#CoverReveal: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture

I am happily bouncing off the walls because I’m part of the cover reveal team for the new book by LOUISE JENSEN!  Louise Jensen is one of my very favourite authors so I can’t wait to get my mitts on this little beauty.  We don’t have long to wait as The Surrogate will be published by Bookouture on 27th September 2017 (guys, it’s July tomorrow!  It’s really not THAT long!).  So let’s get this show on the road and have a peek at the blurb…

THE SURROGATE by Louise Jensen

‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’ 

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister and The Gift, this is an unputdownable psychological thriller which asks how far we will go to create our perfect family.  

How good does that sound?  I CAN’T WAIT to read The Surrogate.  I’m such a huge fan of Louise’s books (click here to read my review of The Sister, Louise’s debut and here for my review of The Gift) so this new release can’t come soon enough for me!  But I digress, here’s the stunning cover….

the surrogate cover.jpg

Wow!  I love that cover, gives me the heebie jeebies and makes me want a copy of The Surrogate even more than I did before (if that’s possible).  Mark the date in your diary (27th September 2017) and make sure you grab yourself a copy on publication day.  I know I will be doing just that!

Here are those all important pre-order links:

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2sY4hK1
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2uqwxmv

about the author3

louise jensen.jpg

Louise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.

Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a puppy and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

Advertisements

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear (@CazziF) @BonnierZaffre

Sweet Little Lies.jpg“WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Sweet Little Lies blog tour.  Sweet Little Lies is written by debut author, Caz Frear and was named the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in conjunction with retailer WHSmith.  To celebrate the release of this engrossing crime thriller not only do I have my four and a half star review, I also have a fantastic guest post (yay! I do love a guest post!) on a subject close to my heart.  Well, sort of anyway!  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Caz…

Do female protagonists in crime fiction always have to have a ‘love interest’?

‘A love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective’s struggle to solve the problem.  The only effective love interest is that which creates a personal hazard for the detective….’

“Casual Notes on the Mystery Novel” (essay, 1949), first published in Raymond Chandler Speaking (1962)

I’ll be honest, I’m with Raymond on this one.  But as nearly seven decades have passed since he first offered his thoughts, I thought, what the hell, maybe it’s time to play devil’s advocate and see if I can make a case for the ‘love interest’ in female-led crime fiction.  After all, women, more than ever, are the primary readers of crime fiction and they also remain the primary readers of romance fiction, so what harm in combining the two, right?  A twisty, disturbing crime thriller and a romance sub-plot all under the same roof.  What more could we ask for, eh?

Er, no. 

Although I’d kind-of-just-about-maybe agree with this if we could at least change the profile of the ‘love interest’ for a start.

In fairness, the injection of a ‘love interest’ isn’t just peculiar to female-led crime fiction.  Morse was always mooning over someone – trying, and usually failing, to seduce some posh lady with his Mark II Jag and mournful eyes. DCI Banks always has a girlfriend – usually they’re significantly younger and significantly hotter than he is, but somehow they’re always completely gaga over the wiry, aging jazz fan.  Even DI Frost, with his prickly manner, even pricklier moustache and decades-old grey coat, is never without an attractive (and usually younger) woman trying to bed him, and more-often-than-not, domesticate him.

But therein lie some crucial differences – the‘love interest’ in female-led crime is almost always…

  • Older, or at least of a similar age – for example, how many 40-something female protagonists have a twenty-something male model-type go completely nuts about them, all on the strength of their charismatic personality? NEVER. HAPPENS (but regularly happens the other way round)
  • Their boss or superior colleague (again, very rarely happens the other way round)
  • More, or at the very least as successful as the female protagonist, in their chosen field.
  • Aesthetically anonymous – much less focus on how gorgeous they are, and when their physical characteristics are described, they quite often aren’t gorgeous at all – our female protagonist simply loves them for their wrinkles/soft paunch/balding head etc, (I’ll say it again, very rarely happens the other way round.)

But in the interests of challenging Raymond Chandler (!) I’ll step down from my soapbox for a minute and share a few thoughts about why it’s sometimes good for our female protagonist to have a ‘love interest.’

  • No woman is an island. Very few are a Billy-no-Mates.  Realistically, everyone has someone they can turn to, and arguably an intimate romantic relationship has more dramatic potential than the ‘chatting-with-a-best-friend-over-a-bottle-of-wine’ scenario, within the context of a crime novel.
  • In a genre where men don’t always get the best press – a lot of crime fiction focuses on male violence against women – a well-characterised male love interest serves as a reminder of the Good Men around.
  • Romantic relationships showcase a character’s vulnerability – you often open up to a lover in ways you don’t with other people.
  • Most women want/need sex from time to time, even if they don’t want steady romance, and therefore if you’re not comfortable creating a female lead who has quite a casual approach to hook-ups, you’re going to have to give her some sort of formal ‘love interest.’ It’s just not realistic for our female protagonist to live like a nun.
  • Sexual tension is fun. It’s interesting.  It’s delightful to write.  The will-they-won’t-they has never lost its appeal and when it simmers just beneath the surface, it can add a new level of tension to a crime novel (I’m thinking here of the brilliant dynamic between Derwent and Kerrigan in Jane Casey’s fantastic series – I actually enjoy this aspect more than the Maeve-and-Rob romance.)

Finally, just to say that despite my earlier talk about not loving the ‘love interest’, there is one in Sweet Little Lies, in the form of dishy Aiden Doyle (I know, I know….hypocrite…)  However, in my defence I will add (with a cryptic smile) that only time will tell how much of a “personal hazard for the detective” Aiden becomes…….

Let’s just say Raymond Chandler wouldn’t judge me too harshly….

Brilliant post, thank you Caz.  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I’m not a fan of slushy mushy romance in my crime thrillers so I found your arguments for a love interest fascinating.  Have I changed my stance?  Not quite, but the rather lovely Aiden Doyle COULD change my mind…. 😉

my review2

Whilst on holiday in Ireland with her family, eight year old Catrina is unwittingly drawn into a missing persons investigation.  Teenager, Maryanne Doyle; loud, brash and very much in your face, goes missing.  Catrina doesn’t know what happened to Maryanne but she is sure of one thing.  Her father lied to the police.  He claimed to not have known the teenager but Catrina vividly remembers Maryanne hitch hiking and her dad picking her up.  After all, Catrina was in the car as well.  Fast forward 18 years and Catrina is now DC Cat Kinsella with the Met’s Murder team.  Called to investigate the brutal murder of Alice Lapaine, the team find nothing but a secretive husband and a lot of dead ends.  Can Cat find out what happened to Maryanne all those years ago, exactly what part her father played in her disappearance AND solve a motiveless murder at the same time…?

So many delicious secrets!  This is a wonderfully intricate tale which I found hard to put down.  I was immediately drawn to the feisty Cat Kinsella.  She absolutely made the book for me and I couldn’t tear myself away from reading about her exploits.  How I loved her dry wit, her gutsy determination and her adorable relationship with Acting DI Luigi Parnell.  I found myself caring about what was going to happen to Cat, whether she would discover the truth and whether it would be the truth she actually wanted to hear.

For me, the characters in a book are one of the most important factors.  I feel Caz Frear deserves high praise for the cast of characters she has created in this novel.  After finishing the book I can still bring to mind certain scenarios, conversations and interactions between her creations.  They all stand tall, each one an individual.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s an excellent debut and I’m excited to see what Caz Frear has in store for us in the future.  It’s a gripping read, full of suspense and intrigue, chock full of lies and deceit from a sometimes dubious cast of characters.

