Blog Tour: The Opposite of Lonely, Doug Johnstone

Book Review: The Opposite of Lonely, The Skelfs Series Book 5, Doug Johnstone

The Opposite of Lonely, Doug Johnstone

Mystery: The Opposite of Lonely, The Skelfs Series Book 5, Doug Johnstone

Blog Tour September 8, 2023


There is not necessarily any reason why the title of a novel should tell you much about the content of the story. Often there is a relationship, a correspondence, some kind of connection that the author reveals at some point in the book. The Opposite of Lonely, though, could be a theme statement for this entire novel.


The Skelfs are three generations of women in Edinburgh who run the family funeral parlor and private investigative service. Trust me, it works! Dorothy, her daughter Jenny, and her granddaughter Hannah, along with Hannah’s wife, Indy, sometimes find clients at a funeral who need some investigation done. Sometimes during the course of their investigation, they find a body that needs to be buried. Either way, they are ready for action.


Hannah, who is also studying astrophysics, gets the chance to attend a lecture from one of her heroes, Scotland’s first female astronaut. The astronaut asks Hannah to check out some threats and suspicious activities that have her concerned. Dorothy conducts a funeral of a man who lived off the grid as part of a group of people who live in their “caravans,” what we in America would call a small RV. One of the caravans is deliberately set on fire, and Dorothy begins looking into it. Jenny is asked by her ex-husband’s mother to search for Jenny’s former sister-in-law. The last time anyone saw the woman, she was setting fire to the Skelf’s home and fleeing with the body of Jenny’s ex-husband. Needless to say, Jenny is a bit reluctant to take the case, but she finally does so.


Throughout the book, the themes of family and community and fellowship appear. Dorothy encounters a “funeral crasher,” a young man who joins the mourners at different funerals despite not knowing the deceased or the other attendees. Before you know it, she has brought the young man into her fold. The caravan campers have created a found family of people who want to forget society–or whom society has forgotten. Jenny contemplates the meaning of family as she searches for someone who is not really part of her family and who has done her grievous harm. Dorothy’s companion/boyfriend Thomas, a detective with the Edinburgh police, questions whether the police community has ever truly accepted him. And the Skelf’s begin offering funeral celebrations for people who die alone, inviting the community to remember the lives of people whom others forgot.


This may be Doug Johnstone’s most poignant book to date. Yes, the bodies are buried and the cases are pursued, but these are almost tangential to the heart of the book. Family and community, fellowship and connection, these are what define the Skelfs and how they make their mark in Edinburgh. They are there for each other, for their extended family, for their clients and community, even for people who have no one else. Solving mysteries is nice. Conducting funerals is important. Any of us, though, can be that connective tissue, holding family and friends and strangers close to our hearts. Vulnerability is dangerous. Loneliness can be deadly.


Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of The Opposite of Lonely, provided so we could give an honest review as part of this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

The Opposite of Lonely, Doug Johnstone

Book Review: The Opposite of Lonely, The Skelfs Series Book 5, Doug Johnstone

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