Doug Johnstone: A Dark Matter


Happy New Year everyone! I am so excited to be kicking off a new year of Orenda blog tours with my review of A Dark Matter. It’s written with thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and Orenda Books for my copy of the book.


Three generations of women from the Skelfs family take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a taut, page-turning and darkly funny new series. Meet the Skelfs: 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 woman, 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… A compelling, tense and shocking thriller and a darkly funny and warm portrait of a family in turmoil, A Dark Matter introduces a cast of unforgettable characters, marking the start of an addictive new series.


Having read Breakers a few weeks ago I was looking forward to reading A Dark Matter. It’s very different but it’s incredibly enjoyable and it’s a promising start to a new series.

Like Breakers, A Dark Matter is set in Edinburgh, but we do see a very different side to the city. Johnstone paints a very lifelike portrait of the student area of Edinburgh and the sense of community within this population. The Skelfs themselves have two family run businesses which adds to this feeling.

Through A Dark Matter we meet three generations of the Skelf family. Johnstone has drawn these characters really well and the three different viewpoints of the novel allowed me to glimpse into their lives. He highlights the differences between the generations really well and I found it very easy to sympathise with them. I look forward to learning more about them as the series continues.

There are many different strands to the plot of A Dark Matter and each one is equally engaging. Johnstone addresses some interesting themes, some of which may be a little dark for some readers, but I appreciated the way he brought important topics of modern times to light in a unique way.

A Dark Matter is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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