#BlogTour | #Extract: Guilty by Laura Elliot (@Elliot_Laura) @bookouture

cover.jpg“It begins with a phone call. It ends with a missing child.

On a warm summer’s morning, thirteen-year-old school girl Constance Lawson is reported missing. 

A few days later, Constance’s uncle, Karl Lawson, suddenly finds himself swept up in a media frenzy created by journalist Amanda Bowe implying that he is the prime suspect. 

Six years later …

Karl’s life is in ruins. His marriage is over, his family destroyed. But the woman who took everything away from him is thriving. With a successful career, husband and a gorgeous baby boy, Amanda’s world is complete. Until the day she receives a phone call and in a heartbeat, she is plunged into every mother’s worst nightmare. 

An utterly compelling psychological thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last page. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and Sarah A. Denzil’s Silent Child.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Guilty blog tour which I share with the lovely Jen over at Jen Med’s Book Reviews.  Guilty is written by novelist, Laura Elliot and was published by Bookouture on 22nd June 2017.

Today I am thrilled to have the prologue of the book to share with you.  So without further ado, let’s crack on…

GUILTY by Laura Elliot
Prologue

 The night has laid claim to Cherrywood Terrace. Street lamps pool the pavements and burglar alarms wink from the walls of slumbering houses. A chink of light escapes between old Mr Shannon’s bedroom curtains. He never sleeps at night, or so he tells her, staying awake with crosswords and books of poetry in case death comes calling in the small hours to catch him unawares.

In the room next door her parents are sleeping. Her father’s faint, rhythmic snoring is the only sound to break the silence as she rummages through the clutter at the bottom of her wardrobe. From deep in the toe of a boot she has outgrown, she removes a phone and reads the last text she received. The one she has ignored until now. The challenge is clear. It’s dangerous, high-risk, reckless, unnecessary. She doesn’t have to take it on yet, even as she repeats these words to herself, she feels a coiling excitement, the giddy fever of knowing she can do it – will do it – and no one will ever call her a coward again.

She shoves cans of spray paint and a torch into her backpack, along with the phone. Better change her trainers for boots. Turnstone Marsh will be swampy in places. She pauses on the landing. Madness, she thinks. Why am I doing this? But anger has pushed her this far and it remains the barb that drives her down the stairs.

Out on the terrace she hesitates and looks towards a house on the far side. She was there earlier, silently entering and leaving the same way. She shrugs the memory aside and walks swiftly to the end of the terrace where a pedestrian lane provides a short-cut to Turnstone Marsh.

It’s darker here. Her footsteps sound too loud. The wind tosses her hair as it tunnels between the high walls on either side of her. She sees it flailing in the shadow cast before her and pauses, afraid she is being followed. All is silent when she looks back. No footsteps behind her, none coming towards her. She reaches the end of the lane and crosses the road to the marsh.

Bells of white bindweed flutter like spectres in the roadside hedges and she hesitates, torn between the desire to return home and burrow under her duvet and the need to continue on and complete the challenge. She climbs an embankment and jumps down on to the spongy grass. The humps and hollows of the marsh are familiar to her. This is where she used to ride her mountain bike when she was younger, but her surroundings look different now, eerie and threatening. She takes the torch from her backpack and sweeps it over the jagged outline of Toblerone Range. She remembers the struggle to cycle to the top peak, then the exhilarating ride across the humps. The thrill of descending without stopping or falling off. Now, she is facing an even bigger challenge and she is anxious to complete it before her parents awaken and discover she is missing.

She follows the path by the river. The ground is firmer here, safer than walking along the grassy trails. At the end of the marsh, she crosses Orchard Road and stops outside the haunted house. The gate is padlocked. She shines her torch along the boundary wall and finds a gap where the bricks that have broken away provide her with a foothold to climb over.

The outside walls of the house are covered in graffiti. Last year, the front door was removed and used for a Hallowe’en bonfire. At the entrance, the smell of mildew forces her to a standstill. She asks herself once again why she has taken on such a senseless dare. It’s white-knuckle, crazy stuff. A man died in this house. Seven days dead before he was discovered by the postman. His ghost could be waiting inside, ready to wail at her when she steps over the threshold. Even if ghosts don’t exist, there will be rats watching her, waiting to bite.

