Lead Review

  • Book: Black Hearts (The Skelfs Book 4)
  • Location: Edinburgh
  • Author: Doug Johnstone

Review Author: Tina Hartas



It’s a fabulous authorial mind that can create 3 generations of women who run a detective agency AND a funeral business, three wonderful women – grandmother Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah. This is no. 4 in the series and there are still ripples from the previous story running through this novel. So, as a reader, you might benefit from reading the series in order.

The novel opens at a funeral, taking place in a graveyard, where there is a punch up and a teetering coffin, and in a way that sets the tone, macabre meshed with humour. There are ghosts rumbling around in the background and familiar characters, so it is like meeting eccentric family members anew.

There is stalking to be investigated, a missing person and another character who fears he is being assaulted by his dead wife. The lives of the characters are like players on a bigger stage, facing a variety of challenges that everyone encounters at some point in their lives. The ending rounds off this short, sharp and unusual novel.

Edinburgh makes for a great and palpable backdrop and as Val McDermid says “Nobody portrays modern Edinburgh better than Dough Johnstone” – so there you have it!


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