#BookReview: Possessed (Matt Hunter #4) by Peter Laws @AllisonandBusby #Possessed #MattHunter #damppebbles

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“When a blood-soaked man is discovered with the word Baal-Berith scored into his flesh, the bewildered police call on expert Professor Matt Hunter to assist.

Before long, a gruesome discovery is made and Hunter is drawn into a frenzied murder investigation.

With a fury of media interest in the case, and the emerging link to a documentary on demonic possession, Hunter is unable to escape a dark world of exorcism and violence. Even when events spiral frighteningly out of control.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I am absolutely thrilled to be sharing my review of Possessed by Peter Laws with you today. Possessed is the fourth book in the stonking Matt Hunter series and was published in digital format by Allison and Busby on 20th February. Look out for the audiobook version which is heading your way soon (this will make an awesome audiobook, if you’re feeling brave….?) and the paperback later in the Summer. I chose to read and review an eARC copy of Possessed but that has in no way influenced my review.

It was around this time last year that I first discovered how utterly brilliant Laws’ writing is. I picked up a copy of Purged, the first book in the Matt Hunter series, and devoured it in a few short sittings. I have a bit of a thing for crime/horror crossover novels so the books Laws writes really appeal to me. My plan, as bookish plans normally go, was to read books two and three in the series next but what is it they say about best-laid plans….? Well, exactly. I was offered the opportunity to read the brand new fourth book in the series, Possessed, so of course I jumped at the chance. Just call me ‘rebel’! 😉

Matt Hunter is an instantly likeable character who trained as a Baptist Minister but lost his faith and turned his back on the church. Now a professor of sociology and a consultant to the police when things turn a little…’weird’, his life doesn’t contain a dull moment. If Matt’s on the case then things are gonna get interesting! Normally the kind of interesting that sends shivers down the reader’s spine and has you wondering exactly what that strange scratching noise at the window is.

Matt is called to assist with a suspect the police believe to be possessed. Nice, normal, boring Tom has changed beyond recognition, has carved ‘Baal-Berith’ into his abdomen and is showing all the signs of demonic possession. Tom’s peculiar mutterings lead the police straight to his home and his poor wife’s mutilated remains. As the news of a man possessed by a demon committing tortuous murder breaks, Matt is reluctantly drawn into a world where he’s put under a constant spotlight and pushed in front of the TV cameras to provide a balanced, scientific point of view. But this is TV and that’s just no fun at all. Who wants boring old balanced and stuffy scientific? Not when you can showcase a live exorcism! But when you’re playing with forces you can never understand, it’s no surprise when things go horribly, horribly wrong…

Laws’ use of language is fantastic and it makes his novels so easy to read. I was particularly pleased to find the word ‘crud’ used in one section of dialogue which made my heart sing, as I thought I was one of the last few remaining people uttering this wonderful word under my breath (ah crud – we’re all so old and unfashionable that we’ve all pretty much died out!). This is only one small example though of how the author draws the reader in, making you feel a connection to his stories. Another way is by creating one of the most likeable, humorous and utterly brilliant lead characters to grace fiction – Professor Matt Hunter. There is a hilarious section near the beginning of the book where Matt is meeting his new therapist for the first time which had me crying with laughter. The warmth and wit Laws puts into the character of Matt Hunter makes him a joy to read.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. One hundred percent, yes. If you haven’t read the first three books in the series then there’s no need to worry. Possessed works just as well as a standalone but I can guarantee you will want to read Purged, Unleashed and Severed immediately afterwards so you can lose yourself in Hunter’s world once more (I’m off to pick up my copy of Unleashed now!) . It’s a devilishly (!) good read, with lots of thrills and chills to keep those pages turning. A true fictional delight and one that I heartily recommend to all.

Possessed by Peter Laws was published in the UK by Allison and Busby on 20th February 2020 and is available in digital format with the audiobook and paperback to follow later in the year (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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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peter laws

Peter Laws is an author, journalist, film critic and YouTube horror host. He’s also a church minister with a taste for the macabre. He’s the creator of the acclaimed Matt Hunter series of horror tinged crime thrillers. Hunter is an ex-vicar turned atheist academic, who helps the police solve religiously motivated crimes. The first in the series, ‘Purged’, had Matt on the trail of a Christian serial killer, who fast tracks his victims to heaven by baptising them, then killing straight after. The sequel, ‘Unleashed’, pulls Matt into a world of poltergeists and the supernatural, though he insists a flesh and blood killer is at work. Unleashed won ‘Thriller of the Year’ in the Fully Booked awards for 2017. In the third Matt Hunter novel, ‘Severed’, Matt has to contend with a bizarre pseudo Christian cult.

He’s also the author of the acclaimed non-fiction book The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters Ghosts Death and Gore. It’s available from Icon Books in the UK and Skyhorse in the US.

He writes a monthly column in the print magazine The Fortean Times and hosts the popular podcast and YouTube show The Flicks That Church Forgot which reviews scary films from a theological perspective. He also does quirky cover versions of obscure horror songs on there, so why not drop by. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgZZklJNcUEZplFDboNho6g

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |

#BookReview: The Murder House (DCI Matilda Darke #5) by Michael Wood @0neMoreChapter_ #TheMurderHouse #DCIMatildaDarke #damppebbles

the murder house“They were the perfect family. It was the perfect crime.

It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog today. I am delighted to be sharing my review of the latest book in one of my must-read crime series, The Murder House by Michael Wood. The Murder House is the fifth book in Wood’s DCI Matilda Darke series and was published in digital format by One More Chapter on 31st January. The paperback will be available to purchase in the Spring on 19th March. I received a free eARC copy of The Murder House which has in no way influenced my review.

There is nothing I love more than a bloody good police procedural. And The Murder House was exactly that. Bloody and good! I have been eagerly waiting for Darke’s return as I have enjoyed all of her previous investigations (although I must confess I am still to read For Reasons Unknown – the first book in the series – which sits patiently on my Kindle waiting for me). If you’re a fan of detective fiction then I highly recommend you check out the whole series as every book Wood writes tops the last. AND you’ll need to read them quickly as book six in the series – Stolen Children – will be published later this year!

The Murder House is a brilliant addition to the series and one that, on those occasions when I did have to put the book down and do ‘life’, I was really keen to return to. I’ll tell you a little secret but you have to keep it to yourself. When I started reading The Murder House I was really struggling with a bit of a reading slump. By the end, my love, passion and enthusiasm for reading and for books had returned. So thank you Michael Wood and Matilda for reminding me how utterly engrossing a book can be.

This is Matilda and the team’s most disturbing crime scene to date which I know will raise a flag for some readers. I am aware many people don’t enjoy blood, guts and gore in their fiction (not me, I should add). If you are a little squeamish then please don’t worry. There are a couple of references to the scene and the damage done but it’s not over the top. If anything, I actually expected there to be more blood spilt and more gore after reading the blurb!

This book can be read as a standalone despite being the fifth book in the series. The author expertly fills in many of the gaps for new readers and explains the significance of sub-plots along the way. However, there are mentions of past characters which will pique your curiosity so it may be better to start at the beginning of the series, rather than with book five. The team have been through an AWFUL LOT together (five books worth now!) and not everything can be recapped along the way. If you want to see the whole picture then start at the beginning. If you’re happy to be left wondering on a couple of teeny tiny points then dive straight in with The Murder House.

Sometimes when you read a book the characters are great but the plot isn’t so much. Or vice versa, the plot is brilliant but the characters… Wood has produced a series where both character and plot are outstanding. I adore the characters in this series and have a bit of a girl crush on DCI Matilda Darke. The other supporting characters are all well written, particularly Sian and Christian. The sub-plots involving Scott’s inner struggle to be accepted and the continuation of the Carl Meagan storyline added to the primary investigation.

Would I recommend this book? I would, absolutely. I would recommend the entire series. If you’re a fan of crime fiction and you haven’t met DCI Darke and her team yet then that needs to change. You can thank me later! The ending of this book was hold-your-breath tense and I loved it. The twists and turns keep coming right up to the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed The Murder House and I’m counting down the days until the next book in the series is released.

I received a free eARC of The Murder House. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

My reviews of the other books in the series: | Outside Looking InA Room Full of KillersThe Hangman’s Hold |

The Murder House by Michael Wood was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 31st January 2020 and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in March (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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depository |

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71KOZKetCmL._UX250_Michael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Never Look Back by A.L. Gaylin (@orionbooks) @Tr4cyF3nt0n #NeverLookBack #damppebbles

never look backShe was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter. It’s not. Quentin’s podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone.

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn’t know the truth at all…”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my stop on the Never Look Back blog tour. Never Look Back is the latest release from the brilliant A.L. Gaylin and it will be available to purchase in paperback later this week (on the 6th February – mark it in your diaries!). If you can’t wait that long – and who could blame you, because it’s brilliant – then it’s currently available in all other formats.

It won’t surprise you to hear that I am a huge fan of A.L. Gaylin’s books. If Alison has written it, then I’ve probably purchased a copy without even reading the blurb. Yup – her books are THAT good. I’m not sure there are many other authors I could say that about. Never Look Back is a stellar addition to Gaylin’s catalogue and I savoured each and every moment of it.

Podcast creator Quentin Garrison is investigating a cold case. A mass killing spree carried out by two teenage lovers known as the Inland Empire Killers, in the late 70s. The terrifying spree finally halted by the death of killers April Cooper and her boyfriend, Gabriel LeRoy, in a fire. But Quentin has his own connection to the tragic events of all those years ago and he needs closure. When a brand new lead is handed to the podcast team, Quentin contacts website columnist Robin Diamond and puts a startling suggestion to her. Robin dismisses the claim as preposterous, but what follows will change their lives forever. How well do we really know those closest to us…?

This is another brilliant character-driven thriller from Gaylin. I was totally immersed in the story from the first page and I struggled to put the book down for any length of time. The first half to two-thirds of the book, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Then the story beds itself in and the pace slows a little but it was just as captivating, just as chilling and just as mesmerising as the beginning.

Told in dual timelines, we see how the accusations affect those involved in the present day. I often found myself asking, ‘how well do we really know the people we’re closest to?’. We also get to see life thorough April’s eyes via letters to her future daughter, Aurora Grace. After all, all April wants from life is to be a mother. Young April Cooper is by far the most fascinating character and despite reading this book a couple of weeks ago, I still think about her often. I really liked her (I am strange and it’s quite normal for me to like the villain in a book) but I also felt sorry for her.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, yes and yes again. I LOVED this book. A.L. Gaylin can do no wrong in my eyes. This is another stunning character-driven thriller which I flew through and have been recommending to everyone since. If you’re looking for a family-focussed suspense novel with secrets and lies galore then you should definitely give Never Look Back a go. After all, how can you resist that tagline…

Never Look Back MMP Blog Tour

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AL Gaylin

USA Today and International Best-selling author Alison Gaylin has been nominated for the Edgar four times. Most recently, her thriller IF I DIE TONIGHT, won the award in the category Best Paperback Original.

Her critically acclaimed suspense novels have been published in such countries as the U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan and Romania.

She has won the Shamus and RT Reviewers Choice Awards for her books, and has been nominated for the ITW Thriller, Anthony and Strand Book Awards. Her books have been on the bestseller lists in the US, Germany and Belgium.  NEVER LOOK BACK (March, 2018 from William Morrow) is her eleventh book.

NORMANDY GOLD, the graphic novel she wrote with Megan Abbott, is out from Titan/Hard Case Crime in April, 2018.

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

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: San Diego Dead (Jake Wolfe #4) by Mark Nolan (@marknolan) @cobaltdinosaur #SanDiegoDead #JakeWolfe #damppebbles

San-Diego-Dead-Kindle.jpg“Danger awaits Marine-turned-lawyer Jake Wolfe on his vacation to sunny San Diego and Cabo San Lucas. There he finds sugary white sand beaches, warm turquoise water, boat trips among gray whales, and … cold blooded murder.

It was meant to be a relaxing holiday for Jake and his adopted war dog, Cody, but violence erupts when he crosses paths with a criminal cartel urgently seeking to reclaim a deadly package.

Jake learns the missing item is a threat to US citizens and vows to stop the cartel from possessing it, no matter what vigilante justice actions he might have to take.

Time is running out and thousands of innocent lives are at risk. Will the two combat veterans be able to retrieve the dangerous item before the killers do? The clock is ticking, but Jake hopes that if anybody can help find the package, it has to be his highly-trained and ultra-intelligent dog, Cody.

Find out what happens next. Start reading the latest Jake and Cody thriller right now and enjoy another fast-paced stand-alone story by author Mark Nolan.”

Happy Monday bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to Ryan’s guest review of San Diego Dead by Mark Nolan. I think I need to pull my reviewer socks up because Ryan has featured his thoughts on damppebbles more than I have so far this year. 😂

Let’s find out what Ryan thought of book four in the Jake Wolfe series…

San Diego Dead is the fourth book in the Jake Wolfe series, but can easily be read as a standalone.  The author has done a good job of hinting at previous adventures without making the reader feel that they are missing a lot of important information.  The reader is very aware early in the story that Jake is capable of taking care of himself and turning bad guys into cadavers at an alarming rate. That Cody, his loyal war dog, is something different from your run-of-the-mill pooch and Jake’s relationship with Sarah isn’t going as well as it should.

What I loved about this book was that the characters are well formed and easy to get to know. We have a set of ‘good guys and gals’ and set of ‘bad guys and gals’ the lines are clear and you know where you stand with everyone pretty darn quickly. But….the action and the story line, WOW! It comes thick and fast with suspense, action, and twists galore.

Now reader, I must confess….I made a mistake with this book and I am still kicking myself.  In one scene the action came thick and fast, and I could see the twist coming so clearly.  It was too obvious that something heinous was about to happen and being able to see it coming from so far away frustrated me.  Mark Nolan’s clever writing had me convinced and I was frustrated because up until that scene I was really enjoying the book. But this was too obvious and too predictable so I put the Kindle down in a huff.  I didn’t pick it up again for 3 hours as I was so disheartened! But I just had to know if I was right, whether my mystic reader powers had forseen the future. Guess what? I was wrong. Very, very wrong!  With deft like skill and a subtle twist the author managed to totally flumox me (I quietly cursed the author for writing so well and for misleading me, sorry Mark!) and I got back on with reading this excellent book.

If you like action books then this is a series to definitely look in to.  Jake Wolfe is an all-action hero with a side kick in Cody worthy of being up there with Robin (Batman), Luigi (Mario) and the Brain (Pinky)!  Jake and Cody’s relationship is never in question and the theme of loyalty runs throughout the book in multiple story lines.  Whether Jake is after a friend, comforter, weapon or tracker then Cody is his answer.

I would happily recommend this San Diego Dead to anyone craving an action fix and I look forward to having time to dive into the previous books.  Mark Nolan’s writing carries enough twists, turns and action to keep everyone happy.

Ryan chose to read a free digital copy of San Diego Dead. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

San Diego Dead by Mark Nolan was published in the UK on 28th August 2019 and is available in paperback and digital 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 |

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Mark NolanMark Nolan has spent much of his life near the seashore. He loves dogs and has often been called a “dog whisperer.” These interests are reflected in his novels where the main character lives on a boat with his highly intelligent former war dog.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | GoodreadsWebsite |