#BlogTour | #BookReview: Blood Tears by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @grabthisbook #BloodTears #DIRayMcBain

blood tears cover.jpg“The first in a series of books with D.I. Ray McBain – a Glasgow detective who turns to his best friend, Kenny O’Neill when he goes on the run after he becomes the prime suspect in a grisly murder. 

An old man is found murdered in his Glasgow flat. DI Ray McBain is called to the scene and is the first to notice that the man’s wounds mirror the Stigmata. The police quickly discover that the victim is a former janitor who worked in several care homes where he abused his charges. Is someone taking revenge thirty years after the fact?

McBain, as a child was a resident of Bethlehem House, a Catholic run care home where the murdered man worked and early on in the investigation, McBain decides to hide a crucial bit of evidence relating to his stay in the convent orphanage.

When his superiors find out, McBain becomes the prime suspect in the case and has to make a decision which will leave him on the run and alone, trying to solve the murders and, at the same time, the puzzle of his past – a past that is pushing into the present with a recurring suffocating dream of blood and feathers that descends on him every night.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Blood Tears blog tour.  Blood Tears is the first book in the DI Ray McBain series written by Michael J. Malone, and it has recently been given a fantastic new makeover!  I first discovered Malone’s books a couple of years ago when I read A Suitable Lie; it blew me away.  Beautiful, haunting and oh so powerful, it was an easy choice for my book of 2016.  Since then I have read several other works by this author and loved each and every one of them.  Blood Tears was no different.

A brilliantly graphic and gory start pulls the reader straight into this hard-hitting story.  I’m a strange creature (maybe) and I have before confessed to loving crime novels which revolve around religious practices and institutions.  And oh boy, this one certainly does.  DI Ray McBain is called to investigate the grisly murder scene and immediately notices something no one else has; the victim’s wounds mirror Stigmata.  Having had a lonely childhood in the local Catholic orphanage, Ray is all too familiar with the marks.  What he doesn’t realise, as he starts to investigate the killing, is that he’s going to have to confront those childhood traumas head-on.  Straight back to the malicious Sister Mary and memories of his lonely, far from perfect childhood at Bethlehem House.  Desperate to stay on the case, determined to find the killer, Ray makes a catastrophic mistake and convinces a younger officer to lie on his behalf. Before long DI Ray McBain is their number one suspect and on the run.  Can McBain solve the case from afar and clear his name before it’s too late…

I loved Ray McBain (how could I not?!).  I do like my lead characters to have ‘something’ about them, something that makes them a little more, shall we say, interesting…?  Ray is certainly that.  He knows right from wrong but in the interests of the investigation, there are certain lines which he is more than happy to blur a little.  And as for his mate, well, he’s a local ‘businessman’ who doesn’t seem to care how criminal the business he’s in is as long as the money keeps rolling in!  It wasn’t just Ray and BFF Kenny who had my full attention.  Virtually every character created by Malone in Blood Tears stands strong and brings something worthwhile to the story.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  This is a strong, well-written piece of crime noir and I enjoyed every moment I spent in the company of Malone’s characters.  There are wonderful dashes of laugh out loud humour dotted here and there which bring a lightness to the intense, terrifying plot.  This isn’t a story for the faint hearted though; with language which made me blush and many references to bumping uglies*, I was a suitable shade of scarlet at times! Incredibly dark and brilliantly gripping; I can’t wait to read A Taste for Malice (DI McBain #2).

Four out of five stars.

*Google it, if you dare!

Blood Tears by Michael J. Malone was first published in the UK in June 2012 and is available in eBook format (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Blood Tears Tour Dates.jpg

about the author3

Michael Malone PhotoMichael J Malone is the author of over 200 published poems, two poetry collections, six novels, countless articles and one work of non-fiction.

Formerly a Faber and Faber Regional Sales Manager (Scotland and North England), he has judged and critiqued countless poetry, short story and novel competitions for a variety of organisations, and for a number of years was the Scottish correspondent for Writers’ Forum.

Michael is an experienced workshop leader/ creative writing lecturer to writers’ groups, schools and colleges as well as a personal coach and mentor. He has a Certificate in Life Coaching and studied as a facilitator with The Pacific Institute.

As a freelance editor he has edited and mentored writers in a variety of genres and for traditionally published as well as self-published authors.

He is a regular speaker and chair at book festivals throughout the UK– including Aye Write, Bloody Scotland, Crimefest and Wigtown.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

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#damppebblestakeover with Tony J. Forder (@TonyJForder) | #GuestPost: Series versus Standalone #DIBliss @Bloodhoundbook

if fear wins

“When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate.

The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.

Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?

Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to the return of #damppebblestakeover, whoop! Now if you’re fairly new (sort of new…ish) to my blog then you won’t know what in the foggiest I’m talking about, so let me explain.

#damppebblestakeover is a series I first ran back in 2016 where I invited authors (of any genre) to make use of my blog for a little bit of free promotion. After all, it’s all about the #booklove, right? It was such a fantastic success and I had meant to resuscitate it last Summer but, y’know, plans don’t always go to plan! If you fancy catching up on the posts from 2016 then click HERE. But now it’s back (from outer space…. ;)) and better than ever. My plan is to not restrict it to the Summer months but continue for the long haul and I’m only inviting the criminal kind to post this time around (I’m a crime blogger, I LOVE crime fiction).

Starting us off on the right foot is Bloodhound Books author, Tony J Forder. You will be able to find out a little more about Tony later on along with information about his books and links to purchase should you wish. So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Tony…

SERIES VERSUS STANDALONE

When I wrote Bad to the Bone it was not with the intention of writing a series. It actually came about as a result of a failed novel, called Burnout. The manuscript featured a lead character by the name of DI Jimmy Bliss, who worked closely with his more than able DC, Penny Chandler. I completed the book, and it’s fair to say that it had some good features and some scenes I liked, but overall it did nothing for me when I read it back. Neither did I think that I could improve it with months of editing or rewrites. In some ways I think I treated the process as part of a learning curve. However, by then the idea for a new story had come to me, and with it being another crime novel set in Peterborough where I live, it seemed to fit the same two main characters perfectly.

Even when it was done and I was pleased with the result, I never imagined writing a follow-up. It was only when Bloodhound Books signed me up for a two book deal, which was for Bad to the Bone and an as yet unwritten sequel, that I had to start thinking hard about how I might accomplish that. The first choice I had to make was whether to suggest to Bloodhound that I rewrite the book and bring it up to date (Bad to the Bone is set in 2005). If I didn’t, then I would have issues with the sequel. On the other hand, there was a lot of dating in the book, and I was a bit fearful that I might overlook something obvious during the edit process. Equally, now that I knew a second book would have to be written, I had to decide whether or not to make changes to Bad the Bone so that certain aspects of the story were not tied up or expanded upon in that first book. Believe me, a lot of hard thinking went into those months following the signing of my first publishing contract.

Ultimately, I decided to keep Bad to the Bone rooted in 2005, but set its sequel in the year I was writing it – 2017. Explaining away the 12 year gap was not the only issue I had to contend with, however. Because even people in their forties and fifties develop as time passes, so I had to reach inside the characters and get a feel for how a dozen years might have impacted on them. After finding solutions for everything, I then had to confront something entirely new: I now had to anticipate a third book in the series, and perhaps more. The decisions this time, then, were what to include and what to leave for the next one, also which snippets I might feed into the second book in preparation for a third.

So there are clearly some difficulties in writing a series that you simply don’t get with stand-alone books. Something you have to keep in mind if you intend continuing with a series is finding ways to keep things fresh. Currently, the way I address that problem is to ensure the storylines are very different each time. Of course, relationships will be carried over from book to book, and no matter what the case, certain procedures will inevitably have to be repeated, such as briefings and the decision-making processes that occur in any murder investigation. You also have to find a way to refer to previous cases, so as to provide a baseline for new readers. At its core, the Bliss series is a police procedural, but the intention is to add layers of plot complexity, and hopefully more than the odd thrill. I regard them as procedurals with an edge. Finding new ways to provide that edge is part of the attraction.

