#Win 50+ eBooks in @fahrenheitpress 1st birthday #giveaway | @damppebbles

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********COMPETITION NOW CLOSED********

One year ago on 10th September 2015 a brand spanking new crime fiction publisher was born.  Now as a crime fiction fan you can imagine how happy a publisher dedicated to my genre makes me.  Fahrenheit Press are ‘Bad seeds.  Renegades.  Debasers.  Your mother was right about us’, well that’s what their Twitter profile says about them anyway and I LOVE it!

13438922_1456638627694875_2077840715170179855_nBack in June I was bowled over to be named Fahrenheit Press’s Book Blogger of the Week (or fortnight as it turned into, woohoo!).  Honoured was an understatement and what an amazing thing for a publisher to do, make a fuss of us bloggers.  This -> picture makes up my desktop background and it makes me smile every time I start up the laptop.  Thank you Fahrenheit.  You may be the ‘Hot Punk Publishers’ but I think you’re rather lovely.

Whilst researching Fahrenheit I found  this chris-mcveigh-225x300cracking interview with Head Honcho Chris McVeigh on Digital Book World.  For me, this tells you everything you need to know.  May Fahrenheit be producing brilliant crime fiction titles for many, many years to come.  Happy birthday Fahrenheit Press!

And to celebrate Fahrenheit’s first birthday, Chris is generously giving away a number of subscriptions to the Fahrenheit Press Book Club.  Here’s your chance to win EVERY book Fahrenheit Press publish in 2016 in eBook format!  Yup, you read that right – EVERY BOOK FAHRENHEIT PRESS PUBLISH IN 2016 in eBOOK FORMAT!!  That’s a massive saving of£48 or €66 or $75!  I know!  It’s such an amazing, generous prize.  Want to win it?  Of course you do!

To be in with a chance of winning EVERY book published by Fahrenheit Press in 2016 (expected to be 50+) all you have to do is follow me on Twitter (@damppebbles) and RT my pinned tweet about the competition.  There will only be one winner and that winner will need to provide me with their email address so Chris @ Fahrenheit can contact you about your prize.  There are no cash alternatives and please note, the prize is eBooks only.  The giveaway will close at midnight BST on Wednesday 28th September 2016. Good luck everyone!

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Secret Broker by Simon Crane (@SimonCraneBooks) @quartetbooks

the-secret-broker-by-simon-crane“This captivating thriller set across Asia, North America and Europe tells the story of Luca Voss’s fight against dark forces conspiring to start a nuclear war. Far out to sea during a fierce storm a Japanese ship is commandeered by mercenaries who kill one of the crew and vanish; North Korea flexes its military muscles by firing a cruise missile into Japanese air space; an unidentified body is dumped on the border between Russia and China. So begins The Secret Broker, the startling debut thriller by Simon Crane, which pitches the suave Swiss orphan Luca Voss and his companion JJ against a cruel megalomaniac trying to manipulate the world’s superpowers from behind closed doors. From the astonishing opening when a mystery helicopter swoops in on a beleaguered boat to the chilling death of the German peace envoy Franz Wetzell and the secret history of the Seven Families, this gripping thriller takes the reader on an international journey of espionage and adventure, calling at Mexico, Myanmar, Switzerland, Japan, China, Italy and more.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on Simon Crane’s The Secret Broker blog tour. The Secret Broker is Simon’s debut novel and features suave high-flyer, Luca Voss (lucavoss.com). Simon has written a fascinating guest post based on his experiences as a first time novelist and the things he has discovered about the publishing world. Over to you Simon…

Being a novice author is at best complicated, especially if you happen to be an amazingly lucky and successful entrepreneur entering your 60s. Frankly there is nothing you don’t know about your chosen business arenas except for the unexpected, which happily returns a proper sense of humility. Add an unaccounted for illness and now you have the most magnificent opportunity to reshape your thoughts, family values, business priorities and your life. Wow, some of us are even lucky enough to survive to tell the tale and then some. So fate begets an author, new business ventures become a reality and inspire you, your family lose you again – this time to writing a novel you never thought you would write, especially as it is full of half-truths and conspiracy. You have a limitless imagination and energy to create the story.

At no point in my life did I ever believe I would write a book yet alone be capable of creating such a yarn. Things change. In my case the story was the easy part, self-discipline produced 20 pages a week and hey presto in no time at all, well less than it takes to have a baby, you have written a book and prepared for the sequels.Now comes the harsh reality of the book business world about which you know nothing; common sense principles go out of the window and old truths simply don’t apply. You are left to the mercy and integrity of your publisher. Gosh I was lucky again in finding Naim Attallah at Quartet Books.

My strong advice to any would be novice authors is to make a lasting friend of him or her and learn to trust their instincts and staff. He or she employed them because they are brilliant at what they do. You don’t have to agree because it’s not your business, it’s theirs. I think I am learning the principles of becoming a control freak faster than Luca Voss is learning to become The Secret Broker. The Secret Broker a tale for modern reality based in centuries of superstition and legend, full of conspiracy and stooped in secrecy.  The Secret Broker is a fast paced, shockingly conspiratorial, sexy spy thriller based on premises that could be true …

***

Thank you for such an interesting post, Simon, and a very happy publication day!  If you would like to find out more about The Secret Broker you can watch the trailer by clicking here.  I am delighted to have a copy on my TBR so look out for a review on the blog soon.

The Secret Broker by Simon Crane was published in the UK by Quartet Books on 22nd September 2016 and is available in hardcover | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Goodreads | Quartet Books | Buy The Secret Broker from Quartet Books |

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Writer, Entrepreneur and Financier. Financial market strategist and global trader Simon Crane, began his career as an article clerk for Cooper Brothers. He quickly moved on to become a leading investment banker, advisor and market trader in the early 1980’s – he has worked from Sydney, New York, Singapore and London. In 1987, following a successful career with Bankers Trust and Credit Suisse First Boston he set up his own investment analysis, advisory, strategy and propriety trading business, Crane Investment Analysis Ltd, which has evolved over the years having been frequently sought after by government leaders, policy makers and some of the world’s largest organisations for guidance on how to navigate the increasing complexities of the global financial markets. Today, the firm is involved in finance, world markets, proprietary trading, varied property interests, capital introductions and various entrepreneurial ventures. He is an accomplished professional investor from startups onwards.

Having worked with leading hedge funds and investment bankers across the globe over the past 30 years during catastrophic financial collapses, global political instability,and unparalleled opportunities, Simon is a true believer in the power of relationships. He has built deep lasting friendships with those who influence the world arena. To broker successful deals, Simon lives by the mantra that ‘my word is my bond’ and over the years he has earned the trust of many.

Embarking on his first novel Simon believes that ‘…there is a book in each and everyone of us.’ He hopes to take his readers on a fast paced journey which bridges the realms of fiction and reality.

Author Links: Simon Crane’s Website | Simon Crane on Twitter |

 

#CoverReveal: Her Last Breath by JA Schneider (@JoyceSchneider1)

I am very excited to share the cover of the new psychological thriller from JA Schneider with you today! JA (Joyce) Schneider is one of my favourite people in the book world and I am delighted to confirm that I will be part of her blog tour for her new release, Her Last Breath in October. So without further ado, here’s more about Her Last Breath:

Her Last Breath, the second psychological thriller by J.A. Schneider, is due for release on October 21st.  #HerLastBreath is the second thriller – after Fear Dreams – featuring highly intuitive NYPD detective Kerri Blasco.  Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…
 
A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men…
Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can’t remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them – or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent…but is she?


I can’t wait to read this book.  Her Last Breath is available to pre-order now ready for delivery to your Kindle on 21st October.  Just click here if you’re in the UK or here if you’re in the US.  And now for that cover…

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Isn’t that a fabulous cover?!  As an extra special treat I also have an exclusive extract from the book to share with you today, you lucky people!

***

It begins in horror…
Mari Gill’s hand felt sticky.
That was the first thing to trouble her, still clinging to the safe, solid darkness of sleep. Next came pain in her head, a different kind of pain from the other thing, so she squeezed her eyes shut, dreading the day…
…but the stickiness bothered.
Involuntarily, she felt her fingers open and close.
Something was wrong there, in her hand. She squinted open; peered at it.
Red.
Her palm was smeared dark red.
She blinked. Saw more red smear on her forearm, then the torn cap sleeve of last night’s black dress, then the sheet under her arm, stained with…
“Huh?” Her eyes grew wide before her mind processed it.
Thrashing onto her back, Mari saw bloodied sheet reaching halfway up the torn front of her dress, and then saw an arm. A man’s arm, faintly blue and blood-smeared – and with a cry her whole body practically flipped from the bed. “Oh God!”
She hit the floor hard and then scrabbled back up, gaped wildly and saw him. Her shocked vision jumped and saw two then one then two of him on his back, eyes closed, mouth open dribbling caked blood. She froze; gasped. Couldn’t take in air seeing his black hair, his chest hidden under a tent of bloodied sheet.
“Mister?”
A high, involuntary whisper. Mari’s heart rocketed but she felt compelled; jerked ut a hand and pulled away the sheet.
Under it a knife, its handle long and black, protruding from his chest.
“Oh God!” Her scream got it out but used up breath as she spun on her knees, recognizing the new trouble. Where was her handbag? What was this place?Who was that guy?
Her bag, her bag…she crawled over hardwood and a man’s flung jacket and hit a cold, metal pole. Something crashed down on her, crashed to the floor but she crawled more, over broken shards with her breath coming harder, wheezing high like a small, dying animal.
Where, where…? She gasped and scrabbled.
There.
Her bag, way under a desk. How could it be under a desk? She was always so careful to keep it close but no time to think, she was upon it, fingers fluttering getting it open, her cries a child’s high mewling as she dug past her phone – no time to call – found her inhaler, got her fingers around it then saw it fly from her and skitter through an open doorway.
“No…”
Wheezing harder she crawled toward it, the little white plastic thing that meant life or death to her. Her chest heaved, and heaved again. Her vision blurred and she couldn’t pull in air. She made it through the door onto a wider floor, was inches away with her hand reaching desperately.
Then her vision darkened and she collapsed, crying; lay her cheek down on the polished cold hardwood. From far away she heard a crash. Her eyes closed. She lay, her fingers stretched futilely toward the inhaler. Her desperate wheezing stopped.
Running feet. Someone’s hands on her, strong hands. “Lady! Omigod, lady!”
From deepest, dying sleep she felt herself raised up; heard a voice, urgent, telling her to breathe, breathe – “Please, lady!”
She felt hard plastic pushed through her lips. Felt the little blast of life, then a man’s warm stubble press his lips on hers. He was breathing her. Two good breaths and then holding her, rocking her.
Her eyes stayed closed as she heard him call 9-1-1…
***
Oh my gosh!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I can’t wait to read this book!
Thank you, Joyce for asking me to be part of your blog tour and including me in your cover reveal today.  I’m thrilled to be on the team.  Oh, and if you’d like to read a rather splendid guest post Joyce wrote as part of #damppebblestakeover, then click here.
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unnamedJ.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek. Once a Liberal Arts major (French Literature), she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and human psychology. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means that there’ll be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