Four and a half out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Sweet Little Lies.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 29th June 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Foyles | Book Depository |

Sweet-Little-Lies_Richard-and-Judy-Tour_Twitter-card_One.png

Caz Frear.jpgAuthor Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker (@jdbarker) @HQstories #4MK

fourth monkey cover.jpg“Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Fourth Monkey blog tour.  This was such an eagerly anticipated book for me.  When I heard it was Se7en meets Silence of the Lambs….well, my heart did a little happy flip.  Literary-wise, that’s about as good as it gets for me (and yes, I have read the novelisation of Se7en, lol!).

So did The Fourth Monkey live up to my incredibly high expectations?  Well, it did…and it didn’t.  All in all this is cracking serial killer thriller which delivered twists, a fair amount of gore and lots of page turning tension.  My problem however was that I expected something radically different and I didn’t get it.  OK, it was compared to two movies/books so maybe I should have taken that as hint, but I didn’t.  I’m sorry to say that I felt I had read several similar novels before and they were equally as good as The Fourth Monkey.  I really hope I’m not coming across as negative towards this book because I am most certainly not, I really enjoyed it.  It’s an absolutely storming serial killer thriller.  But I read mostly from the crime genre (OK, pretty much exclusively!) so maybe that’s the problem.

The Fourth Monkey killer or 4MK has been free to torture and terrify the citizens of Chicago for five long years.  Detective Sam Porter has been on the case hunting down the sadistic psychopath who delivers three white boxes wrapped with black string to the victims relatives.  One contains their loved one’s ear, the next their eyes and the third box contains their tongue.  Shortly after this the victim’s body is found with the message ‘DO NO EVIL’ written nearby in blood.  Sam Porter and his team are obsessed with 4MK. But Sam’s life has taken a turn for the worse and he’s on compassionate leave when called to a devastating bus RTA.  Porter doesn’t initially understand why his presence is necessary but all becomes clear when they find a small white box wrapped with black string in the bus victim’s pocket.  The race is on.  The 4MK killer is dead but the ear confirms one thing.  He’s taken another victim and they need to be found before they die of dehydration, or worse…

I liked Sam Porter but I warmed more to Detectives Clair Norton and Brian Nash.  They have a certain love/hate chemistry going on which brought a lighter note to a deliciously dark read.  I guessed what was going to happen from fairly early on in the story which I found a little frustrating this time around, as Porter and team seemed completely blind to there being another option.

It’s a fairly gory read but in all I honesty, I wanted a bit more of the ‘eugh-factor’.  Saying that, if you’re not a regular reader of this genre then you probably will find it quite disturbing.  In a good way, of course!

The chapters alternate between the present day detailing the ongoing police investigation and diary entries written by the 4MK as a young boy.  These diary entries I adored!  I wanted more.  I loved seeing how a young boy was shaped by his parents into a killing machine.  I will just say that 4MK’s upbringing is quite different to that of his serial killer peers and I found it utterly fascinating!  I would purchase a book written about 4MK’s early years and his relationship with his parents in a heartbeat.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and if you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller then it’s a must read.  This is going to be one of the most talked about books this Summer as it crosses lines other writers won’t and that is a wonderful thing.  A great serial killer thriller but I’m not sure I was supposed to be rooting for 4MK….!

Four out of five stars.

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

The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker was published in the UK by HQ on 27th June 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Foyles | Book Depository |

Giveaway #1:  Here’s your chance to win one of three copies of The Fourth Monkey. Click this link to enter: http://jdbarker.com/fourth-monkey-contest-win-draft-copy-upcoming-novel-4mk/

Giveaway #2:  Fancy being a character is a forthcoming J.D. Barker novel?  Then click this link to enter: http://jdbarker.com/be-a-character-in-next-book/

Giveaway #3:  I have one #4MK Killer Swag Box to giveaway.  The Box contains a signed copy of the book, bookmark, stickers, a letter from the 4MK killer and a diary!  All you need to do to enter is click on this rafflecopter link -> a Rafflecopter giveaway.  UK & US entrants only please.  You will need to provide your postal address so your prize can be sent  No cash alternative.  Giveaway ends on 5th July at midnight (BST).

The Fourth Monkey Promo Banner.jpg

The Fourth Monkey JD Barker Blog Tour Poster.jpg

about the author2

JD Barker Photo 2.jpgBarker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public.

Barker’s indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

Author Links: | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson (@kerrywk) @bookouture

two sisters cover.jpg“They told us he had been missing for nearly two days, that he probably drowned. They told us a lie.

Megan was ten years old when her older brother, Zac, went missing among the cliffs, caves and beaches that surround the small seaside town of Whitecliff.

A decade later and a car crash has claimed the lives of her parents.

Megan and her younger sister Chloe return to Whitecliff one summer for the first time since their brother’s disappearance. Megan says it’s to get her parents’ affairs in order. There are boxes to pack, junk to clear, a rundown cottage to sell. But that’s not the real reason.

Megan has come to confront her family’s past after receiving a postcard on the day of her parents’ funeral. It had a photograph of Whitecliff on the front and a single letter on the back.

‘Z’ is all it read.

Z for Zac.

A totally gripping psychological thriller that will have fans of Louise Jensen, Sue Fortin and The Silent Child absolutely hooked.”

Today I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles as it’s my turn on the Two Sisters blog tour.  My partner in crime (or blog tour buddy, if you prefer) is the totally fabulous Claire Knight, guest reviewer extraordinaire over at one of my very favourite crime blogs, CrimeBookJunkie

Anyway, enough of the blogger love.  Let’s move on to what we’re all here for (which is obviously the book love).  I’ve seen author, Kerry Wilkinson’s name mentioned a lot. Wilkinson has penned a number of well received crime novels so he was, of course, on my radar.  But I hadn’t managed to read any of his books due to my blog tour commitments.  How to get round this, I thought to myself…feature on the Two Sisters blog tour, obvious really!

When I first started reading Two Sisters my heart sank.  I immediately disliked the lead character, Megan.  I mean she really got my back up.  I wondered how I was going to fare, having to read about this obnoxious, conniving little madam (I should add that she is 20 years old but felt much younger to me).  But then I met Chloe, her younger sister and I started to forgive Megan a little for being the cow she is.  And then you find more out about the girls upbringing, and although I still didn’t really ‘like’ Megan, I began to understand her more.  What I did like most about Megan is how much she loves and cares for her younger sister.  Surprisingly, Megan and Chloe don’t really know each other that well.  They were sent off to separate boarding schools from a young age but distance failed to break that sisterly bond.  And that was a joy to read.

Two Sisters works so well because of it’s creepy, claustrophobic setting of a small village called Whitecliff on the Cornish coast.  I loved the way the author stranded his cast of characters in this remote location.  I loved the friction between the locals and the well-to-do ‘dumped by their parents’ beach kids.  I loved that there was no mobile signal unless you went to the lightning tree.  It sounds like the core ingredients of a horror movie, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this book as much as I did.  It was brilliantly tense.  Despite loving the setting, I do often wonder (still to this day,  after a couple of weeks have passed) how this book would work set in small town America.  Maybe something for the future, eh Mr Wilkinson? *wink*.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller then I would say this is a must read.  It’s so wonderfully claustrophobic that I had to take breaks along the way to come up for air!  A really engrossing, enjoyable read and I will be making a point of reading Kerry Wilkinson’s books in the future.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson was published in the UK by Bookouture on 23rd June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

two sisters blog tour.jpg

about the author2

kerry wilkinson.jpgKerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

 

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

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

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

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

Six years later …

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

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

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

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

GUILTY by Laura Elliot
Prologue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blog tour poster.jpg

about the author2

laura elliot.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars (more if I could)

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

Exquisite blog tour poster (1).jpg

about the author2

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

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course you do!

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

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

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

Good luck everyone!

DampPebbles Quote Card.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Happiness…and death.”

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

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

The Lucky Ones blog tour graphic.jpg

about the author2

EDWARDS 7 TS 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Website |

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four out of five stars.

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

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

serial killers daughter blogtour.jpg

about the author2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

about the author2

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter |