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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

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

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about the author3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four stars out of five.

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

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

about the author3

 

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

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

 

Author Links: | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook |

 

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

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

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

But Rosie is hiding something…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

There are some secrets you can never tell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

about the author3

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

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

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

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

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about the author3

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

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

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

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

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

I’m represented by Kirsty McLachlan at DGA.

Author Links: | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER  CONFESSION

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

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

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

“Is that you, Father Lloyd?”

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

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

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

“I’m sorry. Please finish your meal.”

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

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

“I’d like to make a confession.”

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

“Gall. Aaron Gall.”

“Are you from around here, Aaron?”

“I used to be a long time ago.”

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

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

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

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

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

“My God, that’s a fair few years.”

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

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

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

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

“So they told me.”

“They?”

“The Sisters of Mercy.”

Another pause.

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

“No.”

“What is it you want, my son?”

Aaron smiled quietly and spoke softly.

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

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

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

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

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about the author3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The House by Simon Lelic (@Simon_Lelic) @VikingBooksUK

The House.jpg“Whose story do YOU believe?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door.

 

AND NOW THE POLICE ARE WATCHING THEM.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn to host The House blog tour.  The House is written by Simon Lelic and will be published by Viking Books in paperback on 3rd November 2017.  If you can’t wait until then, the eBook version is available now so make sure you grab yourself a copy.

That gorgeously eerie cover set a pretty high standard with regards to my expectations of this book.  I was hoping for something creepy, something chilling and I certainly got it. For me, however, a lot of the chill left the story as I began to learn more about the central characters.  I was smitten with the first part.  Strange events have happened and you’re never really sure what the cause was, who was affected and what exactly is going on.  I found myself feeling a little disappointed when the reason for the odd goings on was revealed.

However, it was at this point that The House took an about-turn for me.  I cast aside my need for a creepy story and instead focused on the book I held in my hands.  This was a brilliantly written, intricate and twisty tale of families gone wrong, seriously flipping wrong.  Here was one of the most sinister, devious and generally most horrible characters I have ever met (in a literary sense) screaming at me from the pages for my attention.  Now I like my characters dark.  That’s no secret.  Only yesterday, in another review, I confessed to liking the bad guy in the book more than any of the other ‘relatable’ lead characters.  But this character….WOAH!  If you like your reads dark then The House should be top of your wish list.

This book ticked so many boxes for me.  I managed to get a good dose of creepiness, I loved the way Jack and Syd, a couple very much in love at the start and our lead characters, began drifting apart as their lives were put under unexplainable pressure. The bad guy was so brilliantly horrible that I’ll remember him for a long time to come.  I absolutely loved the twist, so clever!  As soon as I start reading a book I attempt to try and work out where the story is heading, what the twist will be…I can’t help it, it’s a compulsion!  But this, this I NEVER saw coming and I absolutely loved it.  Have I mentioned that it’s very clever…?? lol.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s deliciously dark, imposing and totally engrossing.  Simon Lelic was a new author to me until I picked up my copy of The House.  I will be making a point of searching out his future thriller releases.  I really enjoyed The House but suggest you don’t just think of it as a creepy read as that is only a fraction of what this book is about.  It has a lot more to offer readers.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The House by Simon Lelic was published in the UK by Viking Books on 17th August 2017 in eBook format and will be available in paperback format on 3rd November 2017 | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

I was born in Brighton in 1976 and, after a decade or so living in London and trying to convince myself that the tube was fine, really, because it gave me a chance to read, my wife and I moved back to Brighton with our three young children. That Barnaby, Joseph and Anja’s grandparents happened to live close enough by to be able to offer their babysitting services was, of course, entirely coincidental.

As well as writing, I run an import/export business. I say this, when people ask, with a wink but I fool no one: I am more Del Trotter than Howard Marks. My hobbies (when I have time for them) include reading (for which I make time, because I can just about get away with claiming this is also work), golf, tennis, snowboarding and karate. My weekends belong to my family (or so my wife tells me), as does my heart.

I studied history at the University of Exeter. After graduating I was qualified, I discovered . . . to do an MA. After that I figured I had better learn something useful, so took a post-grad course in journalism. I know, I know: so much for learning something useful. After working freelance and then in business-to-business publishing, I now write novels. Not useful either, necessarily, but fun and, in its own way, important.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech (@LouiseWriter) @OrendaBooks

Maria in the Moon cover.jpg“Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.

With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges… and changes everything.

Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide..”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Maria in the Moon blog tour which I share with the lovely Susan over at The Book Trail.  Maria in the Moon is written by Louise Beech and will be published by Orenda Books in paperback on 30th September 2017.

I’ve been wanting to read a novel written by Louise Beech for a little while now.  I have to admit to being a little put off in the past as her novels, despite being classed as psychological thrillers, they tend to have words like moving or beautiful attached to them. So, cards on the table, I’m not a reader who would usually seek a moving or beautiful novel. I want terrifying, gory, dark and gripping.  They’re my kind of words.  But the one thing I can’t do is ignore the thoughts of my fellow book bloggers and Beech’s books tend to go down an absolute storm in my little booky community.  When the opportunity to feature on the Maria in the Moon blog tour presented itself, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity.  Plus the early reviews were blisteringly good which helped sway my decision a smidge.  And I really wasn’t disappointed.

Yes, this book is probably not my usual fare.  There’s a lot more heart to this story than I usually encounter.  However, I found it wonderfully refreshing.  Every now and again, particularly as a genre reader such as myself, it’s good to indulge yourself in something a little different  (a little different, not ‘out of your comfort zone, completely different’ – that would be daft!).  And for that, I really enjoyed this book.  I instantly liked the main character, Catherine.  I liked her spirit and attitude to life, the fact that she volunteers and likes to really listen to what others are saying.  I found I could relate to this woman but I also felt increasing sympathy for her as I knew something dark was waiting to be discovered around the corner, something which was going to change her life forever.

Parts of the story were hard going with regards to the content and I was strangely shocked by the route Catherine’s story took.  Strangely shocked because it was exactly where I expected Beech to take the story but was thrown when it actually happened!  Maybe I didn’t want the inevitable to come crashing down on this sweet and charming character. Whilst the scenes weren’t overly graphic they were necessary for telling Catherine’s story.

Having devoured Maria in the Moon I can confirm that Beech is skilled at creating real, well-rounded characters.  The novel is full of interesting people but I want to draw particular attention to Catherine’s mother.  Well, step-mother in truth but that’s not an excuse to treat Catherine the way she does, grrrr.  I also really liked fellow volunteer Christopher, and Fern, Catherine’s flighty journalist flatmate.  Both charming characters who bring a lot to the story.

Maria in the Moon is set in Hull just after the 2007 floods.  The flooding and devastation brought an interesting sub plot to the tale.  The heartbreak and the anguish suffered by those affected and the need for a  specific flood crisis helpline brought tons of emotion and heart to the story; loss of your home, loss of your property, loss of security and in Catherine’s case, partial loss of your memory.  I guess unless you’re caught up in a situation like this you’ll never really understand how devastating it can be.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s an absorbing tale of loss and family, with the predominant theme being loss.  Loss of your sanctuary, loss of your identity and loss of your innocence.  I can see exactly why so many people adore Beech’s novels.

Louise Beech is an author I will definitely look out for in the future.  In fact, I’m going to purchase a copy of her debut novel, How to Be Brave as I believe it’s about Type 1 Diabetes which is a subject very close to my heart.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Maria in the Moon.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th September 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Louise has always been haunted by the sea, even before she knew the full story of her grandfather, the man who in part inspired novel How to be Brave. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from her bedroom window she can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired book, The Mountain in my Shoe.

She remembers sitting as a child in her father’s cross-legged lap while he tried to show her his guitar’s chords. He’s a musician. Her small fingers stumbled and gave up. She was three. His music sheets fascinated her – such strange language that translated into music.

Her mother teaches languages, French and English, so her fluency with words fired Louise’s interest. She knew from being small that she wanted to write, to create, to make magic. She’s inspired by life, history, survival and love, and always has a story in her head.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism, and a one year column called Wholly Matrimony about modern marriage.

Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015 and got to No 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015. This novel came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story.

Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by her time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we will go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hide and Seek by Richard Parker (@Bookwalter) @bookouture

Hide-and-Seek-Kindle.jpg“The sun is out. Your little boy is smiling. The next time you look… he’s gone. 

When Lana and Todd win a trip to Blue Crest Adventure Park, their four-year-old Cooper is ecstatic, but when Lana goes to meet them, Todd is out cold, and Cooper is missing.

No one stopped the man carrying the sleeping boy. The cameras don’t show where he went. Then Lana receives an anonymous message, telling her to visit a local school with a horrifying history… 

This is no random attack. Whoever took Cooper is playing a twisted game, and if Lana wants to find him, she must participate. 

What is the link between the school and her missing son? Can Lana uncover the kidnapper’s identity and save Cooper before it’s too late?

A dark, heart-in-mouth thriller that will keep you reading long into the night. Fans of James Patterson, Karin Slaughter, and Tess Gerritsen will be absolutely hooked.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Hide and Seek blog tour.  Hide and Seek is the latest release from author, Richard Parker and was published by Bookouture on 31st August 2017.  Make sure you pop over to Jen Med’s Book Reviews as the lovely Jen is my blog tour buddy today.

Despite not actually reading it, I fell a little bit in love with Richard Parker’s previous Bookouture release, Follow You.  I have been desperate to read it since it’s release but in usual damppebbles style, I haven’t managed to fit it in between my blog tour reads.  So what better way to make sure his latest book was read than to feature on the blog tour (sometimes it’s the only way!).

So having (weirdly) fallen for Parker’s previous release (I promise to read and review it soon!) I was excited and a little apprehensive to make a start on Hide and Seek.  And I can confirm, it is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller.  Parts of it I absolutely loved.  Other parts I enjoyed but I wanted to get to the real ‘nitty gritty’ of the story.

The prologue had me on the edge of my seat.  I find books about bad things happening to children hard going at times and the opening of Hide and Seek reminded me of my very worst nightmare. My heart was pounding, helped by the incredibly well-written prologue.  I was there, in the moment, with Lana the boy’s mother as she fought for her young son.  It was very gripping as an introduction and I don’t doubt that it will pull at every parent’s heart; it was both harrowing and heartbreaking.  I was a little surprised by the outcome of that first initial scenario. My curiosity was well and truly piqued and I wanted to know where Parker would take the story next.

And it was not what I expected.  The main body of the story ticked along nicely.  Lana has an unhealthy obsession with visiting past murder sites and with local serial killers in general.  I absolutely loved this part of her.  It gave a rather, I’m sorry to say dull and wholesome character a darker, more sinister edge. The search for the missing child is interesting and I enjoyed reading about Lana and Todd’s journey but it was the end of this book which made it for me!  It’s never a good thing to admit to liking the bad guy but Richard Parker may have created one of my all time favourite baddies!  And the twist, WOW.  It was so wonderfully, deceptively delicious – I didn’t see it coming at all.

Would I recommend this book?  I would. All in all, this is a great read which I recommend to fans of the family based crime thriller.  Fans of the serial killer thriller may also find something to love within the pages as well.  The start is brilliant, the middle is good, helped by the main character’s fascination with local murder sites and the ending is superb.  I cannot wait to read Follow Me now.  Roll on October when I will have more time to concentrate on non-blog tour books.

Four out of five stars.

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

Hide and Seek by Richard Parker was published in the UK by Bookouture on 31st  August 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

RichardParkerPic.jpgRichard Parker was formerly a TV script writer, script editor and producer before turning his hand to penning twisted stand alone thrillers.

HIDE AND SEEK is his fifth book and is published August 2017.

FOLLOW YOU was his fourth psychological thriller. Reviewers are saying it’s Bookouture’s darkest crime novel to date.

STALK ME was his third and rode high in the UK and US charts.

SCARE ME was his second. Hollywood movie rights have been acquired by major US studio, Relativity Media. Star of PRISON BREAK and screenwriter of dark horror thriller STOKER, Wentworth Miller, has written the big screen adaptation.

STOP ME, Richard’s darkly fiendish debut, was shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website |