She turns to leave, then changes her mind. She must go forward if she is to reclaim her position with The Fearless. She climbs down the steps into the basement. In the beam from her torch, she sees old, mouldering furniture, rusting pots and pans. She almost trips over a horse’s saddle. Slashed open, its fleece, scraggy as a crow’s nest, spills from the interior. She takes the cans of paint from her backpack. The walls are already covered in graffiti, stupid swirls and squiggles and angles and curses. That’s just vandalism. She believes graffiti should have a purpose. It should make a statement. A protest against authority, particularly parents who’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young. She positions her torch on the floor and sets to work.

It’s done. She videos her art with the Fearless phone. The cover loosens and flaps against her hand. Impatiently, she pulls the phone free and films the junk strewn across the basement. This will add atmosphere to her video. Paws skitter across the floor. She sprints towards the stairs.

At last, she’s out in the open. The fresh air feels damp on her skin and she can breathe freely again. The anger that gave her the courage to complete the challenge turns to relief but she feels regret, also. She has broken a promise she made to someone special. She pushes this stab of guilt aside and argues with herself that friends are more important. Belonging matters. And she will be back in the circle again – right in its centre – after tonight.

A briar snags her jeans. In the darkness, it feels as if a hand has gripped her ankle to prevent her escaping. She bends and pulls at the material, swears softly as the phone slips from her hand into the long grass. By the light of the torch she finds it. The cover has fallen into a patch of thistles. Prickly leaves sting her fingers as she tries to pluck it free. She leaves it there, anxious to be gone from this spooky, derelict site.

She clambers through the gap in the boundary wall and jumps down on to Orchard Road. Once outside, she videos the gate and the exterior of the bleak house where the ghost of Isaac Cronin roams through the mouldy rooms.

She presses record on her phone and shouts, ‘A message to The Fearless. It’s done. No one can ever call me chicken again.’ She spins across the road, giddy with triumph and a story she is longing to tell. The moon pearls the sky, shining coldly and mercilessly down on the last exhilarating moments of Constance Lawson’s young life.

Doesn’t that sound good?  I can’t wait to read Guilty.  I hope having a peek at the prologue has drawn you in and you’re eager to read more!

Guilty by Laura Elliot was published in the UK by Bookouture on 22nd June 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author2

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Laura Elliot is an Irish novelist and lives in the coastal town of Malahide, Co. Dublin. She loves travelling. The beautiful South Island of New Zealand was the inspiration for her setting in The Prodigal Sister. The Burren in County Clare became the mysterious setting for Stolen Child and the Broadmeadow Estuary behind her home provides the background for The Betrayal. She has worked as a journalist and magazine editor
Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell (@Sarahlovescrime) @OrendaBooks @annecater

exquisite cover.jpg“Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.”

 

I am thrilled to welcome you today to my stop on the Exquisite blog tour which I share with the very lovely Donna over at Chocolate’n’Waffles.  Exquisite is written by Sarah Stovell and was published by the marvellous Orenda Books on 15th June 2017.

Exquisite is exactly that, exquisite.  There has been a lot of excitement and hype over this book of late and I can tell you now; every compliment and every ounce of praise piled on this book is completely deserved.  I may have mentioned my top ten list of books of 2017 to you before.  I have a number of books that are hanging on the periphery; some that will make it to the list, others that won’t.  And then I have the dead certs.  Exquisite is a dead cert (along with two of its Orenda Books cousins).  Sublime, intense, claustrophobic and totally, totally divine.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up my copy of Exquisite.  I had heard that the story was set around two woman beginning a dangerous affair.  In all honesty, I couldn’t care less about it being two woman (or two men, or a man and a woman; you get the picture).  What made me uncomfortable was that I’m not one for sexy dealings and soggy romance in my books.  If there is any kind of love interest in the stories I read then I ‘tend’ to switch off a little.  I say ‘tend’ because it’s not always the case, just more often than not!  But this book….!  Sarah Stovell has written such a twisted, delicious and gripping story that I forgot I was reading about a love affair.

