#BookReview: She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge @PenguinUKBooks #SheLiesInWait #damppebbles

“Seven teenagers went down to the woods. Only six came back . . .

30 years later, a body is discovered.

DCI Sheens already knows what’s waiting for him – Aurora Jackson, found at last.

What he doesn’t already know is that it’s murder.

All six witnesses insist on their innocence, but DCI Sheens is sure one of them is lying.

But who?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge. She Lies in Wait was published by Penguin Books in all formats on 12th December 2019. I chose to read and review a free ARC of She Lies in Wait which has in no way influenced my review.

She Lies in Wait is a book I have been wanting to read for a while now. When it was first published, it was HUGE and I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the brilliant reviews from fellow readers and bloggers. This is the author’s debut novel but it feels so accomplished, it’s hard to believe that’s the case! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting DCI Sheens and I’ve already added the next book in the series, Watching from the Dark, to my terrifying TBR.

When the remains of a body are found in Brinken Wood, DCI Jonah Sheens knows exactly who they belong to. It’s no surprise when his suspicions are confirmed and a thirty-year-old cold case comes bursting into the present day. Sheens was a junior officer when fourteen-year-old Aurora Jackson disappeared whilst on a camping trip with her older sister and her sister’s friends. Despite searching, Aurora was never found. Now it’s down to Sheens and his team to unearth more skeletons, pick apart a close group of friends and find out exactly what happened to Aurora that night in the woods thirty years ago…

Told in the past and the present, this beautifully written literary crime novel was an absolute joy to lose myself in. I adored Sheens and found him very intriguing. I think that’s the reason, along with the author’s accomplished storytelling, that I’m so keen to read the second book in this series. Sheens is of course supported by a group of well-defined supporting characters who all add something to the story.

As the eye of the investigation is turned once again on the group of friends, they close ranks. A great deal of time has passed since Aurora’s disappearance. Memories have faded, truths have been rewritten. Instead of being the self-obsessed teenagers they once were, they’re now self-obsessed and influential adults. Sheens and the team have their work cut out trying to solve the mystery and finally give closure to Aurora’s grieving family.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. She Lies in Wait is a well-written and well-executed slow-burn mystery which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m looking forward to being reunited with Sheens and the team again soon. A great start to what promises to be a fantastic series. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of She Lies in Wait. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 12th December 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, 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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy.

She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. When not writing, she heads up a copywriting team at a global translation firm, where she generally tries to keep all the video-game writing to herself.

She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA.

She has signed with Penguin Random House worldwide for the first three books in her crime series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens.

WWW Wednesday | 22nd September 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell
If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…

On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.

It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.

Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.

Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man?

What did you recently finish reading?

The Coven by Lizzie Fry
Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Survivor’s Guilt (DCI Matilda Darke #8) by Michael Wood
A TEAM TORN APART

Nine months ago DCI Matilda Darke survived a bullet to the head. The brutal attack claimed dozens of lives, including those she loved most, and the nightmares still plague her every waking thought.

A MEMORY SHE’D RATHER FORGET

Now, she’s ready to get back on the job. But a new terror awaits. A woman is found murdered and her wounds look eerily similar to several cold cases. Desperate to find a lead, DCI Darke and her team must face a terrifying truth: a serial killer is on the loose in Sheffield.

A THREAT CLOSE TO HOME

Matilda has led countless murder investigations before but the lingering emotional scars from her ordeal and the uneasiness within her once-tight team have left tensions high. As the body count rises, Matilda realises that this might just be where it all ends.

The brand new instalment in the DCI Matilda Darke series will leave you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Kathy Reichs and Peter James.

#BookReview: Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian @HarvillSecker #NeverSawMeComing #damppebbles

“Meet Chloe. First-year student, ordinary, legging-wearing, girl next door…and highly intelligent diagnosed psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman.

Chloe is part of a secret clinical study of young psychopaths run by the university’s Psychology Department. Most psychopaths aren’t criminals, but when a string of murders on campus causes upheaval, Chloe’s private vendetta is sidelined. Partnered with fellow study participants she can’t trust – and distracted by typical university life – Chloe has to walk the line between hunter and prey.

Never Saw Me coming is a sharp, electrifying and hugely entertaining thriller with an antiheroine who will work her manipulative magic on you.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian. Never Saw Me Coming was published by Harvill Secker on 9th September 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Never Saw Me Coming but that has in no way influenced my review.

A college with a secret group of psychopaths stalking the grounds. Yes please! I couldn’t resist the pull of this book. I tried for the sake of my TBR. The shelves are bowing under the weight of my physical copies and the Kindle screams at me every time I switch it on. But realistically, what harm could one more book do? Hmmm? Particularly as Never Saw Me Coming sounded SO GOOD!

Chloe Sevre is a first year student at John Adams University and a diagnosed psychopath. That’s OK though, she’s not the only one. In fact, she’s part of a secret study which counsels psychopaths and teaches them how to integrate seamlessly into society. After all, not all psychopaths are crazed killers! Chloe, however, has a personal vendetta which she must settle and the only way to do that is to destroy the person who wronged her. Everything was going to plan until a murder is reported on campus. Followed by a second. Someone is killing students. Putting her own plans to one side, Chloe joins forces with other students in the psychopath programme to find the killer. But is the killer a lot closer than they think…

Huge amounts of fun and highly entertaining. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and thoroughly enjoyed Never Saw Me Coming. Chloe is a bad-ass, kick-ass antihero and I became fully invested in her quickly. When someone starts killing off students, who do you blame? The psychopaths. But what if the psychopaths are the ones hunting the killer instead? And exactly how far can Chloe trust the other members of the study? They’re adept at cheating, they know how to lie. They have no empathy, no conscience. It could be any of them really! I loved the concept of the book and I loved how well it’s all put together. Alongside Chloe are Charles and Andre, who are also part of the study. Charles is more practiced at hiding his true self, whilst Andre isn’t who he says he is. I really liked both of these characters. Together with Chloe they’re a force to be reckoned with! Although the reader can never truly trust them…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Never Saw Me Coming is a highly readable, very enjoyable novel which left me with a big ol’ smile on my face. It’s exactly the kind of book I love to read – a different and imaginative spin on the norm – and I loved the time I spent with Chloe & Co. This campus based, character-driven mystery was a pleasure to read and I heartily recommend it to those looking for something original and refreshing. Recommended

I chose to read and review Never Saw Me Coming. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian was published in the UK by Harvill Secker on 9th September 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Vera KurianVera Kurian is a writer and psychologist living in Washington, DC. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, the Pinch, and Southern California Review. You can find her online at verakurian.com or @vera_kurian on Twitter.

#BookReview: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones @TitanBooks #MyHeartisaChainsaw #damppebbles

“A gripping, bloody tribute to classic slasher cinema, final girls and our buried ghosts, combining Friday the 13th, the uncanny mastery of Shirley Jackson, and the razor wit of the Evil Dead.

The Jordan Peele of horror fiction turns his eye to classic slasher films: Jade is one class away from graduating high-school, but that’s one class she keeps failing local history. Dragged down by her past, her father and being an outsider, she’s composing her epic essay series to save her high-school diploma.

Jade’s topic? The unifying theory of slasher films. In her rapidly gentrifying rural lake town, Jade sees the pattern in recent events that only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror cinema could have prepared her for. And with the arrival of the Final Girl, Letha Mondragon, she’s convinced an irreversible sequence of events has been set into motion.

As tourists start to go missing, and the tension grows between her community and the celebrity newcomers building their mansions the other side of the Indian Lake, Jade prepares for the killer to rise. She dives deep into the town’s history, the tragic deaths than occurred at camp years ago, the missing tourists no one is even sure exist, and the murders starting to happen, searching for the answer.

As the small and peaceful town heads towards catastrophe, it all must come to a head on 4th July, when the town all gathers on the water, where luxury yachts compete with canoes and inflatables, and the final showdown between rich and poor, past and present, townsfolk and celebrities, slasher and Final Girl.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones. My Heart is a Chainsaw was published by Titan Books on 7th September 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of My Heart is a Chainsaw but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am addicted to slasher fiction. There’s no two ways about it. I am well and truly hooked on the idea, the concept and the execution (🤭). Books featuring a crazed serial killer, of this realm or…elsewhere…will always get my full, undivided attention. So my heart soared when I saw the latest book by Stephen Graham Jones. My Heart is a Chainsaw was an absolute must read for me, particularly as I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Final Girl by the same author (and I have The Only Good Indians waiting patiently for me on the TBR!).

Jade Daniels is the horror chick. She lives, breathes, dreams in horror movies. She loves all horror but slashers are her true obsession. Her knowledge is beyond encyclopaedic and it consumes every moment of her life. Which equips her perfectly to notice things happening in her small lake-side town that others may miss. Things which confirm, to Jade at least, that catastrophe is heading straight to Proofrock in the form of a slasher. Now all Jade has to do is convince everyone else before it’s too late…

You know when you read a book and it’s nothing like you expected it to be? That’s sort of where I am with My Heart is a Chainsaw. I really enjoyed the story, I adored Jade, the writing was powerful, chock-full of emotion and multi-layered. But I found it a little slow going to start with, which of course, isn’t a bad thing. Just unexpected having read another of the author’s books (which is actually a crazy thing for me to say as who writes the same book twice? That would be barmy!). My Heart is a Chainsaw is a true work of art though and it’s well worth picking up. I can’t imagine how long it took the author to write this novel – the care and attention, the precision, it all shines through.

Jade is a stones throw from failing high school so she composes a series of essays for her state history teacher, Mr Holmes, in return for extra credit. The subject matter is, of course, slasher movies which she intricately examines, pulling themes and explaining theories to her beleaguered teacher who is on the brink of retirement. These essays are a wonderful addition, informative and enlightening in their content. They run alongside Jade’s day to day dealings with the other residents of Proofrock and her investigation into what she believes is a certainty, the forthcoming slasher. I enjoyed the time I spent with Jade. I couldn’t help but like her. She’s the unpopular kid, the odd one who everyone keeps at a distance.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a beautifully written love letter to the slasher genre which I thoroughly enjoyed. I appreciated that the author has given his readers a chance to get to know Jade properly so you’re fully invested in the character as you approach the end of the book. The ending was sublime. Meticulous and so cleverly staged that I was fully in the moment, right by Jade’s side. I feel a little bereft now it’s all over but Jade will stay with me for some time to come. Gutsy, gruesome and utterly captivating. Emotional and really quite haunting. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of My Heart is a Chainsaw. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones was published in the UK by Titan Books on 7th September 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, 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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Stephen Graham JonesBorn and raised in Texas. In Boulder, Colorado now. Forty-nine. Blackfeet. Into werewolves and slashers, zombies and vampires, haunted houses and good stories. Would wear pirate shirts a lot if I could find them. And probably carry some kind of sword.

WWW Wednesday | 15th September 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell
If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…

On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.

It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.

Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.

Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man?

What did you recently finish reading?

The Coven by Lizzie Fry
Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Survivor’s Guilt (DCI Matilda Darke #8) by Michael Wood
A TEAM TORN APART

Nine months ago DCI Matilda Darke survived a bullet to the head. The brutal attack claimed dozens of lives, including those she loved most, and the nightmares still plague her every waking thought.

A MEMORY SHE’D RATHER FORGET

Now, she’s ready to get back on the job. But a new terror awaits. A woman is found murdered and her wounds look eerily similar to several cold cases. Desperate to find a lead, DCI Darke and her team must face a terrifying truth: a serial killer is on the loose in Sheffield.

A THREAT CLOSE TO HOME

Matilda has led countless murder investigations before but the lingering emotional scars from her ordeal and the uneasiness within her once-tight team have left tensions high. As the body count rises, Matilda realises that this might just be where it all ends.

The brand new instalment in the DCI Matilda Darke series will leave you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Kathy Reichs and Peter James.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing @MichaelJBooks @kalliereads #ForYourOwnGood #damppebbles

“Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant.
Only you know the truth.

They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud.
But no-one has seen her in a while.

They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent.
Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.

You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.

You’re sure you can prove it.

But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the For Your Own Good blog tour and sharing my review. For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing was published by Michael Joseph Books in hardcover, audio and digital formats on 19th August 2021 with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of For Your Own Good but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Kallie at Michael Joseph Books for sending me a finished copy.