Connect with Joyce:
Website: http://jaschneiderauthor.net
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832782.J_A_Schneider
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoyceSchneider1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joyce.schneider.142?fref=ts

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer (@helenphifer1) @UKCarina

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28217989“Don’t go into the woods. Because you’re in for a big surprise…

In an old album there is a beautiful Victorian photo that captures three young sisters, staring silently at one another. Only the trained eye can see the truth hiding in plain view. One of the sisters is already dead.

Annie Ashworth is currently off duty. With her baby bump growing fast, she is under strict instructions to stay away from police work and look after herself, especially as she has a history of leading danger right to her door. So when her police officer husband, Will, is called to the discovery of a skeleton buried out in the local woods, Annie tries to keep out of the investigation. But as another body is discovered and her own niece suddenly goes missing, staying away just isn’t an option.

As Annie is soon to discover, a picture really does tell a thousand stories. But which one leads to a killer?

The gripping new detective thriller that will haunt you”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Girls in the Woods blog tour.  The Girls in the Woods is written by Helen Phifer and is book five in the Annie Graham series of paranormal crime thrillers.  I’ve only recently started to read and enjoy books with a paranormal twist to them (ghosts…pah!) and this was an enjoyable addition to my slowly growing list of spooky stories.

Annie Ashworth is on sick leave, which is a good thing seeing as she’s 6 months pregnant and seems to have a penchant for attracting the worst kind of trouble wherever she goes.  Being safely stowed away at home means she can’t get into any more trouble, can it?  Bored and looking for company Annie meets Jo, a woman she has things in common with such as an abusive husband (ex-husband in Annie’s case).  They form a bond but Annie is desperate to find out more about Jo and exactly how abusive her husband is.  Then a skeleton is discovered in the woods behind Jo’s house and the local community is put under scrutiny.  Heath, Jo’s agressive husband, is acting stranger than usual and is even more explosive towards her.  It’s not long before a second skeleton is found and things start spiral out of control.  Annie’s young niece goes missing, Annie is brutally attacked and hospitalised by a colleague only for that same colleague to step in front of a speeding car, almost killing himself.  Can Annie discover what’s going on before another body is found?  Any why does Heath have those large freezers in his photography studio…?

This was my first introduction to Annie Ashworth (nee Graham) and I’ve managed, once again, to start with book five in the series.  Book five!  I would however love to read the first four books in the series as I have one or two questions that I couldn’t find an answer to in The Girls in the Woods.  Of course, that raises the question, can this book be read as a standalone?  I think it can but my preference will always be to start with book one in a series (despite regularly ignoring my own advice!).

Annie can see and talk to ghosts following a blow to the head courtesy of her ex-husband.  So she’s not your usual paranormal lead who has had ‘the gift’ since birth. She’s a likeable character; gutsy, strong-willed and fairly independent and I would happily spend more time reading about her.

The plot has some great twists.  There were moments where I started to suspect one character of wrongdoing only to be thrown off the scent and my suspicions diverted elsewhere.  I do enjoy books that can make you think one thing and then immediately make you question your own conclusions.  The pace was good and I managed to read this book in one day (very quick for me!).

Would I recommend this book?  I would, particularly if you were looking for a spooky read to while away a couple of hours on an Autumnal evening.  I enjoyed it.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Neverland Blog Tours, Carina, the author and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Girls in the Woods in exchange for an honest review.

The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer is published in the UK by Carina and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | Goodreads | Carina |

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7106247Helen lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children and has done since she was born. It gets some bad press, but really is a lovely place to live. Surrounded by coastline and not far from the beautiful Lake District. She has always loved writing and reading, she loves reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own.

Her debut novel ‘The Ghost House’ was published by Carina UK in October 2013 and went on to become a best seller along with the rest of the Annie Graham series. The Secrets of the Shadows, The Forgotten Cottage, The Lake House and The Girls in the Woods. Her next book The Good Sisters which is a stand alone, ghost story is released on the 13th October 2016.

 

Author links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson (@ragnarjo) @OrendaBooks

41-2pvvwiol-_sx323_bo1204203200_“On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer’s night. As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykjavik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person’s life hangs in the balance. Ari Thor Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjordur struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Blackout blog tour.  Blackout is the third book in the Dark Iceland series written by Ragnar Jónasson and translated by fellow crime writer, Quentin Bates.  I have to confess, despite reading rave reviews of the first two books, I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.  So this stunning book was my first introduction to Ari Thór Arason and the writing of Ragnar Jónasson.

A body is discovered by an American tourist, it’s badly beaten and barely recognisable.  Ari Thór Arason and colleagues are drafted in as part of the investigation.  After all, the deceased was a local man.  Elsewhere a dynamic young news reporter has decided to investigate the murder on her own.  Doors seem to open more easily for Ísrún; is everyone really that hungry for their 15 minutes of fame?  But Ísrún has her own secrets.  And why did the dead man travel to Asia days before his sudden violent death…?

This is such an atmospheric novel, jammed full of mystery and intrigue.  It was my first encounter with Ari Thór Arason but it won’t be my last.  Once I had settled on my own unique pronunciation of Icelandic names and places (nothing like what it should have been, I’m quite sure!) I was well away.  I devoured this book taking only two days to read it (that’s fast for me!).  I found the descriptions of the ash cloud and how it affected Reykjavik to be quite claustrophobic, which goes to show how superb the writing is in being able to do that.

The doomed relationship of Ari Thór and Kristín was a captivating sub-plot which I enjoyed.  I’m not normally one for romance but the spectacular way in which Ari Thór had managed to destroy the relationship made the couple appeal to me for some reason.  The darker side of me hopes there are more bumps along the road for them, rather than a happily ever after storyline.

I loved the intricacy of the story.  Events seemed at times to have no connection to other goings on, only for you to realise as you progress through the book that it’s all intrinsically linked.  There were lots of ‘ah, that’s why…’ moments for me.

Would I recommend this book?  I would as it’s a brilliant read with heaps of good old fashioned mystery with a dark and dangerous Icelandic twist.  I look forward to reading more from Ragnar Jónasson.  (And please don’t ask to hear my Icelandic pronunciation, I’ll just embarrass myself!)

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of Blackout in exchange for an honest review.

Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson (trans. by Quentin Bates) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th July 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audiobook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters. Connect with Ragnar Jónasson on Twitter @ragnarjo.

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Quentin Bates dates back to the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and was brought up in the south of England. In the year that Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s Prime Minister, he was offered the opportunity to spend a gap year working in Iceland and jumped at the chance of escape.

The gap year turned into a gap decade, during which he worked as a netmaker, factory hand and trawlerman, started a family and generally went native.

‘Back in England, I worked as a truck driver, teacher, fisherman and as a freelance journalist writing about nautical stuff, while gradually spending less time at sea. I’ve always been a big reader, and gradually writing started to take over.’

Seagoing was followed by many years as a journalist for an obscure nautical trade magazine, a dream job for anyone who gets a kick out of visiting industrial estates and obscure harbours miles from anywhere. From there it was a series of sidestep into fiction.  Connect with Quentin Bates on Twitter @graskeggur.

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) @AmazonPub

51j-kxyuigl“It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake.

What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.”

I am very excited to welcome you to the blog today as I have a real treat for us all.  I am absolutely thrilled, chuffed to bits even, to be kicking off The Devil’s Work blog tour! And in true damppebbles style, I have a fabulous guest post to share with you, you lucky people.

So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Mark…

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The Worst Jobs I’ve Ever Had

 The Devil’s Work is a psychological thriller set in the office from hell. Sophie returns from four years raising her daughter to start her dream job at a publishing company. But almost immediately, weird things start to happen and Sophie wonders if she has made a terrible mistake…

We’ve all had that feeling, haven’t we? Wondering if we made a big mistake accepting a job. A lot of the jobs I’ve had in my life felt constantly like a terrible error on my part, or a practical joke the universe was playing on me.

It started when I was still at school. During the summer I took a job in a food-packing factory. Some days I wheeled huge baskets of shredded onions and carrots across the factory floor. Other days I removed labels from wet jars (that was the most fun task). Or I sat at a conveyor belt watching cornflakes stream past, picking out the black ones. I was a goth at the time, with long hair and traces of eyeliner from the night before. The full-time staff really respected my individuality and called me Rambo. Or something much ruder that rhymes with front.

Still, I was earning £100 a week. A fortune!

fast-food-jobI left home at nineteen and got a job at Perfect Pizza. The boss was a megalomaniac who acted like running the franchise of a fast food outlet made him Hastings’ answer to Donald Trump. But we got free pizza. I literally lived on it for two years. I had spots the size of pepperoni and my skin took on the same greasy sheen as the rubbery cheese we used. All the girls loved the scent that clung to me.

One summer, I spent a week working on a farm, picking broad beans. I laboured on my own in the middle of a field, somewhere in deepest Sussex, filling crates with beans while the farmer had sex with his attractive, younger farmhand in the barn. He lived in a caravan on the outskirts of the farm because his wife had caught them scaring the sheep. When he sent off my beans to the greengrocer they were rejected because they weren’t big enough, so the farmer refused to pay me. The greengrocer was my stepdad.

It didn’t get much better when I left university. I wanted to work in publishing but lived in Hastings where there was only one large employer: the Child Support Agency. I spent the first year there on the call handling team, talking to angry, upset people all day, every day; former couples who loathed each other. Or people who’d once shagged behind a skip who didn’t even know each other. Once a year, the anti-CSA brigade would turn up and parade around the building holding coffins and chanting ‘CSA staff are scum’.

It’s the only place I’ve worked where everyone was actively and openly looking for another job. I kept myself going by writing after work and praying for a book deal. After a few years of almost vomiting with stress every Sunday night, I jumped out of the frying pan straight into the fire: I got a job in the customer service department of a rail company.

Now, instead of being shouted at by angry parents I spent my days being shouted at by angry commuters. Blocked toilets, rotting pigeons, rude ticket inspectors – you name it, someone was furious about it. Again, I kept writing in my spare time, telling myself that sooner or later I would be a full-time novelist.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was saved from day job hell by the dotcom boom of 2000. An internet start-up took me on and suddenly, at the age of 29, I knew what I wanted to do if I couldn’t be a full-time writer. Over the next ten years I built a career in internet marketing, apart from a year teaching English in Japan, another job that had its nightmarish moments.

And now, twenty years after I first put pen to paper, I have the best job in the world. No, not a hitman, tracking down all my former bosses and people who yelled at me about the 07:39 from Tunbridge Wells to Charing Cross. I’m a writer. I sit at my desk all day and make my characters suffer like I did. Including poor Sophie.

Her job really is the job from hell. But you’ll have to read the book to find out why…

Thank you so much for this great post, Mark.  Sounds like you’ve had some truly awful jobs before becoming a full-time writer. I’ve been trying to decide what the worst job I’ve ever had is.  It’s a close call between answering the phone for the doctor’s out of hours emergency service (listening to people vomit isn’t all that pleasant) or the bar job which lasted one night after I after I was pulled over the bar by a customer who fancied a peek down my blouse…it was a classy bar! 😁

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I read a fair few books every month and I enjoy them (you’ll already know this if you’re a regular visitor to the blog).  They’re great books.  But this book, The Devil’s Work, felt like the book I have been waiting to read for a while.  As I progressed through the story I wanted to punch the air and shout ‘YES, this is the one!’.

Sophie makes the monumental decision to return to work after 4 years at home with young daughter, Daisy.  She manages to land her dream job at Jackdaw Books, a hugely successful children’s publishers.  It isn’t long before she starts to wonder if returning to work was a big mistake.  Strange things start to happen and one of Sophie’s team members is behaving…oddly, but Sophie is new to Jackdaw and she doesn’t know if Cassie’s behaviour is normal.  Then Sophie’s freelance journalist husband makes a catastrophic social media blunder which results in no one wanting to employ him and daily Twitter abuse.  It’s the beginning of a spiral that could send Sophie to the very edge.  Will Sophie be able to work out what’s going on before it’s too late for her and her family…?

Bloody marvellous piece of writing!  I absolutely loved this book and it’s on my list of favourite reads for 2016 (maybe of all time).  I am a fan of Mark’s previous books having read The Magpies (before I started blogging) and more recently Follow You Home (click here to read my review).  So you can see why I leapt at the chance to review The Devil’s Work.  The author’s way of making a seemingly normal situation suddenly turn sinister is so engrossing!  I’m going to say it, I couldn’t put it down (I had to, I have two young children, but that’s not the point!).

I really liked Sophie.  She’s so unassuming and well, normal.  If I met Cassie in real life I think I would want to thump her (not condoning violence here or anything, mind you!).  Simon, the boss, I found to be weasley and the kind of manager I have encountered several times during my working life (but never want to see again).  All in all, a great mix of characters that brought out a flurry of emotions in me.

Being a little on the bookish side, I really enjoyed the fact that it’s set in the publishing world.  I’ve always fancied a job in publishing…maybe not so much now!!

The story alternates between the present and the past, with some chapters dedicated to Sophie’s time at University and her friendship with BFF Jasmine and Jasmine’s boyfriend, Liam.  I’ve always been a fan of this time-travel method and Mark Edwards uses it to brilliant effect in building the tension.  There are moments when you will gasp out loud and moments when you plead the character to not do what you think they’re going to do.

Would I recommend this book?  Well, that’s a daft question.  Without doubt, YOU MUST GET YOURSELF A COPY OF THIS BOOK.  It’s brilliant, simple as that really.  If I could give this book 6 stars I would but I can’t so it’s 5 stars from me, a very easy 5 stars.  Terrifying, full of suspense and the build of tension is totally engrossing.  Love it!

Five out of five stars.

Many thanks to Rachel at MidasPR, Thomas & Mercer and Mark Edwards for providing me with a copy of The Devil’s Work in exchange for an honest review.

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards is published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 13th September 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audiobook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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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 withFrom 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.

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Matching The Evidence by Graham Smith (@GrahamSmith1972) @caffeinenights

51saf51q9l“Carlisle United are playing Millwall and the Major Crimes Team are assigned to crowd control as punishment for their renegade ways. Typically, DI Harry Evans has other ideas and tries to thwart the local firm’s plans to teach Millwall’s notorious Bushwhackers an unforgettable lesson.

Meanwhile an undercover cop is travelling north with some of the Millwall contingent. His mission is to identify the ringleaders and gather evidence against them.

Three illegal immigrants have been transported to Carlisle and are about to meet their new employers.

Nothing is as it seems for Evans and his Major Crimes Team as they battle to avoid a bloodbath while also uncovering a far more heinous crime.”

Welcome to my stop on the Matching The Evidence blog tour which I am sharing with the very lovely Neats over at The Haphazardous Hippo.  Once you’re done here, why not pop over and read her guest post from Matching The Evidence author, Graham Smith.

I am thrilled to have both a guest post from Mr Smith to share with you, along with my review of this brilliant novella.  Let’s start with Graham’s guest post (my husband thinks I’m trying to coin a catchphrase, I can promise you I’m not…but, I love a guest post!).  This one is high on the my list of favourite guest posts to have featured on damppebbles.  Over to Graham…

Setting the Pace

We’ve all heard someone say “I just couldn’t put it down” when referring to a book they’ve really enjoyed. I for one am a black-belt at the “just one more chapter” game.

For us authors, hearing someone say that about our books is the praise equivalent of lying on a beautiful beach being fed, watered and caressed by the people of our dreams.

It’s what we all strive for and one of the ways we try to make our work unputdownable is the injection of pace into our storytelling.

Pace is a strange concept. It doesn’t have to literally mean there is fast movement, or dramatic car chases, although these elements are something we may use on occasion. It can mean a partial revelation which raises questions in the reader’s mind. Or it can be a cliff-hanger at the end of a chapter which has the reader desperate to find out what happens next.

Sometimes it can be introduced with a ticking clock where the hero of the story must rescue kidnap victims, thwart a terrorist plot or catch a killer before they strike again. This method adds a subliminal threat level which is amplified by the hero’s efforts to beat the clock.

Another way to inject pace into a story is to place a constant stream of obstacles in the hero’s path.

Imagine this scenario if you will. (I’ve deliberately gone overboard with it but I feel it shows a lot of the elements I’ve already mentioned.) Our hero Clint Square-Jaw has to drop off a ransom in a specific place at a set time or his pregnant wife will be killed to death in the most foul way imaginable.

“Clint grabs the bag of money. Tosses it into the boot of his car. Twists the ignition and hears the engine struggling to fire.

He tries again.

Nothing.

A look around shows an elderly woman climbing into her car on the other side of the street. He rushes over. Hauls her out ignoring the pang of guilt. Clambers into her seat and starts the engine. Before he can drive off he has to move the seat because the woman is a full foot shorter than he is.

By the time he adjusts the seat the old woman stands in front of the car.

He reverses out into the road and squeals off towards his destination. When he rounds the second corner he finds a parade of school children crossing the road and has to slam on the brakes. His fist bangs the steering wheel in frustration until he can again mash his foot against the throttle.

Clint makes good time over the next two miles but encounters a blockage in the road caused by a wagon that’s shed its load.

Desperate he bangs up the kerb and careers around the gesticulating driver. One hundred yards later he hears the monotone thud of a flat tyre. He stops. Runs to the boot of the car. Finds it full of junk.

As he’s tossing the junk out a car pulls up behind him. It’s a good car with sleek lines. He dashes across. Hauls on the driver’s arm. The driver yanks his arm free. Drives his elbow towards Clint.

Two minutes later Clint roars off leaving the bloodied driver lying on the road. A light on the dash catches his eye. It’s the fuel light. It’s glowing. No way will it get him to his destination.”

I’m going to stop here but hopefully that very terse cut-down example shows my points about putting in obstacles. If I was writing the scene for real I would lessen the obstacles and increase the narrative surrounding each little event. I may even break the chapter as Clint encounters one of the more serious obstacles.

The observant readers of this post may have noticed that I used short punchy sentences and urgent words like dashes when writing this overblown example. These are other tricks of the authors’ trade and ones which can really make a difference.

As tempting as it is to inject pace into every sentence, you can have too much of a good thing and the best authors work on a peak and trough kind of system to give both character and reader a chance to grab their breath.

If you’re looking for books with excellent pacing then I heartily recommend Severed and Relentless by Simon Kernick and A.A. Dhand’s Streets of Darkness.

Oh yeah. My books too.

***

Blimmin’ marvellous post, thank you Graham!

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This is the first time I’ve read a book by Graham Smith and I can categorically state that it won’t be the last!  I am amazed the author managed to squeeze so much interesting, intriguing content into a novella.  I’ve tried to enjoy novellas in the past but they’ve never really had my full support (blink and you’ve missed some vital part of the story, or it’s finished and you’re left wanting more!).  I would always opt for a full novel, given the choice.  Not only has this book introduced me to author Graham Smith, it’s made me think differently about novellas.

DI Harry Evans is the perfect kind of character for me.  He’s a wayward cop doing things his way in order to get the job done – no matter what that takes.  The Major Crimes Team are all likeable characters (except DI Campbell) but I felt like I was missing out, having not read the previous books in the series.  I’ve seen several other bloggers say this book can be read as a standalone, which I agree with.  But it always helps to start at the beginning of a series, no matter what the series or how good the writer is.  I immediately downloaded Snatched From Home as I want to read more about these characters; they’ve got under my skin.

I am not a football fan so I was a little disheartened to learn one of the main themes of Matching The Evidence was football hooligans.  If, like me, you’re not a fan then please don’t let the football thing put you off.  There are a few fleeting mentions of the actual game but the majority of the book focuses on the violence and excuses used by the so-called fans.  There’s a lot more to this book than Carlisle United playing Milwall.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I feel as though I’ve found a new favourite author and I will be keeping an eye out for more from Graham Smith.  If you’re looking for a quick read that’s full of action from the get-go that I suggest you get yourself a copy of Matching The Evidence.

Four and a half stars out of five.

Many thanks to Noelle Holten, Graham Smith and Caffeine Nights Publishing for providing me with a copy of Matching The Evidence in exchange for an honest review.

Matching The Evidence by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing  on 8th September 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Caffeine Nights Publishing |

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Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been 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.

Matching the Evidence: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Matching-Evidence-Major-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B01JJ5D1AC

Snatched from Home: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Snatched-Home-Would-Children-Harry-ebook/dp/B00U0GRQCY

Lines of Enquiry: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Major-Crimes-Team-Lines-Enquiry-ebook/dp/B00U0N3FG8

I Know Your Secret – Out October 2016

Connect with Graham via Twitter @GrahamSmith1972, his Facebook page or his website.

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#CoverReveal: The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange by James Calum Campbell @ImpressBooks1

I am delighted to share the cover of the forthcoming Impress Books release The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange with you today.  #SevenTrials is the second book in the Cameron-Strange series by author James Calum Campbell and is due for release on 1st November 2016.  Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…

Fox stepped swiftly through the door.  There was an audible click.  And there came the sound of a bolt sliding into place.

What follows is the stuff of nightmares…

Just when the bereaved and troubled Dr Alastair Cameron-Strange rediscovers his life on the other side of the world, the British authorities track him down. They recruit him on a mission which takes him to the farthest reaches of New Zealand, to Xanadu with all its grotesque gargoyles, chief among them Phineas Fox, the American business tycoon whose baleful eye is on the White House.  There’s something not quite right about Mr Fox, and Cameron-Strange, with the help of the beautiful Nikki, is determined to find out what it is.  He survives six ordeals, but will he survive a seventh?

I can’t wait to read this!  It sounds so good and a little different, which can only be a good thing.  And now for that brilliant cover…

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Fabulous cover! You can pre-order The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange by clicking here. Make sure you join me on 1st November when I will have a guest post from author James Calum Campbell as part of the blog tour.

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James Calum Campbell is a doctor-turned-author who divides his time between Scotland and New Zealand. He won the Impress Prize for New Writers 2014 with his debut novel Click, Double-Click. He was born in Glasgow, read Medicine at Edinburgh, and practised in Papua New Guinea, Queensland, and Auckland, where he was Clinical Head of the busiest emergency department in Australasia.

#BlogTour #BookReview: A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley (@detectivekubu) @OrendaBooks

51rRel5hflL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_‘There’s no easy way to say this, Kubu. Your father’s dead. I’m afraid he’s been murdered.’

“Faced with the violent death of his own father, even Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, Botswana CID’s keenest mind, is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? The picture becomes even murkier with the apparent suicide of a government official. Are Chinese mine-owners involved? And what role does the US Embassy have to play?

Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption and greed, as a complex series of murders presents the opera-loving, wine connoisseur detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time … and find justice for his father?”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the A Death in the Family blog tour.  A Death in the Family is book 5 in the Detective Kubu series written by brilliant writing team, Michael Stanley (Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip).

It’s so good to have Kubu back!  At the start of August I had my first introduction to the very likeable Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu when I reviewed the wonderful Deadly Harvest.  If you missed that review, you can check it out by clicking here.  I was so looking forward to catching up with the man affectionately named ‘hippo’ once again and I was not disappointed!  It was a joy to read this book so soon after Deadly Harvest as the characters and the stunning setting of Botswana, were still fresh in my mind.

Assistant Superintendent Bengu receives a call in the middle of the night telling him that his father is dead.  A parent passing is bad enough but Kubu’s world crumbles when he discovers his father has been murdered.  He’s keen to start working on the case but Director Mabaku puts a halt on any involvement immediately.  Instead Kubu is tasked with investigating the apparent suicide of a government official.  Elsewhere the people of Shoshong are on the brink of catastrophe.  Having been offered jobs, the young men are keen to encourage the expansion of the local Chinese-run mine, but the Chief and Elders are more concerned about upholding tradition.  Anger starts to build and is set to erupt with explosive consequences.  Chock full of suspense, intrigue and corruption; will Kubu manage to find the cause of the official’s death, and more importantly, can he discover who killed his elderly father…?

