Source: Review copy
Publication: 1 August 2022 from Isis Audio
Narrator: Sarah Barron
Listening Time: 10 hours 20 minutes
My thanks to RC Blog Tours and Isis Publishing for an advance copy for review
Something scared Nuala Flaherty to death. When her body is found in the centre of a pentagram on a lonely moor, Rebecca is determined to find out what. Was she killed by supernatural means, or is there a more down-to-earth explanation?
Rebecca’s investigation leads her to a mysterious cult and local drug dealings. But what she doesn’t know is that crime matriarch Mo Burke still has her in her crosshairs. Mo wants payback for the death of her son, and after one failed attempt to hurt Rebecca, she is upping the ante. And this time, it could be lethal.
I’m a big fan of this series which has a great protagonist in the form of agency journalist Rebecca Connolly whose instincts are generally good, even if her taste in boyfriends has previously proved to be a bit suspect.
In the 4th book, Rebecca returns once more to Stoirm, the fictional island which was the setting for the first book in this series, Thunder Bay.
Rebecca is heading back to Stoirm for the wedding of two close friends, Chas and Alan; a wedding which is proving a touch controversial. Stoirm is not a big island and it doesn’t draw many visitors. Its inhabitants tend to be a little insular and it holds its secrets close. It’s an island steeped in atmosphere with a history shrouded in dark deeds and a sometimes tempestuous climate.
Chaz Wymark is a freelance photographer and he and Rebecca have worked together, forming a strong friendship. And it is Chaz who is on the scene when the body of a woman is found in the centre of a pentagram on the moors. Nuala Flaherty was renting a cottage and there’s a touch of the supernatural about her death.
Stoirm is home to the commune that is Sanctuary, belonging to a group called Children of the Dell. Delia has found Sanctuary there herself and enjoys the peace and calm and has had no real qualms about giving up the material world in order to live a simpler, more peaceful life. But Delia believes that there is something not quite right about Sanctuary’s business dealings and she feels it’s her duty to find out what that is.
Rebecca meanwhile is in Inverness. Leaving Chaz to do some rooting around on Nuala Flaherty, she is interviewing a woman whose uncanny intuition has been responsible for finding a young boy who went missing. Rebecca feels it’s all a bit ‘hocus pocus’ but the young woman is friendly and persuasive and seems to have some insight into Rebecca’s own situation. She warns Rebecca that there is anger surrounding her and to be careful.
What Rebecca doesn’t know is that Mo Burke, matriarch of a local crime family, is still nursing her wrath after the death of her son and there’s only one person she sees as responsible.
Douglas Skelton juggles his light and shade very well here. Sometimes dark and foreboding, this novel is also balanced by warmth, laughter and friendliness as we get to know our characters better and enjoy their badinage.
I really enjoy the way in which Douglas Skelton marries contemporary topics and criminal activity with a strong atmosphere and dark sense of foreboding coming from an island steeped in history and the bloody conflicts of the past.
Sarah Barron’s mellifluous narration is beautifully done. Her understated Highland lilt combined, on occasion, with some elongated vowels and her soft reading voice all come together to produce an enjoyable and thrilling listen.
Verdict: A nicely constructed and well-plotted tale with danger, malevolence, rage and an all-consuming desire to manipulate and exploit wherever money is to be made. Where Demons Hide combines the relevance of today’s criminal activities with themes of the past to produce a stunning crime thriller that grips the imagination and keeps you listening through to the very end. Highly recommended.
Where Demons Hide – The Reading House
Where Demons Hide: Audible
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.