#BookReview: The Fourteenth Letter by @claireevans113 | @TheCrimeVault @EllaMatildaB

the fourteenth letter.jpg“A mysterious keepsake, a murdered bride, a legacy of secrets…

One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society.

As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger brandishing a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the tumult, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: ‘I promised I would save you.’

The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client, whom he was never meant to meet. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message: The Finder knows.”

Having read the blurb of The Fourteenth Letter I just knew that I had to read Claire Evans’s debut.  I do enjoy the odd foray into historical crime, I used to read a lot more than I do now and maybe that’s something I need to address.  So to say I was tempted by this title was an understatement.

If you are anything like me, you’ve read the blurb and found it appealing. However, this book has so much more to offer than the simple synopsis above.  So much more which I really wasn’t ready for.  The depth of this story surprised me; it took me places I wasn’t expecting to go and it’s a whole lot darker than it first seems.

I was transported to London in the early 1880s.  The sights, the smells, the dastardly deviants and street urchins; all of which Evans paints so clearly for her reader.  And there I found a character I will not forget for some time, the sublime Savannah Shelton. I may have fallen a little bit in love with the feisty American.  With an appearance which makes her stand out from the crowd, Savannah Shelton was a vision in petticoats, shockingly exposing her ankles for all to see.  A gun-toting, kick-ass woman wanted for murder in the US but with a heart of gold and a desire to protect our somewhat hapless protagonist, William Lamb (it helped he was paying her!).

The author has created a cast of wonderful, eccentric characters all of whom I hope will remain with me for a while.  I grew to like and admire William Lamb as the story progressed.  I found his naivety both charming and a little irksome to start with; a strange mix!  But I watched as, throughout the pages, he transformed from a lamb to man who would sacrifice himself for what he believed in.  There are many other outstanding characters present in this novel for our delectation.  Special mention to DI Harry Treadway who, despite past errors, I was really rooting for. I particularly enjoyed it when Treadway’s investigation collided head-on with Savannah and William’s own personal search for answers.

Would I recommend this book?  I would. This is a multi-layered tale of misguided belief and the search for perfection.  Believe me when I say you will get an awful lot more than you bargained for in picking up a copy of The Fourteenth Letter.  What looks on the outside like an innocuous search to solve the mystery of one woman’s killer will, in its depths, both alarm and entertain you.

Four out of five stars.

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

The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans was published in the UK by Sphere (Little,Brown Group) on 21st September 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Claire Evans is an established business specialist in the UK television industry. After finishing her law degree, she qualified as an accountant, but realising her mistake quickly ran away to work at the National Theatre before finally landing a job at the BBC. Once there, she rose through the ranks to head up operations and business affairs across the TV commissioning teams. In drama, she led the BBC’s commercial relationships with the Independent production sector and a wide range of international co-producers and distributors.

She left the BBC in 2013 to pursue her writing career. Since then she has advised a number of drama and film production companies, most recently working on The Honourable Woman and Doctor Foster. She is also now the Chief Operating Officer at Two Brothers Pictures Ltd, the company set up by Harry and Jack Williams, the creators of The Missing.

Author Links: | Twitter |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hope to Die by David Jackson (@Author_Dave) @BonnierZaffre

hope to die.jpg“On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.

Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.

And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity.

And then the killer strikes again . . .”

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the Hope to Die blog tour.  Hope to Die is the second book in the DS Nathan Cody series and one of my most eagerly anticipated reads of the year.  I read the first in the series, A Tapping at My Door last year when it was first released and WOW, I absolutely loved it.  Click here to read my five-star review.  So much so it made it to my books of 2016 list.  I had incredibly high hopes for this second instalment.

And having read (read = devoured) Hope to Die I can confirm that I am not the slightest bit disappointed; this book was well and truly worth the wait!  Dare I even go as far as to say that I preferred it ever so slightly to the first book?  Hmmm……

DS Nathan Cody is one damaged copper.  Having been involved in an undercover mission which went dreadfully wrong several years ago, Cody has yet to shake the guilt and the terrors viciously pummelled into him that night.  A word to the wise, if you feel any sort of unease when it comes to evil clowns then this may not be the book for you.  I am terrified of the blighters but found some strange, perverse enjoyment in reading about Cody’s association with the malicious monsters.  Who knows, you may feel the same way I do!

The incredibly intense first chapter drew me immediately into the book and I consumed the whole thing, from start to finish, in less than 24 hours (which for me is really very quick).  That old cliche, I couldn’t put it down…?  Well, I couldn’t. Nor did I want to.  It was a delight to be back in the Major Incident Team alongside Cody, the formidable DCI Stella Blunt, the kind-hearted yet newly bolshy DC Webley. What an awesome team and yes, I may be a little bit in love with them all.

Called to the scene of a vicious murder in the grounds of a cathedral, the team are left stumped.  Their victim is a single middle aged woman, a teacher of religious studies at the local girls’ school with no skeletons in her closet, no one close enough to bear a grudge. They are left floundering.  Then a second body turns up, this one not so innocent but associated with the Catholic cathedral.  Could the link between these two victims be their beliefs?  Will Cody and the team discover who their twisted killer is before a third victim meets their maker…?

I absolutely loved it.  One of my favourite reads of the year.  It may be that the murders have a religious connotation, which has always appealed to me.  It may be the subtle humour Jackson writes into his character’s narrative or it may just be that it’s an absolutely stonking crime thriller series that I insist you check out.  As I approached the end of the book I had a fair idea of ‘whodunit’ but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment at all.  (I was right by the way.)

Would I recommend this book?  You have to ask?  Absolutely.  This one is definitely on the list of my top reads for 2017.  Cody and Megan have the most wonderful chemistry and I have high hopes for their future (I can hope, anyway!).  A stellar piece of crime fiction which I want all fans of the genre to read and enjoy.  It works perfectly well as a standalone but why bother when you can read the stunning A Tapping at My Door as well.  Brilliant work, well done Mr Jackson.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Hope to Die.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for asking me to be a part of the blog tour.

Hope to Die by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre on 21st September 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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David Jackson is the author of a series of crime thrillers featuring New York Detective Callum Doyle. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. When not writing fiction, David spends his time as a lecturer in a university science department. He also gives occasional workshops on creative writing. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters.

 

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: House of Spines by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @OrendaBooks

House of Spines front.jpeg“A terrifying psychological thriller cum Gothic mystery, as a young man with mental health issues inherits an isolate mansion, where all is not as it seems…

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror… the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the House of Spines blog tour.  House of Spines is written by Michael J. Malone and was published by Orenda Books on 15th September 2017.  I adored (okay, adored may be a bit of an understatement!) Malone’s first Orenda release, the incredible A Suitable Lie.  It totally took my breath away and remains, nearly a year after reading it, at the very top of my favourite books of all time list!  If you missed my review the first time around or would like a quick reminder of exactly how much I loved A Suitable Lie then please click here.

So, I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but House of Spines had an awful lot to live up to. What needs to be clarified at this point is that, to me, these two books written by the same author, published by the mighty Orenda are completely different works.  I don’t think they can be compared and to be honest, I don’t want to.  House of Spines was a very different reading experience for me.

Ranald McGhie was a likeable lead.  He exudes an air of hopelessness which appealed, as well as his love of the written word (who doesn’t love books?!).  I also enjoyed the relationships he had with the women in his life; ex-wife Martie and elderly neighbour, Donna.  Ranald cannot believe his luck when he is left the imposing Newton Hall by his late Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick.  Having never met his uncle it takes Ranald time to come to terms with the idea.  Not only has he inherited a house but also two staff, a housekeeper and her husband who tends the garden.  It’s like a dream come true.  That is until strange things to start to happen…

I loved the creepiness of Malone’s writing.  He really knows how to make his reader feel uneasy which I think is a great skill.  The prose was so wonderfully poetic in places that I became entranced and totally engrossed in Ran’s story.  The one thing I will say is that I do feel that a rather large dollop of artistic licence has been used in the creation of this novel.  But that’s okay, right? After all, if you can’t bend the rules a little in fiction, then when can you?  I’m a stickler for accuracy and ‘real life’ in my crime reads but this is a psychological thriller, so…..

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you haven’t picked up a Michael J. Malone book before then you MUST.  If you’re after a read that is a little different to most everything else then House of Spines may be the one for you.  It’s a dark and eerie read which had me on the edge of my seat.  It has however left me with a couple of unanswered questions.  A re-read may be in order!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of House of Spines.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

House of Spines by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Michael Malone Photo.jpg

Author bio (c) orendabooks.co.uk

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

 

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Race to the Kill by Helen Cadbury @AllisonandBusby

race to the kill.jpg“It is the middle of a long night shift for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her.

She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee.

The investigation which points to the neighbouring greyhound stadium finds Denton caught up in a world of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse, and one in which his private life becomes increasingly entwined.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Race to the Kill blog tour.  Race to the Kill is the third book in the PC Sean Denton series and was written by Helen Cadbury.  I was deeply saddened to hear of Helen Cadbury’s passing earlier this year. Helen first came to my attention in several of the bookish Facebook groups we were both members of.  The thing that stood out most to me was how valued and respected she was, and how much other members (readers, writers, publishers etc) cared for Helen.  I am honoured to be a part of this memorial blog tour for such a talented and well-thought of author.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first meeting with the incredibly likeable PC Sean Denton. What I loved most was that he was just a normal bobby on the beat, along with his partner PC ‘Gav’ Wentworth.  Not a Detective Inspector, not even a Detective Constable – just a fresh-faced Police Constable.  Being an avid police procedural fan I don’t normally tend to dip below the level of Detective Constable in my reads, so Sean being a normal PC was refreshing for me.

Most of the action in Race to the Kill takes place at what was once Chasebridge High School, and the newly renovated Greyhound Stadium next door.  Cadbury’s characters shine from the pages; the suspicious Sarah who resides in a caravan in the grounds of the dog stadium.  The brothers, Tommy and Joe who live in the caravan next door and sort out ‘any problems’ for their aunt and uncle, who own the track.  And Melissa, Tommy and Joe’s young sister – old before her time.  DC Tina Smales and DS Ivan Knowles also deserve a mention as I found both very memorable and well-written.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I read it as a standalone and it worked well for me.  Saying that I have downloaded and am looking forward to reading the first two books in the series.  The plot was interesting, twisty and had my full attention from start to finish.  If you love your crime dramas character driven then I heartily suggest you pick up a copy of Race to the Kill as it’s chock full of interesting, well-written people doing some pretty dark stuff.  What more could you want?

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Race to the Kill.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Race to the Kill by Helen Cadbury was published in the UK by Allison & Busby on 21st September 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats (with the paperback to follow next year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

helen cadbury.jpgHelen Cadbury was a York based writer whose debut novel, To Catch a Rabbit, was joint winner of the Northern Crime Award.

Helen was born in the Midlands and brought up in Birmingham and Oldham, Lancashire.

Helen died in June 2017.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith @GrahamSmith1972 @Bloodhoundbook

TheKindredKillers1.1 .jpg“Jake Boulder’s help is requested by his best friend, Alfonse, when his cousin is crucified and burned alive along with his wife and children.

As Boulder tries to track the heinous killer, a young woman is abducted. Soon her body is discovered and Boulder realises both murders have something unusual in common. 

With virtually no leads for Boulder to follow, he strives to find a way to get a clue as to the killer’s identity. But is he hunting for one killer or more?

After a young couple are snatched in the middle of the night the case takes a brutal turn. When the FBI is invited to help with the case, Boulder finds himself warned off the investigation.

When gruesome, and incendiary, footage from a mobile phone is sent to all the major US News outlets and the pressure to find those responsible for the crimes mounts. But with the authorities against him can Boulder catch the killer before it’s too late?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on The Kindred Killers blog tour which I share with my #blogbestie, the lovely Joanne at My Chestnut Reading Tree.  If you haven’t visited My Chestnut Reading Tree before, then do.  Joanne is such a lovely person and her blog is one of my very favourites, plus she LOVES books.  What more could you ask for?

The Kindred Killers is the second book in the explosive and thrilling Jake Boulder series and is written by author, Graham Smith.  I thoroughly enjoyed Watching the Bodies, the first book in this brilliant series so was looking forward to making a start on The Kindred Killers.  You can read my review of book one by clicking here.

There’s *something* about this series.  Something the author has managed to capture which keeps the reader coming back for more.  I, for one, love it and will always make a special effort to keep up with Boulder’s adventures.  For me, it may be that the books are so wonderfully American.  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for American crime.  Or, it may just be that they are cracking crime stories about a hard as nails part-time crime fighter in the shape of Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

This time Jake’s best friend and occasional employer, Alfonse is in need of Boulder’s investigative skills.  Alfonse and Jake make a formidable team with Jake’s ability to sniff out a lead and Alfonse’s high-tech hacking talent.  Alfonse’s cousin, Darryl and his family have gone missing.  Boulder knows instantly that this was not a voluntary retreat as there are signs of a struggle.  The incompetent Lieutenant Farrage and his hapless bunch of detectives have dismissed the scene and intend to do as little as possible.  Thankfully, Boulder is on the case.  But when Chief Watson calls Boulder to Ashley National Forest, Boulder quickly becomes aware that time has run out for Darryl and his young family. Reeling from his recent run in with a twisted serial killer, it looks like Boulder will have to stare evil in the face once again.  Four burning crosses suspended from a tree, four smouldering corpses nailed to them…

I do like a little bit of blood and gore in my reads and Smith has excelled himself with a number of brutal murder scenes in this latest instalment.  Maybe that’s the reason I enjoy these books so much!  Smith is quite prepared to break down boundaries and kill off his victims with some stomach-churning methods.  Would other authors be prepared to be as graphic?  I’m not sure….and I flipping love it!  I don’t want to put any squeamish readers off though.  If you’ve ever watched GoT or Breaking Bad then I’m sure you’ve seen worse scenes played out on your television screen!

I was glad to see the incredibly irritating Lieutenant Farrage playing a very small role in proceedings; being replaced by the more competent, more likeable Chief Watson.  I would be very happy to see the end of Farrage for good and a lot more of Watson in future books.  The other character I would like to see a lot more of is Boulder’s mother. She added a wonderful dose of humour to the first book which I was hoping to see again, but she only made one or two very brief appearances – mostly nagging her son!

The conclusion of this book blew me away!  One of the smaller, yet fairly regular characters in the books plays a rather shocking role.  I had never really warmed to this character while reading the first book, or this second novel.  In fact, I thought them to be quite insubstantial.  There are, however, several paragraphs in the build up to the explosive finale which made me completely change my mind about them.  I went from thinking ‘pah’ to thinking ‘woah’ (that’s the word I actually wrote in my notes, WOAH!).

Would I recommend this book? Yes, without doubt.  It’s fast paced, thrilling and you can’t help but like Boulder.  So good, so unexpected, Smith knows how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Kindred Killers and heartily recommend this book (this series, really!).  If you enjoy the odd serial killer thriller then you must, MUST make sure you get a copy.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Kindred Killers.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Sarah Hardy and Graham Smith for asking me to feature on the blog tour.

The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 12th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Graham Smith Author Pic.jpgA time served joiner Graham has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been the manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and now two books in the crime series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

Author Links: | Facebook | Website | Twitter | Amazon UK |

#BookReview: The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan (@Phoebe_A_Morgan) @HQDigitalUK

The Doll House.jpg“You never know who’s watching…

Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.

But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…

How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…?

A gripping debut psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of I See You and The Widow.”

I was a very lucky little blogger recently as I won a copy of The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan on Twitter.  I had seen this book mentioned in booky circles over the Summer and had picked up several flyers about it in Harrogate, waaaay back in July.  Regular readers of the blog will know that I love a scary tale and The Doll House, with that striking cover and intriguing blurb grabbed my attention and sank it’s dastardly teeth in. I just HAD to read this book!  So much so, I suggested the author take out a restraining order when she asked those who were keen to win a copy to comment on her Twitter feed!

I must also say a very happy publication day to Phoebe Morgan and the team at HQ Digital!  Please accept my most humble apologies for sort of, kind of, suggesting I would stalk you otherwise.  Whoops…

The Doll House is a tale of two sisters; Corinne and Ashley.  The story focusses mainly on Corinne and her boyfriend Dominic, with her sister, Ashley and husband, James playing a smaller yet necessary part in proceedings.  I want to get this out there as early on as possible and say that I found Corinne hard to like.  She felt a little…weak and whiny to me.  She couldn’t be in an unexpected situation without the support and reassurance of her boyfriend.  Others won’t, of course, feel the same as I do.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she will be loved by many readers.  At times I wanted to give her a good shake and remind her that we live in the 21st century and woman do not need a man riding to their rescue on a white steed.  As I progressed through the book though, I got the impression that the author had written Corinne’s character to be exactly as I had experienced her.  She certainly lacked a backbone…until it was needed.  Until everything she believed in and loved was on the line.  Then, and only then, did Corinne shine for me.  Saying that, if I found myself in some of the situations Corinne does, then who knows how I would cope!

I found it much easier to relate, and like Corinne’s older sister, Ashley.  Ashley is the mother of three children; one baby, one eight-year-old and one sulky teen.  In order to ‘adult’ she works part-time in the local cafe, which is pretty much the only grown-up conversation she has, as her husband works from dawn till night in publishing.  Or that’s what he tells her anyway (NB. my husband does not work such long hours nor do I suspect him of extra-marital doings so I may relate, but not totally, lol!).  I liked Ashley. She didn’t moan, she wasn’t a daddy’s girl like her younger sibling.  She just got on with life and that made her my favourite character in this great book.

Corinne and Dominic’s life is controlled by the need for a baby.  After several failed IVF attempts the couple are reaching the end of their very worn tether.  Whilst this subplot was interesting I did feel it took over the story a little at times.  I wanted a little more threat and impending doom, a little less longing and heartache.  But that’s just me and my bloodlust!  I did enjoy the way in which Corinne’s fear built as she started to receive the tiny doll house furniture pieces.  I loved the way she was the only character in the entire book to see something wrong and sinister with them whilst her loved ones fobbed her off, thinking she was being over-sensitive and hormonal.

The Doll House contains some chapters which are split into the present and the past.  I loved the ‘past’ sections as they had a sinister edge to them.  You weren’t sure who was narrating these sections but you were fully aware that they were doing something they shouldn’t have been.  I loved the way the narrator of these sections aged throughout the book.  It’s obvious to the reader that they are very young to start with but as you approach the end, this character is no longer a child and is hellbent on one course of action.  Brilliant, and wonderfully intense!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I promise I’m not being derogatory when I say the end of this book was my favourite part.   It was action packed, a little bit violent (but not too violent for the squeamish readers) and incredibly satisfying.  I can’t go into details but oh my gosh, what a gratifying conclusion.  Phoebe Morgan is certainly an author to watch out for based on this, her debut.  I’m looking forward to reading more.

Four stars out of five.

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

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan was published in the UK by HQ Digital and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | Goodreads |

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Author photo and bio taken from https://www.goodreads.com

Phoebe Morgan is an author and editor. She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside. She has previously worked as a journalist and now edits crime and women’s fiction for a publishing house during the day, and writes her own books in the evenings. She lives in London and you can follow her on Twitter @Phoebe_A_Morgan. The Doll House is her debut novel.

 

Author Links: | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines) #DrSamanthaWillerby

LitLFinalLarge (1).jpg“She came at first for answers…now she’s back for you

Amateur viola player Rosie Chandler is the sole survivor of a crash which sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake. Convinced the ‘accident’ was deliberate, but unable to recall what happened, she is determined to recover her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.

But Rosie is hiding something…

Sam is immediately drawn to the tragic Rosie and as she helps her piece the fragments together, the police find disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? And what happened to the violin lost in the crash, worth over £2m?

When Rosie insists they return to the lake to relive the fatal incident, the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – but by now, she’s seriously out of her depth…

The second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series, Lost in the Lake is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder.”

I am absolutely delighted to be today’s stop on the Lost in the Lake blog tour.  Lost in the Lake is the second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series and is written by talented author, A.J. Waines.  I read and fell in love with the first book in the series, Inside the Whispers last year so this sequel was eagerly anticipated at damppebbles HQ.

And I LOVED it.  In fact, I would go as far as saying I probably preferred this second book to the first.  As a Clinical Psychologist, Samatha Willerby begins a series of consultations with a new patient, Rosie Chandler.  Rosie suffered great trauma after the van she was travelling in, along twisty Penrith roads in the Lake District, careered off course and into a lake.  Rosie was able to swim through the broken back window and survive the terrifying ordeal.  The other three occupants were not so lucky and are still missing, along with a priceless violin.  Rosie’s viola was also lost in the accident; worth nothing in a monetary sense but worth everything to Rosie.  With the help of Sam, Rosie plans to work on her missing memories and try to piece together exactly what happened on that devastating evening.

I am very fond of Samantha Willerby.  When Rosie waltz’s into Sam’s office she initially throws the confident and able psychologist  Her behaviour is…odd.  Her tone is unexpected.  Sam struggles to see the normal signs of trauma typically present in other patients.  The reader begins to realise this latest case isn’t going to be as straight forward as Samantha first expected.  My feelings towards Rosie changed throughout the book.  At times I pitied her, at other times I found her possessive and very creepy.  I never found myself liking her.

I really felt for Samatha who was battling her own demons following a teen suicide she was blamed for the previous year.  She is determined to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again but refuses to cross any lines that may be construed as inappropriate between a psychologist and a patient.  But in Rosie’s case, she will push that line to the absolute limit, just to be sure the same heartbreaking situation doesn’t happen again. Rosie appears to be quite fragile and Samantha is nervous of ignoring the signs and failing to listen to a patient in need for a second time.  But has she gone too far?

Sam’s relationship with Miranda, her sister remains hard going and despite Sam’s desire to be closer, Miranda seems set on keeping multiple heart-breaking secrets from her sibling.  Adding additional stress to our usually calm and competent female protagonist.

A very readable novel about an incredibly likeable character who I will keep coming back to time and time again.  I loved the way the story was set out, with Rosie recovering memories at different points throughout and adding to what the reader already knew. Gradually building the story to a somewhat blistering conclusion, wow!

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It can be read as a stand alone but why bother when you get pick up a copy of Inside the Whispers for a mere £1.99 on amazon.co.uk.  This is an outstanding series; both books have been a joy to read and I heartily recommend them to all psychological thriller fans, particularly those (like me!) who have an interest in psychology.  I cannot wait for the next instalment.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Lost in the Lake.  The above review is my own, unbiased opinion.  My thanks to A.J. Waines for asking me to join the blog tour.

Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines was published in the UK on 7th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

WainesAJ6 (1).jpgAJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

Authors Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter |

 

 

#CoverReveal: Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite (@BCopperthwait) @bookouture

I am stupidly excited to share the completely gorgeous cover of the new Barbara Copperthwaite novel with you this evening.  This latest beauty is called Her Last Secret and will be published by the mighty Bookouture on 13th October 2017.  I am such a fan of Barbara’s writing and I cannot wait to get my mitts on a copy of her latest work.  If you don’t believe me, click here for my review of Flowers for the Dead, or here for my review of The Darkest Lies.  Both fabulous five star reads!

So without further ado, here’s the Her Last Secret blurb…

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out. 

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed DoorsSometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

Flipping heck!  How good does that sound?  And now for the cover…

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What a stunner 😍!  I absolutely love that blurb and cover and cannot wait to get Her Last Secret read and reviewed.  I’m counting down the days until publication. Make sure you pre-order your copy so you don’t miss out:

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2eOtJtF
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2jhcE0G

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite will be published in the UK and US by Bookouture on 13th October 2017 and will be available in eBook format.

about the author3

barbara copperthwaiteThe people behind the crime, from the perpetrator to the victim and beyond, are what intrigue Barbara Copperthwaite.

She was raised by the sea and in the countryside, where she became a lover of both nature and the written word – the latter leading to a successful career as a journalist. For over twenty years people have kindly and bravely shared with her their real experiences of being victims of crime. Now, through fiction, Barbara continues to explore the emotional repercussions.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward (@sarahrward1) @FaberBooks #APatientFury

a patient fury.jpg“When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.

But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the A Patient Fury blog tour.  A Patient Fury in the third book in the DC Connie Childs series and is absolutely flipping amazing.  I LOVE this series.  I reviewed the second book, A Deadly Thaw earlier this year and gave it an easy five out of five stars.  If you missed that review or would like a reminder then please click here.

This meant, of course, that the third instalment had a lot to live up to.  And oh my gosh, I am absolutely thrilled to confirm that it managed to blow my socks off!  What a brilliant book!  The first thing you should know is that DC Connie Childs is fast becoming one of my favourite fictional detectives.  She’s so wonderfully driven, so beautifully intense and so very flawed.  I can’t help but be drawn to this headstrong, feisty woman and her very human faults.

The opening chapter is brilliantly written and there was no way on this earth anyone was going to prise A Patient Fury from my hands.  I was hooked and I couldn’t stop myself from becoming totally engrossed in the story.  It was a joy to return to Bampton in Derbyshire (if you’ve read my previous review I can confirm that I now know exactly where Derbyshire is, doh!).  Being reunited with DI Francis Sadler once again was a wonderful thing.  I felt DI Sadler played a much bigger part in the story this time around and I found out a lot more about him.  His relationship with DC Childs can be a little fraught at times but that friction makes for excellent reading.  On the one hand, he’s her superior, on the other he’s a father figure keeping an eye on the fiery young detective.  Brilliant!

Ward has, quite rightly so, moved one of her older characters on to pastures new leaving space for a new detective.  I think I can understand why the author has decided to do this as it did feel as though the character had had their time.  I was, however, a little sad to see them go and hope they make a cameo in future novels.  In the meantine, I look forward to seeing where Ward takes the relationship between Connie and the new(-ish) recruit in the future.  I can see fireworks ahead…

The plot was full of twists, turns and intrigue.  I enjoyed the flashback sequences and grew to despise the character of George, the rude and obnoxious son of the victim.  All of the characters at some point felt as though they had a lot to hide which absolutely made this book for me.  I couldn’t have, or rather wouldn’t have put money on the culprit despite all of the signs pointing in one definite direction.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  It can be read as a stand alone so don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two books in the series (although if you get the chance, then do!).  I love DC Connie Childs.  I particularly like her when she’s breaking the rules and undertaking an investigation in her own time, which she *may* end up doing in A Patient Fury.  Honestly, my favourite crime series out there at the moment and I urge you to get yourself a copy of A Patient Fury.  You won’t regret it.  Sheer brilliance.

Five out of five stars.

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

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 7th September 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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Author photo and bio taken from https://crimepieces.com/

Crime fiction is in my blood. From Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five to Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew, I was reading the genre at an early age. In my teens it was Agatha Christie followed by Ruth Rendell and PD James. Later influences include Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Minette Walters. Then I discovered Scandinavian crime writers.

I’m the author of two crime novels In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw which are set in the Derbyshire Peak District where I live. A Patient Fury is coming in September.

I post my book reviews here on Crimepieces and have also reviewed at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Crime Timecrimesquad.com and Eurocrime. Articles and short stories have appeared in the Sunday Express magazine, Metro, Big Issue, Traveller and other publications. I’m one of the judges for The Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel and I particularly love reading translated crime fiction.

In addition to writing and reviewing I also teach crime fiction workshops, moderate book events and give talks on Nordic Noir, Golden Age Crime and other aspects of the crime novels. I can be contacted about any of these areas via my contact page.

I’m represented by Kirsty McLachlan at DGA.

Author Links: | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Scorn by Paul Hoffman (@PaulGHoff) #RedOpera @ed_pr

SCORN_FINAL.jpeg“After an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider goes horribly wrong, depressed scientist Aaron Gall wakes up to discover his mind and body have undergone an astonishing transformation. Now bursting with the joys of life, he is inspired to undertake a radical new therapy: to talk to the priests who brutalised him and his school friends, point out the intellectual dishonesty and inhumanity of their religious beliefs – and then eat them.

Aaron enjoys the process so much (as well as taunting the police and MI5) he decides to extend his murderous conversations to include the Archbishop of Westminster, recently converted Catholic Tony Blair, the Queen of England – and, finally, the Pope himself. But a Catholic Church that has given the world the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Papal Infallibility hasn’t survived for two thousand years without a reason. Aaron is in for the greatest shock in the history of mankind.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn and sadly the last stop, on the Scorn blog tour.  Scorn is written by author Paul Hoffman and was published by Red Opera on 7th September 2017.

To celebrate the release of this dark yet rather fun sounding novel I have an extract to share with you.  So sit back, relax and take a read…

CHAPTER  CONFESSION

It was one o’clock in the morning and Father Thomas Lloyd was eating sardines on toast in the vast and gloomy kitchen of the rectory of St Edmunds Church in Abingdon, a place not a hundred yards from the Victorian building in which Aaron had received the worst beating of his life from Mother Mary Frances and a mere thirty yards from where the sadistic old bitch was buried. Burial in the otherwise full cemetery was a privilege accorded only to people with a special reputation for holiness.

As he was about to begin his meal, one which he realised at some guilty deep level he was not as thankful for as he ought to have been, there was a hard rap at the door. Although it was unusual for there to be such a late caller, it was not unknown for someone to fetch him to a deathbed or a tormented soul to come looking for the peace of mind only God could grant. Still, he was no fool and was wary. He walked out of the cavernous kitchen and switched on the light in the barely less sepulchral cavern of the hall.

“Who is it?” he called out, ill at ease.

“Is that you, Father Lloyd?”

Who else would it be in the rectory of the church at this time of night?” was what he wanted to say. Immediately he accused himself of the sin of the lack of charity. “Yes. Yes it is.” To make amends he opened the door immediately. The man on the stoop was not an alarming sight – five nine perhaps, and thin.

“Come in out of the rain.” He ushered the man inside and gestured him through the hall into the kitchen. The abundance of mahogany gave an unpleasant brown quality to the light. “Let me take your coat.”

Draping the man’s coat on the hat-stand, he turned to get a better look at his visitor. Many years of ministering to the soul distressed made him alert to the despairing and the desperate. His visitor did not seem to be either. The man looked at the uneaten plate of toast and sardines.

“I’m sorry. Please finish your meal.”

Father Lloyd was tempted but not for long. He would offer this sacrifice up to God, aware of course that God would realise it was not all that much of a renunciation.

“No. I’ve rather gone off the idea.” He gestured for the man to sit. “Tell me your name and what I can do for you,” he said softly.

“I’d like to make a confession.”

“I see.” A pause and a sigh. “Well, there’s no doubt you’ve come to the right place, Mr..,?”

“Gall. Aaron Gall.”

“Are you from around here, Aaron?”

“I used to be a long time ago.”

“Is that so indeed? I’ve been away and back a fair few times but I’ve spent near half my life as a priest in St Edmunds. You must have been here during my away years.”

“No,” said Aaron. “You taught me, my class, religious instruction when I was a boy.”

The priest looked worried. It didn’t look good or feel right to forget a parishioner.

“Help me. I’m an old man and my memory isn’t what it was.”

“The old primary school, just before it moved.”

“My God, that’s a fair few years.”

“I was seven or so the last time I saw you. It wouldn’t be reasonable to remember me.”

“I was only here a few months the first time, waiting to go to Birmingham.”

There was a silence – an odd one, uncomfortable for the priest. “So, what brings you out tonight?” he said at last.

“You remember Mother Mary Frances. She’s buried in the churchyard here.”

“So they told me.”

“They?”

“The Sisters of Mercy.”

Another pause.

“So. This isn’t a visit on the sudden then.”

“No.”

“What is it you want, my son?”

Aaron smiled quietly and spoke softly.

“I’m not your son, old man, and this isn’t a visit.”

Scorn by Paul Hoffman is published 7th September by Red Opera, £7.99 in paperback

So, what do you think?  The plot of this book really intrigues me and despite it being a little different to my usual reads it’s definitely going on the wish list.  I hope your interest has been piqued too!

Scorn by Paul Hoffman was published in the UK by Red Opera on 7th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Paul Hoffman is a bestselling author whose work has been translated into thirty languages. He spent his early working life as a Boardman in a betting shop, a teacher in a girl’s school, and a film censor with special responsibility for pornography, before becoming a screenwriter and novelist. Paul Hoffman’s first novel, The Wisdom of Crocodiles, predicted the attacks of 9/11 and set out in detail how and why the financial system would crash early in the new millennium. His second novel, The Golden Age of Censorship, is a black comedy satirising both the world of the film censor and the visionary megalomania of New Labour.

He came to international recognition with The Left Hand of God trilogy – a sly attempt to write about war and politics in a way that stole from both contemporary and historical worlds in a way that caused heated debate on the way to becoming a top ten Sunday Times Bestseller.

His new novel, Scorn, is his most controversial yet. Drawing from his own experiences in a hideous Catholic boarding school in Oxford, Hoffman has fashioned a contemporary black comedy that truly defies any attempt at classification – comic, tragic, a love story; with songs, illustrations, two highly unusual policemen known as The Butchers of Basra, a central character unlike any other, as well as cameos from Tony Blair, the Queen, and the a final confrontation with  the Holy Father himself resulting in the most astonishing twist in the history of fiction.

Probably the last English novelist to be born by the light of a paraffin lamp, Paul Hoffman spent much of his childhood on airfields all around the world watching his father – a pioneer of sports parachuting – jumping out of aeroplanes. He witnessed his first death at the age of six when one of his father’s friends was killed in an attempt to discover how near the ground he could open his parachute. After a long and brutal battle with the nuns and priest who were charged with saving his soul and which left him at sixteen without any formal qualifications he was offered a place to read English at New College, Oxford when no other university would interview him. He is probably the only Oxford graduate in history to have failed all his O-Levels. On his first night at New College a fellow undergraduate was heard to comment: ‘My God – the kind of people we’re letting in these days’.

The Wisdom of Crocodiles took thirteen years to write and went into its third imprint within six weeks of publication. Jude Law starred in the motion picture of the same name based on one part of the novel.

Scorn is his sixth novel. His next book, The White Devil, will be published by Penguin in 2018

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |