#QandA with J. S. Carol (@JamesCarolBooks) author of #KissMeKillMe @BonnierZaffre

kiss me kill me“When Zoe meets Dan, he’s everything she is looking for in a man – intelligent, charming, supportive.

It’s only after they’re married that she realises that he’s controlling, aggressive, paranoid.

And there’s no way out.

Or is there?

Zoe knows she has to escape, but Dan’s found her once before, and she knows he can find her again.

But Dan has plans of his own. Plans that don’t necessarily include Zoe.

Be careful who you trust . . .

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as I have something quite special to share.  I don’t do many interviews or Q&As on the blog but when I do, it’s always with an author whose books mean a lot to me.  Today I have a Q&A with J.S. Carol, who writes the awesome Jefferson Winter books (as James Carol) and today publishes his utterly brilliant standalone psychological thriller Kiss Me Kill Me in paperback.  A very happy publication day to James and the team at Bonnier Zaffre!  If you missed my review of Kiss Me Kill Me when it was released in eBook earlier this year then please click HERE.  I rather liked it!

But let’s not dither about any more than we need to.  Here’s my Q&A with James…

DP: Welcome to damppebbles.com, James and thank you so much for joining me today.

I have read and loved KISS ME KILL ME (along with all of your other books!).  Could you tell us a little about where the inspiration behind the book came from?

JSC: Thank you so much and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Like all my books KISS ME KILL ME started off with a question. I was sitting around one day and an image popped into my head of a woman staring at the pink cross on a pregnancy test and being totally devastated. To start with I thought she didn’t want the baby, but that wasn’t the case. That’s when the questions started. Why had this upset her so much? Why was she hiding away in the bathroom doing the test in secret? What was she worried might happen? The big question though was why didn’t she want her husband to know…?

DP: I am an avid reader of the crime and thriller genre so I’ve learnt over the years to look for clues whilst reading and try and guess where the story is going.  One of the things I love most about your books is how you always manage to surprise me.  How do you ensure you stay one step ahead of other authors in the same genre and keep us readers on our toes?

JSC: That’s a tough one, and it’s getting tougher. Like you pointed out, crime and thriller readers want to solve the crime. What’s more, they’re getting better at doing it too. If you keep them guessing until the end then you win. However, if they work it out then they feel cheated. It’s a real high-wire act. Get it wrong and that’s it, game over.

I think the way I write helps me to stay one step ahead. Rather than plot things out, I get an idea and then run with it. What this means is that my stories often go off in directions that I wasn’t expecting. The theory I subscribe to is that if things are taking me by surprise then hopefully they’ll take the reader by surprise too.

DP: The characters in KISS ME KILL ME are a fascinating bunch.  What do you like most about Zoe? About Daniel?  And what’s your least favourite thing about them?

JSC: What I like most about Zoe is the fact that even though life has dragged her all the way down to rock bottom, she manages to find the strength to try to escape. Daniel might be controlling every aspect of her life, but he hasn’t totally broken her. The thing I don’t like is her lack of confidence. This is a trait that I share with her, and one that I find annoying in myself.

With Daniel there’s not much I like, to be honest. I can see why Zoe fell for him. At the start he was charming and seemed genuine – there was nothing to suggest that he was the monster he turned out to be. The one thing I did like was writing him. The evil characters are always so much more fun to write than the good ones!

DP: If KISS ME KILL ME was made into a movie, who would you want to play Zoe and Daniel? Who would you choose to play Gabriel?

JSC: Jennifer Lawrence would make a great Zoe. She’s the right age and she would be able to project the combination of toughness and vulnerability the role would require. Patrick J Adams from Suits would be great as Gabriel. I could imagine Zoe trusting him. For Daniel I’d go for Daniel Radcliffe. He seems to be trying to shake off the Harry Potter tag so I can imagine him getting his teeth into a bad guy role. [DP: I LOVE the idea of Daniel Radcliffe playing Daniel.  What a perfect choice!]

DP: Do you have any plans to write a sequel to KISS ME KILL ME.  I had the feeling that should you want to, the opportunity was there to continue the story…?

JSC: KISS ME KILL ME was conceived as a standalone so at this stage there are no plans for a follow up.  That said, if a suitable story presented itself then I would definitely consider writing it. One thing I love about writing is the way that the characters take on a life of their own. This was especially true with Zoe. There was a whole bunch of things she did that surprised me, so who knows, maybe her story isn’t quite finished yet.

DP: And finally, what question do you wish I had asked but didn’t (and what’s the answer!)?

JSC: What’s your favourite flavour of muffin? I’ve got to say muffins are a bit of a weakness. Most days I’ll have one while I’m writing. And blueberry is my favourite … except on the days when it’s chocolate chip… then there are these amazing salted caramel ones that you sometimes get … so many to choose from!

Thank you so much for joining me today, James.  

Kiss Me Kill Me by J.S. Carol was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 31st May 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

James+Carol+(head+and+shoulders)J. S. Carol is the author of The Killing Game, which has been shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. As James Carol, he has also written the bestselling Jefferson Winter series. Broken Dolls, the first of these, was published in 2014 to rave reviews and reached #1 on the Amazon fiction and thriller charts. In addition James is writing a series of eBooks set during Winter’s FBI days. Presumed Guilty is the first of these.

James lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children. When he’s not writing he can usually be found in a pair of headphones, recording and producing music.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

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#BookReview: Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan (@benjaminryan) @wnbooks @orionbooks @cobaltdinosaur #GuestReview #SevensHeaven #Rugby #Fiji

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The incredible story of how one man inspired a nation of underdogs to achieve sporting greatness.

It is late summer 2013. Ben Ryan, a red-haired, 40-something, spectacle-wearing Englishman, is given 20 minutes to decide whether he wants to coach Fiji’s rugby sevens team, with the aim of taking them to the nation’s first-ever Olympic medal. He has never been to Fiji. There has been no discussion of contracts or salary. But he knows that no one plays rugby like the men from these isolated Pacific islands, just as no one plays football like the kids from the Brazilian favelas, or no one runs as fast as the boys and girls from Jamaica’s boondocks. He knows too that no other rugby nation has so little – no money and no resources, only basic equipment and a long, sad history of losing its most gifted players to richer, greedier nations.

Ryan says yes. And with that simple word he sets in motion an extraordinary journey that will encompass witchdoctors and rugby-obsessed prime ministers, sun-smeared dawns and devastating cyclones, intense friendships and bitter rows, phone taps and wild nationwide parties. It will end in Rio with a performance that not only wins Olympic gold but reaches fresh heights for rugby union and makes Ben and his 12 players living legends back home.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT for damppebbles! Sport. Rugby to be exact. Not my usual fare. If you’re talking about a maul (it’s a rugby term, honest!), then for me it’s being mauled to a bloody, gruesome death. Not a bit of a scuffle on the rugby pitch…

When I first met my husband (over ten years ago now) he devoured books as quickly as I did. He was also a huge crime fiction fan, like me. But he’s not anymore and he hardly ever reads either which I find quite sad. But, he does LOVE rugby. So when I spotted a rugby book on NetGalley, it seemed like fate. My husband was excited about reading this book and that is a wonderful thing.

So, without further ado I am thrilled to welcome my other half, Ryan, to the blog today with his review of Ben Ryan’s Sevens Heaven

I love watching rugby almost as much as @damppebbles loves books! I watched it with my Dad when I was little, in bars at Uni, and now I try to teach my kids what’s going on for the 10 minutes their attention is held! My experience has taught me that there are 3 almost universal rules to being a rugby fan;

  • The commentators are almost always biased against your team
  • In 15-a-side everyone loves watching the Barbarians (an international charity invitation team who play carefree entertaining rugby) and
  • In 7-a-side rugby everyone’s first or second team is Fiji.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, 7-a-side rugby debuted and in the final Fiji beat Great Britain with a sublime display of entertaining, flowing and ruthless rugby. This book tells the journey of Englishman Ben Ryan who receives an unexpected tweet, goes through an unorthodox interview process and then coaches this wonderful team to 2 World Sevens Series and finally Fiji’s first Olympic medal.

This book is fascinating. Whether you are interested in rugby, the country of Fiji, Ryan’s philosophy of coaching or how a team which everyone loved watching went from mercurial to world-beaters, you will love this book. Even if you don’t like rugby I challenge you not to be inspired by the journey that you read about, the friendships, the highs and lows, and challenges overcome.