We meet Bo Luxton, writer and mother to two young daughters.  Bo is married (I can’t say happily as it’s more of a marriage of convenience) and teaches the odd writing course.  There she meets young, outgoing wannabe, Alice at a writers retreat.  A bond is formed, which blooms into a mentor and mentee arrangement, quickly followed by a wonderfully supportive friendship.  Bo and Alice email each other daily and before long, their friendship grows into something else.  Or does it…?

If you buy only one book this week, this month, this year…make it this one.  Sarah Stovell has created a magnificent and perfectly crafted piece of fiction which sucked me in, chewed me up and spat me out.  And I LOVED it.  Regular readers may be aware that I’m not the fastest reader in the blogosphere but this book, I couldn’t put down.  I started reading at 4pm on the Sunday and was finished by 9am on the Monday – I absolutely drank it in and I’m desperate for more.

Would I recommend this book?  If you still need that question answering then you must have skipped to this part of the review without reading the rest!  Yes, I would recommend this book as it’s divine.  It’s the most intoxicating read since…well, I can’t think of anything to compare it to right now.  It’s so darn good that it deserves to win award, after award, after award.  Orenda Books, you’ve done it again!

Five out of five stars (more if I could)

I chose to read and review an ARC of Exquisite.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

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about the author2

sarah stovellSarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#Giveaway: #TheLyingGame by Ruth Ware (@RuthWareWriter) @HarvillSecker @mia_qs

the lying game cover.jpg“Four friends. One promise. But someone isn’t telling the truth. The twisting new mystery from bestselling phenomenon Ruth Ware.

The text message arrives in the small hours of the night. It’s just three words: I need you.
Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her.

At school Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of secrets, something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three women she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten.

Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, not after what they did. It’s time for the women to get their story straight…”

Have you read the blurb of #TheLyingGame☝? Sounds rather good, doesn’t it?  So how do you fancy winning a SIGNED copy?

Of course you do!

I am thrilled to have been given one SIGNED copy of The Lying Game to giveaway to one lucky follower.  And it couldn’t be easier to enter.  All you have to do is visit my Twitter feed (which you can do by clicking here), find the pinned tweet at the top and tell me which of the three facts you think is a lie.  Two are true and one is a naughty fib…but which one?

If you choose the lie then your name will go into the draw and you could be the proud owner of a signed copy of The Lying Game!  Very important bit: Please make sure you include the hashtag #TheLyingGame in your tweet.

The giveaway is open to UK residents only and you need to provide your postal address should you win. Competition closes at midnight on Wednesday 21st June 2017 (BST). Winner announced Thursday 22nd June 2017.

Good luck everyone!

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) #ThomasMercer @AmazonPub

Edwards_The Lucky Ones (300dpi).jpg“It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.

When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.

A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.

But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.

Happiness…and death.”

I am absolutely delighted to be closing down the blog tour for Mark Edwards’ latest release The Lucky Ones today.  I was over the moon when asked to join this blog tour as I am such a huge fan of this author’s work.  I was a part of the tour for The Devil’s Work last year which I think it’s fair to say I LOVED.  I have also reviewed Follow You Home in the very early days of damppebbles, as well reading The Magpies before blogging was a thing in my life.  If you would like to read my reviews, please click the book titles above.

The Lucky Ones had a lot to live up to, and it did a stellar job.  Another absolutely cracking thriller from the dark and dastardly mind of Mr Edwards (no offence intended, of course!).  Previous books have placed the main focus on the everyday, normal characters and the terrible things which happen to them.  So I was delighted to discover an investigative duo in the form of DI Imogen Evans and DS Emma Stockwell playing a key role in the plot of The Lucky Ones.  And what a team!  I absolutely loved these two and would heartily encourage Mark Edwards to consider a spin-off series featuring this dynamic duo!  I’d read it, lol.

