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A Dark Matter  By  cover art

A Dark Matter

By: Doug Johnstone
Narrated by: Sarah Barron
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Publisher's Summary

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 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....

©2020 Doug Johnstone (P)2020 Isis Publishing Ltd

What listeners say about A Dark Matter

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  • Simon
  • 03-26-20

Death and Sexual Politics!

You have to congratulate Doug Johnstone, what a setup! The marriage of a traditional Scottish funeral directors with all its stiff upper lip decorum with the down and dirty world of private investigation. As it turns out there's actually more similarity between the two than you might expect. And the book gets off to a grimly dark start and definitely it fits into Scottish Noir more than anything else.

The question is whether the story fully exploits that amazing setup and although I enjoyed it I'm not quite convinced that it did so fully. There's a fair amount of feminist sexual politics in there that I was starting to find a little overdone but I *think* Johnstone was boxing clever here. While his female leads who covered three generations of the Skelf family were pretty free with their thoughts of predatory men and similar the author countered that with a balance of good and bad characters of both sexes. There was no falling into the trap of mirroring those views with a completely predictable set of characters. An interesting approach.

The narration by Sarah Barron is really decent quality and I enjoyed her performance from start to finish making this a decent package and a credible opening to what I believe is to be a series. For those who like a bit of genuine dark noir with a decidedly female perspective, it's a worthwhile purchase. If you're squeamish about the process of dealing with dead bodies though, then as you might expect, this won't be a comfortable listen!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Brian
  • 04-07-20

Great story with twists and turns all the way.

Thanks Doug,
Another great story incorporating the local Edinburgh scene. Sarah also does a great job of telling the story. Your latest is a welcomed release and this kept me sane while painting my fence in the past few days in lockdown.
I can imagine you have another plot for these women, already bubbling away in your head. Keep up the good work.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Melanie Preston Lewis
  • 11-05-20

Great listen

It was a treat to have a book with all female heroes, especially because they were 3 generations of one family. I thought that was an extra special touch and made the book unique in the Scottish Noir genre. The story moves along at a brisk pace and there's intrigue and secrets aplenty to keep the listener engaged. The women are all likeable characters with realistic human frailties. I understand this is possible book 1 in a new series and so I shall definitely keep my eye out for any book written by Doug Johnstone and narrated by Sarah Barron as it was a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging listen

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-18-20

A great book and audiobook

I lived reading the book a while ago and the audiobook was equally enjoyable. A great book to listen to while out walking , linking in with memories of the Edinburgh places mentioned. Looking forward to reading the next book.

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  • Brightlight
  • 09-28-21

Love Doug Johnstone's books

A Meaty read ..Living in Scotland and knowing the areas he writes about makes me love his books .I find the pace and storylines so relatable .Even-though some of the happenings are upsetting or scary .The way he writes is up beat .I find this style of writing much more palatable .The characters in this story are strong women but really likeable.pleased there are others to come .You'll enjoy it .His books are never long enough as I don't want them to end .I wish he'd write faster and many more .

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  • Mrs Q.
  • 01-19-21

Too graphic on the work of funeral directors

had I of realised that description of the work of funeral directors ran through the whole story, I would have returned it after the first couple of chapters

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  • Mr K R Alderton
  • 07-13-20

Interesting story

A fascinating dark tale with a complex plot. Beautifully read. I hope he writes more with the central characters, highly recommended

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  • Lisa
  • 07-12-20

slow starter

nearly gave up on this as very slow to get going. ok towards the end with a good twist

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  • FionaT33
  • 11-15-22

Very enjoyable listen

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to others in this series. The characters are well portrayed and although there dark themes the end is uplifting so the overall effect is not depressing.

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  • Jane Shepherd
  • 09-20-22

Mixed feelings

I certainly liked the strong female characters and the storyline. The unusual setting of the funeral parlour with the detective agency is, as far as I’m aware, the first of its kind in a novel. My only reservation is constant dwelling on the dead in their mortuary and the descriptions of the work undertaken there. Yes I used that word deliberately.
Whilst listening to this novel I kept wondering if I really wanted to continue with it but I’m honest enough to realise that that may well be because September is a difficult month for me personally and that I might have had a different reaction to this novel another time of the year. I enjoyed Sarah Barron’s narration, she has a very pleasant voice and did a good job on this audiobook.

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  • Martine H
  • 08-26-21

Average at best

An okay story with a bit of a twist but Doug Johnstone should not be put in the same category as JD Kirk for crime fiction as suggested by a recent journalist and why I decided to give the author a go. He is NOTHING like him! JD Kirk being my favourite crime author, I was thoroughly disappointed with this book by Doug Johnstone. It was slow and repetitive with the language and themes, often coming across as very anti men (and I am a woman!). The characters were not very likeable, lacked depth and were boring and often angry and irritating. The narrator was fairly monotonous and monotone and should be reading romance or children’s books, definitely not crime. Her accents were awful and I was often confused about which character was speaking? Overall it was boring and disappointing and I won’t be buying the next in the series.