Oh. My. Word! I read Downing’s debut, My Lovely Wife, back in 2019 and really enjoyed it. At the time, I made a note to read more of this author’s work as it was published but due to life, the universe and everything my plans didn’t quite come to fruition. However, based on my experience of For Your Own Good I will be making this author’s books a high priority purchase in future. I loved this dark and thrilling novel!

Teacher, Teddy Crutcher, is proud to be part of the prestigious Belmont Academy family. His students are very important to him and he will do everything he can to teach them accordingly, including a few ‘life lessons’ which aren’t on the syllabus. He feels it’s his duty to mould his students into intelligent, personable young adults and he’s prepared to work hard to make that happen. Being Teacher of the Year comes with many responsibilities after all. When one of the parents dies suddenly at a school event, all eyes turn to Belmont. Whispers of murder echo throughout the school halls and the arrival of the police only confirm the faculty’s worse suspicions….

Oh Teddy, how dark and twisted can one character be!? I think the answer to that is ‘very’ and I loved every darn second of it! There was something about For Your Own Good which immediately captured my full attention. I believe it was the hold Teddy immediately has over the reader. You can tell something isn’t ‘quite’ right here but it’s only a teeny tiny glimpse into what is to come! When the reader first meets Teddy he’s meeting with one of his student’s parents. Teddy controls and manipulates the meeting with such a deft hand that I immediately wanted more.  I powered through this book, savouring every twist and turn as the author laid Teddy’s story before me. I was smitten – with the style of writing, with the setting and the plot, but most of all with the fully formed characters and the darkness within.

Teddy isn’t the only star of the show in For Your Own Good. He’s surrounded by a strong supporting cast who all add to the story. Zack Ward, the put-upon high achiever who Crutcher has it in for. Sonia Benjamin, who rightly feels she should have been Teacher of the Year and is highly suspicious of Mr Crutcher for that and other reasons. Fallon Knight, whose academic career was floored after Teddy decided to be truthful in his recommendation and whose life will never reach the heady heights she expected it to. I loved every single one of them but in different ways. Absolutely flipping marvellous!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Without a doubt. I LOVED For Your Own Good and if I’m honest, I may have fallen a little in love with Teddy. Which I’m sure doesn’t paint me in the best light but hey ho! I adored spending time with Downing’s characters, I could happily have read another 500 pages of Teddy’s nefarious goings on (and it’s not a short book at 400 pages for the hardcover!). For Your Own Good was a dark and devious joy to read and I can see it featuring on my top books of the year list in December. Totally absorbing, exactly the type of book I love to lose myself in. I will be shouting about this one for a long time to come. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of For Your Own Good. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books on 19th August 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year (please note, 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Samantha Downing is the author of the bestselling My Lovely Wife, nominated for Edgar, ITW, Macavity, and CWA awards. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel. Her second book, He Started It, was released in 2020 and became an instant international bestseller.

For Your Own Good was released on July 20, 2021. It has been optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for HBO Max.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Final Child by Fran Dorricott @TitanBooks @lydiagittins #TheFinalChild #damppebbles

“A stunning psychological thriller from the author of After the Eclipse, for readers of Ruth Ware and S.K. Tremeyne.

He won’t forget her…

Erin and her brother Alex were the last children abducted by ‘the Father’, a serial killer who only ever took pairs of siblings. She escaped, but her brother was never seen again. Traumatised, Erin couldn’t remember anything about her ordeal, and the Father was never caught.

Eighteen years later, Erin has done her best to put the past behind her. But then she meets Harriet. Harriet’s young cousins were the Father’s first victims and, haunted by their deaths, she is writing a book about the disappearances and is desperate for an interview with the only survivor. At first, Erin wants nothing to do with her. But then she starts receiving sinister gifts, her house is broken into, and she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After all these years, Erin believed that the Father was gone, but now she begins to wonder if he was only waiting…

A tense and emotive thriller, The Final Child is a powerful tale of a survivor being forced to confront her painful past.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining The Final Child blog tour and sharing my review. The Final Child was published earlier this week on Tuesday 7th September by Titan Books and is available in paperback and digital format. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Final Child but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Lydia at Titan Books for sending me a proof copy.

