingenious storyline. The writing flowed easily, and I was able to follow the story without any problem. I also liked the way the chapters were set out.

I found this to be an extremely dark and intriguing read. The further I got into the book the more addicted I became. There were shocks and surprises aplenty throughout. There just seemed to be so much going on and it was really interesting to see how things unfolded. The author kept me guessing which was a good thing.

This story is narrated by the main characters Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah; three generations of a family. I thought this worked really well. They all came across as very strong women. Despite the grief they were understandably going through they took hold of the reins and kept both businesses going between them.

I really liked the main characters. My other favourite was Indy who was such a lovely and caring person.

You would think that reading about a funeral-home business and death would be morbid, but it actually wasn’t. It anything it was fascinating and thought-provoking if not a bit grisly at times.

I will definitely be reading more of Doug Johnstone’s books and am already really looking forward to the second book in the series. I can’t wait to find out how the Skelf family are getting on.

I highly recommend you read ‘A Dark Matter’.

‘A Dark Matter’ is available to pre-order/buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Matter-Skelfs-Doug-Johnstone-ebook/dp/B07X9X2J4X/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1578597834&sr=8-1

 

About Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – 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.

 

Links

Website – https://dougjohnstone.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/doug_johnstone

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/758942.Doug_Johnstone

 

Guest Post by Andrea Jutson

I would like to welcome Andrea Jutson to my blog.  Her book, ‘Senseless’, the first volume of The James Paxton Mysteries was published in paperback and as an eBook last month by Williams & Whiting.  Andrea has written a guest post which I hope you all enjoy.

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Pick Your Poison – The Many Flavours of the Crime Novel

What I love about reading – and writing – crime is that, as all crime readers know, there’s no such thing as “the crime novel”. When I set out to write my first crime novel, Senseless, choosing my genre wasn’t as simple as going ‘I’ll write a book with murders in it’. I had to fight really hard to keep my writing and my characters on track, with just the right level of humour to keep it from being the sort of dry police procedural I’d grown tired of, but not so funny it headed into screwball territory. I spent some time reading the kind of authors I aspired to be, and thinking: “What would Mark Billingham sound like here?” Or conversely, having to murder my own best lines, in agony, because the punchlines ruined the punch.

It made me really think about how much crime, as a supposedly single genre, really encompasses all sorts of different conventions that each require their own skills. There’s cosy, there’s Sherlock Holmes-style detective, there’s the eight-minute hardboiled, and six-minute with a few soft bits, there’s darkly funny, the serial killer thriller, there’s police procedural, spy novel, historical – and that has as many sub-genres again – screwball caper, psychological thriller, supernatural…the list goes on. Despite all the genre-blending and bending that goes on, the hardest thing for me as a new writer doing a serial killer thriller with elements of the supernatural was staying on my side of the road. Or even finding the road.

Oddly, the amount of detail I spent describing people’s meals also seemed to come highly loaded – too much detail, and it sounded like a cosy American novel where everyone always seems to eat delicious meals of lobster or linguine with garlic-buttered dinner rolls hot from the oven and pie for dessert, but too little and it came out Lee Child. This seems like a pretty firm rule, and yet while Canadian author Louise Penny is always describing her characters’ gourmet meals – so far, so cosy – the books are somehow psychological studies. Likewise, Andrea Camilleri’s novels can spend chapters on the seafood and pasta dishes Inspector Montalbano stuffs in, and they’re hilarious, but they’re also as political as all hell. The very best crime novelists – hello, Stuart MacBride – can play very close to the edge, regularly veering off into farce while still managing to shock the hell out of us. Rules, it would seem, are meant to be broken.

It makes me shake my head when I see pages of reviews devoted to supposedly “proper” literature, when crime is reduced to just a sidebar. To me, crime is the most multi-faceted genre of all, and it’s definitely the hardest to write. Not only do crime authors need to give you plenty of clues – often more than the real police get – but like the anti-Christmas present, the clues should only be recognisable once they’re all wrapped up. Many’s the time, while pondering how much to reveal at any given moment, that I wished I’d started something easier, like a doctorate.

Now that I’ve had some time to let my own voice develop, the battle’s become easier. I’ve got to understand my characters better, and who I am as a writer. If the flavour of my books matures along the way, that’s fine with me. The wonderful thing about subtly changing your formula is that there are always plenty of readers with tastes to match. (Although the one sub-genre that stubbornly fails to excite me is the psychological thriller – I’ve never been super-keen on unpleasant protagonists! Unless they’re funny…)

 

About my books

Senseless and The Darkness Looking Back both feature barman and reluctant psychic James Paxton, an Englishman who tries to escape his reputation back home, but ends up hunting murderers in his adopted city of Auckland, New Zealand. The twists and turns are spiced with dark humour and the beautiful Auckland setting (if I do say so myself). They are now available for the first time in the UK, and are intended to be read, first and foremost, as crime novels, with a tinge of the supernatural.

 

Here’s the blurb to Senseless:

A small park in a nice Auckland suburb is the least likely spot to stumble across a body. The discovery of a man recently bludgeoned to death shatters the illusion of midwinter calm. But unfortunately for James Paxton, death is nothing out of the ordinary. Suspicion falls all too easily on the Englishman who’s hiding a secret. Not only did Paxton find the dead man – he spoke to him, too. Gifts he wished he never had are called into play when Mark Bradley begs him to track down his killer, for the sake of his daughter. Paxton’s carefully constructed new world threatens to crumble as he is sucked into the hunt for a predator, while the police snap close at his heels. And the corpses keep on mounting, one by one …

A darkly gripping mystery with an other-worldly twist.

 

Paxton’s story continues in The Darkness Looking Back. No matter which flavour of crime novel you prefer, I hope you’ll enjoy them!

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‘Senseless’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Senseless-1-James-Paxton-Mysteries/dp/1911266829/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518460367&sr=1-2&keywords=andrea+jutson

eBook – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Senseless-James-Paxton-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B078S6YT1F/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518460367&sr=1-1&keywords=andrea+jutson

 

About Andrea Jutson

Andrea Jutson is a writer from Auckland, New Zealand. She has written two crime novels featuring reticent medium James Paxton, the first of which is Senseless, and is at work on a third. In her career, Andrea has been a bookseller, journalist, collections librarian, book buyer and journalist again, and once spent almost a year selling tickets at a heritage site in London. She now works at a public relations agency, and lives in South Auckland.

To find out more about Andrea Jutson’s books visit – http://williamsandwhiting.com/

 

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