The other side of the coin is that you get to develop your characters and their chemistry with colleagues, friends and family. You have time to delve into their back stories, the canvas already sketched out for you by the time you come to write the next book in the series. Of course, you do have to keep a wary eye out for continuity, and that can be time-consuming. I do have a character profile that I can dip into, but you have to take care. However, the character is there for you and fully-formed when you come to write their next adventure, and that does make life a little easier, as you are not having to create them from scratch.

In addition to my DI Bliss series, I have two stand-alone novels. At least, that’s how they were written. Degrees of Darkness is a dark, psychological chiller featuring a serial-killer. It predates Bad to the Bone in terms of when I wrote its original version, and it was the first novel I completed that I was happy with. It was only ever going to be a one-off, and although many readers have said they would like to read more books featuring the main character – and I have subsequently considered developing a suitable storyline – I suspect Degrees will remain a stand-alone.

Scream Blue Murder is a different proposition. For two-thirds of the book it was written as a one-off, but as I approached that final third I realised how much I had enjoyed writing the main characters, and how much I had appreciated the freedom the very different style of writing gave me. I realised that I was considering carrying on with these adventures, and knew immediately where I would set the next one, and the idea for the sequel came shortly afterwards. Since the release of Scream Blue Murder I have dipped in and out of its follow-up, and I am thrilled to say that my publishers recently accepted the completed manuscript and a contract signed. Cold Winter Sun will be released in November 2018.

The different mind-set when writing a stand-alone book is an interesting one. For a start, you have to tie up absolutely every loose end. You also have to include as much back story as possible to make your characters three-dimensional and interesting, whilst keeping the pace of the story flowing, the interest of the reader focussed. It’s a different approach entirely, and a challenge in its own right. I wouldn’t say it’s preferable to writing a series, but it does stretch you as an author, and I certainly want to write more.

With a stand-alone book you tell an entire story using around 100,000 words. The main character arc has to be complete, and the wrap-up must deal with every plot strand you have thrown out there. On the other hand, I think of the crime series as an on-going story, where you focus on solving each case within those same 100,000 words, yet each book rolls into the next, allowing you to reveal more about your characters with each subsequent release. It’s like a gradual drip-feed of information as opposed to a mass transfusion. It provides the author with a great deal more freedom, but in exchange for that you have to also look both backwards and forwards to ensure the elongated arc is consistent.

Now that I actually have a series on the go, writing outside of it provides a release of sorts. There are no expectations beyond that book. You tell your story and you get the hell out of there, hoping you have successfully wrapped it all up in a pretty bow and created a package your readers will be happy with. But it must also please you, the author, because once it is out there it’s out there for a long time and you will be judged by it. For me, the best thing about writing a new stand-alone book is creating my characters, getting inside their skins and trying to develop them along with the storyline. In the case of Scream Blue Murder, those characters wormed their way inside my head so much that I simply found it impossible to resist the allure of writing them a brand new adventure. Perhaps that is because I am driven to characters more than storyline. When I read, a brilliant character can bring me through an unexceptional story, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Nothing pleases me more than when people make positive comments about my characters, and the real trick is getting the balance between character and story just right.

The next book after Bliss #4 will definitely be another stand-alone, as the story outline is sketched out and the first few scenes already written. It’s another crime thriller, but a very different one for me. I’m certainly going to have to up my game to take on this new main character, that’s for sure. I’m very much looking forward to taking up the challenge once again.

As for whether there are more DI Bliss books to come after the one I am currently writing, well, given the situations he confronts throughout the entire story, the answer really depends on whether he and/or his career survives this latest outing. I know the answers, of course, but I think I will keep them to myself for a little while longer.

Thanks so much, Tony. Such an interesting piece, and it’s always good to see the workings of a crime writer’s mind. I think us crime fiction fans are so used to books being part of a series that we tend to expect a sequel (or is that just me…..? lol). What do you think, dear reader? What do you prefer? Series or standalone? Let me know in the comments.

