#CaseClosed: #April2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove

Hello my bookish friends and welcome once again to my monthly wrap up post, #CaseClosed! How has your April been? We had a couple of days of fabulous sunshine but then temperatures plummeted back to the UK’s usual arctic conditions (the heating was turned off, and then immediately back on again!). I’ve also been very busy setting up my new business, damppebbles blog tours and feel my reading has taken a bit of a hit because of it. It’s certainly been a quiet month on the blog. But here’s to a better, more productive, warmer May. I have promised lots of reviews during May so you will be hearing from me more often.

I took part in the three blog tours this month:

Two were reviews: My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland & Keeper by Johana Gustawsson, and one stop was a guest post; Our House by Louise Candlish (guest post)

I did manage to read a few other books here and there:
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (for First Monday Crime) | Our House by Louise Candlish | All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson | Anything For Her by G.J. Minett (for First Monday Crime) | Dark Water by Robert Bryndza |

I also hosted a couple of fabulous giveaways (which are now both closed):
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (giveaway) | Hangman by Daniel Cole (giveaway) |

Then there were a few other promotional posts thrown in for good measure:
In For The Kill by Ed James (guest post) | Needle Song by Russell Day (cover reveal) | Needle Song by Russell Day (Free Short Story) |

And then there was the incredible news that damppebbles has been nominated for the Best Book Review Blog at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. By the time this post goes live I expect voting will have closed but, y’know, if you’re at a loose end…..

damppebbles.com nominated for Best Book Review Blog at ABBA’s

That’s it, that’s April at damppebbles HQ. Lots of posts but it didn’t feel very busy, well, not to me.

In other news, Twitter jail has finally won *sigh*. I have had to significantly reduce the number of book posts I share to Twitter, which makes me sad as I always thought the whole point of Twitter was to share the things you love. On the plus side, I haven’t ended up in the slammer now for a few weeks so it does appear to be working.

And that’s it really, except for my BOOK OF THE MONTH (which should come as no surprise!)…

cropped-hand-master-botm

So, without further ado, my book of April 2018 is…..

giphy (3)

giphy (2)

It’s Keeper the second book in the Roy and Castells series written by Johana Gustawsson and published by Orenda Books. With threads from the past and nods to Jack the Ripper, this book blew me away.

KEEPER COVER AW 2.indd

“I adored this book. Plain and simple. If Keeper doesn’t make it to my top three books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me. Regular visitors to the blog will be fully aware that I like my crime thrillers a little more on the dark side. Keeper is one heck of a dark read. Picture the scene, there I was merrily reading away thinking to myself, ‘yup, it’s another good one – probably four stars at the moment but we’ll see how things go’. Then all of a sudden Gustawsson stepped things up a notch (or two). My jaw hit the table and I was utterly smitten with the author’s story. One of those, ‘WOAH’ moments that I absolutely live for.”

“Totally gratifying, deliciously dark and WHAT a thrill-ride. Yeah, I loved this one. You really should read Keeper.”

So there we have it. No big surprise really seeing as I can’t stop talking about Keeper.

And that’s it from me for April.

I hope you all have a wonderful May, full of some absolutely brilliant books and lots of time to relax and read them. See you next month.

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#BookPromo: #FREEShortStory to celebrate the release of NEEDLE SONG by Russell Day (@rfdaze) @fahrenheitpress #NeedleSongBook

needle song“Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband.

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to a slightly different post for me.  Today is the official release in eBook of Needle Song by exciting debut author, Russell Day.  You may have seen my cover reveal post for this book on Thursday which details exactly how Russell Day and Fahrenheit Press came to cross paths.  (If you missed it then please click HERE and check it out as it’s worth reading!).

Today, to celebrate the release of Needle Song, I have a short story written by Mr Day to share with you.  So without further ado, grab yourself a cuppa, sit back and get stuck in…

Not Talking Italics
by Russell Day

#1

…at three fifteen a.m. Present are James Slidesmith, Detective Constable Stephen Barker and, myself, Detective Sergeant Christopher Wade. For the benefit of the tape, Mister Slidesmith would you-

I’m sorry?

It’s Doctor Slidesmith, not Mister.

My apologies. For the benefit of the tape, Doctor Slidesmith-

No italics.

I’m sorry?

You know, when you write something down you put it in italics to give it a certain inflection, make it sound sarcastic or patronising maybe. I hold a PhD in Psychology. So, just Doctor. No italics.

Doctor Slidesmith, for the benefit of the tape, will you confirm that you have been given the opportunity to seek legal counsel but, have chosen to waive that right at the present time.

Yes, I have waived the right to have a legal representative present during this interview.

Okay, would you care to tell myself and DC Barker what happened last night at number, five Elton Avenue.

Let’s see, me and Yakky got there around about quarter past ten.

Yakky being Andrew Miller, it that correct?

Mister Miller works for you?

He tattoos at my shop and I take a percentage. Technically he’s self-employed.

Okay, go on.

We pulled up around quarter past, we were running a bit late ‘cos Yak’s bike was playing up again. They’d started without us. And it was already going sour.

Going sour?

Yes, going sour. Good use of italics. We’d been told we’d being playing limited-raise. When we got there, they were playing pot-limit.

And that was a problem?

You play Texas Hold Em’ at all Sergeant, you a poker man?

I know the rules.

How about Constable Barker there, no? Alright, for the benefit of Constable Barker and the tape, when you play Texas Hold ‘Em, the betting takes place in rounds and the players take turns. The first bet is compulsory and it’s for a pre-agreed amount, the second bet doubles it. That’s compulsory too. This is to get the pot started. From then on, if you want to stay in for that particular hand, you have to match the previous bet. If you think your cards are going to beat everyone else’s, then you’re going to want a bigger pot. So, you raise. If the game’s limited-raise the pot can only grow so fast, it limits the value of each hand. Limits what you can lose in one go. Pot-limit is slightly different, the max amount you can raise, is the size of the pot currently on the table.

Now, Constable, I’ll give you a piece of invaluable advice. Do not, I repeat not, take pot-limit poker games lightly. People hear the term no-limit and promptly wet themselves ‘cos they think they’re about to lose all their hard earned, and most likely they are. In a lot of no-limit games, hands are lost just because people can’t match the last bet. You can be holding five elevens, and still lose. But … people tend to do that once. They go in, all Johnny-Big-Bollocks, lose that week’s wages and the next month’s rent, then go home and cry about it. It’s not something a lot of people do twice. Now, if you looking to take someone to the cleaners, then no-limit’s all well and good, but if want a cash cow, a nice little Friesian that’s going to roll up for milking time and time again, you need pot-limit. Isn’t that right Sergeant?

I wouldn’t know.

Really? I thought you might. Nice watch by the way. Rolex?

Made in China.

Very convincing, looks real from here. They’re clever these Chinse. Sorry, lost my train of thought, Oh yeah, pot limit.

Most people, at least most westerners, aren’t too good at maths. If there’s a few people playing, and there were five of us last night, pot-limit can increase the value of each hand very, very quickly. But, a lot of people won’t notice that. Take someone’s wages and their Rolex—fake or otherwise—in one hit and they tend to remember. When it’s delicately taken away bit by bit over the course of a whole night, they don’t tend to feel the loss so keenly. So, maybe your Friesian heads back for another try. Isn’t that right Sergeant?

So, why didn’t you walk away from the table?

I would have done, if Li hadn’t been there.

That would be Ms Li Chang?

That’s right.

She works at your shop too, is that right?

She’s my apprentice, learning the ink.

And you had no idea she’d be there?

That’s right Sergeant. Only, I had No-Idea without the italics.

You weren’t aware she played poker?

A lot of people play poker, apparently you play poker, that doesn’t mean I expect to find them sitting next to Billy Sinclair shuffling a pack of cards.

She didn’t mention it to you at work?

If you were playing poker with Billy Sinclair, would you tell your boss?

Okay, so you decided to stay and play with Billy Sinclair and Ms Chang. Was Mister Miller happy to play too?

No, Yakky dropped out. He just stayed to watch.

Just watch.

That’s right. Nice italics by the way.

You think this is some sort of joke? A man’s died in case you’re forgotten.

According to your Rolex—sorry fake Rolex—it’s now three twenty-four in the a.m. The wee small hours, when the human body is at its lowest ebb. I’d say by now, two men have died.

Did you know Ms Chang had a criminal record when you took her on?

Of course I did. Anyway, she was up front about it.

It didn’t put you off employing her?

She served her time. And it’s not everyone can say that, is it fellas?

What’s that meant to mean?

I’m saying she’s paid her debt.

The man she stabbed might argue with that.

If she’d stabbed him two years earlier, she’d have been too young to have it on her permanent record and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

You think she was being abused?

I think we’ve all got history, Sergeant. That all I’m saying.

Shall we get back to the events of last night? You said there were five people present, is that correct?

Not quite, there were six people. five of them, including me, were playing cards.

Who were they?

Myself, Li and of course Billy Sinclair were at the table with two other players. Yakky was somewhere behind me, watching.

Who were the other two?

I don’t know their names. One of them was the Bumper.

And the final man?

He was the guy who wasn’t meant to see the sucker.

And for the benefit of the tape?

But not for you, eh?

Just tell us what you mean, Doctor Slidesmith.

And we’re back to the italics. There’s an old saying about poker: if you can’t see the sucker, it’s you.

So, this guy was the sucker?

He was meant to be, well, we all were. Aside from Billy of course and the Bumper.

Doctor Slidesmith, for the benefit of the tape, would you explain what the term Bumper means.

Let’s suppose we three were having a game of poker, and Constable Barker is sitting there with a royal flush. That’s the top hand, Constable in case you don’t know, as good as it gets, cannot be beat. Only problem is the pot is next to nothing. You’ve got the best hand possible but all it’s going to get you is loose change. What would you do, Constable?

When it’s my turn to bet I raise as high as I can?

Why not tell him why you’re shaking your head, Sergeant Wade?

The thing is Barker, if you make a big raise you’re telling people you have something worth betting on. So, unless they’re holding something pretty good, they’ll just fold.

So, what you need is a Bumper. Let’s say you ask your friend Sergeant Wade here—oh, now don’t look like that, I’m sure he’s lovely—you ask Sergeant Wade to keep bumping up the stakes for you, a little bit at a time. You don’t need to raise at all, with each round you just put in enough to stay in the game.

Now, of course, I don’t know you’ve made this arrangement. I’m just seeing two players betting cautiously, as if they’re sitting on moderately good cards. So, I keep on playing, and if I’m a sucker, I d on’t notice that the pot’s growing fat on my money.

That can go on for quite a while. Particularly if I’m holding what looks like a decent chance, the big casino sitting on a flush, say, or the dead man’s hand. And bad players quite often bet on mediocre cards, especially if they’ve put a lot in the pot already.

What are-

The big casino is the ten of diamonds, Constable. The dead man’s hand is two eights and two aces.

Well, well Sergeant Wade, it sounds like you know a bit more than just the rules.

Who was the sucker?

I told you I don’t know. He was a bloody awful card player though. He even had a lucky charm.

A lot of people have lucky charms.

People either have lucky charms or skill. I’ve yet to see a poker player with both. Anyway, not only did he have a lucky charm … he tapped it against the table when he had a good hand.

He had a tell.

He had more give-aways than Father Christmas.

And you don’t know who he was?

Never seen him before.

And the other man, the Bumper?

Never seen him either. Barely saw him when he was there if you know what I mean.

No, I don’t.

He was good at blending into the background. He was like a coat of beige paint.

Come in… For the benefit of the tape, WPC Gillian Web has entered the room at three thirty-seven a.m.

Can I speak to you outside for a moment?

Pausing interview at three thirty-eight.

 

#2

Interview with James Slidesmith, re-commencing at three fifty-nine a.m. Doctor Slidesmith, does the name Matthew Dolan mean anything to you?

It seems Mister Dolan was the sucker. One of the Doctors at the trauma unit thought he recognised him. They pulled up his medical records and his widow has just confirmed ID. You were right, two men are dead.

It wasn’t much of a deduction. He’d lost a lot of blood before the ambulance got there.

A fair amount of that blood was found on Mister Miller’s hands and clothing. Substantial amounts on Ms Chang as well.

Li was beside him when the bottle went in. Sit near a served artery and your dry-cleaning bills get out of hand.

You told me Mister Miller was sitting behind you. He was covered in blood but you weren’t.

Yakky jumped in to do some first aid and I stayed out of the way.

You we’re happy to let him bleed? I thought you were a Doctor.

Doctor of psychology. I leave the organic stuff to other people.

People like Mister Miller.

He knows more about first aid than I do.

So, after Mister Dolan was stabbed you stepped aside while Mister Miller gave first aid. What time was this?

I couldn’t say exactly. I’d estimate a little after midnight.

You called the ambulance?

That’s right.

The dispatcher’s log records the time of your call as twelve thirty-seven a.m. That’s more than a little after midnight. Why the delay?

It took me a while to find a phone.

You didn’t have a phone with you?

What about Mister Miller or Ms Chang?

Yakky and I didn’t take our phones. Billy Sinclair didn’t allow mobile phones at his table. Rules of the game. Both our phones are back in my flat. Why don’t you call the search team you’ve got there, they’ll confirm it.

Ms Chang?

Li was at the table so I assumed she wasn’t holding a mobile either.

You assumed?

She was helping to stem Mister Dolan’s blood loss. It wasn’t the time to ask if she had a phone I might borrow.

So, you sat and watched?

No, I went through Billy Sinclair’s pockets. I figured he’d still have his phone on him, it being his table and all.

And did he?

Yeah, it was in the back pocket of his trousers. Last one I checked because he’d landed on his back and I had to roll him over to get to it.

Searching Mister Sinclair’s dead body didn’t trouble you at all?

All the troubles I’ve had over the years have been handed to me by the living not the dead.

Billy Sinclair must have had a lot of pockets if it took you thirty minutes to go through them.

It took a couple of minutes. But his phone was locked, so even after I found it I couldn’t use it. I tore round the house looking for a landline.

You looked around the whole house?

That’s why your forensic team’s going to find my prints all over the place.

Did you find a landline?

In the end I ran out the house and started banging on doors. No one wanted to answer.

Why not?

I’m guessing Billy wasn’t a very neighbourly person. When you start interviewing people, I think they’ll tell you he wasn’t too considerate about keeping the noise down and wasn’t too pleased if people complained. I burst out of his house at gone midnight and started shouting the odds. It took a while to find someone willing to talk to me.

So, you’re at a table where a man has just had an artery served. While he’s spraying blood over Mister Miller and Ms Chang, you conduct a body search and a body roll, on a man who’s just been shot. And yet your hands are totally … clean.

Again: good use of italics.

You’re not as funny as you think, or as clever. Three pairs of black latex gloves were found in your jacket pocket. Care to explain that?

I’m a tattooist, I use latex gloves when I work. Black’s the favoured colour because they hide smears of blood and ink. It saves upsetting squeamish clients.

And you took three pairs to Billy Sinclair’s house because?

I ride a nineteen seventy-eight Sportster. When you ride a machine getting on for forty years old, you expect to be fixing things by the side of the road from time to time. Latex gloves keep my hands … clean.

Did you wear a pair of these gloves when you searched the body?

I think you did. I think that’s why your hands don’t have any blood on them. Or any powder burns from the shot gun.

I didn’t need to put gloves on, and when you get the lab reports, they’ll tell you my prints are all over Billy Sinclair’s phone. He took both barrels right between the eyes. He’d have been dead before he landed and dead people don’t tend to bleed. The mess was behind him, it wasn’t dripping into his pockets, it was dripping down the wall. The reason there’s no powder burns on my hands is simpler still. I didn’t fire the gun.

When WPC Web asked me to step outside a moment ago she didn’t just inform me that Dolan was dead. She told me the team currently at Sinclair’s property reported finding a pair of black Latex gloves, with blood on them.

Cool Hand Luke.

What?

Bad poker players, guys that remember winning once but forget a dozen losses, they have a favourite film. It’s either The Cincinnati Kid or Cool Hand Luke. With you it’s Cool Hand Luke, the bit where Paul Newman’s got a handful of bugger all and bluffs his way into a win. You can only bluff certain people at certain times. And, Sergeant, your bluffs are as clear as glass.

So, tell me what happened.

We’d been playing for about an hour and a half. In my experience that’s when the sharks come out to play and feeding time starts. Most players can’t play well for that long, they think they can but they’re wrong.

So?

So, I started cranking it up a little. Since I’d made the Bumper, I kept my eye on him. I couldn’t spot the signal he was getting to start upping the pot but I could see when he started betting and when Billy held back. Dolan was building up the pot quite nicely. So was Li. They were both losing money hand over fist.

That bothered you?

Li works for me, I know what I pay her and I know what she can’t afford to lose. Once she’d lost all her stake money, and that was more than a month’s earnings, Billy said he’d open a line of credit. That bothered me, a lot. It bothered Yakky too.

Does he have the hots for her?

Yakky’s not as mean as he looks, he’s got a weakness for lost souls. They bring out his maternal side.

What happened?

I told Li she’d do well to fold her cards and call it a night. Billy reminded her how much she’d just tipped into the pot and said it would be a shame to give it up without a fight.

How much was in the pot at that point?

Just short of three thousand. Of that Billy had put in less than two hundred. I’d largely coasted it but Dolan and Li had followed the Bumper and had both put in about a kay.

You thought that was enough?

It’s never enough if you stand to win. I don’t know what Billy had but I was holding David, Alexander, Julius and Charles.

What-

He means he had four kings, Constable.

I was happy to let the hand carry on. I win, I keep the pot and use a chunk of it to pay off any debt Li might be about run up with Billy. If I’m feeling greedy I just buy the debt and stop it from her wages. Either way it’s in my interest to keep the pot going.

Yakky, doesn’t know what I’m thinking and tells Li to walk away. Billy doesn’t like him butting in and tell him to shut it. Li is getting pissed off at me and Yakky, for telling her what to do. She tells both of us she can take care of herself and then tells Sinclair she’ll take the credit. Billy takes out this address book, he handles it with a certain flair, pale blue leather and obviously very expensive. Then he pulls out a fountain pen, opens the book at C and, very carefully, writes Li’s name down.

The games still on. Three more rounds, by now its big money just to stay in and Dolan’s nerve finally breaks. He folds then the bumper bows out and I tell Billy I’ll see him.

And you nail him with your picture show?

He is not a happy bunny at this point. Yakky puts his oar in again and tells Li she should walk away, again. Billy tells him to shut the fuck up. The atmosphere is not what you’d call pleasant. Little-Boy-Beige sitting all alone starts getting a bit jittery and drops his cards. Trouble is they land face up and Dolan sees what he’s been betting against for the last twenty minutes.

And it looks wrong?

Very wrong, Mister Bump was holding nothing. Dolan was a lousy player but he wasn’t green. He twigged he’d been set up. He looks at the Bumper’s cards then at Billy and it’s obvious all hell is about to break loose. I should have just walked away there and then.

Why didn’t you?

The pot. There was over seven grand on the table by then. And it was mine.

Dolan didn’t see it that way?

To be fair, he didn’t know who was who at that point. As far as he could tell, everyone at that table was in on the trick. I go to take my winnings and he stands up and tells me to keep my hands off. I tell him okay and back off, but he’s working himself into a state. There was bottle of Scotch on the table, best Hollywood traditions and all that. Dolan grabs it, smashes it on the edge of the table, then walks around to Billy calls him a cheating piece of shit.

What are your people doing all this time?

My people?

Mister Miller and Ms Chang.

Me and Yakky were having a lad’s night out playing some cards. Li being there was a surprise. They’re not my people.

Alright, so what were Mister Miller and Ms Li doing?

Li was trying to edge away from the table. Yakky was behind me, so I couldn’t say what he was doing. Probably bricking it, same as me.

And Billy?

He was laughing. Laughing at the sucker. It didn’t do anything to improve the situation.

If Dolan’s the one holding the broken bottle how did he come to get cut?

Billy and Dolan were to my right. The Bumper was on my left, putting him almost opposite them. And he wasn’t only bumping, he was playing body guard. That’s partly what tipped me off that he was on Billy’s pay role. I couldn’t see Billy Sinclair having people in his drum and not having a heavy at hand.

The way you describe him, this Bumper doesn’t sound like a heavy.

Well, pulling a gun lent weight to his point of view.

So, tell me, how is it Dolan ends up bleeding out with a chunk of glass in his neck and Billy Sinclair gets a face full of shot from his own man?

As I say, the Bumper’s a smallish guy but the gun he’s holding makes up for that. He leans across the table, over all that money, and tells Dolan to put the bottle down. Dolan does as he’s told. He puts the bottle on the table, moves slow, keeps his hands where Bumper can see them. He wasn’t stupid.

When Billy stands up, the avuncular river-boat-gambler act is over. He sucker-punches Dolan in the ribs, folds him in two, then takes hold of the bottle. Dolan was doubled over with his head almost on the table. Billy grabs his hair, I think he was planning to give him a few scars to remember the evening by.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to kill him. But Dolan was panicking and thrashing about. He twisted at the wrong moment. Instead of his face, the bottle goes into his neck. That’s where Li picked up most of the blood stains. It was like a hose pipe. A fair amount of it goes over the Bumper too.

Dolan’s still thrashing about and, by chance, grabs the barrels of the gun. I expect Bumper just tugged on reflex, only his finger’s on the trigger. Boom, he’s unemployed. And very unlikely to get a reference.

So, it was all a big mistake?

That how it appeared to me. But what does it matter? It’s too late to say sorry, they’re both dead.

Then what?

When Billy got shot he went over backwards and let go of Dolan’s hair. Dolan slides off the table and that’s when Yakky started doing his Florence Nightingale act. We didn’t notice what he’d done to his knee until later.

And the Bumper, and you?

Neither of us moved for a second. Rabbits in the headlights, you know? Then Bumper looks at what’s left of his boss and starts moving again. Once he’d got his wiggle on I unfroze too, but I didn’t do anything other than watch him for a moment. For all I knew he was about to reload.

But he didn’t?

He pulled out a handkerchief and tried to wipe the gun down. I don’t know how well he did it. Then he dropped it on the floor and started stuffing my bloody winnings into his pockets, when they were filled he stuffed the rest down his shirt front.

And you let him?

He didn’t look like he’d be easily dissuaded at that point. Anyway, once I was happy he wasn’t about to start putting the witnesses away I was more concerned with finding a phone.

That was when you went through Billy’s clothes?

At first, I was looking around the room for the landline that didn’t exist. I didn’t think of checking Billy’s body until I saw Bumper go over to him and take that fancy blue address book out of his pocket.

And this Bumper character disappeared?

I heard the front door slam.

So, he just left, covered in blood, carrying seven large in cash?

All the cash … and Billy’s little blue book.

We’ve yet to find anyone to corroborate this story. None of Mister Sinclair’s neighbours report seeing the man.

If you had Billy Sinclair for a neighbour I expect you’d keep your curtains closed too. That’s why it took me so long to make the nine-nine-nine call, remember? No one wanted to put their head outside their door.

Mister Miller’s story differs substantially from yours.

Word of advice Sergeant Wade, one card player to another: some people are harder to bluff than others.

Okay, tell me again-

I’d liked to take a break

I’m sorry?

I said I’d like to take a break. I’ve cooperated fully. I’ve answered all your questions. I’ve listened to your veiled accusations and I’ve done all that without a lawyer being present. Now, I want a break and a cup of tea.

We’ve nearly done here and I think-

I don’t care what you think. I have a right to remain silent and if I don’t get a cup of tea that’s what I’m going to do. Then I might exercise my right to legal representation. And you see, Sergeant Wade, if that happens it’s likely to ruin the delightful rapport you and I have. Once I start dealing with an up-right and conscientious member of our great legal system we lose the intimacy, you see? Things, once revealed, may have to sit out there in the cold light of judicial scrutiny.

Are you refusing to answer any more questions?

Yes, unless they relate to tea.

Constable, nip out and get us some teas eh? See if you can scare up some biscuits too, I’m starving. For the benefit of the tape, Constable Barker has left the room. Interview suspended at four forty-three a.m.

 

#3

And then there were two.

You know something Doctor? You’re full of shit.

Now the tape’s not running, we could drop the formalities. Why not just call me Doc? You could drop the italics then.

The papers are going to love you. All this clever-clever talk and call-me-Doctor patter is going to go down a storm in the press gallery. But I’ll tell you something: juries don’t like smartarses. Neither do judges. If you’re lucky, with good behaviour, you’ll be out in under twenty. If you’re lucky.

Twenty years for calling an ambulance? That seems harsh. What do you think they’ll give Yakky for administering first aid?

I see it less as first aid, more as interfering with a crime scene. Was slicing himself open in the process part of the plan, bit of a sympathy ploy?

Plan?

I’ll tell you what I’m looking at Doctor. I’m looking at a room with three people in it, one of them with a history of putting a knife into somebody. Two of these three are covered in blood and just happen to work for the third. There’s a baize covered table in the room, playing cards scattered all over the shop and two dead bodies on the floor. All the markings of a high stakes poker game gone very, very wrong. All expect the money, which isn’t there. What I’m not seeing is hide nor hair of this mysterious Bumper who vanished, pausing just long enough to take the money and wipe any prints off one of the murder weapons of course. While he was doing that, your man Yakky manages to kneel on the broken bottle. And, because we can’t lift reliable prints off a pile of glass fragments, that destroys any evidence of just who used it to kill Dolan.

That’s what you’re seeing is it?

It is. I think the only Bumper there last night was Ms Chang. You and your little crew went over to Billy Sinclair’s with the intention of skinning him alive. Only you over played your hand and underestimated the dangers of taking money off villains. Or maybe you didn’t underestimate them and that’s why Mister Miller was there along with a shot gun. In case it went sour, to use your words. Now, the three of you are up to your ankles in blood. So, while Billy’s bleeding out, you gather up the money and come up with this cock and bull story about needing to scour the neighbourhood for a phone. Only you’re not looking for a phone, you’re looking to hide the money somewhere so you can collect it later.

Can you see this?

Your hand?

Yeah, my hand. Notice something?

It’s trembling, you starting to worry Slidesmith?

The story I told you is as genuine as your fake Rolex, Sergeant. Think about that. When real players see another player pick up a card and get the shakes, they know it’s time to fold.

Meaning?

You tremble when the danger’s past. All the adrenaline as nothing to do, so it wanders round your veins and jangles your nerves. When a player picks up a card and trembles, it’s because he’s got the card he needs. He’s relieved, not worried.

What have you go to be relieved about?

You didn’t mention the blue address book. You see, Sergeant Wade, players, real players, don’t talk about tells, or know the fancy nick names for the cards and they don’t talk about luck. What they do is remember all the times they win and forget all the times they’ve lost. And they lose a lot. And that costs a lot. And the minute I saw you, I knew the only way you’d ever see the sucker at the table, was if someone handed you a mirror.

We’ll stick with the story about the Bumper but let’s add a twist. Maybe he didn’t run away with the money and the blue leather address book. Maybe I took the blue book. Billy had written down my apprentice’s name in it and I really didn’t want her name connected to a dead north London villain, not in writing. And maybe, being the curious sort, I spent a moment flipping through that book.

There were a good few names. people owing Mister Sinclair money, or favours in lieu. One of those names was Wade. Wade DC, to be exact, next to some very big numbers. DC? Darren Colin Wade? Dave Charles Wade? Who could know? Then guess what? I find my interviewing officer is a Detective Sergeant Wade. And DS Wade knows the silly names losers give to playing cards, talks about tells and thinks he has a talent for bluffing. So, I’m faced with a man who talks like a piss poor card player and wears a watch worth three kay. That he pretends is fake. So, I wonder—and please set that tape rolling again any time you like—if DC might stand for Detective Constable. Of course, that would mean DS Wade has been in Billy Sinclair’s pocket since before he was promoted. That would mean DS Wade has been losing money for quite a while. And that begs the question, where does a man who has on-going gambling debts to a local villain find the money to buy a Rolex? A Rolex he tells people is fake. I believe you, about juries not liking smartarses. Now, believe me; they like bent coppers even less.

Good luck proving any of this Doctor Slidesmith.

Oh dear, back to the italics are we? I don’t really need to proof it though, do I? I don’t even need to plant the-seed-of-doubt, because it’s there already, in someone’s head. I’m not the only one who can tell a genuine Rolex from a copy, and you can bet I’m not the only one to wonder about it.

If Billy Sinclair’s little blue book, as described on that tape over there, should turn up on someone’s desk, certain wheels might start to grind powerful small. Better it’s not found, better it stays lost, along with all the money.

And do you think this Bumper character is likely to keep it somewhere safe, where it’s not likely to be found?

Oh, I’m sure of it. I’m also sure that when DC Barker comes back with our tea, we’ll resume the interview. I’m also sure that, for the benefit of the tape, Mister Miller, Ms Chang and my good self will be praised for our attempts to save the unfortunate Mister Dolan. And then we’ll all walk out of here; free and clear.

And Sergeant Wade, when I say free and clear, I’m not talking italics.

THE END

Oh my gosh, I love it.  What an introduction to Doc Slidesmith!  If you would like to read more then you need to get yourself a copy of Needle Song, published in eBook by Fahrenheit Press today | Purchase Needle Song via Fahrenheit Press |

Needle Song by Russell Day was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 30th April 2018 and is available in eBook format with the paperback to follow.

about the author3

Russell Day (1)Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s always been a miserable bastard.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: Dark Water by Robert Bryndza (@RobertBryndza) @bookouture #DetectiveErikaFoster #DarkWater

dark water cover.jpg“Beneath the water the body sank rapidly.  She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as eleven-year-old Jessica Collins.  The missing girl who made headline news when she vanished twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she discovers a family harbouring secrets, a detective plagued by her failure to find Jessica, and the mysterious death of a man living by the quarry. 

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.”

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Surely Emma has got this wrong.  Surely she meant to include the title, cover and blurb of Deadly Secrets, book 6 in the Erika Foster series and the most recent release.  Surely she can’t mean Dark Water, the third book in the series, can she?  Being the dedicated, up-to-date crime fiction blogger she is, she MUST have read Dark Water AGES ago”.  I’m right, aren’t I?  That’s exactly what you’re thinking.  No?  Well, truth be told, I am deeply ashamed to admit that I have fallen (significantly) behind in some of my favourite series; Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster series being one of them (there are many, MANY more!).

I came up with a brilliant idea the other month whilst staring at my burgeoning NetGalley shelf and wondering what the heck I was going to read next.  I decided to pass the buck and get someone else to decide for me by running a poll.  Dark Water was the winner, closely followed by another Bookouture author and, erm…another Robert Bryndza book!  And I am so glad you chose Dark Water for me to read, thank you!  I’ve missed Erika a lot.

It’s been nearly TWO YEARS (oh gosh *hangs head in shame*) since I last caught up with my favourite Slovakian detective.  You can read my review of The Girl in the Ice (book #1) by clicking HERE and my review of The Night Stalker (book #2) by clicking HERE.  I was a little concerned as I started to read.  Worried that I wouldn’t remember enough of Erika’s history, worried that I’d forgotten the dynamics of her working relationships and, my immediate ‘main’ concern, why all of a sudden she was based in Bromley?!  I needn’t have worried (although I am still trying to figure out the move to Bromley!).  Within a few chapters I was reminded exactly why I love this tough, determined and dedicated DCI as much as I do.

Erika Foster and her new team unwittingly find themselves in the middle of a heart wrenching cold case investigation.  In the dead of night, Erika and the Met Police Marine Recovery team are searching Hayes Quarry for ten kilos of heroin with a street value of four million pounds.  What they find is worth so much more than four million pounds to one family.  The grisly discovery of Jessica Collins’ remains rewinds the clock by twenty-six years.  A high profile missing child case which was never solved and destroyed not only a family but the career of the Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Amanda Baker.

Of course, that doesn’t stop Erika from wanting to jump into the driving seat of the case now it’s been reopened.  And now that’s it’s become about a young girl’s murder, Erika is determined to bring justice for Jessica.  But, just as DCI Amanda Baker failed all those years ago, it seems Erika might be destined to fail on this one too…

I love Erika Foster. I was also very happy to see, despite the move to Bromley, that Erika was able to recruit the DIs she worked with in South London; DI Moss and DI Peterson (two very familiar characters who I feel I know well, yay!).  Bryndza’s characters are always so real and very memorable.  Other characters in the book also stood out for me.  I found myself loving the Collins family which may surprise some people.  I felt there was something the family unit was hiding; something….not quite right and I loved them for that.  It’s always the darker characters, the secretive ones that grab my attention!

I’m afraid I managed to guess one of the major twists in the story fairly early on, but that certainly didn’t put me off and there was a lot more to come!  Plus, I was keen to see what Erika was going to do and how she was going to solve the case.  I wanted to know what her break would be and how Bryndza would tie up the threads of the story.  That was more important to me than anything else.

Would I recommend this book?  Oh definitely.  I adore Robert Bryndza’s writing and I absolutely love Erika Foster (it’s true, I still have my #girlcrush on her!).  Beautifully detailed, devilishly good and a book that’s hard to put down.  I promise to make a start on Last Breath (book #4 in the series) soon.  I DEFINITELY won’t leave it so long this time!

Four out of five stars.

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

Dark Water by Robert Bryndza was published in the UK by Bookouture on 20th October 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository |

about the author3

robert bryndza.jpgRobert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice, which is the first in his Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath and Cold Blood are the second, third, fourth and fifth books in the series. The sixth book, Deadly Secrets is now available to purchase.

Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into 27 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

Sign up to Robert Bryndza‘s mailing list here.

Author Links:Instagram | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#CoverReveal: Needle Song by Russell Day (@rfdaze) @fahrenheitpress #NeedleSongBook #FahrenheitPress #FREEShortStory

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to a rather special cover reveal.

Back in 2017 Fahrenheit Press, the utterly awesome independent crime fiction publisher launched a competition for new and established writers from around the world. They wanted to create a short story anthology and asked for submissions.

They were inundated with entries and a panel of six intelligent and highly esteemed crime fiction fanatics (I wasn’t on the panel but it sounds like I should have been!) whittled the anonymous entries down to 15. The result? NOIRVILLE, Fahrenheit Press’ very own crime anthology, was born! You may wonder why I’m telling you this but stick with it…

The winner of the competition and the writer whose story was awarded first place by the judges was Russell Day. In second place was….well, Russell Day. Yup, you read that right. Russell Day entered two stories in the competition and placed first and second. (And for the sake of clarification, yes, Russell did enter two stories into the competition!)

Obviously, Fahrenheit Press HAD to sign Russell Day and today’s cover reveal is for NEEDLE SONG, the first novel from this exciting debut author. But only one of Russell’s stories made it into NOIRVILLE. How do you fancy reading the other one? You do? Then read on…

FREE RUSSELL DAY SHORT STORY IN EXCHANGE FOR A TWEET:
To receive a copy of Russell Day’s award-winning story, make sure you’re following @damppebbles (so you can receive the DM with the download links) and then tweet the following (copy and paste):

NEEDLE SONG by Russell Day (@rfdaze) published by @fahrenheitpress in eBook on Monday 30th April! #NeedleSongBook | @damppebbles
https://fahrenheit-press.myshopify.com/products/russell-day-needle-song-ebook-kindle-version

No retweets, it has to be a shiny new tweet otherwise it won’t count! Any problems then please contact me on Twitter (@damppebbles).

And now for the cover reveal. Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…

Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband.

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it.

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.

I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here’s the cover…

needle song.jpg

I love that cover (those arms and tattoos belong to the author himself!) and I cannot wait for the blog tour which will be coming your way soon.

If you would like to get your mitts on a copy of Needle Song then you won’t have long to wait. Needle Song will be published in eBook on Monday 30th April 2018 with the paperback to follow a week later.  If you fancy being quick off the mark and pre-ordering, then click HERE.

about the author3

Russell Day (1).jpg

Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s always been a miserable bastard.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: Anything For Her by G.J. Minett (@GJMinett) @BonnierZaffre @1stMondayCrime #AnythingForHer

anything for her.jpg“You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago? 

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.”

G.J. Minett’s books have been on my radar for a while now.  I’ve had Anything For Her‘s predecessor on my TBR since last Summer and it’s been giving me ‘the look’.  You know about ‘the look’, right?  The one that makes you want to forget about any other reading commitments you *may* have and just get stuck into another, taking you totally off-piste!  So I was delighted to see G.J. Minett’s name on the list for the May (..pril) First Monday Crime panel.  Finally, I would get to read one of this author’s books!

And I enjoyed it.  It’s a twisty slow burn of a tale which made me reach for my Sherlock Holmesesque deerstalker and try to figure out what was going on with Minett’s secretive cast of characters.  I failed, by the way – I couldn’t see ‘whodunit’ in Anything For Her.

Billy is an interesting character.  We get to see snippets into his early teenage years; the loving relationship he had with his terminally ill mother, the relationship he believed he had with his father.  What I really liked about Billy was the air of something being a little ‘off’ which he carries.  The reader knows early on that something isn’t quite right with Billy and that feeling built into a wonderful sense of unease for me.  Saying that having finished the book last night, I’m afraid I’m still none the wiser with regards to the true dynamics of Billy’s relationship with his father.  And that not knowing is gnawing away at me a little.

Billy and Aimi are an item.  In the throws of young, teenage love which Billy firmly believes is going to stand the test of time.  Fast forward eleven years and Billy is shocked to bump into Aimi in his sister’s local supermarket.  Billy, on a mercy mission having recently discovered his sister has a terminal illness, is both thrilled and surprised to be reunited with his one true love, despite her now being married to someone else.  As is Aimi, but for different reasons.  During a stroll along Camber Sands, Aimi confesses how bad her marriage is and shows Billy the bruises as proof.  What comes next is a devious plan to deceive her husband and his influential family, and escape to a new life overseas.  Once Aimi’s vanishing act has taken place with the help of the ever devoted Billy, he slowly becomes aware that the Aimi he met in Tesco and the Aimi from eleven years ago are now very different people…

There’s something really quite dark about both Billy and Aimi which appealed to my need for monstrous, manipulative characters in my books.  That was particularly the case with Billy, I never really felt I had a grasp on what he was fully capable of.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily liked him though.  Of all the characters in Anything For Her, the only one I felt any sympathy for or warmth towards was Billy’s sister, Mia.  Her acceptance of her condition and her pragmatic approach to dealing with the uncertainty of when things will end for her was really quite moving at times.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  The plot gradually works its way up to a surprising reveal but it’s the final act, that ending…which did it for me.  This book couldn’t have finished any other way, in my opinion.  A perfect finale.  If you’re looking for a well written, character-driven psychological thriller to submerse yourself in, then you may just have found it!  I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by G.J. Minett.

Four stars out of five.

G.J. Minnet will be appearing at the Mayril (it’s May’s First Monday panel but because of the Bank Holiday here in the UK it’s happening in April instead!) First Monday Crime on Monday 30th April 2018. Graham (G.J.) will be appearing alongside Robert Goddard, Simone Buchholz, Cathi Unsworth and moderator Joe Haddow. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 30th April at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

Anything For Her by G.J. Minett was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

gj minett.jpgGraham was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and lived there for 18 years before studying for a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge.

He taught for several years, first in Cheltenham and then in West Sussex before opting to go part-time and start an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Completing the course in 2008, he gained a distinction for the dissertation under the guidance of novelist, Alison MacLeod and almost immediately won the Segora Short Story Competition with ‘On the Way Out’.

Other awards soon followed, most notably his success in the 2010 Chapter One novel competition with what would eventually become the opening pages of his debut novel. He was signed up by Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency, who managed to secure a two-book deal with twenty7, the digital-first adult fiction imprint of Bonnier Publishing.

“The Hidden Legacy” was published as an eBook in November 2015 and the paperback version was published in August 2016. The second book in the deal, entitled “Lie in Wait”, was published as an eBook in August 2016 and the paperback version in March 2017.

Graham lives with his wife and children in West Sussex but retains close links with the rest of his family in Cheltenham.

Author Links:Twitter | Website | Facebook |

Author image and bio © http://www.grahamminett.com/

 

#GuestPost: In For The Kill by Ed James (@EdJamesAuthor) @EmmaFinnigan #InForTheKill #DIFenchurch #ThomasandMercer

in for the kill.jpg

“A university student is found strangled to death in her bedroom, but when the embattled DI Simon Fenchurch is called in to investigate, the case strikes dangerously close to home.

On the surface, the victim was a popular, high-performing student. But as secret grudges against her emerge, so too does evidence that she was living a double life, working on explicit webcam sites for a seedy London ganglord. Everyone Fenchurch talks to knows a lot more than they’re willing to tell, and before long he’s making new enemies of his own—threatening to push him and his family pastbreaking point.

With too many suspects and not enough facts, Fenchurch knows his new superiors are just waiting for him to fail—they want him off the case, and off the force for good. His family is in more danger than evr before. So how deep is he willing to dig in order to unearth the truth?”

I am delighted to welcome author Ed James to damppebbles today. Yesterday saw the release of the fourth book in Ed’s DI Fenchurch series, In For The Kill (a belated ‘happy publication day’ to Ed and the folk at Thomas and Mercer!). And that’s exactly what Ed is going to tell us about today; the glitz and the glam of being a published author on launch day. Over to you, Ed…

Today’s your book launch.

You’re sipping sweet champagne for breakfast, along with the freshest croissants, leafing through a Tesla catalogue, looking at that Model X that’ll get from 0 to 60 in a stupidly short time but also like save the planet. Then you remember that you’ve got a reservation at the Ivy tonight. But the doorbell goes. Who could it be? Oh! It’s your new yacht! Twenty foot longer than the old one. And it’s gold-plated. And filled with fresh fifty-pound notes.

Right?

Or are you sitting at your desk, feverishly going through the copy edits for a book you’ve slipped the deadline on twice now, hitting the refresh button on the Amazon product page every five seconds to see if the ranking has changed or if anyone’s reviewed it or—

The ranking has changed! It’s gone down. Oh.

People think when you get that book deal, that’s you hobnobbing with the stars, pricing up yachts or villas in Greece, but what’s the reality like?

By the time that bloody book comes out, it’s a weight off your shoulders. You’ve spent months writing it, probably took a few years off your life in the process. Your agent tore it apart, so you rewrote it until they liked it. They sent it out, it got rejected but you were lucky enough that someone bought it. And they edited it, four different stages which seemed to go on forever and took more years off. They commissioned a cover and you acted like you know what you’re talking about when you critique it. They do some nice blurb text, which you comment on like you even care by this point. Then you wait, checking Amazon for the sales rank on preorder. Checking Goodreads. Checking your google alerts are working. Wait, is that a new review? No, it’s that old one, the one on Goodreads that someone posted for the wrong book.

Then you meet your publicist and they’ve got loads of really funky ideas to get you in the papers and on the telly. Then you get the advance copies through the post and you’re a professional author! Actual books! And CDs and DVDs with the audiobook! You start to feel something in the pit of your stomach — is it excitement? Or just sheer terror?

The blog tour kicks off. The Amazon chart placing doesn’t budge. Your agent and editor stop answering your emails about how many preorders it’s done.

ARGH.

At this point, the book is like Shrödinger’s Cat, it’s both the biggest hit ever and the biggest disaster ever, at least until someone looks inside the box.

And it’s book launch day. Supposed to be the best day ever. But you stupidly checked your Amazon page just before you went to bed, didn’t you? Kept you thinking about stuff you can’t control when you’re supposed to be asleep. You even managed to get off to sleep after an hour spent working out where you’d like to meet JK Rowling, Stephen King and Lee Child for brunch. But then you woke up from a fever dream about accidentally mistweeting something, where you pissed everyone off and you have to go back to your old joke. So you get up for a glass of water, but you’re really checking your phone. The Amazon page has nudged up a little bit. Yay! But JK Rowling, Stephen King and Lee Child still haven’t got back to you. And you didn’t really mistweet something. Phew. So you go back to sleep, eventually get some, blissfully without a dream, then you give up tossing and turning at about six. And you get up. Again, like a lab rat, you check your phone for that dopamine hit.

Everyone at your publisher has wished the book well.

Your agent sent an encouraging message, their agency tweeted it.

The blog tour is going well.

And you can see the preorders. It’s going okay.

But what the hell do you do with book launch day?

Copy editing. Ignore everything.

Once you’ve sent an email to your mailing list. Once you’ve reminded your early readers to review it. Once you’ve tweeted about it. Once you’ve posted on your Facebook page.

You put the Beatles on to cheer you up. You don’t even like them.

But the lid of the box is open. You can peer inside, if you want. You can find out if it’s dead, or if it’s alive. But do you? Is it a monster hit? Is it a disaster?

So you check. The Amazon product page hasn’t changed since the middle of the night. It’s a disaster! But you keep refreshing the Amazon product page. You keep emailing your agent and editor to see how they think it’s doing and do they want any more books and is your career over, is it all a disaster, do you have to go back to your old job?

At some point during that day, you see it’s doing something. It’s defined itself. It’s a thing now, its success a tangible fact. The sales are recorded on some ledger somewhere, someone’s report or spreadsheet starts processing it. You lost any control of how good it was after you finished editing. It’s someone else’s baby now. And it belongs to the readers now, not you. You just wrote it, but it’s become something else.

And the reality is that all that weird stuff was inside your head. You’re getting too paranoid, too frazzled. Spending that time copy editing was smart, it distracted you for that hour. The book idea you sent to your agent, who enjoyed it enough to make you feel like it could work, that’s what you cling to. The next thing. Something shiny and new. Something you can control until they take it from your burnt fingertips and put you through that again.

Or is it you putting yourself through it?

The reality is somewhere in the middle. You should sit back and enjoy it for what it is. Some small part of the world will be yours for a couple of days, maybe a week, maybe a few months. You’ve achieved something very few people do — you wrote a book, you edited it, you made it as good as you could at that point in time. It’s out there, someone else’s baby. You’ve got peers now, you’re welcome at the table. You’ll have friends who are writers too, ones more successful than you, but ones less successful. The important thing is to enjoy it, savour the moment when your book is released and you pass it on for everyone else to enjoy.

But make sure you refresh the product page every minute.

I love this post, thank you Ed. I admire your honesty and if truth to be told, I did giggle a little at times whilst reading it.

I have the first DI Fenchurch book on my wishlist so hope to make a start on what promises to be a cracking series soon.

In For The Kill by Ed James was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 19th April 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

ed james.jpg

Ed lives in the East Lothian countryside, 25 miles east of Edinburgh, with his girlfriend, six rescue moggies, two retired greyhounds, a flock of ex-battery chickens and rescue ducks across two breeds and two genders (though the boys don’t lay eggs). While working in IT for a living, Ed wrote mainly on public transport but now writes full time.

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

Author Image and Biog © https://edjamesauthor.com/

#BookReview: All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson (@PeterSwanson3) @FaberBooks #AllTheBeautifulLies

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“On the eve of his college graduation, Harry is called home by his step-mother Alice, to their house on the Maine coast, following the unexpected death of his father.

But who really is Alice, his father’s much younger second wife? In a brilliant split narrative, Peter Swanson teases out the stories and damage that lie in her past. And as her story entwines with Harry’s in the present, things grow increasingly dark and threatening – will Harry be able to see any of it clearly through his own confused feelings?”

I am a huge (HUGE!) Peter Swanson fan. The Kind Worth Killing is one of my all-time favourite books and I ALWAYS recommend it to people (have you read it? You haven’t? You really should!). So, understandably, I always look forward to the next release from Mr Swanson. I didn’t have the blog when I read The Kind Worth Killing so I, unfortunately, don’t have a review to share with you (it would be an awful lot of fangirling!). I do, however, have a review of Swanson’s last book Her Every Fear which despite reading over a year ago now, I can still remember with pinpoint accuracy.

Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to hear the next Peter Swanson novel, All The Beautiful Lies, was due for imminent release. I HAD to read it, and soon! Unfortunately, because I’m an idiot, publication day passed me by but I picked up my copy and made a start as soon as I realised my epic mistake. And I have to say, it’s quite a different read from Swanson’s other books. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why that is but have so far failed. I enjoyed it, but maybe not as much as The Kind Worth Killing or Her Every Fear. It’s a little darker maybe, but that would encourage me if anything. I’m really not the best person to ask on these things but I wonder if it was a departure from the usual commercial fiction I’m used to reading and that’s what felt unfamiliar about the book.

Please don’t get the wrong idea here, I did thoroughly enjoy All The Beautiful Lies. I think I was thrown a little by the very different tone from an author whose writing I have come to know well. The story was a lot more about the intense and somewhat uncomfortable relationships between the characters. And the setting, the blustery Maine coastline, was almost a character in its own right. I’m not saying these are elements not normally included in a Peter Swanson novel. What I AM saying is that it/they felt strangely different in All The Beautiful Lies. But nothing ever stays the same and if you’re a writer churning out the same old thing, time and time again, then you’re not going to last very long in a competitive, inventive industry such as publishing.

Hmmm, yes! I liked it. It got under my skin but in a different way to the author’s other books.

Harry is called back to Maine days before he is due to graduate from college. Alice, his stepmother bears terrible news. Harry’s father has died suddenly; a freak accident whilst he was out on his evening stroll along the clifftop path. Harry is devastated by his father’s death and rushes to Alice’s side. He’s always tried to have a normal relationship with his stepmother but that can difficult when she’s only 13 years older than him and Harry can’t help but find her attractive. Alice needs Harry around her; to cook for, to clean for and to run Harry’s father’s rare book shop. But Harry doesn’t want to be a replacement for Bill. He’s a young man and despite having no clue what he wants from his life, he knows it’s not Kennewick, Maine. Unbeknownst to Harry, Kennewick is full of secrets and it’s frightening how far some people will go to keep it that way.

Alice is probably my favourite character in the book. Personally, I’m not one for your ‘run of the mill’ types and she certainly couldn’t be described that way. I looked forward to the sections where I would discover more about her past and get a glimpse into what made Alice the woman she became. There was also a delicious sense of dread hanging over these chapters which I thought was perfectly written. I felt nervous, but at times couldn’t explain why.

Harry also gets to tell his side of the story which I was a little less interested in. I neither liked nor disliked Harry. Yes, he was key to the plot but Alice was the far superior character in my eyes. Drippy, somewhat naive characters will never get my vote though.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s different to what I have come to expect from the author but I liked it. Has it surpassed The Kind Worth Killing in my eyes? Well, no. That’s going to be quite a mammoth feat to achieve (not saying it’s not possible though!). I found this book interesting, a little uncomfortable in places and very intense. It’s not going to be for everyone but it could be for you, so give it a go. Oh, and the ‘fountain of youth’ references throughout the book were fan-flipping-tastic!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read an ARC of All The Beautiful Lies. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 5th April 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, All the Beautiful Lies. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Our House by Louise Candlish (@louise_candlish) @simonschusterUK #OurHouse #DomesticSuspense

9781471168031 (3)“FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.”

I was kindly invited to take part in the blog tour for Our House by Jess at Simon & Schuster, and if you were around over the weekend you would have seen a brilliant guest post on the blog written by the author, Louise Candlish.  When Jess approached me about the tour, I didn’t think I would be able to fit a review in.  But, in the end, I just couldn’t help myself!  (And I know I promised you that review on Monday but I’m afraid life got in the way a little, as it does to all of us sometimes.)

I did, however, finish reading Our House over the weekend and I’m still feeling a number of the unsettling emotions it has left me with.  Now don’t get me wrong, this is a GREAT book but flipping heck, it made me really quite uncomfortable at times.  It’s a strange one (a good strange one).  I struggled to put it down but at the same time, I didn’t want to pick it again once I had put it down.  Isn’t that a weird thing to say?!  I knew things were only going to get worse for the Lawson family and whilst I was seriously intrigued by their situation, at points, I wasn’t sure I wanted to witness them.  It was like I wanted to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible.  Gosh, I hope I’m making some sort of sense here.  It felt a little like slowing down to gawp as you pass a road traffic accident, a little ghoulish…

Fi returns home after a romantic break with her new man to find a young couple moving into their family home.  There is no mistake about it; the funds have been transferred and the names on the deeds have been changed.  Fi’s beloved family home is no longer hers.  But this is the first she’s heard about it.  Fi would never even consider selling their house; it was meant to be passed down to her boys.  It was their inheritance.  To complicate matters Fi’s estranged husband, Bram is missing.  He’s not picking up his phone.  No one has seen hide nor hair of him.  What’s going on?  How could this happen?  Are Fi and Bram the victims of some complex property fraud, or is the source of the crime much closer to home than anyone imagines…

The way Candlish has told the story is exceptional.  We meet Fi as she discovers the horrible truth, her home is no longer her own.  The reader watches from the shadows as she argues and debates with the new owners, urging them to understand what a terrible mistake this must all be.  But it has to be true, the paperwork says so, as does the missing two million pounds.  Which takes us to ‘The Victim‘, a Podcast that “tells the true story of a crime directly in the words of the victim. ‘The Victim’ is not an investigation, but a privileged insight into an innocent person’s suffering.”  [taken from Louise Candlish’s website].  These sections are where we get to see the real Fi; her naivety, her good nature, her gullibility and her strong love and devotion to her two sons.  The reader also gets to hear Bram’s side of the story which doesn’t make for a pleasant read.  Bram is an idiot.  He’s probably King Idiot actually!  I wanted to thump him at times and, truth be told, I also wanted to give him a big cuddle and tell him it would be alright in the end (that really isn’t a spoiler by the way!).  Bram’s devotion to his boys, if nothing else, melted my heart.  The dawning realisation of what was happening to him and what the repercussions of that was tough going at times.

Before I turn this into the longest review I have ever written, I want to talk briefly about the end of this book.  I was warned about a big twist and it really is quite devastating as books go.  It wasn’t a WOW moment for me though, I found myself inhaling sharply and then slumping in a heap.  If at any point in the book, you feel any kind of fondness or warmth for the characters, I expect you may feel the same.  Several days later and I’m still turning over the story of Fi and Bram in my mind.  I wish it had ended differently for them, but the ending was perfect.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s quite different to many other domestic suspense novels I have read over the years.  It’s a triumphant step up for a genre that I often feel can be quite samey.  Full of emotion, probably more than I could handle at times, and totally devastating in places.  With characters that leap off the page at you and with situations you could easily find yourself in, Our House is a must read.

Four out of five stars.

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

Our House by Louise Candlish was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Louise CandlishLouise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Swimming Pool (2016) and The Sudden Departure of the Frasers (2015), Her new novel Our House, will be published in April 2018 by Simon & Schuster in the UK and in August 2018 by Berkley in the US.

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers has been optioned for TV by Hartswood Films.

Besides books, the things Louise likes best are: coffee; TV (so much TV, too much, probably); cats and dogs; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; soup; Vanity Fair magazine; ‘Book at Bedtime’; lasagne; heavy metal; ‘The Archers’; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar).

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

#Giveaway: Hangman by Daniel Cole | @TrapezeBooks | #5star #crimefiction #BookOfTheMonthMarch2018 #UKOnly #Win

hangman cover“18 months after the ‘Ragdoll’ murders, a body is found hanging from Brooklyn Bridge, the word ‘BAIT’ carved into the chest.

In London a copycat killer strikes, branded with the word ‘PUPPET’, forcing DCI Emily Baxter into an uneasy partnership with the detectives on the case, Special Agents Rouche and Curtis.

Each time they trace a suspect, the killer is one step ahead. With the body count rising on both sides of the Atlantic, can they learn to trust each other and identify who is holding the strings before it is too late?!

*Sigh*, it’s true.  damppebbles.com IS the blog that just keeps on giving (it’s a hard life being this generous, hahaha).  Last week I was offering a paperback copy of Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (congratulations to the winner, Lorna Cassidy).  Today I have another stonking book on offer to one lucky UK winner.

This time it is the FABULOUS, the deliciously dark and altogether incredible HANGMAN, book two in the Ragdoll series.  I loved this book.  I mean, I really, REALLY loved this book.  To read my full review, click HERE.  Alternatively, here are a few snippets from my review to whet your appetite:

“I love the new ‘slightly more damaged than she was before’ Emily Baxter. Her sarcastic manner, her bossiness, her ‘don’t actually give a damn!’ attitude and her secretiveness.” 

“I described the need to keep turning the pages of Ragdoll as similar to catnip. Well, the author has done it again but this is super strength catnip! A perfect read for me.”

“Would I recommend this book? Totally. I loved it.”

Yup, I think I liked it.  If you would like the chance to win a hardback copy of HANGMAN by Daniel Cole please retweet THIS tweet and tag at least three UK book-loving friends.

Giveaway ends at midday (BST) on Thursday 19th April 2018.  The winner will be selected at random and will be contacted via Twitter.  The winner will need to provide their address so I can send the prize.  There is no cash alternative.  The winner’s address will not be stored.  UK entrants only I’m afraid due to postage costs.  Only retweets of my pinned tweet will count.  Shares of this post to social media won’t, I’m afraid.

Good luck everyone!

about the author3

daniel coleDaniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer, and most recently for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Ragdoll is his first novel. He lives in Bournemouth, England.

Author Links: Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Our House by Louise Candlish (@Louise_Candlish) @simonschusterUK @jessbarratt88 #OurHouse

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“FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Our House blog tour. Our House is the thirteenth novel from the pen of author, Louise Candlish, and was published by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018. Now, Louise Candlish is a new author to me (yes, I know what you’re thinking; thirteen books – how is that possible?!) but I am currently reading Our House and oh my gosh, what a thoroughly enjoyable read it is! The characters leap off the page at you, I’ve had many ‘OMG, NO!!’ moments and I cannot wait to see what the shocking twist is that EVERYONE is talking about (I don’t have a clue what it could be, by the way!).

The review is most definitely coming to the blog (pop back on Monday) but today, to celebrate the publication of Our House, I have a fantastic guest post from the author to share with you. Louise has chosen to tell us about the five books which inspired Our House. So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Louise…

Five books that inspired Our House
Louise Candlish

Capital by John Lanchester
I’m a huge fan of this book and was deep in Our House when the BBC dramatisation aired. The double-fronted house that causes all the trouble for Fi and Bram in Our House is not dissimilar to the one Roger and Arabella Yount live in in Capital – grand enough for south London, yes, but having accrued a value its builders could never have dreamed of. ‘The houses had become so valuable…and so expensive…that they had become central actors in their own right.’ Insane and terrifying.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Pretty much every thriller since 2012 owes a debt to Gillian Flynn’s smash hit, and the element that excited me was the husband and wife narratorial double act. Mainly the husband: Nick’s is the strongest voice, and the cheekiest – he even tips us off to his own untruths (‘that was my fifth lie to the police’). I see Bram as the key narrator of Our House. Because Fi is in the dark, the reader often knows more than she does and therefore the bond with Bram is stronger. That’s if he’s telling the truth, of course.

Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
Just about any Agatha Christie could be said to have inspired my writing, because she’s been a favourite since childhood, but I’ve chosen Peril at End House for its property and inheritance themes (there’s even a re-mortgaging). As one of the characters remarks, ‘I always knew something bad would happen in this house’. I also think this is a fantastic title, one of her best. ‘Peril’ is a great word.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
I love every word Sarah Waters writes, every corner of every south London interior she creates. I live quite close to Champion Hill, where the house in The Paying Guests is set. Rooms must be let to Mr and Mrs Barber ‘if the house were to be kept going’ and there are so many dramatic possibilities in the idea of our hanging on to our home, whatever it takes. In Our House, Bram and Fi are separating and neither has a hope of buying the other out. They must share it – a plan that leads to tragedy.

The Wimbledon Poisoner by Nigel Williams
The south London suburb in Our House has a fictitious name – Alder Rise – but local readers will probably recognise its real-life equivalents. It’s definitely not Wimbledon, I can tell you that, and in any case SW19 already has a story of suburban murder and mishap that none of us can top. The opening of The Wimbledon Poisoner is a tour de force: Henry Farr decides he wants to kill his wife, remarking, ‘Being a convicted murderer had the edge on being a solicitor’. Savagery in the suburbs – and that’s just the humour.

Thank you for joining me today, Louise and for giving us a sneak peek into your inspiration for the fantastic Our House.

Our House by Louise Candlish was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Louise Candlish.jpg

Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Swimming Pool (2016) and The Sudden Departure of the Frasers (2015), Her new novel Our House, will be published in April 2018 by Simon & Schuster in the UK and in August 2018 by Berkley in the US.

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers has been optioned for TV by Hartswood Films.

Besides books, the things Louise likes best are: coffee; TV (so much TV, too much, probably); cats and dogs; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; soup; Vanity Fair magazine; ‘Book at Bedtime’; lasagne; heavy metal; ‘The Archers’; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar).

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