#CaseClosed: #September2017 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello my bookish beauties.  You may be asking yourself exactly what you have stumbled upon, what the heck is #CaseClosed…?  Well, let me tell you.  Back at the start of the year I had this terrific idea where I would summarise the goings on of damppebbles in a monthly post.  It was a great idea, so great I only managed to post three times before collapsing in a bedraggled book strewn heap!  Okay, so I suffered a little blogger burn-out earlier this year but that was then and this is now…

My big news is that I have decided to drastically reduce the number of blog tours and new books I accept for review.  It’s not a total ban as my FOMO would end up kicking my butt.  It’s more of a (severe) cut-back on what I currently do.  I have found that I am only reading for blog tours at the moment and I have lost all choice.  My next read is already planned for me according to what is next in my diary.  Isn’t one of the many joys of reading finishing one book and deciding which to pick up next?  I think so, and I really miss having that choice.  I absolutely love blog tours and that’s 90% of the problem; I hate to say no to publishers and blog tour organisers, but that’s where my list of 20 authors comes in.  I have a list of 20 authors whose work I cannot live without.  If one of the authors on the list publishes a new book then I can purchase a copy.  If I am lucky enough to be asked to join their tour, then I can say yes without fretting.  It will also keep the dastardly FOMO at bay (I hope).

Oh yeah, and I’m aiming to do this for one whole year – until 1st October 2018.  You may think I’m crazy (you could be proven right) but this feels the only way to make sure I get some of the older books on my TBR read.  After all, some very lovely patient authors have been waiting a year and a half for a review from me….EEK!

Anyway, what’s been happening in September you may ask.  Quite a lot, actually.  I think I’ve been accepting more tours knowing that from 1st October I won’t be to do as many.  Desperately squeezing in as many as possible before my October deadline!

In September I took part in 12 blog tours:

Ten review posts:

Hide and Seek by Richard Parker | Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech | The House by Simon Lelic | A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward | Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines | The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith | Race to the Kill by Helen Cadbury | House of Spines by Michael J. Malone | Hope to Die by David Jackson | The Surrogate by Louise Jensen |

Two content posts:

Scorn by Paul Hoffman (extract) | Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (giveaway) |

Two cover reveals:

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite | Shadows by Jackie McLean |

I’m over the moon that I managed to squeeze in two publication day (or near as dammit!) reviews:

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan | The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans |

And I also reblogged two of my older reviews in celebration of First Monday Crime returning on Monday 2nd October (click either of these links to reserve your FREE place):

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards | Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear |

Now I know I’m not the most frenetic of bloggers but I’m really impressed with how much I’ve managed to squeeze in this month.  I still have a few reviews to type up so look out for reviews of Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart, Sleep No More by P.D. James and The Visitors by Catherine Burns coming your way soon!

It’s all very exciting, it’s now time for my book of the month.  I’ve seen many of my fellow bloggers select a book of the month and I ALWAYS look forward to seeing what they have chosen.  Which made me think, why don’t I include a Book of the Month post in #CaseClosed.  I’d be silly not to!

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There have been several standout books this month and some of you may have an inkling about what I’m going to choose.  There were two sublime reads which were fighting for the top spot.  However, my book of the month for September is….

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a patient fury

My other choice (which shall remain a secret 😉) will have lots of other bloggers voting it their book of the month which is why I wanted to support Sarah Ward’s wonderful DC Connie Childs series.  If you haven’t had the chance to meet DC Childs and DI Sadler then you MUST!

“Honestly, my favourite crime series out there at the moment and I urge you to get yourself a copy of A Patient Fury.  You won’t regret it.  Sheer brilliance.”

HERE is a link to Sarah Ward’s amazon.co.uk author page should you wish to purchase a copy or three (you won’t regret).

So that’s it for another month. I’m looking forward to those Autumnal evenings, cosied up at home with a great book and a glass of wine (obviously, I meant tea there, not wine 😶).  I have a couple of blog tours coming up in October (only a few, mind).  Otherwise, I hope to dazzle you all with considered and thoughtful reviews of some cracking crime thrillers.

Come back and visit damppebbles.com soon!

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#CoverReveal: Shadows by Jackie McLean (@JackieJamxx) @ThunderPointLtd

I am delighted to be part of the cover reveal team for Jackie McLean’s new book, Shadows.  This is McLean’s second DI Donna Davenport crime novel and will be published in eBook on 14th October 2017.  So without further ado, here is the blurb…

A body washed up on Arbroath beach echoes a previous murder. Now a third woman is missing. For DI Donna and her new team, it’s personal. 

 When DI Donna Davenport is called out to investigate a body washed up on Arbroath beach, it looks like a routine murder inquiry. However, it doesn’t take long before it begins to take on a more sinister shape.  There are similarities with a previous murder, and now a woman who is connected with them goes missing.   For Donna, these events become personal, and added to the feeling that she’s being watched, she is convinced that Jonas Evanton has returned to seek his revenge on her for his downfall.  Fearing they may be looking for a serial killer, the trail leads Donna and her new team in an unexpected direction.  Because it’s not a serial killer – it’s worse.

Moving from Dundee to the south coast of Turkey and the Syrian border, this is a fast-paced novel about those who live their lives in the shadows and those who would exploit them.

“Not for the first time, Donna found herself wondering how the hell she had ended up in a situation like this.”

Well….?  What do you think?  Sounds good, doesn’t it.  And now for the cover….

Shadows cover.JPG

That’s another book for the terrifying TBR then!  I might as well add Toxic, the first book in the series, which also looks fabulous to the list whilst I’m at it!  No point starting part-way through a series, is there…? 😉

Shadows by Jackie McLean will be published in the UK by Thunder Point Publishing Ltd on 14th October 2017 and will be available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com |

about the author3

img_8948-edited_edited.jpgJackie lives in Glasgow with her partner Allison and their dog Loopy.  She has a varied background, including being a government economist, a political lobbyist, and running a pet shop.  She is in and out of prison a lot (in her current job with social work services).  Toxic is her first crime novel, introducing DI Donna Davenport, and was shortlisted in the Yeovil Literary Prize before publication by ThunderPoint Publishing Ltd.  The sequel, Shadows, is about to be published, and she has begun work on the third book in the DI Davenport series (Run).  She runs Get Writing Glasgow, which is a kind of weight watchers for writers, hosted by the Waterstones at Braehead.

Author Links: | Facebook |  Twitter |

 

#BookReview: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear (@CazziF) @1stMondayCrime

Sweet Little Lies“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?”

Hello, my favourite crime fiction people!  I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as I have another First Monday Crime review to tempt you with.  Today I am thrilled to feature my review of Caz Frear‘s awesome Sweet Little Lies.

Caz will be appearing alongside Mark Edwards, Ann Cleeves and Lilja Sigurðardóttir, not forgetting the lovely Rod Reynolds as moderator.  Make sure you reserve your FREE place at October’s event which takes place on Monday 2nd October at 6.30pm in Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket.  Only four sleeps to go….

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 hitchhiking 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 |

about the author3

Caz FrearCaz Frear grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true.
She has a first-class degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, shop assistant, retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter.
When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #Giveaway: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (@atticalocke) @serpentstail

bluebird, bluebird.jpg“Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead.

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it’s stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.”

A very warm welcome to my stop on the Bluebird, Bluebird blog tour.  Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke is published today so a very happy book birthday to the author and publisher, Serpent’s Tail.

To celebrate the release of this exciting new thriller I have one copy of Bluebird, Bluebird to giveaway.  All you need to do is follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter link below:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

The small print:  The winner will need to provide their name and address – the prize will be sent directly from the publisher.  There is no cash alternative.  Competition open to UK residents only I’m afraid.  The winner’s name will be chosen at random on Sunday 1st October 2017 and notified immediately.  Good luck everyone!

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke was published in the UK by Serpent’s Tail on 28th September 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

attica locke

Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times

Attica Locke’s Pleasantville was the 2016 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. It was also long-listed for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction, and made numerous “Best of 2015” lists. Her first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her second book, The Cutting Season, is a national bestseller and the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. A former fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab, Locke has worked as a screenwriter as well. Most recently, she was a writer and producer on the Fox drama, Empire. She serves on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

Author image and biography via http://www.atticalocke.com/about/

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture

The-Surrogate-Kindle.jpeg“‘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.”

Yay!  The day has finally arrived when I can talk to you about Louise Jensen’s latest release, The Surrogate.  A very warm and squishy welcome to my stop on The Surrogate blog blitz which I share with two book blogging beauties, Emma at Emma the Little Book Worm and Meggy over at Chocolate’n’Waffles.

The Surrogate is Louise Jensen’s third novel and is published by Bookouture today.  A very happy book birthday to all, I just know this one is going to fly!  I am a huge fan of Jensen’s work; you can read my review of her debut, The Sister by clicking HERE and her second novel, The Gift by clicking HERE.  And I absolutely flipping ADORED The Surrogate!

Dare I say this is Jensen’s best book to date?  Y’know what, I think I dare!  The Surrogate has become my very favourite of Louise Jensen’s books knocking the incredible The Sister from the top spot.  If this one doesn’t end up on my list of top ten books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.

Kat is desperate for a baby.  Unable to have her own child she turns to adoption to fill the baby-sized hole in her heart.  But when it all falls through she is devastated.  After all, she has decorated the nursery for Dewei and is a familiar (rather too well-known) face in Mothercare.  The second attempt to adopt Mai also falls through leaving Kat at her wit’s end.  And then Lisa miraculously appears in her life.  Unsure of her intentions to start with, Kat is wary of her ex-best friend.  The women have a murky past which Kat fears has not been forgotten.  Before long, Lisa is entertaining Kat with tales of how she acted as a surrogate for a friend, how she gave birth to baby Gabrielle and then willingly handed her over.  How she feels more of an aunt towards the baby than the infant’s birth mother.  Kat can see a way out of her predicament, a way in which she can finally have the baby she so craves.  All she has to do is convince husband Nick and make sure she keeps Lisa happy and relaxed, totally stress-free.  But exactly how far is Kat prepared to go for that little bundle of joy…

There are so many surprises in The Surrogate that I became dizzy with joy while reading.  You think you know what’s going on, where the story will lead you but in reality, you know nothing!  Jensen has created a wonderfully intricate web of lies and half-truths with bucketfuls of creeping paranoia.  I loved it! (I may have said that already…)

The thread of malice woven through many of the character’s relationships was sublime.  The reader is frequently given glimpses into Kat’s teenage years at school and her interaction with the younger Lisa.  We also get to see how Nick, Kat’s husband was raised by his parents and how, due to injury and the inability to work, Nick’s father begins to mistreat his son.  Both episodes are unsettling and add so much emotion to the story.  I found myself becoming more and more invested in Kat and Nick, knowing something awful was heading their way but not knowing exactly what.

And WOAH, that ending.  Hugely satisfying, totally unexpected and I can guarantee it will stay me for some time to come.  I had my own ideas of how I wanted the story to end but what Jensen has given the reader blows everything else out of the water.  Absolutely superb!

Would I recommend this book?  Without a shadow of a doubt, I would.  If you are a fan of the psychological thriller then you MUST get yourself a copy of The Surrogate.  Louise Jensen just keeps getting better and better and I am so excited about what she has in store for us in the future.  You’ve set the bar even higher now, Louise.  No pressure!  A superb, twisty read that I wish I could give more than five stars to.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th September 2017 and is available in eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

The Surrogate - Blog Blitz.jpeg

about the author3

Louise Jensen author pic - no credit.jpegLouise 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 dog and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.

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

#BookReview: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) @1stMondayCrime

Edwards_The Lucky Ones (300dpi)“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 delighted to be able to share with you today my review of The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards.  Those who regularly follow the blog may be feeling an odd sense of deja vu about now and that’s because yes, I have featured this review on damppebbles before! But I have the most excellent of reasons for posting it again. Mark Edwards, one of my very favourite authors, will be appearing at First Monday Crime on 2nd October alongside three other superb writers (four if you count moderator, Rod Reynolds!).  For your chance to see Mark Edwards, Caz FrearLilja Sigurðardóttir and Ann Cleeves in the flesh (and, of course, the lovely Rod Reynolds!) all you need to do is click THIS LINK and book your FREE place.

my review2

I was a part of the blog tour for The Devil’s Work last year (another of Edwards’s books) and I think it’s fair to say I LOVED it.  I 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.

With that in mind, The Lucky Ones had a lot to live up to.   My expectations were high and I’m thrilled to confirm 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 everyday, normal characters and the terrible things which happen to them (which The Lucky Ones also does very well).  What came as a very pleasant surprise, as a die-hard crime fiction fan, was to discover an investigative duo in the form of DI Imogen Evans and DS Emma Stockwell playing a key role in the plot. 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 |

Don’t forget to book your FREE ticket to October’s First Monday Crime which takes place on Monday 2nd October 2017 at Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket. Only one week to go….

Make sure you pop back to damppebbles on Thursday when I will feature my review of Caz Frear’s Sweet Little Lies in celebration of October’s First Monday Crime event.

about the author3

EDWARDS 7 TS 28

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 | TwitterFacebook |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four out of five stars.

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

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

about the author3

claire evans.jpg

Author bio (c) https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9780751566383

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter |

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

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

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

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

And then the killer strikes again . . .”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

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

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

 

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four out of five stars.

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

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

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Author bio (c) orendabooks.co.uk

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

 

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four out of five stars.

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

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

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

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

Helen died in June 2017.