#damppebblestakeover with Nicole (@nicoleauthor1) | #GuestPost: Living the Life #AFewBadBoys #SurvivalAtAnyCost

a-few-boys-edit-ver-1-jpg (1).jpg“Lucy Fratelli is the girl who has everything – beauty, brains, her own apartment, a close family and friends.

Unfortunately, she is hiding a secret from her family and her best friend, Julie.

Lucy knows that she can tell her family and Julie anything but she also knows that if they find out her secret, there will be hell to pay.

Terry Fratelli, Lucy’s father, is a gangster and lives for his family. He will do anything to make them happy and protect them at all costs.

When Lucy’s secret is revealed he will stop at nothing to keep her safe.”

A very warm welcome to my regular Friday feature here on damppebbles, #damppebblestakeover.  Today I am delighted to welcome crime author, Nicole, to the blog.  Nicole’s debut, A Few Bad Boys is available to purchase now with her follow-up, Survival At Any Cost to follow hot on its heels soon.

So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Nicole…

I am delighted to be part of #damppebblestakeover and want to tell you more about my fascination with crime genre.  I have loved writing and reading for as long as I can remember and although I read many genres, I love a good crime novel.  I also like to read books by authors unknown to me.  It is surprising how many hidden gems there are out there.

I am originally from London but have lived in Spain since 2000.  My grand-parents, like so many others, worked endlessly to move away from the East End, but I was the one who returned.  I guess I’m the black sheep of the family and was intrigued by the stories I had heard, first hand, about the Krays and the Richardsons.  Throughout my life I have met numerous people from all walks of life, from Prime Ministers to the homeless and I am intrigued how people end up in situations.  The old school gangsters do hold some kind of respect and the ones I have met, for research purposes, are pleasant people who do what they do in the same way that people go to an office to work.  The thing that does concern me is the new breed of wanna be gangsters who appear to just relish in mindless violence against people that have nothing to do with their circle.

My debut novel, A Few Bad Boys, and my next novel, Survival At Any Cost (which will be published soon) also touch on issues that are a growing concern for people that are not members of the criminal fraternity. These issues include domestic violence, alcohol abuse and drugs.  These issues can affect any family and, sadly, more and more people, if they are not the one suffering, know someone who is affected.  These issues don’t affect only the victim of domestic violence or the user of drugs or excessive alcohol; they affect their family and friends.  Leaving an abusive relationship isn’t a simple case of collecting your things and leaving. Giving up alcohol and/or drugs is more complicated than you can imagine.

One of my works in progress is a detective novel, Dead Eyes.  It is very different to the works of mine that I have already mentioned but I am enjoying writing it and creating my strong female detective, Ellen Knight.  My plan is to make a series for her without neglecting my more dramatic novels that are waiting to be written, one of which will definitely be located in Spain.

I think a lot of people like to know about the dark side of life and by picking up a crime novel they can experience it without being harmed or ending up in prison.

With all my writing there is a lot of research to be done, which I love doing and there is a lot of imagination needed, which thankfully I have.

Someone I know, after reading, A Few Bad Boys, couldn’t believe that, I, a positive inspirational person, could write something like it – you have been warned!

Thank you for your interesting and thought-provoking post, Nicole.  As an avid crime reader, I think a lot of what you say is very true.  I live a very normal (wonderful, happy) life but my choice of reading material means I get to indulge in the dark side, in a fictional sense of course!

A Few Bad Boys by Nicole was published in the UK on 25th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

0014 (3).jpgNicole was born in London but moved to Spain in 2000.  She has two children, James and Phoenix, who have been her driving force behind her completing her debut novel, A Few Bad Boys.  Prior to having children she worked for Karren Brady, which added to her determination to succeed in all goals.

Nicole has wanted to write a book for as long as she can remember, and although she has written articles and helped others with their writing, it is only last year that she finally completed and published her debut novel, A Few Bad Boys. Although the journey to becoming published has been long and difficult, she is overjoyed that she has managed it, but understands that there is a lot more work to do.

Nicole is a firm believer in living life to the full but also living a balanced life.

Nicole is currently working on her second novel, Survival At Any Cost and has a regular blog.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

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#BookReview: The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds (@Rod_WR) @FaberBooks @1stMondayCrime #CharlieYates #TheDarkInside #20BooksofSummer

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“1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.

But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre.”

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!? There I was, merrily reading my way through Rod Reynolds’s brilliant debut The Dark Inside, one of my #20BooksofSummer, when I received an email from the fabulous First Monday team. Turns out Rod Reynolds is moderating the September panel after it’s Summer break. How perfect is that?! It was meant to be. Not only do you get my review of this wonderful book, I can also tell you all about September’s First Monday panel as well, AND I’m another book down in my #20BooksofSummer challenge. Result!

It’s 1946 and journalist Charlie Yates is on a slippery slope to losing his job. His boss doesn’t like him and wants rid. So he sends him to Texarkana on a hopeless mission to investigate and report on a number of murders. Charlie’s not happy, he knows he’s on a fool’s errand. Who in New York, where he’s based, is going to care about a couple of murders in Texarkana? But as he starts to dig deeper into the lives of Texarkana’s hostile residents Charlie realises that, actually, he cares – particularly as the number of victims mounts and someone he knows is suffering. But Charlie is no detective, and he’s hated by his Texarkana colleagues and the local law enforcement departments. With everything against him, will Charlie succeed where others are failing time and time again…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I don’t read a lot of historical crime but this is by far the best I have read for some time. I have a love of Americana in general but particularly crime fiction set in small-town America, so I found The Dark Inside a compelling and engrossing read. Although I should say that I am conflicted here because although the setting had a wonderful, ominous, claustrophobic, small-town feel to it I don’t actually know if Texarkana is small (having never been to that part of the US). With it’s crossing of state lines – partly in Texas, partly in Arkansas – it certainly feels, now that I’m away from the book, a vast and foreboding area.

Charlie Yates is a very appealing character. Despite his flaws, his dogged determination to stop the murders and find out what secrets Texarkana and its tight-lipped community held, put me firmly in his corner. Although he’s not entirely spurred on by a desperate need to fight crime; his motivations come in a more womanly form. Yates manages to surround himself with some dark and devious characters, many of whom I had at some point pinned down as the murderer. However, there was one character I would have put money on being involved. Whether they are or not is for me to know and for you to find out!

Would I recommend this book? I would. This is the first book in the Charlie Yates series and the author’s debut. Which makes this assured mystery with its wonderful setting and cast of despicable characters all the more impressive. I cannot wait to read Black Night Falling now, the next in the series. Devilishly clever, utterly consuming and wonderfully dark. A really terrific piece of historical crime fiction.

Four and a half stars out of five.

Rod Reynolds will be moderating the September First Monday Crime panel on Monday 3rd September 2018. Rod will be appearing alongside Clare Mackintosh, Beth Lewis Lucy Atkins and Vicky Newham. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 3rd September 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.

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The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds was published in the UK by Faber Books on 7th April 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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After a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, Rod Reynolds took City University’s two-year MA in crime writing, where he started The Dark Inside, his first Charlie Yates mystery. This was followed by the second book in the series, Black Night Falling, in 2016. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#damppebblestakeover with Bill Todd (@williamjtodd) | #GuestPost: Arresting Behaviour #DannyLancaster #GodlefesCuckoo

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“Danny Lancaster has been missing since the fishing boat exploded.

Police are closing their inquiry but Wanda Lovejoy continues her campaign to find the truth.

An evil man kept alive by machines nurses a corrosive hate. As drugs and disease pull his dying mind apart he throws his crime empire into a scorched earth quest to find one man.

If Danny Lancaster isn’t dead he soon will be.”

It’s Friday, yay! Which means it’s time for another #damppebblestakeover but before I make today’s introductions, I have to pop out to the supermarket. Sorry. Bit of a nuisance but needs must and all that. Back in a tick….

I’ve taken over. Found a window on the latch round the back of damppebbles HQ. Now I’m in, no problem.
Locked the doors and windows. Had a quick look round, Emma’s got a nice place here, lots of books, coffee’s good too.
Don’t panic. I’m not going to do any damage. Won’t nick anything either, apart from a cup of coffee and a splash of semi-skimmed. So, no sinister intent, just a bit of precious peace and quiet, thinking time.
Thing is, I’ve written six Danny Lancaster crime thrillers. He’s a wounded ex-paratrooper, an Afghan veteran, trying not very successfully to make a living as a private investigator.
His new career might be struggling but Danny’s cases have been varied, from dangerous missing cargo to murdered rock stars and ruthless diamond smugglers.
A favour for a friend in book four found Danny in danger on the Rock of Gibraltar. Book five was a short novel and six short stories. The latest, Godlefe’s Cuckoo, was published in March and forces Danny to face new threats.
So here’s the reason for today’s break-in, the need for a bit of peace and quiet. I have a very promising idea for a new book. Question is – Danny7 or standalone?
All of my Danny novels can be read without any prior knowledge. They’ve had some cracking reviews and I’m really pleased that many are from women readers who form the majority of Danny fans.
On top of that, some readers with a military background have given Danny their seal of approval and other supportive reviews have come from readers new to the genre. All in all, a broad and encouraging spectrum of positive opinion.
But it doesn’t solve my problem. No spoilers but the new plot idea follows a fractured family torn further apart by the revelation of an older relative’s forgotten memory from his youth. When this bubbles to the surface there are dramatic consequences.
It’s a case that Danny, with his unshakeable sense of justice in one form or another, would love to get his teeth into.
Then again, the family at the heart of the drama could grasp the nettle and battle to resolve their own fate.
I’m like a cat sitting between two juicy treats. Go left? Go right? Pepperoni or mushroom? Custard or ice cream? Blonde or brunette? Yin or Yang? Still can’t decide.
Just need a bit more peace and quiet for some blue sky musing, follow the threads, see where they go. Maybe Emma wouldn’t notice if I pinched a second coffee.
Whoa! Hold on. I hear a noise. Key in the front door. Just time to rinse my coffee cup, then out the back window.
Will just have to muse on the bus home.

Right. Sorry. Back as quick as I could. Today’s #damppebblestakeover author is Bill Todd, author of the Danny Lancaster series. Bill…..? Bill, are you here…..? Hmm, where is he? Maybe he changed his mind. Nevermind, I’ll just say instead that Bill has written six Danny Lancaster novels which are;

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The Wreck Of The Margherita: Someone is killing to recover a lethal cargo washed overboard in a storm.
Death Squad: Who shot Seventies rock legend Mickey ‘Tattoo’ Carpenter?
Rough Diamond: Danny Lancaster finds out the hard way that diamonds are not always a girl’s best friend.
Rock Hard: ‘The heat was murder but that wasn’t the worst of it. There were the bodies’.
Gargoyle Pixie Dog: How do you find a homeless girl who lives off the grid? + 6 short stories – The Cuckold’s Calling, Selfie, The Hoodied Man, The Germans Can’t Kill Me, Inside Job, Sudden Death.
Godlefe’s Cuckoo: If Danny Lancaster isn’t dead he soon will be.
All six Dannys are available as ebooks and paperbacks and The Wreck of Margherita is free to download. All the other ebooks are just 99p/99c.

Godlefe’s Cuckoo by Bill Todd was published in the UK on 10th March 2018 and is available in paperback or eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

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I’m a journalist and travel writer who has visited more than 40 countries from the white wastes of Arctic Finland to the ancient deserts of Namibia. Love a good wilderness. I received the Ed Lacy travel award in 2007.
I’ve written six crime thrillers featuring soldier-turned-investigator Danny Lancaster and was startled and delighted to be voted one of the 100 best crime authors in the WH Smith readers’ poll in 2015. I’ve also written three short factual military histories. I live to write although keyboard time has been cut lately with the arrival of grandson Theo.

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

#BookReview: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (@cjtudor) @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #TheChalkMan #PaperbackPublication #TopReadsof2018

the chalk man“You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you.

It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man.

He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body.

Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure.

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?”

Today is a very special day.  Today is the day that the mighty, the incredible, The Chalk Man is published in paperback.  I read this book earlier this year and it is a very strong contender for my book of 2018.  I couldn’t let the paperback publication day go by without doing ‘something’.  So, to encourage you to buy a copy of this masterpiece of crime/horror fiction, I thought I would repost my review.  Here’s what I thought earlier this year (brace yourself!)…

What a treat! What a prologue! What a flipping brilliant story! If you haven’t quite guessed yet then yes, I am a huge fan of The Chalk Man and something quite incredible will have to make itself known to me for it NOT to make it onto my ‘books of 2018’ list. The bar has been well and truly raised and this little beauty is currently sitting pretty at the top of the book pile. Quite extraordinary and totally mesmerising!

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I love crime fiction with a passion (unhealthy? *shrugs* 😉😜). But I get particularly excited when I find a crime novel with a hint of a horror crossover included, which this is. My book of 2017 was Final Girls because it had a horror movie feel to it, crime with a large dash of spinetingling, nerve-jangling horror.  The Chalk Man has some fantastic horror-esque elements to it but it is to all intents and purposes a crime thriller novel.  I particularly enjoyed the scenes at the fairground which I found shocking and unsettling.  And oh boy, that prologue!  However, I know that many readers switch off when the word ‘horror’ is mentioned.  I’m telling you now, don’t.  Just don’t do it!  Try it, what is there to lose?  Start with The Chalk Man and I bet you fall a little bit in love with the creepiness, with the unease and bucketfuls of suspense Tudor has so expertly crafted.  Go on, I dare you…

The story runs a dual timeline; partly set in 1986 and partly set thirty years later in 2016.  In both the past and the present the reader is introduced to Eddie Adams (or Ed as he becomes known, later in life).  Eddie is a normal kid, messing around with his mates and dreading the end of the school holidays.  His little gang of friends made me quite nostalgic for my bygone childhood days in the late 80s (more early 90s really!).  Except me and my friends didn’t have ‘cool’ nicknames like Hoppo, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Eddie Munster and, erm…Nicky!

I loved the adventure these kids went on.  I mentioned earlier how much I loved the scenes at the fair.  The fair plays a pivotal role in the story as this is where Eddie meets Mr Halloran for the first time.  Mr Halloran is nicknamed ‘The Chalk Man’ by the kids he teaches at the school.  He’s also the reason that Eddie and his little gang start leaving chalk man drawings as secret code for each other.  So when the harmless, benign drawings lead Eddie and his friends to a dead body, there is only one person in the frame for murder.

From the day of the accident, strange things start happening in the small town of Anderbury.  Tudor has masterfully built the tension so you never know what to expect but you’re on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  And this is Tudor’s debut novel!  I can’t wait to see what else the author has in store for us.  Her debut is sublime!

I fell head over heels in love with middle-aged, stuck in his ways, teacher Ed.  Something about this character drew me to him.  I was completely hooked by his story and that of his friends, past and present.  I want to say so much more about this incredible book but I’m on the brink of giving too much away so all I will say is that you need to get yourself a copy of The Chalk Man as it is magnificent and just the sort of book I want to read again and again and again.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.  It’s so deliciously gripping, chock full of suspense, engrossingly creepy and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  Although I managed to put this book down and walk away from it I really didn’t want to.  When I was doing ‘life stuff’ I was thinking about the story, thinking about Eddie and his friends.  Trying to see where the story would lead me.  I failed, by the way.  There was no way I saw THAT coming. WOW!  Absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, lots of fun and wonderfully addictive.

Five out of five stars.

So there you go.  The character of Ed will stay with me for a long time to come and he often pops into my head at odd moments during the day.  This really is a must read and if you only listen to one of my book recommendations this year then please make it this one.  I cannot wait to find out what else C.J. Tudor has in store for us readers.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 23rd August 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

cj tudorC. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, waitress, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and now author. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: Valentina by S.E. Lynes (@SELynesAuthor) @bookouture #Valentina #mustread

valentina.jpg“When city girl Shona moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, she believes that all that lies ahead for her family is happiness.

But with Mikey working long hours away from home, the frightening isolation of the Scottish countryside begins to get to Shona. She feels lonely and trapped.

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. Valentina enters Shona’s life like a whirlwind, bringing excitement and spontaneity to replace boredom and fear.

Now Shona has the perfect home, the perfect man, and the perfect new best friend – or does she?

As Shona’s fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood outside becomes the least of her fears…”

I’ve recently returned home from my holiday in North Wales.  We had a wonderful time but oh boy, there was ZERO wifi.  I spent just over a week completely offline (it was tough!).  When I returned I discovered that one of my all-time favourite books had been republished by the mighty Bookouture, yay!  The incredible Valentina by S.E. Lynes has been given a fabulous make-over.  So what better opportunity to repost my review and make sure YOU get yourself a copy of this incredible book.  Here’s my review from June 2016…

This is an exceptional novel.  There is something truly wonderful and special about it.  It’s fair to say I loved this book.  It sent chills down my spine and I couldn’t put it down.  This is S E Lynes debut and I am so excited to see what else she has in store for us.

Shona and Mikey are madly in love and expecting their first little bundle of joy. Being a responsible father-to-be Mikey finds himself a job working on the oil rigs off the coast of Scotland.  Shona begrudgingly packs up her old life and her job, says goodbye to her friends and family and follows Mikey to deepest, darkest Aberdeenshire.  It’s OK though, she has the most beautiful house to spend her days in.  Mikey’s work rota means that he’s away two weeks out of four so it’s not long before loneliness starts to creep in.  She has Isla, her baby daughter, but babies aren’t all that good at conversation!

Thankfully she meets spirited Valentina.  She’s full of life, charismatic and Shona’s saviour.  But how well does Shona really know Valentina?  Is she the answer to her prayers, or the epitome of her nightmares….?

I love how Shona is written.  A few chapters into the book and I felt I was sat in the pub chatting to a friend.  That’s how well S E Lynes has written her, she became real to me.  As I progressed through the book I wanted everything to turn out well for Shona.  Does it? Well, you’ll have to read Valentina and find out for yourself.

The plot is so very clever and quite intricate.  It was a joy to read this book and I struggled to focus on anything else as it had my full attention.  When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the characters and wondering what was going to happen next.  I even explained the plot to my husband (I don’t think he could work out why I was explaining it to him) but it was because I wanted to talk about the book with someone!  It really gets under your skin.

This is a dark story about loneliness and what we accept to be the truth.  The one thing I will say, I was a touch disappointed by the closing chapters. I wanted a little more ‘omph’ but I still loved the story and the authors style.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  A very deserving five out of five stars from me.  It’s dark, totally compelling and full of shady characters.  There’s a sense of foreboding you get from the very beginning which stays with you until the very end. Completely enticing, once you start reading you will struggle to stop.  I loved it!  As I said earlier, if this is the first offering from S E Lynes, I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next.

In answer to my pondering, S.E. Lynes had two other stonking novels up her sleeve (Mother and The Pact) with a fourth (The Proposal) due to be published in September!  I am delighted to have an eARC of The Proposal on my Kindle so look out for a review (plus a fantastic #damppebblestakeover post from the author herself!) coming your way soon.

Valentina by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 13th August 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

S E Lynes Author PhotoAfter graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson (@Author_Dave) @BonnierZaffre #DSNathanCody #20BooksofSummer #DontMakeaSound

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“You can’t choose your family. Or can you?

Meet the Bensons. They’re an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.

There’s just one problem.

SHE’S NOT THEIRS.

D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . .”

When I was compiling my list for #20BooksofSummer there was one read I knew I HAD to include. If you haven’t had the pleasure of discovering the DS Nathan Cody series yet then I urge you to go and purchase the epic A Tapping At My Door (book #1). Followed by the equally epic Hope to Die (book #2) and then finish your spending spree off with this deliciously dark and terrifying little beauty, the third book in the series, Don’t Make a Sound. I can promise that you won’t regret it!

Now you may have already gathered that I’m quite a fan of David Jackson’s DS Cody series. I’d even go as far as saying it’s my joint-favourite crime series (not telling you who it shares the top spot with but if you follow damppebbles.com regularly then you may be able to guess…). Jackson has created an engaging cast of memorable characters and I, for one, can’t get enough of them!

If like me you’re a regular reader of the crime genre then chances are you’ve read a few missing child storylines in your time. And, if you’re anything like me, chances are you’re ‘kinda’ getting bored with this particular trope (no? just me then…?). The main storyline of Don’t Make a Sound is exactly that, about a missing child. But this is something entirely different to everything else. Don’t Make a Sound takes the somewhat overly familiar missing child plotline and turns it upside down.

DS Cody and the Major Incident Team are well and truly flummoxed after a young girl is snatched in the middle of the night from her home, while her parents sleep in the next room. There is zero evidence, the team struggle to comprehend the type of criminal who would target a young girl in this way and time is running out. When a second girl is taken but this time with deadly consequences, the stakes are raised tenfold. No one knows why the girls are being taken but it’s not going to be for anything good. Can Cody and his DC, the wonderfully spirited Megan Webley find the missing girls before it’s too late….?

If you’re new to Jackson’s novels then there is only one really important thing to know. The plots are great, the writing is incredible but the characters are utterly sublime. I’m a little bit in love with DS Nathan Cody (and a little bit in love with DC Megan Webley too, if truth be told!). But it’s not just our two main characters who leap off the page at the reader. The whole Major Incident Team are head and shoulders above many other ‘lead’ characters from other well-established crime writers. DCI Stella Blunt with her ‘verging on the unprofessional’ soft spot for Cody (no, not like that!) and computer nerd/all round geek, Grace Meade, are two prime examples of standout supporting characters. This time though, we get to hear from DC Jason Oxburgh, the FLO who has a good cry on his wife’s shoulder at the end of a tough day. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

It’s not just the good guys in Don’t Make a Sound who deserve a mention though. Malcolm and Harriet Benson make a ‘good’ story ‘great’. I don’t feel I can say too much as I don’t want to give lots away but the Bensons are something else altogether! I loved them for being so utterly loopy but oh my gosh, they made me so angry. I’ve been struggling with my reading mojo recently. Not any more; thanks in part to David Jackson but the main share of the credit goes to Malcolm and Harriet Benson. Before I summarise, I must mention Daisy. If the Bensons make a good story great, Daisy makes a great story something completely memorable and heartwrenching. Something that will stay with me for a long time to come. WOW!

Would I recommend this book? Definitely. This AND the other two books in the DS Nathan Cody series. Make sure you read them in order though as Cody has a traumatic past which is revealed fairly early on in the series (if you suffer from coulrophobia like I do, then be warned!). You also don’t want to miss out on the banter and the undeniable chemistry between Cody and DS Webley (the two do have a romantic history but I love the ‘will they/won’t they’ feel Jackson gives his books!). Dark, utterly compelling and head and shoulders above others in the same genre. The DS Nathan Cody series just keeps getting better and better. I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait to read book four.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Don’t Make a Sound. My thanks to Joanne at Brew and Books Review for sending me her ARC after she had finished with it. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

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Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 3rd May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow on 1st November 2018 (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

david jackson

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#damppebblestakeover with Karla Forbes (@KarlaForbes) | #GuestPost: Inspiration versus Desperation #NickSullivanThrillers #IndieAuthor

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“To the outside world, Dan Masters is a law abiding I.T. expert working for the Metropolitan Police in London.

But he is also a high ranking member of Cronus, a secret group of vigilantes who are growing exponentially and spreading terror across the country.

When Nick is persuaded, against his better judgement, to help Beth Masters keep a track of her husband’s whereabouts, he unwittingly stumbles into the Cronus network and compromises its security.

Soon he is fighting for his life in a new and frightening world where no one can be trusted. For who can he turn to for help when anyone could be a Cronus member with a powerful reason to want him dead?”

It’s Friday, which can mean only one thing. It’s #damppebblestakeover day and I am delighted to welcome Karla Forbes, author of the Nick Sullivan series, back to damppebbles today. I’m handing over the keys to Karla who last paid us a visit during my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature (click HERE to see which books Karla chose as her three recommended reads from 2017).

So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Karla…

Inspiration versus Desperation
Karla Forbes

I am currently writing my 14th crime/thriller and although it should be getting easier, it isn’t. When I wrote my first book, I had a vague idea of a plot floating around in my head. It was based on a comment someone had made to me that, during the cold war, Soviet scientists had invented a nuclear bomb that could be carried in a suitcase. After extensively researching plutonium, dirty bombs, the cold war and many other subjects that had been strangely missing from my school curriculum, I sat down at my laptop and the words flowed from my fingertips to the keyboard. Several months and 106,000 words later, I had written my first book, named it ‘Fallout’ and, very naively, thought how easy this whole writing malarkey is. Wrong! Unless your name is Margaret Mitchell and you write a single best seller called Gone with the wind, you will be keen to start your second book. This time, the chances are that you have used up all your ideas on your first literary masterpiece and you will be forced to dig a little deeper to find your next plot.

The advice given to aspiring authors is to write what you know about but unless readers want to follow the scintillating drama of your protagonist going to work, standing in a queue at the supermarket checkout and slobbing in front of the television every night, you’re going to have to exercise your imagination and come up with something a little more exciting. By now, I had decided to write a series of thrillers based on the hero of ‘Fallout’, Nick Sullivan, who is a stubborn, self opinionated but thoroughly likeable character who I couldn’t bear to part from. This meant that I was spared the pain of thinking up a whole new protagonist and supporting characters but I needed a new plot. I cast around for ideas and in a moment of inspiration thought of my daughter. She has a PhD in artificial intelligence and was perfectly placed to give me the science behind a computer virus that couldn’t be stopped. Once again, I had set myself up for disappointment. Not only was she none too pleased to have to condense her entire life’s study into easy sentences that I could understand but I then had to incorporate it into an exciting thriller that wouldn’t bore the reader senseless.

I managed it in the end but you get the picture; constantly thinking up new plots is harder than actually writing the book. Since those early beginnings, I’ve written about, among other things, blowing up Grangemouth which the largest oil refinery in Europe, counterfeit drugs getting into the National Health Service, Ugandan terrorists stealing from charities to fund their activities, the illegal trade in endangered species, fracking in sleepy Sussex, a nationwide group of vigilantes wreaking havoc on the guilty and innocent alike, a Russian oligarch poisoning half of London in pursuit of money ( I wrote that one before the Novichok outrage) and I’m currently writing about an attack on the London Stock exchange which has the potential to wreck the economy even more effectively than the combined efforts of our bickering, political masters.

Each time I finish a book, I start searching around for the next plot but as I said in the opening paragraph, it doesn’t get any easier. I’ve heard it said that Barbara Cartland wrote several hundred novels but in reality, she wrote one novel and simply changed the names and locations. A clever woman Ms Cartland. Perhaps my next book will be a romance. In the meantime, back to destroying the economy by attacking the City of London…

Thanks so much, Karla. I would struggle to come up with one plot idea (don’t expect to read my first novel any time soon!), let alone 14 so I’m always amazed when authors can continue to come up with fresh and exciting stories, time and time again. I guess that’s why they’re the authors and I’m the reader, right? 😂

Cronus by Karla Forbes was published in the UK in 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 | Goodreads |

about the author3

www.midsussexphotography.co.uk | www.midsussexwebsites.co.uk

Karla Forbes first began writing books when she was twelve years old. Heavily influenced by Ian Fleming, she wrote about guns, fast cars and spies. Naturally, she knew nothing of her chosen subject and was forced to use her imagination to make it up as she went along. These books, half a dozen in total, ended up being thrown out with the rubbish. Several years later, she dabbled in a futuristic sitcom and a full length horror story. Although both of these efforts were also consigned to literary oblivion, at least no one could have accused her of being in a genre rut.

She began writing properly more than ten years ago and her first book, The Preacher was published on Amazon in July 2011. Fourteen books in total are available to download from the Amazon kindle book store. Other books will follow at regular intervals. She writes about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations and she aims for unusual but scarily believable plots with a surprising twist.

She lives in Sussex with her husband and bull mastiff and has discovered that the secret of keeping them both happy is regular meals, praise and affection.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Nick Sullivan thrillers on amazon.co.uk | Karla Forbes on Goodreads |

#damppebblestakeover with Alice Castle (@DDsDiary) | #GuestPost: Why read cozy crime? #LondonMurderMysteries @crookedcatbooks

calamity in camberwell.jpg“Beth Haldane, SE21’s answer to Miss Marple, worries she is losing a kindred spirit when her friend Jen, the only other single mum in the playground, suddenly remarries and moves to Camberwell. 

Soon Beth has to face much more pressing fears. Has something gone horribly wrong with Jen’s marriage? What is her new husband really up to? Why is her daughter leading Beth’s son astray? And where on earth is Jen anyway? 

As Beth’s friends push her to start dating again, Beth turns to Metropolitan Police DI Harry York for help. But will they solve the mystery in time, or will it turn out that in south east London, not everyone gets to live happily ever after?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the second post in the resuscitated and reinvigorated #damppebblestakeover series.  Today I am thrilled to welcome the author of the London Murder Mysteries, Alice Castle, to damppebbles.  Alice is on the precipice of releasing the third book in her Beth Haldane and DI Harry York series so get those pre-orders in now (hitting eReaders on Monday 13th August)!

Without further ado, I will hand the reins of damppebbles over to Alice…

Why read cozy crime? By Alice Castle

We’re living at an extraordinary time for crime fiction. It’s officially now the most popular genre in the UK and, with steamroller successes like The Girl On The Train, crime is dominating not only bookshops but also TV, theatre and cinema screens too.

It might seem like an odd time to resuscitate the gentle tropes of cozy mystery, when the psychological thriller seems to be pushing new boundaries. But I believe that, in difficult times, people are drawn to Golden Age-type stories and find them just as satisfying, if not more so, than violent or shocking fare like twisty thrillers and grisly serial killers.

There’s still huge affection for Agatha Christie’s works, over forty years after her death, as evidenced by the success of recent TV remakes of Witness for the Prosecution, And Then There Were None and Ordeal by Innocence. These have led to the reissuing of many of the original novels in brand new tie-in covers. And who doesn’t love a good old murder amongst well-heeled folk in a country house, or feel a little thrill of satisfaction when the detective calls the suspects into the library for the final denouement?

I chose to write my series in the cozy crime genre, but have updated the formula by setting the stories firmly in contemporary south east London, with all the gritty urban problems that city life brings. I believe this gives my readers the best of both worlds – a secure moral universe, where evil-doers are always punished, a closed circle of suspects based in a beautiful area (lovely Dulwich!) and the real stresses and strains of modern life. Add a dash of satire on the frankly funny ways of the very privileged folk of SE21, and you have a series which I’m loving writing and which I hope will keep going far beyond the five stories which are either currently published or in the pipeline.

My single mum amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane, stumbles into her first investigation and is a hesitant but reckless detective. Her counterpoint is the Met’s DI Harry York, a pragmatist about crime but with a soft spot for Golden Age crime fiction – and for Beth.

If you’d like to read the stories, I suggest starting with Death in Dulwich (http://MyBook.to/1DeathinDulwich) and moving on to The Girl in the Gallery (http://MyBook.to/GirlintheGallery), then Calamity in Camberwell (http://MyBook.to/CiC, coming out on 13th August 2018) and Homicide in Herne Hill (3rd October 2018) with Revenge on the Rye following in 2019. They can all be read as stand alone stories as well. And do pop in to my blog, http://www.alicecastleauthor.com, for more news on the series and events I’m taking part in.

Thank you for joining me today, Alice.  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I love a grisly, gory serial killer – the more blood splatter, the better!  But I do have a rather large soft spot for cozy crime.  As for Christie, show me a crime reader who doesn’t love her books!  How do you feel about cozy crime? Let me know in the comments.

Calamity in Camberwell by Alice Castle was published in the UK on 13th August 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

If you’re a crime author and you would like to take part in #damppebblestakeover then please contact me via damppebbles@gmail.com.  Having originally planned to run the feature over the Summer, I have now decided to make it a regular weekly blog post on a Friday but I need YOU to write something.  No #damppebblestakeover next week though as I’ll be on holiday and it’s my birthday (a rather significant one, at that!).

about the author3

acb.jpegBefore turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019.  Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner @DuttonBooks #UNSUB #20BooksofSummer #DetectiveCaitlinHendrix

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“A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?”

You may be wondering why I haven’t featured a #20BooksofSummer review on damppebbles for a few weeks. It’s because I’m totally failing at the challenge! It’s official, I have lost my reading mojo. Not only that, I have lost my reviewing mojo too. What do you do in times of fading mojo? You find a book you know you will LOVE. Something that will give you that spark back, reignite your passion and put your worries to one side. So that’s exactly what I did.

Except it didn’t work as well as I had planned. Sometimes you just get a feeling about a book; you know you’re going to love it (and I mean LOVE IT!) before you make a start. That’s how I felt about Unsub by Meg Gardiner. It has everything I want from a book; serial killers, a kick ass female lead, blood and gore galore, it’s American – set in gorgeous San Francisco, it’s had some scorching hot reviews and I have coveted it for what feels like a flipping long time. And I really enjoyed it. I just didn’t love it as I had expected to. I truly wanted to love it but I’m going to have to go with ‘I really liked it’ and be satisfied with that. No one’s fault but mine.

Caitlin Hendrix is a woman on a mission to hell. Prolific serial killer, The Prophet, destroyed her family and her father twenty years ago only to seemingly disappear into thin air. Now he’s back and this time his sights are set firmly on newly qualified Caitlin. The body count is rising. Can Caitlin do what her father, Mack, failed to do all those years ago and put a stop to The Prophet’s murderous spree?

I don’t need to tell you that I loved Caitlin Hendrix. That goes without saying. She’s tough, gun-toting and determined to solve the crime. Everything I love in a female protagonist. I also really enjoyed her relationship with her father, which is a cornerstone of the story. There’s blame, there’s guilt and there’s a heck of a lot of anger there. It’s clear Caitlin had a very different childhood from her peers, with a father who was drowning in his failure and gradually falling apart. Not to mention the grisly murder scene photos left out for her to see. I did enjoy the way that despite the unpleasantness of her upbringing, this was obviously the reason she’s the woman she is.

I loved the gory murder scenes, they really appealed to my need for darker fiction. I was a smidge disappointed when The Prophet’s MO was revealed. I hate to say it but I felt it wasn’t a new idea, that maybe it had been done before? I loved the ending. There were two points during the conclusion though where I felt a little let down. A couple of things happened and they felt an ‘odd fit’ for the rest of the story. I expect that it’ll all make perfect sense in book two though (in other words, maybe they were added to the story so there could be a second book..?).

Would I recommend this book? I would, particularly if you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller. I don’t want anyone to get me wrong here. This is a great book, one I really enjoyed and on any other day I would be singing its praises from the hills. I thought it was my missing reading mojo rescue remedy, but it wasn’t (that’s a lot of pressure to put on one book!). I’m probably being a lot more critical in this review than I normally am so my apologies to the author and publisher for that but I was so desperate to love this book and I just feel a little disappointed (in myself). All in all, I love how Gardiner writes, I love her characters and I would pick up the second book in the Unsub series without a moment’s hesitation. I’m just a grump at the moment.

Four out of five stars.

My thanks to Beth at Bibliobeth for sending me a copy of Unsub. I won her blogiversary giveaway where the prize was five books of my choice. Unsub was one of the books I chose.

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Unsub by Meg Gardiner was published by Dutton Books in January 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |