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Thunder Bay: an exciting and atmospheric crime thriller Paperback – 7 Mar 2019
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'Immersive, compelling and shot through with Skelton's pitch-black humour, Thunder Bay will reverberate like the last echoes of a storm long after you read the draw-dropping climax' --Neil Broadfoot
'Skelton builds up the suspense before going in for the kill. A particularly gripping thriller' --The Herald
'It's beautifully written, descriptive and atmospheric. The pacing is perfect, and the conclusion unexpected. Douglas Skelton has delivered possibly his best work yet, and that really is saying something! It's a triumph' - Suze Clarke Morris, Simply Suze Reviews
'Douglas Skelton excels at planting little seeds throughout his writing, drawing the reader in, and ensuring that they pull up a chair and watch them grow. He succeeds in intriguing you and keeping you firmly on your seat until the last page is turned' - Sharon Bairden, Chapter In My Life blog
'Dark, brooding, atmospheric and full of mystery, this is a book I would highly recommend you read. I loved it' - Jen Lucas, Jen Med's Book Reviews
'Skelton has produced an evocative, beautiful and tense tapestry of a read that will undoubtedly stand the test of time' - Mary Picken, Live and Deadly
'A gripping and thrilling read from one of the great Scottish crime writers, themes of crime, mystery, secrecy and loyalty all woven together to make Thunder Bay one of those books that will stay with you long after you ve turned the last page' - Kate Noble, The Quiet Knitter
'The risks Skelton took in creating Thunder Bay have paid off in spades. As well as creating a sympathetic new protagonist, he has crafted an emotionally truthful tale and delivered it in a lyrical style that places him among Scotland's top cadre of crime writers' --Louise Fairbairn, Scotsman
About the Author
Douglas Skelton was born in Glasgow. He has been a bank clerk, tax officer, taxi driver (for two days), wine waiter (for two hours), journalist and investigator. He has written eleven true crime and Scottish criminal history books but now concentrates on fiction. His novel Open Wounds (2016) was longlisted for the McIlvanney Award. Douglas has investigated real-life crime for Glasgow solicitors and was involved in a long-running campaign to right the famous Ice-Cream Wars miscarriage of justice.
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Well, thankfully, Skelton did not disappoint. From the moment I saw this book I loved it. The cover is one of the best I've seen in a while, it's purple and atmospheric and turbulent and... did I mention purple (I love purple). There's a great tag line and an intriguing quote from another great crime writer Denzil Meyrick.
So to the book. It's a story of love and passion, hate and despair, all based around the inhabitants of a fictional island of the coast of Scotland called Stoirm, (apparently you need to pretend to be a pirate to say the island name right).
Rebecca Connelly goes to the island to follow up on a story about a 15 year old murder, back in the public eye as the man thought to be responsible is returning to the island for the first time for his mother's funeral. Why is he thought to be responsible? He was tried but the verdict of Not Proven was given by the jury so the issue of who killed Mhairi is still unresolved. Rebecca also has her own reasons for going to the island as her father was born there and always refused to talk about Stoirm.
This book is full of characters, some of whom I loved and a few who I really didn't like one little bit. But what I can say is that each character was well described and had a role to play in the secrets of the island and the secrets of the book.
Which brings me to the island of Stoirm itself. Completely fictional but brought to life by the descriptions given by Skelton, the harsh moorland, exposed to Mother Nature and the way the trees bend away from the wind in an effort to stay alive. The description of Thunder Bay on the windward side of the island is so detailed its easy to picture William and Kate, the resident eagles, soaring in to take up residence in their nest on the cliff.
I enjoyed the way the story unfolded, moving through time from the present back to the night of the murder as various characters told Rebecca their story of what happened.
To say I enjoyed this book would be an understatement and I think it's going to be one of the best books of the year.
Would I recommend this book to others, well of course I would.
The prologue sets the scene for the reader and warns them that a dark but compelling read lies ahead. There is something about the Scottish islands that set off a dark fear inside of me; Douglas Skelton paints a picture of the fictional Island of Stoirm as an inherently sinister, eerie, isolated and enclosed way of life and with Thunder Bay, he delivers that darkness like a shroud. I could feel a sense of panic rise from the outset as we live Mhairi’s final moments with her and it didn’t let up all the way through.
Each word works for its place in the story, never redundant but always evocative. This is not a fast-paced, wham bam thank you mam kind of read. Rather it is a chilling and lingering read that worms its way under your skin leaving you feeling rather unsettled. Perfect!
Rebecca Connelly, a reporter is introduced in the first chapter and we see her journalistic determination to get the story and her internal conflict at the methods she has to use to get it. I liked her already!
It is topical in the portrayal of modern day journalism with cuts and changes to the way stories are sourced, explored and written and so lays out the path for Rebecca’s journey to uncover the truth.
The Stoirm murders have remained a mystery for years ever since Roddy was let off with that “bastard verdict” Not Proven, a controversial piece of Scottish law. When she hears Roddy Drummond is back in Stoirm she is desperate to get to the island to cover the story but there is more going on there than a story, there’s something personal about the island for her. It’s where her father was born but for her, it remains shrouded in mystery as he would never talk about his life there. Rebecca is a strong character and in her the author has created a character who will engage the hearts and minds of readers. Her own life mirrors that of the island, couched in secrets and lies but just how much will she uncover as the story unfolds.
Past and present collide as Rebecca tries to uncover the truth behind Mhairi’s murder 15 years ago while the Laird’s expansion plans for the island also reveal some very dark goings-on. Added to the mix is Rebecca’s own connections to the island and the result is something quite wonderful.
None of the island people come across as particularly open or welcoming, an insular community wrapped up in its almost incestuous past makes for a deliciously dark read. I found myself wanting to get under their skin as each of the key characters narrate their tale from 15 years ago, slowly uncovering the truth.
I could imagine this story being told in the dark around a fire, expectant faces lit up in the flames. The author’s imagery is perfect, he has painted a picture of an island that will engulf your very being. It will shock you and chill you but you will not be able to get it out of your head!
Thunder Bay explores the dark reality of island life, where things are not as idyllic as they might seem on the surface. Douglas Skelton scratches and pokes beneath that surface to bring us a tale of murder, folklore, drugs, secrets and betrayal. Douglas Skelton excels at planting little seeds throughout his writing, drawing the reader in, and ensuring that they pull up a chair and watch them grow. He succeeds in intriguing you and keeping you firmly on your seat until the last page is turned.
Claustrophobic and suffocating combined with the freshness and freedom of an island Thunder Bay kept me on tenterhooks right until the very end. Douglas Skelton has broken the mould with this one, intense, dark and oh so deliciously satisfying!