#BookReview: Until the Debt Is Paid by Alexander Hartung (translated by Steve Anderson) #UntilTheDebtIsPaid #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

“Berlin detective Jan Tommen expected to wake up with a hangover—not a murder charge. But a well-known judge has been brutally killed and hard evidence places Jan at the crime scene. When disturbing gaps in Jan’s memory make finding an alibi impossible, the case against him looks open and shut.

Faced with life on the inside, Jan flees police custody to take refuge with an old friend deeply enmeshed in the capital’s seedy underworld. Hampered by a citywide manhunt, Jan soon finds that investigating leads while eluding capture isn’t easy. Before long, he’s relying on a team of misfits for help, including an icy blonde medical examiner and a brilliant but reclusive computer whiz.

When a lucky break leads Jan to connect the murders to a heinous trafficking ring, the team risks it all to find answers. Meanwhile, the body count continues to rise and the police department starts to close in. Desperate to prove his innocence, Jan must identify the true killer—before his time finally runs out.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Until the Debt Is Paid by Alexander Hartung (translated by Steve Anderson). Until the Debt Is Paid was published on 4th November 2014 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I’m a fan of translated crime fiction and I particularly enjoy German crime fiction (along with Japanese novels) which is how a copy of Until the Debt Is Paid found its way to damppebbles HQ. It’s been sat on my shelf for a wee while now so I decided to include it in my 20 books of summer list. And yes, I should have reviewed this book before the challenge ended on 1st September but there was no way that was going to happen 😂

After a boozy night out, Detective Jan Tommen wakes to find he’s the prime suspect in a grisly murder investigation. The evidence that puts the detective in the frame for the Judge’s murder is pretty conclusive. The only problem is Jan has no memory of what happened the previous night. Sure, he knew the victim, and yes, perhaps he did despise the Judge, but would he commit murder? Realising that he’s about to be arrested for a crime he’s not sure he committed Jan decides to go into hiding, calling on the help of a friend with less than salubrious contacts. Together Jan, Chandu and the small, quirky team at their disposal must discover the killer’s real identity before Jan is imprisoned for life, or the killer strikes again…

Until the Debt Is Paid is a well-written police procedural with a slightly different edge to it in that Detective Jan Tommen is the both the hunter and the hunted. He’s fairly sure he didn’t kill the Judge but due to his loss of memory, he can’t be 100% sure. So whilst he chases down any lead he can find to find what he believes to be the truth, the entire Berlin Criminal Investigations Division are frantically trying to locate him, lead by Jan’s least favourite colleague, Patrick Stein. I like a detective with something to prove and that’s definitely what Tommen is in this book. His colleagues have made their minds up, there’s no other option and Jan is their man. But with the help of a group of acquaintances – a member of the Berlin underworld, the medical examiner and a teenager with all the computer skills they could ever need – they follow the leads ruling out most options until they get lucky. I was a little disappointed with the stereotypes used by the author to create Tommen’s team. They felt a little tired, a little too easy perhaps, but they all played their part and helped move the story along. It was just a little predictable.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I found Until the Debt Is Paid to be an interesting, entertaining crime novel which held my attention from start to finish. I liked Jan Tommen, and despite the use of clichés throughout, thought the other characters contributed well to the story. I wasn’t able to predict in what direction the author was going to take the story and was very surprised when the denouement was made. Until the Debt Is Paid is a gritty, compelling story which I enjoyed. I would be keen to read the second book in this series but was disappointed to see that’s where the Jan Tommen Investigates series ends for now. Fingers crossed for more in the future. Recommended.

Until the Debt Is Paid by Alexander Hartung (translated by Steve Anderson) was published in the UK by Amazon Crossing on 4th November 2014 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Alexander Hartung

Alexander Hartung lives in his hometown of Mannheim, Germany, with his wife and young son. He discovered his love of thrillers and historical fiction while studying economics. Until the Debt is Paid and Grave Intent follows hard-partying detective Jan Tommen through Berlin, a city the author previously called home.

His second series follows Nik Pohl through the city of Munich. Until today the first two books – Broken glass and Blood ties – are translated into English.

#BookReview: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs @AmazonPub #WhatLiesBetweenUs #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of What Lies Between Us by John Marrs. What Lies Between Us was published by Thomas & Mercer on 15th May 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. What Lies Between Us was part of two challenges for me this year – ’12 books in 12 months’ and ’20 books of summer 2022′. Officially I should have reviewed this book before the 20 books deadline which was 1st September 2022 but that was never going to happen. I’ve completely run out of time this year in regards to both reading and reviewing. Rather than not review it on the blog (which would be a huge shame as it’s an absolute corker of a read) I’ve decided to be a rebel and share my 20 books reviews beyond the 1st September deadline 🤫

Maggie and Nina live in the same house together and have done for many years. Nina gets the run of the house, goes out to work at the library, does the weekly shop and the cooking. Whilst Maggie is chained up in the soundproofed attic and only allowed out a couple of times a week for a shared meal together. Because Maggie has done terrible things and Nina wants her to be punished. But truth be told, Nina doesn’t know the half of it. There are a lot more secrets she’s not aware of. Secrets Maggie will do anything to protect…

What Lies Between Us is a seriously twisted and unsettling read which I devoured with utter glee. I had been having a bit of a rough time with my book choices. I struggled with a couple of my previous reads in different ways, but then this absolute beauty made it to the top of the TBR and I was reminded why I love books, why I love to read. I was transported to a house in the suburbs of Northampton where the two residents live a very different life to their neighbours. One chained up in the attic. The other pretending everything is very normal but living on the edge all the time, monitoring her prisoner, making sure she can’t escape and raise the alarm. Ensuring Maggie has nothing to hand which can be fashioned into a weapon or a lockpick. The tension was palpable and I was swept away into the lives of these two women. Both characters are so beautifully drawn that they and their situation felt real to me. I loved the ever-present threat hanging over the entire book. The tension the author has created is done so very well.

The story is told from both Maggie and Nina’s points of view. We hear from the women in the present day and with flashbacks to twenty-five years earlier. These flashbacks slowly build up a shocking picture for the reader. As each layer was stripped away I found myself completely captivated by the story, desperate to know what was going to happen next, biting my nails down to the quick. It was uncomfortable but I just couldn’t look away!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. What Lies Between Us is such a captivating read full to the brim with brilliantly written suspense. I was completely absorbed in the story, I went through a myriad of feelings towards the characters at different stages of the novel and I didn’t want to be separated from this book for a single second. I’ve read a few of this author’s books now and they’ve all been fantastic but this one is my favourite, without a doubt. The twists don’t really stop coming at any point, there’s always more to discover about these women and I was completely bewitched by the characters and how utterly flawed they are. I thoroughly enjoyed What Lies Between Us and would recommend to all psychological thriller/suspense fans. Highly recommended.

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 15th May 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Book Depository | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

John Marrs is the author of #1 Best Sellers The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, The Vacation, Her Last Move, The Passengers, The Minders and What Lies Between Us. Keep It In The Family and The Marriage Act are released soon.
What Lies won the International Thriller Writers’ Best Paperback of 2021 award.
The One has been translated into 30 different languages and is to be turned into an eight-part Netflix series starting in autumn 2020.

After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer.

WWW Wednesday | 21st September 2022 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #booktwt #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Silent Victim (Detective Matilda Darke #10) by Michael Wood
He took her voice
She took it back

A CENSURED DETECTIVE WITH NO LEADS

DCI Matilda Darke and her team have been restricted under special measures after a series of calamitous scandals nearly brought down the South Yorkshire police force.

A BRUTAL ATTACK WITH NO WITNESSES

Now Matilda is on the trail of another murderer, an expert in avoiding detection with no obvious motive but one obvious method.

A DEPRAVED KILLER WHO LEAVES NO TRACES

When his latest victim survives the attack despite her vocal cords being severed, Matilda is more convinced than ever of the guilt of her key suspect. If only she had a way to prove it…

Silent Victim is an unputdownable crime thriller with twists that will make your jaw drop – perfect for fans of Kathy Reichs and Ann Cleeves.


What did you recently finish reading?

Family Business by Jonathan Sims
JUST ANOTHER DEAD-END JOB.

DEATH. IT’S A DIRTY BUSINESS.

When Diya Burman’s best friend Angie dies, it feels like her own life is falling apart. Wanting a fresh start, she joins Slough & Sons – a family firm that cleans up after the recently deceased.

Old love letters. Porcelain dolls. Broken trinkets. Clearing away the remnants of other people’s lives, Diya begins to see things. Horrible things. Things that get harder and harder to write off as merely her grieving imagination. All is not as it seems with the Slough family. Why won’t they speak about their own recent loss? And who is the strange man that keeps turning up at their jobs?

If Diya’s not careful, she might just end up getting buried under the family tree. . .


What do you think you’ll read next?

The Fervor by Alma Katsu
Chilling supernatural horror combining Japanese folklore with WW2 historical fiction from a multiple award-winning author.

As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.

Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot: a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.

Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, THE FERVOR explores a supernatural threat beyond what anyone saw coming: the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it’s too late.


📢 Calling all book bloggers, bookstagrammers and authors 📢

#R3COMM3ND3D returns on 1st November 2022 and YOU’RE invited to take part!

The closing date for submissions this year is WEDNESDAY 10TH NOVEMBER so if you would like to take part, please submit your three books via the form below before the 10th.

If you’re not sure what #R3COMM3ND3D is or if you would just like to see a few examples from past years, then please click THIS LINK.

I can’t wait to find out what three 2022 publications you #R3COMM3ND!

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart @MichaelJBooks #TheButcherandTheWren #damppebbles

“WREN WAS NEVER AFRAID OF THE DARK. UNTIL SHE LEARNED THAT SOME MONSTERS ARE REAL . . .
_________

In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him ‘The Butcher’ – and, so far, he’s proved impossible to catch.

With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity’s darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher’s killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice.

And yet, he continues to elude her.

As body after body piles up on Wren’s examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

How far is Wren willing to go to draw the Butcher into the light . . .?
An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining The Butcher and The Wren blog tour. The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart was published by Penguin Michael Joseph on 13th September 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Butcher and The Wren but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Sriya at Penguin Michael Joseph for sending me a proof copy.

Dr Wren Muller is an experienced forensic pathologist used to dealing with the darker, gorier side of life (and death!). When a serial killer with a penchant for experimenting on his victims starts terrorising the streets of Louisiana, Wren is determined to put her vast knowledge of pathology and criminology into catching the killer. A killer the press have dubbed ‘The Butcher’. Working with the New Orleans Police Department, finding ‘The Butcher’ becomes a matter of urgency for Wren and Detective Leroux. Wren’s obsession with catching the killer grows as the body count rises. No one in Louisiana is safe. Each new victim bringing with them a tale of torture and terror. It’s down to Wren to draw the killer out of hiding before another victim meets a horrifying end…

The Butcher and The Wren is a compelling debut thriller which had me turning the pages at a rate of knots keen to discover how things were going to end. I’m a huge fan of the serial killer thriller. It’s one of my ‘must read’ sub-genres under the crime umbrella so I will always jump at the chance to read anything featuring a multiple murderer (yes, I am odd – although with the number of true crime fans these days I am clearly not in the minority anymore!). The Butcher and The Wren promised a great deal, being written by the co-host of a popular true crime podcast who is also a mortuary technician, and I felt it delivered. The author has used her own experiences and knowledge to give the story an authenticity which I very much appreciated.

The plot is well paced and told from both Wren and the killer’s points of view. This dual narrative really drew me into the story and kept me on the edge of my seat, eager to discover what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed the New Orleans setting with the swamplands featuring strongly throughout. I thought the author did an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of the swamps for the reader. There is one scene in particular in the book which gave me chills. It was so atmospheric and dark in tone.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Butcher and The Wren is a wonderfully gory and addictive serial killer thriller which I enjoyed. I found the story compelling and was hooked from start to finish, powering through the book in a couple of sittings. The characters were interesting and I hope, should a sequel be planned, that we get to peel away the layers a little more and dig a little deeper into what makes them tick. Having finished the book, I felt the killer was more defined in their character than Wren, our lead, was. However, I do get the impression there is more to come so there’s plenty of time for that. The Butcher and The Wren is a good, solid, well-written debut thriller and I look forward to reading more from Urquhart in the future. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Butcher and The Wren. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart was published in the UK by Penguin Michael Joseph on 13th September 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |

Image

Alaina Urquhart is the science-loving co-host of the chart-topping show Morbid: A True Crime Podcast. As an autopsy technician by trade, she offers a unique perspective from deep inside the morgue. Alaina hails from Boston, where she lives with her wonderful husband, John, their three amazing daughters, and a ghost Puggle named Bailey. She is about 75 percent coffee, and truly believes she and Agent Clarice Starling could be friends.

Before writing her first psychological horror novel, she received degrees in criminal justice, psychology, and biology. When she isn’t hosting Morbid, she hosts the Parcast original show Crime Countdown, and a horror movie podcast called Scream!. Her days are usually spent either recording or eviscerating. The way she sees it, when she hangs up her microphone for the day, it’s time to let the dead speak.

#BookReview: The Axe Woman by Håkan Nesser (translated by Sarah Death) @MantleBooks #TheAxeWoman #damppebbles

“Sweden 2012. When Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti returns to work after a terrible personal tragedy his boss asks him to investigate a cold case, hoping to ease him back gently into his police duties.

Five years previously a shy electrician, Arnold Morinder, disappeared from the face of the earth, the only clue his blue moped abandoned in a nearby swamp. At the time his partner, Ellen Bjarnebo, claimed that Arnold had probably travelled to Norway never to return. But Ellen is one of Sweden’s most notorious killers, having served eleven years in prison after killing her abusive first husband and dismembering his body with an axe. And when Barbarotti seeks to interview Ellen in relation to Arnold’s disappearance she is nowhere to be found . . .

But without a body and no chance of interviewing his prime suspect Barbarotti must use all the ingenuity at his disposal to make headway in the case. Still struggling with his personal demons, Barbarotti seeks solace from God, and the support of his colleague, Eva Backman. And as he finally begins to track down his suspect and the cold case begins to thaw, Barbarotti realizes that nothing about Ellen Bjarnebo can be taken for granted . . .

The Axe Woman is the fifth and final Inspector Barbarotti novel from bestselling author Håkan Nesser.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Axe Woman by Håkan Nesser (translated by Sarah Death). The Axe Woman was published by Mantle Books on 1st September 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Axe Woman but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Chloe at Mantle Books for sending me a finished copy.

As a fairly avid reader of crime fiction I have a number of rules when choosing a book. The biggest one being (and this is a lesson learnt through time and experience) when reading serialised detective fiction always, ALWAYS start at the beginning with the first book. Never, NEVER go into a series part-way through. But there are occasions when the look and the sound of the book are just too tempting, and it becomes almost impossible to resist. Which is what happened when The Axe Woman by Håkan Nesser landed on my radar. Despite being the fifth (and final!) book in the series, I couldn’t let this one pass me by, so I shoved the rules to one side and got stuck into this excellent novel as soon as it arrived at damppebbles HQ.

Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti returns to work following a personal tragedy only for his senior officer to ask him to investigate a five-year-old cold case. It feels to Barbarotti as though he’s been given ‘busy work’. Something to test whether he’s fit to return to the force, a task to gently ease him back in before being given a more challenging case. But he can’t be sure of Asunander’s motives so decides to investigate the disappearance of Arnold Morinder to the best of his ability. Morinder disappeared from the town of Kymlinge, Sweden without a trace in August 2007. Reported missing three days later by his partner Ellen Bjarnebo, no trace of Morinder (apart from his discarded blue moped) was ever found. But the name Ellen Bjarnebo is well known to the local police. Ellen Bjarnebo, or Helgesson as she was previously known, is the notorious Axe Woman of Little Burma. A woman who twenty years ago killed her husband and took an axe to his body to hide the evidence. Barbarotti is determined to track the elusive Axe Woman of Little Burma down and get to the bottom of what happened to Morinder. Who really is Ellen Bjarnebo, why did she kill her first husband in such a brutal manner and what does she know about the disappearance of Arnold Morinder…?

The Axe Woman is a masterfully written and very compelling piece of crime fiction which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was initially a little concerned about reading the fifth book in a series, despite being strongly drawn to this one, but at the very start of the novel a tragedy befalls Barbarotti and, despite having never read any of the previous books, I could feel the character had been signigicantly altered. This isn’t perhaps the version of Barbarotti those more familiar with the series know. I must say I absolutely adored the characters in this book. For me, the characters can make or break a novel, but in this instance they only added to the overall appeal of the book. They felt real and believable, I became invested in them. So much so that I will be going back to the first book in the series so I can get to know the regulars better.

Told in the past and present, and from a number of different points of view, this beautifully written slow-burn mystery delivers on every count. The suspense is handled extremely well keeping the reader immersed in the story. On the odd occasion when I did have to put the book down, I was always excited to return to the novel and be reunited with Barbarotti and DI Eva Backman. At times I thought I knew where the storyline was heading, but I was wrong. The reveal is delivered in such a way that it’s really quite shocking, which I appreciated.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Axe Woman is an expertly written mystery which had me glued to the pages and immersed in a world I didn’t want to leave. It’s very clear to me why Håkan Nesser is so well thought of in the crime fiction world; his writing, his characters and his settings are superbly constructed, and I cannot wait to read more by this author. The Axe Woman is an intelligent, heartfelt, somewhat emotional novel which can easily be read as a standalone, despite being the fifth and final book in the series. Yes, you do miss out on some of the history between the characters, the odd reference to an earlier case, but The Axe Woman is written in such a way that as you progress through the book, you learn everything you need to know. If I didn’t know better and I just picked this book up off the shelf, I would have assumed it was a standalone mystery. I’m certainly not qualified to say this having only read one book but this felt a fitting end to the series. Everything is tied off neatly and with understated style. No big, showy fireworks but with a decision that could lead to something…or nothing at all. A superb character-driven novel which I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Axe Woman. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Axe Woman by Håkan Nesser (translated by Sarah Death) was published in the UK by Mantle Books on 1st September 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |

Håkan Nesser

Håkan Nesser is a Swedish author and teacher who has written a number of successful crime fiction novels. He has won Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and his novel Carambole won the Glass Key award in 2000. His books have been translated from Swedish into numerous languages.

Håkan Nesser was born and grew up in Kumla, and has lived most of his adult life in Uppsala. His first novel was published in 1988, but he worked as a teacher until 1998 when he became a full-time author. In August, 2006, Håkan Nesser and his wife Elke moved to Greenwich Village in New York.

Sarah DeathSarah Death is a translator, literary scholar, and editor of the UK-based journal Swedish Book Review. Her translations from the Swedish include Ellen Mattson’s Snow, for which she won the Bernard Shaw Translation Prize. She lives and works in Kent, England.

WWW Wednesday | 14th September 2022 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #booktwt #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Family Business by Jonathan Sims
JUST ANOTHER DEAD-END JOB.

DEATH. IT’S A DIRTY BUSINESS.

When Diya Burman’s best friend Angie dies, it feels like her own life is falling apart. Wanting a fresh start, she joins Slough & Sons – a family firm that cleans up after the recently deceased.

Old love letters. Porcelain dolls. Broken trinkets. Clearing away the remnants of other people’s lives, Diya begins to see things. Horrible things. Things that get harder and harder to write off as merely her grieving imagination. All is not as it seems with the Slough family. Why won’t they speak about their own recent loss? And who is the strange man that keeps turning up at their jobs?

If Diya’s not careful, she might just end up getting buried under the family tree. . .


What did you recently finish reading?

Ghostwritten by Ronald Malfi
BOOKS CAN BE DEADLY

From the bestselling author of Come with Me, four standalone horror novellas set in a shared universe!

In The Skin of Her Teeth, a cursed novel drives people to their deaths.

A delivery job turns deadly in The Dark Brothers’ Last Ride.

In This Book Belongs to Olo, a lonely child has dangerous control over an usual pop-up book.

A choose-your-own adventure game spirals into an uncanny reality in The Story.

Full of creepy, page-turning suspense, these collected novellas are perfect for fans of Paul Tremblay, Stephen King and Joe Hill.

The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart
WREN WAS NEVER AFRAID OF THE DARK. UNTIL SHE LEARNED THAT SOME MONSTERS ARE REAL . . .
_________

In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him ‘The Butcher’ – and, so far, he’s proved impossible to catch.

With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity’s darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher’s killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice.

And yet, he continues to elude her.

As body after body piles up on Wren’s examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

How far is Wren willing to go to draw the Butcher into the light . . .?

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Silent Victim (Detective Matilda Darke #10) by Michael Wood
He took her voice
She took it back


📢 Calling all book bloggers, bookstagrammers and authors 📢

#R3COMM3ND3D returns on 1st November 2022 and YOU’RE invited to take part!

The closing date for submissions this year is WEDNESDAY 10TH NOVEMBER so if you would like to take part, please submit your three books via the form below before the 10th.

If you’re not sure what #R3COMM3ND3D is or if you would just like to see a few examples from past years, then please click THIS LINK.

I can’t wait to find out what three 2022 publications you #R3COMM3ND!

#BookReview: The Way It Is Now by Garry Disher @ViperBooks #TheWayItIsNow #damppebbles

WHO SHALL INHERIT THE SINS OF THE FATHER?

Twenty years ago, Charlie Deravin’s mother went missing, believed murdered. Her body has never been found, and his father has lived under a cloud of suspicion ever since.

Now Charlie has returned to the coastal town where his mother vanished, on disciplinary leave from his job with the police sex-crimes unit, and permanent leave from his marriage. After two decades worrying away at the mystery of his mother’s disappearance, he’s run out of leads.

Then the skeletal remains of two people are found in the excavation of a new building site… and the past comes crashing in on Charlie.
From the multiple Ned Kelly Award-winning author of Consolation comes a stunning new standalone thriller, for readers of Jane Harper, Ian Rankin and Chris Hammer.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Way It Is Now by Garry Disher. The Way It Is Now was published by Viper Books on 4th August 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Way It Is Now but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Rosie at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

Regular visitors to the blog may be aware that I’m what you could call ‘a little bit obsessed with Australian crime fiction’. Only a little, mind you 😜. One of the big names in Aussie crime fiction that I have been desperate to read for some time now is Garry Disher. I’ve been accumulating his Paul Hirschhausen books over time but gaps in my reading schedule have been few and far between, meaning I haven’t had a chance to pick one of Disher’s titles up as yet. Until now, that is. I jumped at the chance to read The Way It Is Now, a standalone novel by this much revered and respected author of Australian crime fiction. And what a treat it was!

Charlie Deravin’s mother disappeared without a trace twenty years ago. Now Charlie, a police officer on enforced leave following an altercation with his boss, is determined to find out what happened to her. However, Charlie cannot catch a break and comes up against dead end after dead end following years of searching for the truth. Speculation within the town where the Deravins lived has always been rife with Charlie’s father, Rhys, an ex-detective himself, firmly in the spotlight. Then one day the remains of two bodies are found in the grounds of a derelict property and life for the Deravin family will never be the same again…