I admit it, I’m a HUGE fan of the serial killer thriller. Although that may not come as the biggest surprise if you’re a regular visitor to the blog! I tend to gravitate towards books featuring a serial killer, which meant there was no way I was going to be able to resist The Final Child by Fran Dorricott, with its incredibly intriguing blurb and striking cover.

Erin and her brother, Alex, were the last siblings taken by serial killer, the Father, after his reign of terror over families in the mid to late 90s. Sneaking into their rooms at night, the Father would snatch the children whilst their parents slept soundly in the next room. Some of the children’s bodies were found, others were not, leaving grief stricken parents all over the land. Until Erin escaped the clutches of her captor and the Father was not heard from again. With little to no memory of what happened during the time she was held by a killer, Erin has moved on with her life. Choosing to ignore what happened and hiding from the press. But when Erin returns home and discovers an eerie gift waiting for her, she realises that the Father may only have been biding his time…

The Final Child is a gripping, emotive read chock-full of delicious suspense and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Erin is a little stand-offish, a little brusque but I loved her. I think if the same had happened to me, I would also be a little cold. Particularly to the press! Erin is reluctant to talk to anyone about her experience (partly because she remembers so little!) but when writer Harriet, turns up at her mother’s house, with her own personal experience of the Father (her cousins were the first victims) she manages to convince Erin that revisiting the events of 18 years ago may be therapeutic. Fed-up of hiding and avoiding the past, Erin decides to trust Harriet and together, the two of them begin to dig into what really happened the night Erin escaped…

The relationship between Erin and Harriet is very well-written with Erin’s gradual thawing towards Harriet and Harriet’s slow dawning realisation that her feelings towards Erin might be more than just friendship. I loved the whole serial killer aspect of the novel but watching Erin and Harriet’s relationship develop over the course of the book was an unexpected bonus.

The plot is paced perfectly and I was turning the pages late into the night. The majority of the book is told from either Erin or Harriet’s point of view with occasional chapters from other, undefined voices. These chapters give the reader a wonderful sense of unease. Who are these characters and how do they relate to Erin’s story? They really help add to the all-round tension of the book.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Final Child is a gripping, chilling, psychological crime thriller which I very much enjoyed. The characters are well-written and stand tall from the page. The author does a great job of throwing in a number of clever red herrings along the way to make you think one thing whilst taking you off in a different direction. I really enjoyed the way Dorricott made me doubt myself several times along the way! This is the first book I’ve read by this author but based on my experience of The Final Child, it won’t be the last. All in all, a terrific read. Gripping, emotional and packed full of tension. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Final Child. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Final Child by Fran Dorricott was published in the UK by Titan Books on 7th September 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, 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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Fran Dorricott

Fran Dorricott is an author based in Derby, where she lives with her family, two cats, and three dogs (one of whom weighs more than she does). She loves to tell gothic, inclusive stories and drink copious amounts of tea.

Fran is also a bookseller working in the Derby branch of Waterstones, which is secretly just a way for her to fuel her ridiculous book-buying addiction. Her first novel, After the Eclipse, was released in March 2019. The Final Child (Sept 2021) is her second novel.

WWW Wednesday | 8th September 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Therapist by B.A. Paris
When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

The million-copy Sunday Times bestselling author B A Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in this powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

What did you recently finish reading?

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian
Meet Chloe. First-year student, ordinary, legging-wearing, girl next door…and highly intelligent diagnosed psychopath.

Chloe is part of a secret clinical study of young psychopaths run by the university’s Psychology Department. Most psychopaths aren’t criminals, but when a string of murders on campus causes upheaval, Chloe’s private vendetta is sidelined. Partnered with fellow study participants she can’t trust – and distracted by typical university life – Chloe has to walk the line between hunter and prey.

Perfect for fans of My Sister the Serial Killer, Killing Eve and The Secret History, Never Saw Me coming is a sharp, electrifying and hugely entertaining thriller with an antiheroine who will work her manipulative magic on you.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Coven by Lizzie Fry
Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

#BookReview: We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin @PenguinUKBooks #WeAreAlltheSameintheDark #damppebbles

“Back then, the police cleared her brother Wyatt of any crime. But now a TV documentary has judged otherwise. And old suspicions are reignited.

Yet when Wyatt finds a lost girl wandering a lonely highway, he convinces himself she’s a sign. Someone to lead him to his sister. To clear his name.

Watching him is police officer Odette Tucker. She’s got history with the Branson family. And she knows they must tread carefully.

Odette is determined to solve both cases, but will digging into this town’s deeply buried secrets do more harm than good?

And what will happen when the shocking truth is finally exposed?

We Are All the Same in the Dark is the nail-biting thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author, perfect for anyone obsessed with HBO’s Mare of Easttown.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin. We Are All the Same in the Dark was published by Penguin Books in paperback format on Thursday 2nd September 2021 and is also available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of We Are All the Same in the Dark but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Gaby at Penguin Books for sending me a proof copy.

I read and reviewed Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin shortly after starting damppebbles back in 2016. It was one of my early reviews but I remember the book quite clearly, because it absolutely blew me away! Despite there being over five years between then and now, Black-eyed Susans has stayed with me to this day. So my heart soared when a copy of We Are All the Same in the Dark arrived. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

Trumanell Branson, the town’s sweetheart, disappeared with her father one night ten years ago leaving behind a bloody handprint on the door. To this day, no one knows what happened to Trumanell (nor Frank). But Odette Tucker, girlfriend of Trumanell’s brother at the time, and now local police officer, has never forgotten that night and is determined to discover the truth. She’s certain Wyatt, Trumanell’s brother, had nothing to do with the disappearance despite the rest of the town, her police colleagues and a true crime documentary all believing otherwise. When Wyatt discovers a lost girl in a field, he feels it’s a sign but Odette isn’t so sure. Now with two tricky mysteries to solve, Odette starts to dig into the town’s past and discovers a lot more than she ever bargained for….

We Are All the Same in the Dark is a beautifully written, slow-burn mystery which I found truly captivating. For me this book was all about the characters and in particular Odette, who I adored. Her tenacity and commitment to Trumanell’s disappearance was very engaging and I was with her every step of the way. With the introduction of a second more current mystery, ensuring Wyatt wasn’t ruffling feathers, her failing marriage and her own family history hanging over her, Odette has a heck of a lot on her plate. There’s one scene in particular where she goes above and beyond for another character and it was not only fascinating but it pulled on this dark-hearted reader’s heartstrings. I loved Odette Tucker!

The plot is well paced with some surprising twists along the way to throw the reader off kilter, many of which I didn’t see coming, which is always a joy. One in particular was a bit of a sucker punch which left me reeling in its wake. Marvellous stuff! Although the pace of the novel is on the slow side, the tension is still very much present from start to finish. I felt I had to know what had happened to Trumanell. I had to know where the young girl had come from and what had caused her trauma.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. We Are All the Same in the Dark is an intelligently written psychological crime novel which I was more than happy to lose myself in. I really enjoyed spending time with the characters, I loved the small town feel, the pressing claustrophobia the book emanates and I was swept away by the cleverly constructed mystery. Heaberlin is a very talented writer and remains high on my ‘must read’ list.  Immersive, compelling and heart-breaking in parts. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of We Are All the Same in the Dark. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin was published by Penguin Books on 2nd September 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, 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 | Waterstones | FoylesBook Depository | bookshop.orgGoodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Julia HeaberlinJulia Heaberlin is the internationally bestselling writer of BLACK-EYED SUSANS and PAPER GHOSTS, a finalist for Best Hardcover Novel by the International Thriller Writers Awards. Her latest psychological thriller, WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK, has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which described her work as “exceptional.”

All of her books, including PLAYING DEAD and LIE STILL, are set in the moody, diverse landscape of Texas and together they have been published in more than twenty countries.

Before writing novels, Heaberlin was an award-winning editor at newspapers that include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Detroit News and The Dallas Morning News. BLACK-EYED SUSANS, a USA TODAY and a top-of-the-charts Times of London bestseller, has been optioned for television by Sony Pictures. Currently at work on her sixth thriller, Heaberlin lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She is published by Penguin Random House and represented by Kimberly Witherspoon at Inkwell Management.

#BookReview: Five Minds by Guy Morpuss @ViperBooks #FiveMinds #damppebbles

“SHARING A BODY CAN BE MURDER

The Earth’s spiralling population has finally been controlled. Lifespans are limited to eighty years, except for those who make an extreme choice: to become a commune. Five minds sharing one body, each living for four hours at a time. But with a combined lifespan of nearly 150 years.

Alex, Kate, Mike, Sierra and Ben have already spent twenty-five years together in what was once Mike’s body, their frequent personality clashes leading to endless bickering, countless arguments, and getting themselves stranded on a Russian Artic freighter. Wanting to buy upgrades for their next host body, they decide to travel to a Death Park where time can be gambled like money. But things go very wrong when Kate accepts a dangerous offer, and one of them disappears.

Someone is trying to kill off members of the commune. But why? Is one of them responsible? Or is an outsider playing a deadly game? It’s hard enough to catch a murderer. It’s almost impossible when you might be sharing a body with them…

This brilliant murder mystery blends classic crime with speculative fiction in a stunning debut.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Five Minds by Guy Morpuss. Five Minds was published by Viper Books yesterday (that’s Thursday 2nd September 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Five Minds but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

Speculative fiction with a cracking, cleverly woven mystery to boot! Who could resist? Not me, that’s for sure. I haven’t dabbled in a lot of speculative fiction in the past but what I had read has been delightfully mind-bending and from the masters of the genre. Five Minds is no exception. Five Minds proves that Morpuss is up there with the greats. As my daughter would say…Mind. Blown 🤯

In a bid to reduce the ever-growing population of the earth, measures are put in place where at 17 years old you need to decide how you’re going to live the rest of your life. But also, when you’re going to die. The choices are simple: become a hedonist, play hard and die young at 41-42. Become a worker, work all of your life and drop down dead of exhaustion…at some point. Become an android, have your mind moved to an artificial body and die around 79-80. Or, the least popular option of all, become part of a commune. Five minds in one body, each taking 4 hours of the day as their own. Choose a host and then, 25 years later, choose another. But live for 141-142 years. That’s the decision Kate, Alex, Sierra, Mike and Ben make. From the moment they meet, it’s clear there are tensions amongst the group. When Kate makes a risky decision without consulting the others, strange things start to happen and one of the five disappears. Is someone out to kill the commune, or is the threat much closer to home…?

There are so many things to love about Five Minds. The author has set the action in a ‘death park’. The dark and dingy death parks are where the desperate gather to earn a few more years by eliminating (permanently) their competitor/s in a game of skill, strength or smarts. I loved the setting. It felt grubby and somewhere only those at the end of their tether go in a last ditch attempt to survive just a little bit longer (only to be killed in their first game!).

The characters, despite sharing the one body, all stand tall from the page. I was concerned, at points, that it may get a little confusing but that’s not the case at all. Kate was my favourite of the ‘minds’. She seemed to have her head screwed on (😂) and be the driving force, which I liked. I also really liked Sierra for her dark and dangerous edge. I shouldn’t. She’s a terrible person who does some pretty heinous, unforgivable things but I liked the juxtaposition between her and Kate. I felt they were opposite ends of the spectrum. Five Minds is very easy to read, either in one sitting or over the course of several. All I know is that I was always keen to return to this strange and inventive world.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Five Minds is like nothing I have read before and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I spent with it. Cleverly plotted and beautifully thought out. The author’s imagination is clearly off the scale and I loved being part of this strange, new world. A pacey, intelligent story with a clever, twisty mystery at its heart. Effortlessly crossing genres, this speculative fiction murder mystery is a must read! I look forward to reading more genre-bending fiction from Mr Morpuss in the future. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Five Minds. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Five Minds by Guy Morpuss was published in the UK by Viper Books on 2nd September 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year (please note, 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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Guy Morpuss

Guy is a London-based barrister whose cases have featured drug-taking cyclists, dead Formula 1 champions and aspiring cemetery owners.

His favourite books involve taking a twist on reality, and playing with the consequences. Which led to his debut novel, FIVE MINDS, about five people sharing one body – possibly with a murderer.

His second novel, BLACK LAKE, will be published in 2022.

He is currently working on his third novel, HIGHLIGHTS.

Guy lives near Farnham, England, with his wife and two sons. When not writing he can usually be found walking or running in the Surrey Hills.