The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone #bookreview @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the latest book in the Skelfs series by Doug Johnstone, The Great Silence.

The Great Silence (The Skelfs Book 3) by [Douglas  Johnstone, Doug Johnstone]


Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private-investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself … with potentially deadly results.

Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: The mysterious circumstances of a dying woman lead them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has yet another devastating experience.

Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.

Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series, and the stakes are higher than ever.


The Skelf family are back in Doug Johnstone’s latest book, The Great Silence. This is such an original crime series, and this is one of my favourite books of the year so far. I couldn’t resist starting it as soon as my copy arrived. I have heard that this is the last book in this series, but I am really hoping that the Skelfs will return.

It’s fair to say that the Skelf family have been through a lot over the three books. There is intrigue right from the start in the latest book in this series, and Doug Johnstone certainly knows how to hit the ground running. When Dorothy is out walking her dog, Einstein, he comes across an embalmed human foot in a local Edinburgh Park. Hannah, her granddaughter, is asked to help out a friend of hers, who may or may not be in contact with aliens, as part of his research into possible life elsewhere in the universe. He thinks someone is deliberately targeting him. Things take an even darker turn when the daughter of Jenny’s violent ex-partner goes missing. And big cats are also stalking the city.

The Skelf women are still reeling from the events at the end of the last book. This doesn’t stop them from carrying on investigating the strange events that are taking place. Only the Skelf family could come across an embalmed human foot and not be particularly perturbed. I wanted to know just what was going on in Edinburgh, particularly with the reports of the big cats as well. It makes for a very chilling atmosphere which Doug Johnstone writes so well.

This story really gets dark as the events which are happening in the city are explored further. It is perhaps their most challenging case to date. In the Skelf family, Doug Johnstone has created a unique set of characters. They’re what makes this series so good and so original. I think Dorothy, in particular, is my favourite. You can see how they have developed over the course of the series and I have really grown attached to them.

What I loved particularly about this book and the last book in the series are the discussions Hannah has with her friends about exoplanets, which is a topic I am fascinated by. The nerdy part of my brain was buzzing when they talked about Seti and the exoplanets discovered so far in the universe.

This is a series which you really must read if you haven’t read it already. It’s dark, intriguing, and so, so original. Doug Johnstone is such a brilliant writer and he knows how to create unique and unforgettable characters. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 19th June 2021 (kindle) 19th August 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages

The Great Silence is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

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