We follow Ben Ryan and his squad through personal hardships, injuries, family tragedies. We see trust grow, being repaid by some yet broken by others. We see reflections of the differences in culture, Ben learning what inspires these players from a Fijian culture, initially alien to him, to perform and train while he reflects on the many differences with the England squad he coached previously. We learn how rugby inspires the country of Fiji and how after the awful events of Cyclone Winston, which bought devastation to the Islands, the 7’s team carried a nation’s hopes into the world’s biggest sporting arena.

I have never understood how authors writing about real events can engender so much emotion into what the reader already knows to be true, but reading about the Olympic final is so wonderfully joyful you feel you have to share it.

Am I going to run out and buy a Fijian 7’s jersey – maybe! Am I going to tell everyone I know who likes rugby, or reads leadership books or sports books about THIS book? YES! Am I going to tell anyone who stands next to me at the coffee machine that they should read this book? YES! Do I think you should go on this journey too? I think you know! A remarkable story, wonderfully told and bound to bring a smile to many people.

5 Stars.

OK, I’m impressed – great review. It seems you’ve been taking notes after all 😉 Something a little different for the ‘pebbles today but I’ve rather enjoyed the change. I hope you have too.

Ryan chose to read and review an eARC of Sevens Heaven. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan was published in the UK by W&N Books on 31st May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Ben Ryan is the most successful men’s rugby sevens coach in the world, the only coach winning Continental, World and Olympic titles. Ben has been working at the top end of international sport for over a decade. Ben’s achievements are well documented and include many personal and professional accolades.

Ben’s move to Fiji saw him coach the 7s team to Olympic Gold with the team given the prodigious accolade from the IOC as the best male team performance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Ben was named Ratu Peni Raini Latianara in Fiji, became Chief in the province of Serua, and was awarded the Companion of the Order of Fiji, the highest order attainable on the Islands. Ben is the Pacific Person of the Year and was short-listed for World Rugby Coach of the Year.

Ben’s coaching across the years has included England Counties (Head Coach), various invitational 15-a-side teams, South West Schools, England U18s, and coaching all England senior and age-grade scrum-halves in their personal technical and tactical skill sets. Ben has also been a regular guest coach at Premiership clubs and academies.

Ben is an RFU Level 1-4 qualified rugby coach, beginning his coaching career in the 15-a-side game. After playing professionally for Bedford Blues and West Hartlepool in the Premiership, Ben went on to begin a teaching career before being appointed as Director of Rugby at Newbury RFC (see The Guardian write up here). Ben’s forward-thinking approach to coaching soon enabled Newbury’s top team to enjoy promotion into the Championship, becoming one of the top 20 teams in the country.

Ben is an ambassador for HSBC and Fiji Airways, and currently a consultant for many world-class organisations, both within and outside the sporting world. Ben thinks differently, empowering individuals with the tools to make real change in the way they lead their lives.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: It Was Her by Mark Hill (@markhillwriter) @TheCrimeVault @millieseaward #ItWasHer

it was her.jpg“Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.

Did she do it?

Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Poppy. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she sees families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.

Did she kill them?

As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the It Was Her blog tour.  It Was Her is written by ex-blogger and journalist, Mark Hill and was published by Sphere on 17th May 2018.  This is the second book in the DI Ray Drake series.  The first book, His First Lie (originally published as ‘The Two O’Clock Boy’) I thoroughly enjoyed and you can read my review by clicking HERE.

I was really looking forward to being reacquainted with DI Drake and DS Flick Crowley, having enjoyed His First Lie as much as I did.  But before we go any further, a word to the wise.  There’s something really quite special and different about this series and some things, although expertly explained and recapped by the author, work so much better if you read them first hand.  You get that spine-tingling shock factor, that unexpected ‘WOW’ moment that you just can’t get via a recap.  I may get in trouble for saying this but PLEASE read His First Lie first.  It’ll give you goosebumps and you’ll learn exactly who you are dealing with in Ray Drake.  Now don’t get me wrong, Hill has done a terrific job of giving new readers an overview of what happened to Ray as a child but no matter how expert the writing, this is one series that you should experience, from the beginning, yourself.

I’ll climb down off of my soapbox now (more of a biscuit tin really…) and get on with reviewing It Was Her!  DI Ray Drake is a troubled man.  DS Flick Crowley is dealing with her own demons which are all due to Drake, her boss and his troubled past.  I found Flick hard to like in the first book.  It Was Her has completely changed my opinion.  They’re an odd couple, but I really like them.  There’s a wonderful sense of impending doom about the two of them; the knowledge that if either of them says the wrong thing, confides in the wrong person then life could drastically change for both.  They’re bound together by secrets, whether they like it or not.

One of the things I’m growing to love about reading a Mark Hill novel is his flair for writing interesting, well-developed characters.  Although this book is all about DI Drake his supporting cast are solid, believable characters who all contribute to the storyline.  Hill has, however, outdone himself with the toxic Bliss family.  Tatia is the ‘adopted’ (although not through the normal, legal channels) middle sister of the family.  Poppy is the older sister, Joel is the younger brother and Will died at a young age when he fell from a clifftop whilst on holiday with his family.  Tatia was blamed for the ‘accident’ and sent home to an orphanage in Georgia and a life of poverty, abuse and degradation.  The scars run deep and all Tatia wants is a beautiful home of her own and her family reunited.  So much so that breaking and entering doesn’t seem that big-a-deal.  But then the owners of the properties start dying in violent circumstances and Tatia becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation.  Did she do it?  Only DI Drake and DS Crowley can discover the truth…

Every so often throughout the story, there are flashbacks to x number of days or weeks after Will fell from the cliff.  These chapters give the reader a great insight into the workings of the Bliss family and how events have turned out the way they have.  I’m afraid I did my usual and tried to work out whodunit before it was revealed.  I did guess the perpetrator but oh my gosh, that ending was NOT expected!

Would I recommend this book?  I would but do start with His First Lie as it gives you the necessary background.  DI Drake is a fascinating and complex character and it helps to understand his experience and his motivations before reading It Was Her.  Deliciously dark characters, a poisonous middle-class family and a detective inspector with more to hide than most!  Another thoroughly enjoyable read from Mark Hill.

Four out of five stars.

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

It Was Her by Mark Hill was published in the UK by Sphere on 17th May 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

It Was Her blog tour poster.jpg

about the author3

mark-hillI’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR.

But I write now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for clicking.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are oh-so-many ways to do it!

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

20 Books of Summer 2018 #20BooksofSummer2018 #amreading

I am stupidly excited! Having watched from afar for the past two years I am ready, I am prepped and I am determined to take part in the 20 Books of Summer challenge this year. If you’ve never heard of 20 Books of Summer before then hop on over to the lovely Cathy’s blog at 746 Books and you can find out all you need to know.

The challenge starts on Friday 1st June and participants have until 3rd September to read all 20 books on their lists. Gulp! It’s do-able, right?

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It was a delight to choose my 20 books for the challenge and I’m 99% happy with my list. The odd change may take place here and there (I’m allowed, it’s in the rules!) but hopefully, no one will notice 😉

So without further ado, here are my choices…

Blood City by Douglas Skelton
Cut To The Bone by Alex Caan
Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Heartman by M.P. Wright
Hide and Seek (DI Helen Grace #6) by M.J. Arlidge
Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Normal by Graeme Cameron

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields
Rattle by Fiona Cummins
Sirens (Aiden Waits #1) by Joseph Knox
The Caller (Detective Robert Hunter #8) by Chris Carter

The Dark Inside (Charlie Yates #1) by Rod Reynolds
The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
The Nightstalker by Sebastian Fitzek

The Rule of Fear by Luke Delaney
The White Road by Sarah Lotz
Unsub by Meg Gardiner
Watching Edie by Camilla Way

So there we have it! What do you think? Have you read any of the books on my list? Any you would recommend starting with?

I can’t wait to make a start, but which one to pick first….?? Hmmm 🤔. If you’re taking part in 20 Books of Summer 2018 then let me know in the comments.

Wish me luck because I’m going to need it 😉. I can’t wait to make a start though!

#BookReview: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough (@SarahPinborough) @HarperCollinsUK @1stMondayCrime #CrossHerHeart

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“SOMEONE IS LIVING A LIE… BUT WHO?

Is it Lisa?
Haunted by a tragic past, all Lisa wants is a quiet life with her daughter, Ava. And when she meets a new man, things seem to be falling into place. But Lisa is hiding a secret so momentous it could shatter her entire world…

Is it Ava?
When sixteen-year-old Ava saves a young boy’s life, she becomes a local hero. But never in a million years could she have anticipated the fallout of her actions…

Is it Marilyn?
Marilyn has the perfect life. Her husband, her job, her house—she seems to have it all. But she could never admit to her best friend Lisa the lies she tells herself to get through the day…

One moment will change these three women’s lives forever. And the secrets they’ve been keeping could destroy them all.”