One of the things I admire about Mark Edwards’s writing is that he knows how to create a character.  If you’re a regular follower of the blog then you’ll know, for me, it’s all about the character (and the plot, and the setting….).  I’m not ashamed to say that I fell head over heels for newly single dad, Ben. I felt a real warmth for struggling Ben as he tried to settle back into country life after living with his cheating wife in London for so long.  And their poor son, Ollie having to adjust to life away from his mum and friends.  The characters were very real and I invested completely in them all.

The Lucky Ones reminded me of books with a similar premise where the killer is intent on making their victims happy before they die.  However, that’s where the comparisons end as the killer in The Lucky Ones knows what they are doing is wrong.  There is no warmth there and this is not a mission of mercy, this is a completely deluded psychopath. In my usual amateur detective way I was trying to work out who the killer was but I failed this time around and I’m glad I did as it gave me that, ‘oh wow’ moment which I love.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  I would recommend all of Mark Edwards’s work, even those I haven’t read as they will all be great reads.  Yup, I’m that confident.  If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller and you haven’t read a book by Mark Edwards then you are truly missing out.  A superb talent and one of my very favourite authors.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Lucky Ones.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 15th June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

EDWARDS 7 TS 28

COPYRIGHT TIM STURGESS Author Info courtesy of http://www.markedwardsauthor.com/

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For (2014), Because She Loves Me (2014; also a No.1 bestseller in the UK) and Follow You Home (2015).

He also co-writes with Louise Voss. Their novels are: Killing Cupid (2011); Catch Your Death (2011); All Fall Down (2012); Forward Slash and a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle (2014) and The Blissfully Dead  (2015). Read more about Voss & Edwards.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

When he’s not writing or looking after children, Mark reads a lot, devours TV box sets and spends far too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where he loves chatting with readers. He also wishes he had more time to do the activity he loves most: karaoke.

Author Links: | Website |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Serial Killer’s Daughter by Lesley Welsh | @bookouture

serial killers daughter cover.jpg“Suzanne Tyler barely knew her father. But when she’s given a series of secret diaries and eight mysterious photographs of women from his possessions, she knows she won’t be able to rest until she knows the truth about him. 

To Suzanne’s shock, one of the photos is of her friend Sophie, who died ten years ago in an unexplained and devastating fire.

But Don only met Sophie once, on an unsettling visit he paid Suzanne just days before Sophie’s death… So why did he have a picture of her?

Unable to let Sophie’s memory alone, Suzanne begins to dig into her father’s life. What horrors is she about to unearth in his diaries? And who is it that’s out there, watching her every move?

Chilling and utterly page-turning, The Serial Killer’s Daughter is a compelling thriller, perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Rachel Abbott, and Tom Bale.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the The Serial Killer’s Daughter blog tour which I share with the very lovely Shell over at Chelle’s Book Reviews.  The Serial Killer’s Daughter is written by Lesley Welsh and was published by the mighty Bookouture on 14th June 2017.

And what a novel!  You know when you start reading a book but you ‘kind of’ know what to expect…?  Maybe a variation on the theme of judging a book by it’s cover…? (Although I have to say that I love the cover of this one and if anything, it caught my attention and made me want to read it even more.)  I was so totally, completely, absolutely wrong in my assumptions.  This book packs one heck of a punch and I really enjoyed it, a lot more than I initially thought I would.

Don Tyler, Suzanne’s estranged father, is probably one of the most evil, manipulative and sinister characters I have ever met (in a fictional sense of course).  The classic horror/noir novel, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is mentioned within the plot but I was drawing similarities between Don and Patrick Bateman waaay before then.  And if you’ve read American Psycho you may now have some idea why I was so surprised by this book!  The plot does contain some pretty hefty sexual content (which I do like to avoid reading about….normally) but it worked and was key to the storyline.  Without certain aspects then Don, just wouldn’t be….well, Don!  I felt uncomfortable, of course, but that’s what I believe the author was trying to do.  I should add that The Serial Killer’s Daughter is by no means as graphic as American Psycho so don’t let that put you off.  But I did feel there were similarities between the two.

I liked Suzanne.  I liked how normal she was despite being the daughter of a serial killer. But my favourite character was Joan, Suzanne’s mother.  Ex-hippy now happily settled with a nice, normal, stable man but still able to control her ruthless, immoral, psychopathic beast of an ex.  Now that’s girl power, lol!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s dark, edgy and unexpected.  I love a book where the body count is high and it certainly is in this one thanks to Don’s ‘talents’.  All in all, a great read which I heartily recommend to all serial killer thriller fans.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is one novel fans of the serial killer thriller should not miss!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Serial Killer’s Daughter.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Serial Killer’s Daughter by Lesley Welsh was published in the UK by Bookouture on 14th June 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author2

lesley welsh.jpgLesley Welsh sadly passed away in April this year.  Lesley was born in Strawberry Field children’s home and raised on a notorious council estate in Liverpool. Later she moved to London where she studied English and Drama and worked as a freelance writer specialising in alternative lifestyles. Her articles appeared in CosmopolitanMarie ClaireRedBiteTime Out and many others before she established Moondance Media, a magazine publishing company. Her dark and compelling short story Mrs Webster’s Obsession was turned into a film.  Lesley moved to Spain and sadly passed away in April.

#GuestReview: The Ghost of Bowness by M.J. Evans (@MartinE13715833) @BookGuild @TheQuietKnitter

ghost of bowness cover.jpg“The friends of a young girl called Tara, who mysteriously went missing ten years ago, hire PI Jordan Lewis to investigate her disappearance.

There have been frequent sighting of what witnesses describe to be Tara. Jordan tries to piece together these statements to try and uncover the truth.

However as her investigation deepens multiple bodies start appearing around the usually quiet Lake Windermere and Bowness.

As Jordan gets closer to the truth, the attacks become more frequent.

Can Jordan solve the mystery of Tara’s disappearance before more residents are hurt? Or will Jordan and the police uncover more than they had bargained for?”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today as I have something rather special to share with you, a guest review!  But it’s not any old guest review, no.  It’s a guest review from one of my very favourite bloggers, the gorgeous Kate over at The Quiet Knitter.  If you haven’t already, you MUST give Kate a follow as her reviews are superb and she’s much better at this blogging lark than I am!

So, without further ado, here’s what Kate thought about The Ghost of Bowness by M.J. Evans:

“The Ghost of Bowness” is the third book written by M.J. Evans to feature his ex Police officer turned Private Detective Jordan Lewis.  In this novel Jordan is contacted by the  friends of Tara Marshall, who went missing some ten years ago and no trace of her was ever found.  Strange sightings around Windermere and Bowness have the friends spooked, so Amanda O’Neil and Tony Jenkins decides it’s worth hiring Jordan to look into the sightings and find out once and for all what happened to Tara.

As the case evolves, Jordan finds herself working in close connection with the Police, especially with the discoveries of multiple bodies in the tranquil and peaceful setting.  Mysteriously, someone seems to be trying to run an investigation alongside Jordan’s and keeps sending her their files, texts from unknown numbers etc.

I found the pace of this to be a bit of a slow build up, but more in the way that groundwork needs to be done to set the scene and provide a framework for the plot to flow.  There were aspects of the narrative that I found a little slow in places but this wasn’t enough to put me off reading.  I was keen to find out what was going to happen next and see just how the case would pan out.  Most of the characters were an interesting mix of unreliable, questionable or untrustworthy which made the mystery element of the story very interesting.  Who’s version of events could be trusted, were any of them involved with the mysterious events were just some of the thoughts buzzing around my head while I read this.

Having visited Lake Windermere and much of the Cumbrian setting mentioned I found it easy to conjure clear images of the locations described and found that the details matched up with the images stored in my mind.  The juxtaposition of the attacks and murders in such a tranquil setting was nicely done, almost poetic in a sense.

Overall this was an enjoyable read, and one that fans of detective fiction might enjoy.

Thank you so much for reading and reviewing The Ghost of Bowness for me, Kate.

The Ghost of Bowness by M.J. Evans was published in the UK by The Book Guild on 21st July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | The Book Guild | Waterstones |

about the author2

m j evans.jpgI started writing in 2010 after I had spinal surgery and I am loving every minute of it and wouldn’t change a thing. I recently handed my third manuscript to my publishers and that should be out on sale sometime next year (2016).

When I started writing in 2010 I did a home learning course in Creative Writing. Doing this course was probably the best thing that I did because I have received no formal training in writing.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen | @OrendaBooks #VargVeum

wolves in the dark cover.jpg“PI Varg Veum fights for his reputation, his freedom and his life, when child pornography is found on his computer and he is arrested and jailed. Worse still, his memory is a blank…

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.

When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material… and who is seeking the ultimate revenge.

When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet.

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Wolves in the Dark blog tour alongside the lovely Caroline over at Bits About Books.  Wolves in the Dark is the latest in this thrilling series which author, Gunnar Staalesen started writing 40 years ago this year.  I read and reviewed Wolves in the Dark‘s predecessor, Where Roses Never Die a year ago (almost to the day) and I absolutely loved it.  It was an easy five-star read for me and I am still recommending it to readers a year later.  If you missed that review click here for a recap.  So imagine how excited I was to hear Orenda Books was about to publish the latest instalment of the Varg Veum series.

And I was not disappointed.  For those new to this series Varg Veum is a fairly recently bereaved Private Investigator who has fallen prey to the temptations of alcohol and lust. He certainly hasn’t been living a clean life of late but is determined to get a hold of himself and get back on track.  Veum is shocked to discover the police knocking on his door in the early hours and even more aghast when he is arrested for sending and receiving child pornography.  All the evidence points to Varg having some incredibly dark and sickening past times but he knows he’s innocent.  Now all he had to do is prove that before he is charged with one of the most heinous crimes of all…

Varg Veum has such appeal for me.  I do like my main protagonists a little battered and bruised around the edges so he ticks the boxes.  I couldn’t, at the start of the novel, see how Veum was going to get himself out of the fix he was in.  After all, how can he prove he’s innocent when all of the evidence says otherwise and he’s locked in a cell!  I thought the author did an excellent job of working around this problem.  The plot flowed well and didn’t feel at all forced.  I enjoyed how many suspects Veum came up with, those looking for the ultimate revenge on our beleagured PI.  As the list grew I became even more intrigued by Veum than I was previously.  He’s certainly not one to tread lightly when on the hunt for a suspect!

I did, however feel a little confused at times as there are so many different threads within the investigation, and quite a few Norwegian names (as you would expect!).  So I ended up re-reading several sections to make sure I knew the characters and how they connected to one another.  Saying that, Staalesen is a master at what he does and, after reading Wolves in the Dark it reminded me exactly how much I want to read all of the other Veum novels (those which have been translated to English, of course!  My Norwegian is still….let’s say rusty, lol).

This is a very dark novel and not one for the faint-hearted.  If you’ve read the blurb you will know that there is mention of child abuse throughout the story but the author manages to steer clear of anything too graphic, most of the time.  There is one scene which I found upsetting, but I can’t see how else this would be dealt with as it’s key to the plot.  The scene in question is brief and referred to only a couple of times in passing throughout the remainder of book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but it’s a hard read in places due to the subject matter.  Don’t let that put you off though as Veum is an addictive character and Staalesen is a master of the thriller.  And aren’t books supposed to make us all feel a little uncomfortable at times?  I, for one, am looking forward to the next instalment and meeting up with Veum once again.  And this is a perfect opportunity to wish a very happy 40th anniversary to Gunnar Staalesen and Varg Veum, long may this excellent series continue.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Wolves in the Dark.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

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Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers.

Author Links: | Orenda Books | Website |

#BlogTour: Vile City by Jennifer Lee Thomson (@jenthom72) @caffeinenights @TAsTPublicity

Vile City Cover“DI Duncan Waddell has big problems. He’s borderline diabetic, his boss thinks he’s in the Army and the paperwork is piling up faster than the underwear at a porn shoot. The last thing he needs is the country’s biggest case to land on his lap.

Three women have gone missing in the city he’s fast coming to despise, victims of the GLASGOW GRABBER as their assailant has been dubbed by local hack and all round pain in the backside, Catriona Hastie.

Shelley Craig is the Grabber’s latest victim, snatched as she and her boyfriend took a shortcut through Glasgow city centre. And she’ll do anything to make it home.

Handling this baffling case is stressful enough without Waddell’s pal DC Stevie Campbell, who’s in a coma after being attacked by a suspect, starting to talk to him. Trouble is, only Waddell can hear him.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Vile City blog tour.  Vile City is the latest release from award-winning crime write, Jennifer Lee Thomson and was publishing by Caffeine Nights Publishing in May 2017.

I do love a dark crime novel and this is probably one of the darkest I’ve read in a while. The themes in this book certainly aren’t for the faint hearted and at times made even me, Mrs Iron Stomach, a little queasy.  DI Duncan Waddell is just perfect in my eyes.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this long-in-the-tooth, ever so slightly bumbling detective and his new overly keen DC, Brian McKeith.  What I didn’t really get, and I think this is just me, is why DC Stevie Campbell is such a big part of the setup.  I mean, the series is titled ‘Detective in a Coma’.  The detective in the coma is DC Stevie Campbell, who until recently was DI Waddell’s right hand man but as the result of a bottling is now comatose in the local hospital.  Had Waddell experienced some brilliant insight whilst sitting with his comatose colleague, or in the moments when Waddell thinks Stevie is conscious, had he shared his thoughts which then led to the case being solved, I could have seen more of a connection.  But Stevie doesn’t offer any brilliant insights and Waddell doesn’t have any case changing ideas whilst sitting with Stevie.  Maybe there is more to come, maybe it’s just me.

There is a lot going on in this book and at times I did lose the thread a little.  There are many steps in the plot and some aspects felt they were there only to move the story along.  For example, Shelley Craig’s kidnap felt the first stepping stone albeit a rather large one.  Once this aspect of the case had been investigated, it wasn’t really mentioned or referred to again.  I don’t want to drop any spoilers here but I’m still not sure what the outcome was with the other two kidnapped woman.  Maybe all will become clear in the second book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I really enjoyed Thomson’s investigative team, led by Waddell and featuring the ever so slightly annoying, McKeith.  I would be quite happy for Waddell to keep sleuthing alongside McKeith rather than bringing a conscious Stevie Campbell to the story, as they make an interesting pair and one I really warmed to (even though they didn’t really warm to each other!).  I also liked how wonderfully Scottish this novel is. Great story but I did feel a little dizzy in places.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review Vile City.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Vile City by Jennifer Lee Thomson was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 11th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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JAuthor Pic J Thomsonennifer Lee Thomson is an award-winning crime writer who has been scribbling away all her life. She also writes non-fiction as Jennifer Thomson and fiction as Jenny Thomson.

This is her first book as Jennifer Lee Thomson in tribute to her late father who passed away after a long battle with cancer. Books 2 and 3 in the series are already written and she’s working on book 4.

Jennifer is an animal rights and human rights advocate and has a rescue dog.

She also writes the Crime File series of books as Jenny Thomson. Book 1, 2 and 3, are out now. They are in order, Hell to Pay, Throwaways and Don’t Come For Me and feature tough rape survivor Nancy Kerr and her ex-Special Forces boyfriend who fight crime together.

In her spare time, she plans how to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: One to Watch by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) @emmamitchellfpr

One to Watch Cover LARGE EBOOK2“Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.

Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the One to Watch blog tour.  My blog tour buddy today is the very lovely Dee of Novel Deelights, if you haven’t given Dee’s blog a follow yet then I recommend you do as it’s pretty darn awesome.

One to Watch is the third book in the Detective Kay Hunter series, written by author Rachel Amphlett.  Having read the first two books quite recently, I was excited to read this third instalment ASAP.  If you missed my reviews of the first two books, or would just like a reminder then please click here for book one, Scared to Death and here for the second book, Will to Live. I hope regular visitors to the blog will be as impressed as I am that I have managed to read the first three books in this series IN ORDER!  It’s one of those rare, ‘once in a blue moon’ occurrences that requires a little self congratulatory pat on the back. Or is it just me that thinks that, lol!

It was a pleasure to read about DS Kay Hunter and her team once again.  For those new to this series I’m sure I’m not dropping any spoilers if I mention that someone within the force is trying to discredit our Kay.  I was looking forward to seeing whether the author would expand a little more, give us a few more juicy tidbits and oh my, I was so shocked when she did! What a brilliant development and I can’t wait to see where the author takes this sub-plot in book four.  It gave me goosebumps.

Sixteen year old Sophie Whittaker is found dead at her engagement party and shortly after taking a purity pledge.  Until that point everyone was having a jolly good time so when DS Kay Hunter arrives on the scene at the request of her DI, Devon Sharp she’s met with a rowdy, drunken upper class rabble.  After all, Sophie was the daughter of Lady Asquith of Crossways Hall.  DS Hunter and her team are tasked with finding Sophie’s killer but how will they fare when the truth is readily brushed under the carpet because appearances, for Lady Asquith, are EVERYTHING!

I found the main storyline compelling and struggled to work out ‘whodunit’.  There was one small clue which ‘kind of’ gave the game away for me but I wasn’t 100% sure until I had read the very last paragraph.  I felt slightly uncomfortable at times due to the purity pledge taken by Sophie, and that is the one thing DC Carys Miles and I will ever agree on! Despite other reviewers really liking Carys, I’m afraid I just can’t warm to her.  I did however love her anger and frustration at what feels like an outdated promise made by young woman to stay chaste until her wedding day.  The pledge itself really bothered me and got under my skin. Well done Rachel Amphlett, grr.

Anyway, moving swiftly on.  I don’t remember many mentions of Kay Hunter’s DI in previous books.  He features quite heavily in One to Watch and I really liked him.  He comes across as one of the good guys and Kay’s respect for Sharp made me like him even more.  I’m still a fan of DC Ian Barnes (much more than DC Miles, #TeamBarnes) and by the end of the book I liked him even more.  Amphlett has created such a strong cast of characters and even if you don’t like them all, they all work well together.  What more could the reader ask for?

Would I recommend this book?  I would but I would suggest starting with Scared to Death and then Will to Live before moving onto One to Watch.  It’s a great read and I really enjoyed it but it’s going to take a lot to move Will to Live from the top spot, my favourite in this series so far. I read my copy of One to Watch in two short days as it was a hard one to put down.

Four stars out of five.

One to Watch by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK on 6th June 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon purchase links will be posted on publication day | Goodreads |

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about the author2

AuthorRachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter crime thriller series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014.

An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

damppebbles.com nominated for the @BloggersBash #ServicestoBloggers award!

Hello my booky friends. We’ve known each other for a while now and I hope, by now, you’ve picked up on how much I love to #sharethebooklove. Part of my daily routine is sharing as many fabulous book reviews and booky posts from fellow bloggers over on Twitter as I can. 

Due (I think) to this love of sharing posts, I’ve been nominated for an award! Whoop whoop 🎉.  I am absolutely thrilled to have been nominated for a 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Award!

damppebbles.com is nominated in the Services to Bloggers category and I would be so incredibly grateful if you could spare a moment and vote for me.

The criteria is: Who’s the kindest blogger of them all? Which blogger goes out of their way to help others? Maybe someone helped you kick start your blog with tutorials or maybe they continually reblogs your posts. Perhaps someone consistently provides useful posts on how to boost your own blog. Or maybe you want to nominate someone who provides a platform for others.

Who do you want to thank for their dedication to other bloggers?

So please, if you haven’t already done so please vote for damppebbles.com (and anyone else you fancy whilst you’re there!). Just click on the Bloggers Bash logo above to vote. Best of luck everyone. Results will be revealed in a glittery ceremony in London on 10th June. Fingers crossed (and THANK YOU!!). Voting closes at 12pm on FRIDAY 2nd JUNE, please make your vote count ❤.