If Fear Wins by Tony J Forder was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 29th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

If you’re a published crime writer and you would like to feature on #damppebblestakeover then drop me an email: damppebbles@gmail.com.

about the author3

Bloodhound-Author-Meet-89.jpg

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first three books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, and If Fear Wins will be joined by a fouth in the series in 2019.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Tony subsequently wrote a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun will be published in November 2018.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Bloodhound Books |

damppebbles #BookReview: Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing #LastTimeILied #20BooksofSummer

last time i lies

“Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

It was Emma’s first summer away from home. She made friends. She played games. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned. . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all. . .

A gripping new thriller that you won’t be able to put down with a plot that will keep you guessing. If you enjoyed A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window, you’ll love Last Time I Lied”

Of all the books in all the world that are due to be published in 2018, THIS book was my most eagerly anticipated read. I could not wait to get my paws on Last Time I Lied. Why, you ask? Well, dear reader, it’s because Riley Sager’s debut, Final Girls, blew my mind. It was my number one book of 2017, it’s claimed a top space on my favourite books of ‘ALL TIME’ list and it left me with the biggest book hangover I have ever experienced! I loved it. Actually, I more than loved it. I became quite obsessed with it. Have you read Final Girls? No? You REALLY should…

But this isn’t a review of Final Girls. This is its follow-up and I have a confession to make. I’ve had Last Time I Lied on my NetGalley TBR since the start of the year. I bet you’ve been there. You’re so looking forward to reading a book but you’re nervous too, really flipping nervous. Will it live up to its predecessor? Am I expecting too much? (Yes.) Have my expectations been blown wildly out of proportion? (Yes.) Will I cope if the book disappoints me? (Most probably not.) You know what I’m talking about, right?

I was nervous making a start, really flipping nervous. My nerves were somewhat calmed by discovering that our lead character is called Emma (brilliant name, more Emmas are needed in books! Might have said that before). The reader discovers that Emma attended Summer Camp at the tender age of thirteen. She made friends, learnt new skills, discovered boys and suffered one of the most devastating events of her young life. Her three cabin mates; Vivian, Natalie and Allison snuck out early one morning, never to return. Traumatised well into her adult life by the events and the guilt of 15 years ago, Emma turns to art and becomes a well-known painter. Each forest scene she creates contains the three missing girls, painted over in great swathes of green and brown oil paint. Surprisingly, her latest benefactor is Mrs Francesca Harris-White, multi-millionairess and head of Nightingale Camp where the devasting events of 15 years ago happened. Harris-White is reopening the camp and wants bygones to be bygones, so invites Emma to return to Camp Nightingale as an art instructor. Emma feels she wants to put the past behind her and returning to the scene of the crime will help lay the ghosts of 15 years ago to rest. But memories run long and someone knows that Emma lied all those years ago…

Before I go any further I want to get something out of my system. I enjoyed reading Last Time I Lied, it’s a great book and it will have an army of fans singing its praises, but I’m afraid it didn’t get anywhere near close to Final Girls in my opinion. I’m so upset, so sad that I didn’t love Last Time I Lied. This is proper #bookbloggerproblems territory here, people. I feel absolutely rotten that I didn’t love this book and I’m kicking myself for missing what others have seen and loved. So much so, I am – for the first time in a LONG time – considering re-reading in the next few weeks!

It’s weird, I didn’t really relate in any way to Quincy’s story in Final Girls (but loved everything about it) and I really struggled to connect with Emma’s story. I can’t quite understand what the massive difference is between these two books for me. What I do know is this book is not Final Girls. It was never going to be Final Girls. I just realised that too late and my experience of Last Time I Lied suffered because of it (hence the planned re-read!). It’s a good read, it just doesn’t compare to its mighty predecessor.

I found the ‘whodunit’ a little obvious. There were several times when the author made me doubt myself but I always came back to the same conclusion and in the end I was right. The story moved along at an enjoyable pace and I wanted to discover what was going to happen next, but I had moments where I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading or it all seemed a little too far-fetched. There was a wonderful twist towards the end of the book that I didn’t see coming and it really satisfied my need for something a bit darker to happen. However, the author skillfully uses flashbacks again in this book to tell his protagonist’s frightening tale and create a vivid picture for the reader of their palpable fear which I couldn’t fault.

Would I recommend this book? I would. But I’d make sure you read Final Girls first as that is by far the superior book (IMHO). It’s an interesting tale, Emma intrigued me but became a little too whiny for my tastes at times. My heart was 100% with the devilishly devious Vivian and I could read about her all day long! I’m so glad I read Last Time I Lied. It was enjoyable, and I will recommend it in the future. There was a wonderful ‘horror movie’ element to Final Girls which I really missed in Last Time I Lied. It lacked a certain darkness that Final Girls had and I missed it enough for it to be a ‘thing’ for me. I’m sorry.

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

20-books

Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Press on 12th July 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

pseudonym

Riley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called “The first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King), was published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: 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.”

It is my great pleasure to be one of two blogs closing down the Needle Song blog tour today.  Needle Song is the first full novel from debut author Russell Day and is available to purchase now having been published by Fahrenheit Press in April 2018.

Needle Song is something quite special.  What you see isn’t quite what you get but it’s done in such a glorious way that it really doesn’t matter.  What struck me the most about this book is the quality of the characters.  Now I’m a reader who loves a story that centres around its characters, so Needle Song was a real pleasure for me to read.  I also like those characters to be different, a little odd maybe and with appealing quirks.  Once again, Needle Song ticks all the boxes.

When Chris Rudjer is arrested for the murder of his new girlfriend’s husband, tattoo shop owner and psychology graduate Doc Slidesmith and his somewhat unenthusiastic sidekick, Yakky, leap to his aide.  Armed with a love of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and a loaded deck of tarot cards, Doc and Yakky poke where the police fear to tread – all in the name of saving their mate from a life in prison.  After all, Chris looks the most likely suspect in the murder.  But Doc knows better.  Doc knows that man mountain Chris would never hurt a fly (unless provoked!) and it’s down to him (and the slightly dubious Yakky) to prove it!

I loved Doc Slidemsith, but Yakky stole my heart.  The story is told from his perspective so the reader gets to see and feel what he’s experiencing.  The moments when Doc suddenly pronounced his latest theory and Yakky’s obvious underwhelmed reaction to the reveal was just wonderful.  Very reminiscent in a lot of ways to one of my favourite movies ‘Without a Clue’.  Just brilliant!

I was compelled to keep turning the pages and was engrossed in the investigation from start to finish.  I admit that I was a little disappointed with the ‘whodunit’ but I was delighted that Doc was able to uncover the mystery in such a dramatic and flamboyant style.  Miss Marple would have been proud of him!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I don’t want to say this book is delightful as that makes it sound twee (it’s not twee; voodoo, tattoos, bikers, blood spill, murder, suicide and shotguns under the floorboards…) but that’s the first word I think of when I think of Needle Song.  It was a joy to read, a delight!  It breaks down genre barriers with the wonderful Christie-esque mystery but the modern day, darker setting makes it so different to everything else.  Needle Song blurs the lines and I really enjoyed it.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of Needle Song.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Needle Song by Russell Day was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 28th April 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Fahrenheit Press online shop | Goodreads |

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 | Website |

#GuestPost: Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) #KayHunter6 #GonetoGround

Gone to Ground Cover MEDIUM WEB“While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth – a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs.

With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.”

It is my absolute pleasure to welcome one of my favourite authors to the blog today to celebrate the publication of Gone to Ground; the sixth novel in her well respected and much-loved detective series.  I am, of course, talking about the wonderful Rachel Amphlett and her utterly compelling Kay Hunter series.  I love this series and will move mountains to make sure I read the latest release as soon as it’s available.  There aren’t many other series I can say that about!  I was thrilled to be able to share my review of Gone to Ground with you all on Sunday but if you missed it, here’s the link again (along with it’s five predecessors):  1. Scared to Death2. Will to Live3. One to Watch4. Hell to Pay5. Call to Arms and 6. Gone to Ground.

To celebrate the release of Gone to Ground I am delighted to welcome Rachel to damppebbles to talk to us about a killer’s motivations:

What might motivate a killer?

As I was writing book six in the Detective Kay Hunter series, Gone to Ground I realised halfway through that the person I thought was the murderer wasn’t, and another character came to light who had a lot more motivation to do the evil deeds I was uncovering.

Motivation is essential to a good police procedural. It doesn’t matter if they’re one of the good guys, or one of the bad guys. Everybody has motive for what they do.

It sounds so simple, but as people we’re a complicated mix of emotions and traits and it’s really important to me as a writer and reader that motives are believable.

Even characters who some might describe as “minor characters” have a motivation that drives them. That person who tells Kay a white lie to protect themselves or casts doubt on another aspect of the investigation to prevent a sordid part of their past being exposed – it’s all motivation.

My antagonist in Gone to Ground is motivated by revenge.

However, although I might start with revenge as a motive, I then delve into that a little further in order to develop the character and make that motivation believable.

Why does our killer seek revenge? What has been done to that character that someone has to die?

Meanwhile, my protagonist, Kay Hunter, is obviously motivated to catch the killer, but she’s also driven by the need to prove herself to her colleagues and to her superiors. She’s in a new role and juggling a lot of other tasks on top of her day-to-day duties and we see her motivations shift as the story unfolds.

I can’t wait to share Gone to Ground with you to see if you can spot the killer – these motivations paint some dark and twisted reasons why someone would be a murderer, and all of them are valid!

Excellent post, thanks so much Rachel.  I have to confess that I wasn’t able to spot the killer, despite having my eagle ‘crime fiction reader’ eyes on the hunt for the culprit from the opening pages!

Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK on 8th July 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook versions (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Rachel’s online bookstore | Goodreads |

about the author3

rachel-2016-2141Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance!

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

#BookReview: The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite (@BCopperthwait) @bookouture #ThePerfectFriend

the perfect friend.jpg

“She’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.

My husband has left me.

My children won’t speak to me.

My friend Carrie is the only person I have.

She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.

She’d never do anything to let me down.

Would she?

I am a huge fan of Barbara Copperthwaite’s books. I have read nearly all of them (except one, Invisible) and every single book I have read has been a five-star read. Here are the reviews to prove it; Flowers for the Dead, The Darkest Lies and Her Last Secret. The other notable thing this author tends to do, more often than not, is to make this tough, ‘ard as nails crime reader bawl like a baby (she also made me fall in love with a serial killer but we won’t mention that 😉)! In essence, when Barbara Copperthwaite writes a book, I jump through hoops to read it.

So did The Perfect Friend live up to my very high expectations? Of course it did. It’s a Barbara Copperthwaite novel, duh! We meet Alex who immediately confesses to the reader that she is a liar. I don’t know about you but as an avid reader of crime and psychological thrillers, I’m always on the lookout for lies and half-truths from the characters I share my time with. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m overly suspicious and trust no-one who lives their life between the covers of a book. So knowing full well that Alex is a self-confessed liar I was immediately on my guard. But, with this at the forefront of my mind, I couldn’t help but like her. She is hiding some absolutely massive porkies and I did gasp when I discovered what they were, crikey! Amongst the inner turmoil, the secrets and the deceit, Alex is trying to make amends for something terrible she did; another secret she needs to keep at all costs! This particular secret involves her new best friend, Carrie who is terminally ill and who she met at the local support group. When anonymous threatening parcels start to arrive at Carrie’s house, Alex steps in and does everything she can to protect her best friend. But instead of helping, Alex starts to become suspicious. Something just don’t add up….

Copperthwaite has created a wonderful sense of unease in The Perfect Friend. It’s difficult to put your finger on why you feel so uncomfortable whilst reading but it’s there, peering over your shoulder making you feel twitchy. This is another brilliant, twisty read and I just knew something big was going to happen but couldn’t for the life of me work out where the author was going to take the story. I have to confess that I found some parts of the book a little difficult to believe but I was enjoying it so much that I just shrugged and threw myself straight back into the story. After all, it IS fiction. And yes, you may be wondering if the author managed to make me cry this time. She did, but only a little. I managed to keep the big ugly sobbing inside cos I’m ‘ard. 😬

Would I recommend this book? I would, but I would recommend all of Copperthwaite’s books because you can easily get lost in her stories. The Perfect Friend is a highly entertaining read which kept me turning the pages, desperate to find out what was going to happen to these two women. Full of twists, you never really know what to believe and Copperthwaite has surpassed herself in keeping her readers firmly on their toes. Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite was published in the UK by Bookouture on 5th July and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

barbara copperthwaite

Barbara is the Amazon and USA Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE, FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, THE DARKEST LIES, and HER LAST SECRET. Her latest book is THE PERFECT FRIEND.

More importantly, she loves cakes, wildlife photography and, last but definitely not least, her two dogs, Scamp and Buddy (who force her to throw tennis balls for them for hours).

Having spent over twenty years as a national newspaper and magazine journalist, Barbara has interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. She is fascinated by creating realistic, complex characters, and taking them apart before the readers’ eyes in order to discover just how much it takes to push a person over a line.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.

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

#BookReview: Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) #KayHunter6 #GonetoGround #DetectiveKayHunter

Gone to Ground Cover MEDIUM WEB“While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth – a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs.

With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.”

If you follow damppebbles regularly then you will be well aware that I am a huge fan of Rachel Amphlett’s Detective Kay Hunter series.  I have followed this series from its inception and I will continue to do so until the author decides she’s calling it a day (woe betide that should ever happen!).  This is an exceptional series featuring a thoroughly likeable and relatable lead in the form of Kay Hunter and one that crime fans should make a bee-line for.  Gone to Ground is the sixth book in the series and my new favourite!  Check out my reviews for the first five books here; 1. Scared to Death2. Will to Live3. One to Watch4. Hell to Pay and 5. Call to Arms.

I would also like to wish Rachel Amphlett a very happy publication day as Gone to Ground is available to purchase TODAY!

Gone to Ground opens with a leisurely Sunday bike ride that quickly morphs into a terrifying experience for a group of friends when they discover a severed foot, still housed in its original boot.  Kay and the team are called to investigate the grisly find but struggle to discover the victim’s identity.  The Home Office Pathologist is the first person to shed any light on who the victim may be and from there on Kay and her devoted team slowly and methodically work with the evidence they have to attempt to solve a difficult case.  The teams floundering in the first half of the book shows the frustrations of everyday police work and the minutiae they are required to sift through.  Add to this Kay’s recent promotion to Detective Inspector, her despair at the mounting paperwork her new role entails and the thankless task of interviewing and finding a new Detective Sargeant for her close-knit team.  I have to admit, the thought of a new character joining the team made me feel a little uneasy but I’m sure I’ll get used to the new arrangements soon enough.

One of the things I love about the Kay Hunter series is Adam, Kay’s (dishy) other half.  Adam is a veterinarian and regularly brings home a patient from the practice.  Often Kay has stumbled home after an exhausting day protecting the folk of Kent to be met by some odd creature snuggled up on her kitchen floor!  I was lucky enough to host a wonderful guest post from the author to celebrate the release of Call to Arms on why Adam is a vet.  You can check that out by clicking HERE.  I love these small, often furry additions to the storyline as they add a touch of humour and as a regular reader of the series, I am always looking forward to finding out who will be arriving next.  Adam also adds to the story as he grounds Kay and allows the reader to see Kay the person, not Kay the copper.  A perfect pairing.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  This is my favourite in the series, so far.  The plot had me gripped from start to finish and I struggled to put the book down.  I have a bit of a thing for serial killer thrillers so Gone to Ground ticked all the boxes for me.  It’s a little grisly in places but I LOVE THAT and you shouldn’t let that put you off (it’s really not that bad, I’ve read more gruesome books!).  Gone to Ground works perfectly well as a standalone as it feels as though this is a new dawn for Kay and the team.  Saying that, why would you want to miss out on the proceeding five books when they’re brilliant and well worth a read!  Absolutely compulsive reading from an author who gets better and better with each book.  Roll on book seven because I can’t flipping wait!

Five out of five stars.

Make sure you join me again later this week when I will be sharing a guest post from the brilliant Rachel Amphlett as part of the Gone to Ground celebrations!

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

Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK on 8th July 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook versions (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Rachel’s online bookstore | Goodreads |

about the author3

rachel-2016-2141Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance!

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

#CoverReveal: Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks #LoriAnderson #DeepDirtyTruth

I’m a little bit giddy today. Actually, I’ve been a little bit giddy for the last week or so as I’ve had to keep a secret I have been BURSTING to share with you…

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that one of my very favourite series out there at the moment is the Lori Anderson series written by the incredibly talented Steph Broadribb. I have read (devoured) both of the previous books in the series starting with Deep Down Dead and then followed a year later by Deep Blue Trouble. I LOVE these books and I LOVE Broadribb’s lead, kick-ass bounty hunter Lori Anderson. I may have said in a past review “forget your Wonder Woman. forget your SuperGirl. I want to be Lori Anderson”. Yup, smitten.

Anyway, I am beyond excited to tell you that the third book in the series is due to be released on 5th January 2019, that it’s called DEEP DIRTY TRUTH and I’m (yup, little ole me) going to share the cover and blurb with you today!

We’ll start with the blurb and then have a look at that gorgeous cover:

A price on her head. A secret worth dying for.

Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With North due in court in forty-eight hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.

In this race only the winner gets out alive…

Brimming with tension, high-stakes jeopardy and high-voltage action, and a deep, emotional core, Deep Dirty Truth is an unmissable thriller by one of the freshest and most exciting voices in crime fiction.

Oh.My.Word! How good does that sound?! I’ve started my countdown to publication day; only 182 days to go.

So, without further ado, let’s feast our eyes on that fabulous cover…

DEEP DIRTY TRUTH vis 1.jpg

What a stunner! I have so much love for this cover and it ties in beautifully with the others in the series.

WOW! The Lori Anderson series is unmissable; high action thrills but shedloads of heart too. I love it and can’t recommend it highly enough. And don’t forget, you’ve got 182 days to read Deep Down Dead and Deep Blue Trouble before Deep Dirty Truth is released to the world, so no excuses 😉

It’s been such a huge honour to reveal this cover to you today so my thanks to Steph Broadribb and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for asking me to be involved. My pal The Beardy Book Blogger is also taking part in the reveal so pop across and say hello and give him a follow if you’re not already doing so – you’ll thank me for it, I promise!

Deep Dirty Truth will be available to purchase on 5th January 2019 but you can pre-order a copy here from amazon.co.uk.

about the author3

Steph Broadribb

As Steph Broadribb I write the Lori Anderson action thriller series for Orenda Books. When researching the books I trained as a Bounty Hunter in California and travelled around the US scouting locations. My debut thriller DEEP DOWN DEAD (2017) was shortlisted for the eDunnit eBook of the Year award, the Dead Good Reader Award for Fearless Female Character, and Dead Good Reader Award for Most Exceptional Debut. The second book in the Lori Anderson series – DEEP BLUE TROUBLE – is out in eBook October 2017 and paperback January 2018.

As Stephanie Marland I write the Starke/Bell psychological police procedural series for Trapeze (Orion). This series draws on my own experience as a blogger and the research I did (when working at a university for my day job) into human behaviour in online groups. The first book – MY LITTLE EYE – comes out in eBook November 2017 and paperback April 2018.

I’m repped by Oli Munson at AM Heath.

I was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire, and most of my working life has been spent between the UK and USA. I’m an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sisters In Crime organisations. I currently live in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses and trying to wrangle an unruly but adorable puppy!

Author Links: | CTG Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

Author biog © https://crimethrillergirl.com/