The Way It Is Now is a very compelling and hugely absorbing mystery featuring an extremely well-written and multi-layered lead character in Charlie Deravin. This is Charlie’s story, documented across many years detailing his grief at the loss of this mother and his obsession with finding out what happened to her. Her car was abandoned one day with her possessions strewn across the road. To the casual observer it looked as though Rose Deravin had been abducted. But the police investigation failed to get off of the ground, particularly as the police already had their prime suspect in their sights. Now all they had to do was prove Rhys Deravin guilty, one way or another. Did Rhys kill Rose twenty years ago to prevent their divorce and the sale of their family home? What I loved about The Way It Is Now is that you can never really be sure of Rhys Deravin. Whether he’s guilty or innocent. There were always questions in my mind. Things which didn’t quite add up. I felt he was untrustworthy, part of the old boy’s network of cops back in the day, ‘turn a blind eye because he’s one of us’ and all of that. It made for gripping reading and kept me turning the pages late into the night.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I thoroughly enjoyed The Way It Is Now and I am even more excited to get started on Disher’s Paul Hirschhausen series now. The Way It Is Now is a tense, unsettling, slow burn mystery with strong characterisation, a vivid setting and a highly intriguing storyline which I couldn’t get enough of. I really liked how Disher developed Charlie over the course of the book. There were softer, more emotional moments which were unexpected but endeared me to Charlie’s character even more. All in all, I very much enjoyed this book and look forward to experiencing the author’s writing again very soon. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Way It Is Now. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Way It Is Now by Garry Disher was published in the UK by Viper Books on 4th August 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |

Garry DisherGarry Disher lives in Australia and is the author of over 40 books: novels, short story collections, writers’ handbooks, history textbooks and children’s fiction. His Challis and Destry police procedurals, and his Wyatt crime from the inside thrillers, are gaining international recognition, winning best crime novel of the year awards in Australia and Germany and appearing on best books of the year lists in the USA. Garry has toured Germany twice and the States once, and counts a scholarship year spent in the Stanford University creative writing school, early in his career, as one of his most important formative experiences.

#BookReview: Black Lake Manor by Guy Morpuss @ViperBooks #BlackLakeManor #damppebbles

A locked room. A brutal murder. And a killer who can unwind time…

In the former mining town of Black Lake, there is an old story about a shipwreck with only one survivor. His descendants have a unique ability: once in their lives – and only once – they can unwind the events of the previous six hours.

More than two hundred years later, part-time police constable Ella Manning is attending a party at Black Lake Manor, the cliff-top mansion belonging to the local billionaire. When a raging storm sweeps in from the Pacific, she and several other guests find themselves trapped.

And when their host is discovered brutally murdered in his study the next morning, the door locked from the inside, they turn to her to solve the crime.

Pushing her detective skills to the limit, against the odds Ella is sure she has identified the killer… but then someone undoes time. With no memory of what she discovered before, her investigation begins again, with very different results. Which of her suspects is guilty? And is there something even more sinister she is yet to uncover?

Can she solve the mystery before time runs out… again?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Black Lake Manor by Guy Morpuss. Black Lake Manor is published today (that’s Thursday 8th September 2022) and is available in hardcover and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Black Lake Manor but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

One of the most memorable books I read last year was the absolutely bonkers Five Minds. Speculative crime fiction at its absolute finest. I was blown away by the detail, planning and thought that had gone into the book to create a future version of our world which perhaps we should do everything to avoid… But I was left pondering on what the focus of the author’s next book could be. How do you top Five Minds? Well dear reader, the answer to your question is you write Black Lake Manor!

It’s a momentous night for Orcus Technologies. Founder and billionaire Lincoln Shan is about to unveil his ground-breaking technology to the world’s press. But mid-demonstration a storm hits Black Lake Manor, Shan’s luxurious home, cutting those at the party off from the rest of the world. By morning Shan has been viciously murdered in his office. The door is locked from the inside and nothing about the scene really makes sense. It’s down to part time special constable and Shan’s ex-fiancée, Ella Manning, to solve the case. But time is against Ella because a number of her suspects have a secret skill and can unwind time. As Ella gets closer to the truth, the killer resets the clock and Ella must start from scratch again with no memory of what came before. Can Ella discover who killed Lincoln Shan before time runs out…again?

It’s true, I did – more or less – steal that last sentence from the blurb but I don’t care because I bloody love it! Black Lake Manor is an inventive, brilliantly mind-bending novel which hooked me in from the opening scenes and didn’t let go. It’s propulsive, highly intelligent and superbly written with fascinating characters and a stunning setting. We first meet Lincoln in 2025 at the tender age of twenty and on the cusp of selling his remarkable power (that of being able to unwind time by six hours) to the highest bidder, who happens to be the 8th Duke of Ombersley. I should mention at this point that the ability to unwind time is a once in a lifetime event. So once it’s done, that’s it – it can’t be done again. This shocking and unsettling exchange immediately sets the scene for the reader.  We then skip forward another twenty years to 2045 where Lincoln has made his billions and will stop at nothing to break new ground in the field of technology. Until he’s killed in a horrific manner and it’s down to Ella, a woman with more empathy for animals than her fellow humans, to solve his grisly murder…again and again and again.

I thoroughly enjoyed how vividly the author painted the Akaht backstory with the flashbacks to the early 1800s. They provided a level of authenticity which I very much appreciated. There is a lot going on in this book with chapters moving from the past to the present day story, and then time hopping backwards by six hours as the wolf eats time (read the book, it’ll make perfect sense 🐺) so the characters have to relive the same day again, most of them without any memory of what happened the first (or second) time around. It could have been confusing but it’s done so well that it’s very easy to follow and understand. All of the threads are expertly interwoven and tied off by the end of the book.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’ve never read a speculative fiction novel before and would like to indulge then please, please, please pick up Black Lake Manor (or Five Minds). You’re in safe, competent hands with Mr Morpuss at the helm. I loved the characters, Ella in particular who is a little bit prickly and not really a people-person but she does what she has to do. I loved the setting with its sweeping Vancouver Island coastline looking out onto the Pacific, and the intricate, crumbling cave network beneath the community’s feet from Black Lake’s days as a mining town. And I loved how involved I became in the story. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the wolf to eat time, waiting to see how that would affect proceedings and what different angle Ella would approach the investigation from afresh. Black Lake Manor is a very clever, hugely entertaining, totally immersive read which I devoured with wolf-like glee! If you’re looking for a mystery with a bit of a different spin to it, or you’re just a fan of superbly written characters, vivid, beautifully drawn settings and plots to grab and hold your attention, then this is definitely the book for you. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Black Lake Manor. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Black Lake Manor by Guy Morpuss was published in the UK by Viper Books on 8th September 2022 and is available in hardcover and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | WaterstonesFoyles | Book Depositorybookshop.org | Goodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Guy MorpussGuy is a London-based barrister whose cases have featured drug-taking cyclists, dead Formula 1 champions and aspiring cemetery owners.

His favourite books involve taking a twist on reality, and playing with the consequences. Which led to his debut novel, FIVE MINDS, about five people sharing one body – possibly with a murderer.

His second novel, BLACK LAKE MANOR, will be published in 2022.

He is currently working on his third novel, HIGHLIGHTS.

Guy lives near Farnham, England, with his wife and two sons. When not writing he can usually be found walking or running in the Surrey Hills.

WWW Wednesday | 7th September 2022 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #booktwt #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Ghostwritten by Ronald Malfi
BOOKS CAN BE DEADLY

From the bestselling author of Come with Me, four standalone horror novellas set in a shared universe!

In The Skin of Her Teeth, a cursed novel drives people to their deaths.

A delivery job turns deadly in The Dark Brothers’ Last Ride.

In This Book Belongs to Olo, a lonely child has dangerous control over an usual pop-up book.

A choose-your-own adventure game spirals into an uncanny reality in The Story.

Full of creepy, page-turning suspense, these collected novellas are perfect for fans of Paul Tremblay, Stephen King and Joe Hill.


What did you recently finish reading?

The Axe Woman by Håkan Nesser
Sweden 2012. When Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti returns to work after a terrible personal tragedy his boss asks him to investigate a cold case, hoping to ease him back gently into his police duties.

Five years previously a shy electrician, Arnold Morinder, disappeared from the face of the earth, the only clue his blue moped abandoned in a nearby swamp. At the time his partner, Ellen Bjarnebo, claimed that Arnold had probably travelled to Norway never to return. But Ellen is one of Sweden’s most notorious killers, having served eleven years in prison after killing her abusive first husband and dismembering his body with an axe. And when Barbarotti seeks to interview Ellen in relation to Arnold’s disappearance she is nowhere to be found . . .

But without a body and no chance of interviewing his prime suspect Barbarotti must use all the ingenuity at his disposal to make headway in the case. Still struggling with his personal demons, Barbarotti seeks solace from God, and the support of his colleague, Eva Backman. And as he finally begins to track down his suspect and the cold case begins to thaw, Barbarotti realizes that nothing about Ellen Bjarnebo can be taken for granted . . .

The Axe Woman is the fifth and final Inspector Barbarotti novel from bestselling author Håkan Nesser.


What do you think you’ll read next?

The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart
WREN WAS NEVER AFRAID OF THE DARK. UNTIL SHE LEARNED THAT SOME MONSTERS ARE REAL . . .
_________

In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him ‘The Butcher’ – and, so far, he’s proved impossible to catch.

With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity’s darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher’s killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice.

And yet, he continues to elude her.

As body after body piles up on Wren’s examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

How far is Wren willing to go to draw the Butcher into the light . . .?

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.


📢 Calling all book bloggers, bookstagrammers and authors 📢

#R3COMM3ND3D returns on 1st November 2022 and YOU’RE invited to take part!

The closing date for submissions this year is WEDNESDAY 10TH NOVEMBER so if you would like to take part, please submit your three books via the form below before the 10th.

If you’re not sure what #R3COMM3ND3D is or if you would just like to see a few examples from past years, then please click THIS LINK.

I can’t wait to find out what three 2022 publications you #R3COMM3ND!

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou @maclehosepress #TheInvisible #damppebbles

“Burnt-out from policework, Detective Sergeant George Manolis flies from Australia to Greece for a holiday. Recently divorced and mourning the death of his father, who emigrated from the turbulent Prespes region which straddles the borders of Greece, Albania and North Macedonia, Manolis hopes to reconnect with his roots and heritage.

On arrival, Manolis learns of the disappearance of an ‘invisible’ – a local man who lives without a scrap of paperwork. The police and some locals believe the man’s disappearance was pre-planned, while others suspect foul play. Reluctantly, Manolis agrees to work undercover to find the invisible, and must navigate the complicated relationships of a tiny village where grudges run deep.

It soon becomes clear to Manolis that he may never locate a man who, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. And with the clock ticking, the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the events of today as Manolis’s investigation leads him to uncover a dark and long-forgotten practice.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the social media splash for The Invisible, the second book in the Detective George Manolis series by Peter Papathanasiou. The Invisible was published by MacLehose Press last Thursday (that’s 1st September 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Invisible but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Corinna at MacLehose Press for sending me a proof copy.

I am a huge fan of Australian crime fiction, it’s become a bit of a passion of mine. This may come as no surprise to regular readers of the blog as I do tend to mention it fairly often 😂. The Stoning, the first book in this series, was a highlight of my reading year in 2021 so I was very much looking forward to being reunited with Detective Manolis once again for his second outing. The Invisible is a very different book to the first in that Manolis goes back to his Greek roots, his parents having emigrated from Greece to Australia prior to George’s birth. The book had a very different flavour, a different feel which I appreciated.

Following a traumatic event at work and suffering from PTSD, DS Manolis is ordered to take leave for a few weeks and give himself time to start healing. He decides the best thing to do is to leave Australia altogether and books a flight to his parent’s homeland, Greece. Upon arrival he discovers one of the locals, a man he was familiar with from previous visits, has gone missing. The only problem is Lefty is an invisible. He has no paperwork, no passport, no bank account. The local police force have been made aware of Lefty’s disappearance but what can they do? According to their records, Lefty never existed. Working undercover, Manolis immerses himself in the Greek lifestyle and begins to ask questions of the locals. But how do you find a man who doesn’t exist…?

The Invisible is a well-written slow burn mystery which I enjoyed reading. The first chapter is fraught with danger and tension as Manolis and a favourite character of mine, Constable ‘Sparrow’ Smith, chase down a drug dealer. Their pursuit ends in tragedy with Manolis holding a smoking gun and reliving his ordeal time and time again. When his boss, Paul Bloody Porter, insists he take some vacation Manolis reluctantly agrees and boards a flight to a country which will forever be in his blood, Greece. From here things take a more sedate pace. Manolis is introduced to old friends and new. Fellow Greek-Aussie, Stavros, asks Manolis to investigate Lefty’s disappearance believing his friend to be more efficient than the local police. Working undercover Manolis begins to investigate but soon realises he’s been set an impossible task.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re looking for a fascinating slow burn mystery featuring some outstanding characters and a dramatic, vivid setting then you will enjoy The Invisible. I learnt so much about the Greek way of life; culture, food and drink, religion, history and practices. The mystery aspect of the story is present throughout the book. The reader is initially introduced to Lefty in the prologue and he is referred to throughout the text by the other characters, which helps build a picture of the character in your mind. But how do you go about finding someone who doesn’t exist? This is exactly Manolis’s problem. Every direction he takes, every new lead fizzles out and becomes a disappointing dead end. I was very intrigued about what had happened to Lefty so the denouement came as a surprise. I’m a fan of the Detective George Manolis series so I hope there are more books to come in this fantastic series. No matter what, I look forward to reading more from this author in the future. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Invisible. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou was published in the UK by MacLehose Press in 1st September and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Peter PapathanasiouPeter Papathanasiou was born in northern Greece in 1974 and adopted as a baby to an Australian family. His debut book, a memoir, was published in 2019 as “Son of Mine” by Salt Publishing (UK) and “Little One” by Allen & Unwin (Australia). His debut novel, a work of crime fiction, was published in 2021 as “The Stoning” by MacLehose Press (UK) and Transit Lounge (Australia), and in 2022 by Polar Verlag (Germany). Peter’s writing has otherwise been published by The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Guardian UK, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Good Weekend, ABC and SBS. He holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from City, University of London; a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences from The Australian National University (ANU); and a Bachelor of Laws from ANU specialising in criminal law.


📢 Calling all book bloggers, bookstagrammers and authors 📢

#R3COMM3ND3D returns on 1st November 2022 and YOU’RE invited to take part!

The closing date for submissions this year is WEDNESDAY 10TH NOVEMBER so if you would like to take part, please submit your three books via the form below before the 10th.

If you’re not sure what #R3COMM3ND3D is or if you would just like to see a few examples from past years, then please click THIS LINK.

I can’t wait to find out what three 2022 publications you #R3COMM3ND!