Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone #bookreview #blogtour @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Doug Johnstone, Black Hearts. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.


Death is just the beginning…

The Skelf women live in the shadow of death every day, running the family funeral directors and private investigator business in Edinburgh. But now their own grief interwines with that of their clients, as they are left reeling by shocking past events.

A fist-fight by an open grave leads Dorothy to investigate the possibility of a faked death, while a young woman’s obsession with Hannah threatens her relationship with Indy and puts them both in mortal danger. An elderly man claims he’s being abused by the ghost of his late wife, while ghosts of another kind come back to haunt Jenny from the grave … pushing her to breaking point.

As the Skelfs struggle with increasingly unnerving cases and chilling danger lurks close to home, it becomes clear that grief, in all its forms, can be deadly…


I’m a huge fan of the Skelf series by Doug Johnstone, so I was really excited to hear that he was releasing a fourth book in the series. Black Hearts is the latest book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I finished it in a few greedy gulps. I’m always interested to see what the Skelf women are getting up to, the idea of meshing a funeral business, and a private detective agency, is an idea I’ll always love, and it’s part of what makes this series stand out to me, that, and the characters, and how Doug Johnstone brings Edinburgh to life.

Following the last three books in the series, tensions are still running high in the Skelf family, especially after what happened to them in the last book. You can feel the emotions they are experiencing following what has previously happened, and you experience the conflict and the guilt they feel. Doug Johnstone really knows how to draw you into the minds of his characters through their emotions, and this really makes you connect to them. I thought this particularly with Jenny in this book, as she definitely seems to be going through a tough time.

There are a few cases that the Skelf women become involved in, in Black Hearts. I particularly thought the case Hannah was investigating, was fascinating, after a grandfather, Udo, contacts her, who believes he is in touch with his dead wife’s spirit by using a Japanese wind phone. Spirituality is a key theme in this book and I liked how Doug Johnstone continued to explore this. I also liked how he explored Hannah’s line of work, and her interest in the universe further, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, is a topic I’m fascinated by. I particularly liked the scene when she was at a lecture focusing on exoplanets, and you can feel Hannah’s enthusiasm for the topic. Hannah is also facing difficulties with a stalker, which adds another layer of tension to the book.

This book does blend genres, and I think Doug Johnstone does this so well, by making me even more gripped by his writing and the lives of the Skelf women. I really hope that there a more books to come in this series, the writing is brilliant, and the characters will live in your mind long after you turn the final page. If you’re not yet reading this series, then you are really missing out on some of the best crime novels out there. I highly recommend them.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 29th September 2022

Print length: 300 pages

Black Hearts is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones


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