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Thunder Bay 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 has] taken well to fiction, skilfully building up the atmosphere, developing the characters and keeping the unexpected twists coming along' --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.
Thunder Bay isset on the small fictional Scottish Island of Stoirm, not a big island, but onewith enough isolated pockets to ensure that not everyone will always knoweveryone else’s business.
Thunder Bay is one of those pockets. Not many people gothere. Island lore has it that this is where the souls of the dead come to betaken across the water into the west, to the afterlife. It is a place of secrets and its name is thelast thing that Mhairi Sinclair spoke before she died.
Roddie Drummond was her lover and in the subsequent trialwhere he was charged with murder, the jury returned a verdict of not proven.Roddie left the island and was not seen again, until now. He has come back forhis mother’s funeral, and the island is buzzing with the news of his return.
Rebecca Connolly works for the Chronicle, the local paper.Her father was born on Stoirm but left many years ago and has never been back.Rebecca knows that this is a huge story, but she’s having real trouble gettingher editor to understand that this is one that can’t be done as a phoner. Everyweek it’s getting harder for Rebecca to feel like she’s doing the job of a realjournalist as the paper’s resources are squeezed.
Tipped off by Chaz, a young local freelance photographer on Stoirm, she can feel the pull of the story and, if she’s honest, she’s always hoped that there would be an opportunity for her to visit the place where her father was born and brought up.
Sonya is Mhairi’s daughter. She wants to know why her mother’s murder is officially listed as unsolved when every islander tells her that Roddie Drummond did it. She just wants to look him in the eye so that she knows, once and for all if he is guilty. She’ll know just by looking, she is sure.
When Rebecca gets there, she finds that not everyone is welcoming and that Roddie Drummond is not the only one keeping secrets. For Stoirm is an island full of secrets, and some secrets just don’t want to be told.
There’s more than one story on Stoirm. Lord Henry Stuart hasenlisted some serious help to ensure that he can push his ambitious plans fordeveloping his estate, including building a distillery and upgrading his houseto cater for exclusive hunting parties. The locals are not wholly convinced andthe public meeting held to discuss the plans is not the sure thing Lord Henrywas hoping for.
For Rebecca, this is a chance to finally understand herroots and to pull off a coup that could get national attention. For theislanders, these are secrets that should be left undisturbed, before more harmbefalls those who disturb the uneasy peace.
Douglas Skelton has written an atmospheric and grippingbook, with rounded and fully rooted characters that make the pages sing. Thisis prose that flows clear as a highland spring, fresh, natural and dynamic.
All his characters are very well drawn, but special noteshould be made of the central protagonist Rebecca. Skelton has captured herspirit and character very well and she is both believable and noteworthy. I’dhappily read another novel with her as the central character.
Stoirm, though, is the really class character in this book. The sense of place is palpable. The locations are so vividly and visually described that you can see them and feel the atmosphere around you. This is a place where past and present sit together, perhaps uneasily, but in a silent accord that no-one should attempt to sunder.
The past will demand its dues if Stoirm is to prevail and in pulling together all the strands of this finely woven cloth, Skelton has produced an evocative, beautiful and tense tapestry of a read that will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
Verdict: Tense, atmospheric, beautifully written. A cracker of a crime novel I just loved.