Oh.My.Gosh! I’m a broken woman and it’s all thanks to Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough. Now this may come as a shock to many of you as I have a reputation as an on-the-ball crime blogger to uphold but this is the first book I have read by Sarah Pinborough. Her previous release, Behind Her Eyes was a little (<– understatement) popular last year with its #WTFthatending hashtag. I have a copy, I just haven’t managed to find the time to read it yet *hangs head in shame*. So when I heard Sarah Pinborough was appearing at the June First Monday Crime event in London, it was the perfect opportunity to make amends.

And what a book Cross Her Heart is! It’s not often a psychological thriller can bring me to tears but as I said at the start of this review, I am a broken woman. I feel as though I’ve gone ten rounds with a champion heavyweight boxer, beaten and bruised but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I had been warned previously that what you see isn’t necessarily what you end up getting with a Pinborough novel. This author is a master at making you think one thing, pulling the wool completely over your eyes and then going ‘taddah’ and you’re somewhere else entirely different to where you predicted. Top marks for doing it with such aplomb! Many writers try and achieve something similar and they do manage to some degree but this book, this author seem to reach a whole new undiscovered level.

I immediately liked Lisa. I could see a little of myself in her and maybe that was the reason I warmed to her as quickly as I did. She’s an overprotective parent of a sixteen-year-old. She keeps herself to herself, gets on with her life and spends her days fretting about keeping Ava, her daughter, safe. It becomes apparent to the reader that Lisa has a lot of history, that something happened in her past that she’s either running away from or there is someone she’s hiding from. She has secrets but we all have secrets, right? It’s just that some are a lot bigger, a lot more earth-shattering than others though…

Lisa is one of three strong female characters hiding their devastating secrets from the world in this story. Her daughter Ava has her own issues to deal with including an overprotective mother, exams and pressure from her friends to move her relationship with her boyfriend to the next level. Then we also have Marilyn, Lisa’s best friend who’s perfect life isn’t the idyllic picture she paints on a daily basis. I adored all three of these characters. As Pinborough tantalisingly revealed their secrets and dropped another bombshell on her reader, how much I liked them varied quite dramatically – and I found that utterly fascinating.

I do have to mention Daniel and how he totally broke my heart into a million pieces and how, during parts of the book, I had to put it down and walk away and clear my mind a little. I had to have a breather otherwise I would have been a shambolic, sobbing mess in the corner of the room. But as I’m a ‘no spoiler reviewer’ I can’t really tell you anything else about him or his story. If you want to find out more then you’ll have to get a copy of Cross Her Heart.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, yes! What a page-turner of a read. What a brilliant, yet devastating story this is. I was completely hooked and I didn’t want it to end. There were a couple of small points which I struggled to believe but the storytelling is so wonderfully intense and so riveting that I didn’t really care. I was just enjoying a stonkingly good novel! Heartbreaking, emotional, impossible to tear yourself away from and so utterly devastating in places, this book should win awards.

Five out of five stars.

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

Sarah Pinborough will be appearing at the June First Monday Crime on Monday 4th June 2018. Sarah will be appearing alongside Martyn Waites, Lisa Hall, Harry Brett and moderator Jake Kerridge. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 4th June 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.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough was published in the UK by Harper Collins on 17th May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

sarah pinborough.jpg

Sarah Pinborough is the number one Sunday Times Bestselling and New York Times Bestselling author of the psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes (Jan, 2017). During her career she has published more than 20 novels and several novellas, and has written for the BBC. Her recent novels include the dystopian love story, The Death House, and a teenage thriller, 13 Minutes which has been bought by Netflix with Josh Schwartz adapting.

Behind Her Eyes has sold to nearly twenty territories so far and was sold at auction to the US in a significant deal to Flatiron, Macmillan. There are discussions on going with several movies studios about the film adaptation.

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

Author image and bio © https://sarahpinborough.com/

#CaseClosed: #May2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove

Hello my bookish friends! It’s not quite the last day of May but I have such a busy schedule on the blog this week that it seemed only right to post my May #CaseClosed a day early (it was that or four days into June which may have resulted in some unusual twitching, haha).

May has been another quiet month on the blog. I’m really struggling to find the time to read and if I’m honest, the thought of sitting down and writing a review is just a little ‘ugh’ at the moment. I took a lovely social media break over the Bank Holiday Weekend so that may become a more regular thing. Do you take regular social media breaks?

During May I took part in five blog tours (plus I have another tour coming your way tomorrow!):

All posts were reviews:
Pressure by Betsy Reavley | The Retreat by Mark Edwards | The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton | The TV Detective by Simon Hall | Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty |

I also reviewed two other books, both for publication day (or as near as dangit!):
Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley | Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines |

And that’s it for May! What an unproductive month it’s been *sigh*. Actually, thinking about it (brooding on it!) I do have other reviews waiting in the wings (It Was Her by Mark Hill for the blog tour on Thursday, When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith for the blog tour on Friday and I’m currently nearing the end of Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough for June’s First Monday Crime) so it’s not as bad as it looks after all! Hoorah!

As for other news, not a lot has happened this month. It was the #BloggersBash awards the other weekend and a number of very good friends won awards. I didn’t but d’you know what? I didn’t expect to. I won the Services to Bloggers category last year and it was time for other people to sparkle and shine. Congratulations to all the winners, you guys are awesome!

Business is good! Just a quick reminder that if you’re a crime author and you’re looking to run a blog tour then give me a shout. I’ve recently started my own blog tour organising business; damppebbles blog tours and I’m currently taking bookings. If you’re a book blogger and would like to find out about the tours I organise then click HERE. Actually, I was wondering where my reading time has gone. I may have just found the answer, lol! (But I’m certainly not complaining!)

Which I think just leaves my book of the month…

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So without further ado, here’s my book of May 2018…

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It’s The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton!

the craftsman

“Our main character, WPC Florence Lovelady, had my full attention from start to finish and I’m left wanting more. What an intriguing, fascinating story and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. It’s creepy, it’s tense and it’s full of witches! I loved it. I love what the author has done with her story and her characters are an absolute delight. Highly recommended.”

So that’s it from me for now. I have at least two posts a day for the rest of the week so strap yourselves in and hold tight, it’s gonna get busy!

Thanks for dropping by today. I hope you have a sunshine filled June and that the start of Summer is full of fantastic reads.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty (@Hardisty_Paul) @OrendaBooks #Absolution #ClaymoreStraker

absolution“It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.

Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolutionis a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Absolution blog tour. Absolution is the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series written by author, Paul E. Hardisty and published by Orenda Books. I had the pleasure of reading ‘The Evolution of Fear‘, the second book in this series back in 2016; you can read that review by clicking HERE. I also took part in the blog tour for the third book, ‘Reconciliation for the Dead‘ with a rather stonking guest post.

It’s been a while since I was last acquainted with the dynamic and dangerous Claymore Straker and oh my goodness, it seems so much has happened to him, near him and because of him in the meantime! But then this is Claymore Straker we’re talking about here and he’s no ordinary man. The reader only has to wait until a mere 4% into the book before the action starts and oh boy, it is a shocker! But then I would expect nothing less from the pen of this highly descriptive and thoroughly accomplished author. One of the things I always enjoy about Paul E. Hardisty’s Straker books is that they are intelligent, well-researched works which the reader can sit back and immerse themselves in. As you’re reading you feel that you’re in safe, knowledgeable hands which only adds to the reading experience.

Chapters alternate between letters from Straker’s lover, Rania and life as it happens to Straker. The chapters which narrate Claymore’s journey are high-octane, thrill rides which leave you wondering what could possibly go wrong next. Will Claymore survive the next gun-toting militant he has the unfortunate pleasure of stumbling upon? Well, you’ll have to read the book for yourself and find out.

I loved the letters from Rania. Early on the reader discovers that Rania never intends on sending the letters to Claymore, which makes them all the more candid. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a modern Muslim woman, and how her strong belief system supports her through difficult times, and occasionally takes her life in a direction she would rather it not go. I really felt for Rania on many levels. But above all else, her character appealed to me because I always like a kick-ass female character.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of the thriller novel then yes, absolutely! You must read this book, along with the others in the series. As far as thrillers go, this is the most detailed, intelligent and captivating series out there with a heck of a lot of heart added for good measure!

Four out of five stars.

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

Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook format (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Absolution blog poster 2018.jpeg

about the author3

Paul HardistyCanadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

#BlogBlitz | #Giveaway: The TV Detective by Simon Hall (@SimonHallNews) @fahrenheitpress #TheTVDetective

The TV Detective cover“Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.”

Hello bookish friends.  For personal reasons, there has been a slight change to The TV Detective blog blitz schedule today so I am welcoming you back to the ‘pebbles for a little bit more The TV Detective love!  You lucky things, you!

On Monday I posted my review of The TV Detective which, if you missed it, you can read by clicking HERE.  Today, however, I am offering one lucky international winner the chance to win an eBook copy of the book.  So if the sound of likeable Dan Groves and the studious, yet suave DCI Adam Breen appeals, and you want to find out more, then here is your chance.

If you need further persuasion then check out these great reviews featured on the blog blitz so far; Bookmark ThatCafe ThinkingThe Irresponsible ReaderLive and DeadlyJuliaPaloozaGrab This Book and Wrong Side of Forty.

To win an eBook copy of The TV Detective all you have to do is follow the instructions in THIS tweet.  Giveaway will close at midday (BST) on 25th May 2018.  One winner will be selected at random and will be notified via Twitter.  The winner will be required to send me their Kindle email address so I may forward an eBook copy of The TV Detective directly to their device.  There is no cash alternative.  Good luck everyone!

The TV Detective by Simon Hall was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Purchase from Fahrenheit Press |

TV Detective

about the author3

Simon HallSimon Hall is an author and journalist.

He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.

Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective) and studying pop lyrics.

For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Website |

 

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: The TV Detective by Simon Hall (@SimonHallNews) @fahrenheitpress #TheTVDetective #damppebblesblogtours

The TV Detective cover

“Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to the start of The TV Detective blog blitz. The TV Detective is the first book in the series of the same name and is written by ex-television news correspondent, Simon Hall. This new and updated edition was published by Fahrenheit Press in March 2018.

What’s that old writer’s adage, ‘write what you know’? Well, that’s exactly what Simon Hall has done in this very readable first instalment of The TV Detective series. Truth and fiction ‘sort of’ collide in this semi-autobiographical tale of a television news reporter. A reporter who contentedly deals with stories involving environmental issues suddenly being thrown into the deep end and having to find his way in the dark and murky world of crime reporting. You see, Simon Hall was a news reporter specialising in the environment until he was moved to the crime beat. Art imitating life, you could say…

Newly appointed crime reporter, Dan Groves is called to a lay-by in the middle of the night to report on a shooting. Unfortunately, being the new kid on the block, he’s missed the main body of the briefing and realises he needs to work on his contacts. What he does learn is that notorious local businessman, Edward Bray has met an untimely end thanks to a shotgun blast to the chest. Groves knows that he’s on the back foot with an investigation that could make or break his new career. That’s when an idea takes root. An idea that’s a bit of a long shot but well worth the ridicule and risk. Miraculously, Groves’ plan is agreed which makes television reporter, Dan Groves, the newest recruit at Charles Cross police station working alongside Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen and the rest of the murder investigation team. Will Dan be able to add anything useful to the investigation or will the crime newbie be thrown out on his ear after the first day? Or could Dan’s skills be used in a different way. Could Dan be the key to solving the case?

I really liked Dan Groves. I expected him to be a bit of a diva what with being a local television celebrity but that wasn’t the case at all. He’s just a normal bloke who ends up working alongside the police, and appearing on TV several times a day! I also very much liked DCI Breen and enjoyed watching the relationship grow into a friendship between Dan and Breen. I would happily read more about these two characters. There’s a good dose of humour and banter between them which added to their overall likeability. However, I would have quite happily done without the excitable puppy that is paparazzo Ellis Hughes, or Dirty El to his friends. Gah, he made my skin crawl!

The TV Detective is set in and around Plymouth and as a once regular visitor to the area, I was enjoying spotting local landmarks and place names. The author managed to hold my attention from start to finish and I was keen to discover what would be the ‘break’ in the case, the clue that helped solve the perplexing riddle.

Would I recommend this book? I would. If you enjoy a well-plotted murder mystery then I heartily recommend you get yourself a copy of The TV Detective. A good all round mystery with a cast of appealing characters that make this an enjoyable read. I would certainly pick up the second book in the series.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review The TV Detective. The above review is my own unbiased opinion. My thanks to Fahrenheit Press for providing me with a review copy of the book.

The TV Detective by Simon Hall was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Purchase from Fahrenheit Press |

TV Detective

about the author3

Simon Hall.jpg

Simon Hall is an author and journalist.

He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.

Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective) and studying pop lyrics.

For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton (@AuthorSJBolton) @TrapezeBooks #TheCraftsman #HeWillComeForYou

the craftsman.jpg“Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago? 
Or is there something much darker at play?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Craftsman blog tour.  The Craftsman is written by Sharon Bolton and was published by Trapeze Books last week, on 3rd May 2018.

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for crime/horror crossover novels, which this most definitely is.  Thanks to social media I saw this book sent to a few lucky early readers at the start of the year and I kid you not, it arrived in its own flipping grave!  How incredible is that?!  I knew there and then that I had to read The Craftsman.  I was pretty much prepared to do ANYTHING to get my hands on a copy (including waiting very calmly and patiently for it to be published!).  So when I was asked to feature on the blog tour, there was no way on this earth that I could say no.

Strangely, and I still can’t quite believe it myself, this is the first book I have read by Sharon Bolton.  I have a copy of Bolton’s Dead Woman Walking on my TBR which I really must get around to.  I loved The Craftsman.  I was immediately drawn into a story that I could not pull myself away from.  Our main character, WPC Florence Lovelady, had my full attention from start to finish and I’m left wanting more.  What an intriguing, fascinating story and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

The book opens with a funeral.  A funeral with a difference as the mourners aren’t there to mourn, they want to prove to themselves that it’s true; Larry Glassbrook is finally dead.  Florence Lovelady, who was heavily involved in the hunt for Glassbrook after he murdered three local teenagers by burying them alive and was key to discovering Glassbrook’s identity, has returned to Sabden in Lancashire to attend the funeral.  Lovelady has been in regular communication with the convicted killer since he was imprisoned.  Glassbrook’s final message, delivered via a short cryptic message, makes Florence wonder whether the arrest, the horrors she experienced all those years ago back in the late sixties, were the doing of Larry Glassbrook or someone much more sinister…

I enjoyed many of the characters in The Craftsman.  But for me, it was ALL about the tough, plucky WPC Florence Lovelady.  It’s the late 1960s and Florence is the first woman to work for the Sabden Police Force.  She’s ‘just a young girl’ in their eyes so is consigned to tea making and typing duties, but she outshines every single other character in the book!  Florence is smart, gutsy and tenacious and tends to run rings around her male colleagues, even when she’s trying not to!  While the men are busy being misogynists, Florence is suggesting filming a re-enactment of the latest victim’s last movements.  While the men are twiddling their thumbs, Florence is creating charts and looking for patterns, searching for the elusive clue to break the case.  Unfortunately, her intelligence, her keen eye and her repeated bouts of good luck put her somewhere she doesn’t want to be.  In the spotlight as one of the main suspects.

Now, this isn’t your everyday serial killer novel.  Nor is it your traditional police procedural.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea because, at the heart of this story, there be witches.  Sabden, where the story is set, is at the foot of Pendle Hill which has a long history of witches and witch trials.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author has taken this long, dark history and used it to grow her character’s experience.  In essence, Florence becomes the focus of a cruel local witch hunt just because she’s more intelligent than her colleagues, more determined, more proactive,…and not a man.

There is so much more I want to tell you about this book.  I could go on for hours telling you about another favourite couple of characters; Daphne and Avril, and the wonderful sparkle they exude.  Oh, and I could tell you how much I enjoyed the main body of the story where the reader is transported to the late sixties (and how I couldn’t help but picture the odd scene from ‘Life on Mars’, the television programme).  This is where you get to meet some of the most misogynistic characters I have ever had the displeasure of encountering in a book.  I wanted to thump most of them.  Thank goodness times have changed!  But if I do continue telling you everything I loved then this will be the longest review I have ever written.  So instead, buy the book and find out the wonders of The Craftsman for yourself.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s creepy, it’s tense and it’s full of witches!  Plus, I don’t know about you, but death by suffocation has always terrified me and I’m a terrible sufferer of claustrophobia.  Which made this book all the more frightening for me.  I loved it.  I love what the author has done with her story and her characters are an absolute delight.  Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 3rd May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Blog tour poster.png

about the author3

sharon bolton.jpegSharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

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

Author Image and Bio © https://www.sharonbolton.com/