I was surprisingly saddened by Kubu’s father’s death, having only met him once before in Deadly Harvest.  He seemed like such a kind gentle man that I found his murder quite unsettling (I’d read the back of the book and was fully expecting it – maybe I’m just a softie!).  I fell a little more in love with Kubu this time around, despite him being a relatively normal kind of guy and not my usual dark and dangerous detective.  You find out a lot more about him and what makes him tick in this book.  My feelings towards Samantha Khama haven’t changed one iota, I still dislike the woman!  She really doesn’t do herself any favours in my eyes. So I was rather pleased that Kubu was a touch colder towards her.

The plot was clever, intricate and interesting throughout.  My husband studied geology at university so we had a lovely chat about mining for minerals and rare earth elements (he chatted, I listened…I’m still none the wiser!).

I’m still amazed that two people can write so well together yet make it sound like one voice. Just goes to show what fantastic writer’s Mr Sears and Mr Trollip are!

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I think it works well as a standalone.  I, however, enjoyed it more because the characters and the landscapes were familiar to me.  A cleverly written police procedural which is full of mystery and suspense featuring some wonderful characters – what’s not to love?

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of A Death in the Family in exchange for an honest review.

A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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A1tzuKdGl0L._UX250_Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award. The next in the Detective Kubu series is A Death in the Family, also published by Orenda Books.  Connect with Michael Stanley via Twitter @detectivekubu.

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Lazy Blood by Ross Greenwood (@greenwoodross) @Bloodhoundbook

519ztcao6ol“Did you make friends at school?
Are they still your friends now?
Do you trust them?
Will is on his way to prison. His life is a mess, but who is to blame?

Set over thirty years, Lazy Blood is a dramatic tale of the endurance of friendship, the frailty of life, the drama of love and how they can all be ruined by broken people, random events and idle choices.”

‘THIS BOOK WILL BLOW YOU AWAY.’ – White Books

‘FUNNY, SHOCKING, SAD.’ – Reader’s Select

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Lazy Blood blog tour.  I have a fascinating guest post from debut author Ross Greenwood to share with you (I do love a guest post!) so without further ado I will hand over to Ross…

People in Prison

I began my book over five years ago and felt I had a good idea; it just lacked a little drama. With the birth of my children I placed it in a drawer where it gathered dust. I took a job as a Prison Officer in our local jail to pay the bills and ideas abounded. Eventually I had to finish it.

One of the main things that surprised me about prison life was it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be a cross between Bad Girls, Screwed and Porridge, but the truth was different. I believed the prisoners would all be criminals and getting what they deserved, but as with many things in life, the lines are blurred.

Obviously there were career criminals, but the majority were normal people who had done crazy, stupid or impulsive things. What I quickly realised was that being sent to prison was something that could happen to anyone. We all have our ups and downs and make mistakes, or do things we later regret. Sometimes they can have far-reaching consequences.

Dangerous drivers are easily sent to prison as a car accident is such a violent incident. For example, people texting and looking up to see they had lost control and hit someone else. Clearly stupid, but that person wasn’t a criminal before that moment, and suddenly they have ruined someone’s life. They need to be punished and being sent to prison is appropriate, but it can ruin their lives too. Jobs will be lost, mortgage payments missed, children will be bereft as well as the stigma from friends and family. The ripple effect can be breathtaking.

Drink was often a factor. A fight that got out of hand and the person pushed, falling over, banging their head and dying was a story I heard numerous times. One minute you are ticking along, the next you could be staring at ten years.

The other side of the coin is those who never stood a chance. Some had parents who were dealers or burglars and they got involved in the family business. They never knew a sense of right and wrong. Are they criminals and victims? Others got hooked on drugs and the need to satisfy those urges overwhelmed any reasonable part of their personality.

Finally, there are the innocent. Surprisingly few protested at being victims of the legal system. However, even though we probably have the most transparent and respected legal system in the world, it would be extremely naïve to believe it is infallible.

Prison is an unnatural place and, despite what the papers would have you believe, is far from cushy. For every one of us the act of being locked up and having our freedom taken away is one of the worst things that can be done to us. There is a sense of waste and life ticking by without you. The choices we take for granted are removed.

I wanted to include some of these themes in my book, told with an insight that many will hopefully never experience.

I also wanted to make people laugh at the vagaries of life and tell a tale of people dealing with what life throws at us, both good and bad. The message through the book is the people we choose to be friends with at school often follow us through life. Over the years the places we are born and where our families live will often pull at us. It is often where we are most comfortable. Familiar roads, welcome memories and friendly faces all aid our well-being. Coming home can be peaceful and give an opportunity to re-build and heal. It can also destroy us.

I hope you enjoy Lazy Blood.

***

Thank you very much for this interesting piece, Ross.  It’s as close as I hope to get to the inside and workings of a prison, I have to say!

I am delighted to have a review copy of Lazy Blood on the #terrifyingTBR so look out for a review on damppebbles in the near future.

Lazy Blood by Ross Greenwood was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 4th September 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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unnamedI was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until I was 20, attending The King’s School in the city. I then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.

I found myself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually when things had gone wrong. It was on one of these occasions that I met my partner about 100 metres from my back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. I’m still a little stunned by the pace of it now. It did make me want to set my novel in Peterborough though.

This book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then four years as a HMP Peterborough prison officer got in the way. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave me the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep I completed it in the early morning hours.  Connect with Ross via Twitter @greenwoodross or his website.

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