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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TV Detective

about the author3

Simon HallSimon Hall is an author and journalist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The TV Detective cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four out of five stars.

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

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

TV Detective

about the author3

Simon Hall.jpg

Simon Hall is an author and journalist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the craftsman.jpg“Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

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

Blog tour poster.png

about the author3

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

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

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

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

#BookReview: Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines) @Bloodhoundbook #DontYouDare

don't you dare.jpg

“What if your daughter becomes your enemy?

When barmaid, Rachel, discovers her soon-to-be-married daughter, Beth, pinned down by a stranger in the pub cellar, Rachel lashes out in panic and the intruder ends up dead. In desperation, Rachel convinces Beth they should cover up the crime and go ahead with the planned wedding in one month’s time.

Rachel, however, has her own reasons for not involving the police.

Hiding their dreadful secret is harder than they both imagined and as the big day approaches and the lies multiply, Beth becomes a liability. Rachel looks on in dismay at the hen party when, after too many drinks, Beth declares she’s about to make a special announcement. But before Beth can say a word she disappears…

When two people share a chilling secret can both hold their nerve?”

I am a HUGE fan of A.J. Waines’ independently published series about clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby. Huge, I tell you! If you missed them the first time then here are my reviews of Inside the Whispers (book #1) and the more recent Lost in the Lake (book #2). So I was thrilled for A.J. (or Alison) when I heard she had secured a two-book deal with the independent crime fiction publisher, Bloodhound Books. The first book in that deal, Don’t You Dare, was published in the UK yesterday so a very happy (belated) book birthday to Alison and the team at Bloodhound Books!

Don’t You Dare has an eye-opening and really rather shocking first chapter which draws the reader into the story immediately. From then on in, I was hooked. We meet Rachel, mother to Beth who had her daughter at the tender age of 15. Beth is now in her early twenties and aspires to be an actor. But when Rachel walks into the pub where she works and finds her daughter being brutally attacked in the cellar, her instincts take over and she does everything (and anything) to protect her child. Including accidentally killing a man. Accidents happen though. After all, her daughter was being viciously attacked. Rachel lashed out to save Beth, she pushed the attacker, he fell and hit his head. Anyone would have done the same thing to save their child, right? Wrong, because Rachel convinces Beth that they need to lie about the accident and hide the body. And there the thread starts to unravel, destroying the most precious of relationships; the destruction of a mother and daughter…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m ashamed to admit that I became quite addicted to watching things spiral out of control for Rachel and Beth. At times, I had the same feeling as watching a tense drama on the television (peeking out from behind my hands). I wanted to find out what was going to happen but at the same time, it was tough to watch the devastation one terribly bad decision could wreak on such a strong bond.

I struggled to like Beth. As a twenty-something young woman, she felt quite childish and selfish. It was all about her and her career but I guess many of us acted that way at that age. (To be honest, my early twenties seem so long ago it’s hard to remember!) Did I like Rachel? I’m not sure. I did at the start of the book but I think my feelings changed for her as the story progressed. Rachel makes some pretty crazy decisions throughout the story and I can *kind of* understand her reasoning for doing some of the things she does (not hiding a body though, I really can’t understand that! 😱).

There’s very little downtime for the reader in Don’t You Dare. The plot moves at an addictive pace and keeps the reader hooked, waiting for the next bombshell to hit or the suspense to mount even more. The ending was totally unexpected and did leave me a little baffled. I didn’t see it coming (and being me, I was looking for clues). I’m sitting here, writing this review asking myself, ‘Really?!’. But I do appear to be the only early reader who has commented on this so I’m putting it down to being ‘just me’!

Would I recommend this book? I would. Told in the voices of both Rachel and Beth, Don’t You Dare is a very readable, hard to put down psychological thriller. Full of devastating secrets, the reader watches from afar as lives shatter and relationships crumble. I REALLY enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next book (be it a standalone psychological thriller or the next Dr Sam book) from the pen of A.J. Waines.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Don’t You Dare. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 8th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

WainesAJ6 (1)

AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

Authors Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter |

#BookReview: Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley (@RebeccaJBradley) #DeadBlind #DIRayPatrick #Prosopagnosia

dfw-rb-db-cover-mid.jpg“How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror? 

Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.

As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder. 

But it’s a killer he will never remember.

The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant he feels progressively isolated.

Can he escape with his career and his life intact?”

I recently had the pleasure of reading Fighting Monsters, the third book in the DI Hannah Robbins series written by ex-police detective turned author, Rebecca Bradley.  I said in my review of Fighting Monsters how it was the first full novel by Bradley which I had read.  I also said that I was keen to go back and read books one and two in that series, which (you’ve guessed it!) I haven’t done.  But, in an effort to redeem myself, I have just completed Dead Blind, a brand new standalone from Bradley with a fascinating lead character in DI Ray Patrick.

‘Why so fascinating?’, you may be asking.  DI Patrick was involved in a traumatic car accident whilst in pursuit of a killer.  The accident resulted in several badly broken bones, a colleague who is scarred for life (which he feels 100% responsible for) and a knock to the head.  Not just any old run-of-the-mill knock to the head though.  Prosopagnosia.  I obviously need to work on my knowledge of medical conditions as I had never heard of prosopagnosia.  Even in layman’s terms, I was a bit unsure what ‘face blindness’ actually meant for the sufferer.  Oh, the things I have learnt from reading this book.

At times my heart broke for Ray, the way he had to deal with situations that for the majority of us don’t require any real thought, things we take for granted; such as seeing your children, your partner, your friends and colleagues.  I couldn’t help but put myself in Ray’s shoes as he approached situations which he knew were going to cause him problems.  For example, any time he meets his long-term girlfriend. He knows it’s her because of her voice, her perfume, the smell of her shampoo, he recognises her clothes but when he looks at her face….nothing.  There is no connection there.  And imagine how difficult life would be if you were a senior police officer trying to catch a cold-blooded killer.  Someone only you’ve seen, someone who killed a young man in front of you and someone you now have to pick out of an identity parade.  This is the first time I have met a character with prosopagnosia and I thoroughly enjoyed what Bradley has done with him!

I liked Ray.  I wanted to thump him at times though.  I could see his reasons for wanting to keep his condition secret, and the story wouldn’t have had quite the same edge to it but flipping heck, man!  I would be terrified to tell my employer something like that too (although my employer is my children, and they’d probably just shrug and carry on squabbling over whose turn it was to choose a television programme!).  Sharing is caring, or something like that anyway!  What I did love was the bubbling, will they/won’t they between Ray and his ex-wife, Helen.  From Helen’s point of view, it seemed to be a fairly certain ‘they really won’t’ but I was never 100% sure, I *think* she could be tempted to rekindle her love affair with Ray, just for old times sake.  I’m not a fan of any kind of romantic liaison in my crime reads but this one could be interesting…

The investigation Ray and his team were carrying out was an interesting one.  This book is so much more about the characters rather the investigation, which was a rather pleasing change.  After all, we know whodunit fairly early on.  It’s just whether Ray can get his identifiers lined up in time to catch the killer, and exactly how long he can keep his condition a secret for…

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I really enjoyed it and hope (fingers crossed) that Bradley has lots more adventures in store for Ray and his team.  I want to read more about these characters; they intrigue me.  I will be sad if my path doesn’t cross with DI Ray Patrick’s again.  If you’re a fan of a character-driven police procedural then make sure you pick up a copy of Dead Blind.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, with Rebecca Bradley at the helm you get a certain amount of realism that others fail to achieve.  Her experience as a police detective adds so much to the detail of the story.  Slick, absolutely fascinating and very readable.  Great stuff.

Four out of five stars.

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

Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley was published in the UK on 8th May 2018 and is available in eBook format (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

rebecca bradleyI live in Nottinghamshire with my family and two Cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep me company while I write. I need to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if I could, I would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

After 16 years service, I was recently medically retired from the police service where I finished as a detective constable on a specialist unit.

My first crime novel, Shallow Waters is set in Nottingham. The lead protagonist is DI Hannah Robbins. Because the novel is written in first-person narrative you get a pretty good feel for who she is.

I blog about my writing, policing, social media, occasionally the above disorders and anything else that springs to mind. It’s a loosely connected place inside my head and it’s possible anything could come out. I would genuinely love to see you around and to hear your thoughts.

To keep up-to-date with all news, receive exclusive content, updates, and giveaways, sign up to the mailing list HERE.

Author Links: | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

Author Image and Bio © http://www.rebeccabradleycrime.com/about/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Retreat by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) #ThomasandMercer #TheRetreat

Edwards-TheRetreat-21954-CV-FT.jpg

“A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.”

The warmest of welcomes to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Retreat blog tour. The Retreat is the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Mark Edwards, and is available to purchase from 10th May onwards. You can catch my reviews of some of Mark’s previous books by clicking the following links (be warned, there may be a spot of fangirling): Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work & The Lucky Ones (I have read more than these three, but they were pre-blog so no reviews to share. Shame on me!).

Normally, after finishing one of this author’s books, I sit back and think, ‘Wow, could that happen to me!?’. I didn’t do that this time, which is probably something I should be relieved about. The story felt a little more ‘fictional’ than others before it, but that’s neither here nor there. This is another fantastic addition to Mark Edwards’s catalogue of outstanding psychological thrillers. How does he do it?! Time and time again! (Honestly, if you’ve never read anything by this author then you are seriously missing out!).

You may know me as a die-hard crime fan but I’m also a massive fan of the horror genre and The Retreat is billed as a psychological thriller with a horror twist. If the word ‘horror’ puts you off then don’t fret, it’s a not a gruesome, gory slasher fest (which I love, by the way). The horror is provided by a small community’s fear of its own fables. A myth handed down through the generations, from parent to trusting, mesmerised child about a witch; the Red Widow. The Retreat shows the reader the terrifying consequences of an urban legend, and the uncomfortable power an adult has over a child’s beliefs to tease…and terrify. And ultimately, what terrible damage can be done.

Lucas Radcliffe is our main protagonist and possibly my favourite lead in a book ever. He’s a horror writer, recently bereaved after the horrific death of his girlfriend and following his one bestseller is struggling to get anything he’s even remotely proud of down on paper. That’s why a trip to Nyth Bran, a new writers retreat seems like such a good idea. Particularly as it is just down the road from where he grew up as a child and he knows Beddmawr fairly well. That’s where he meets Julia, widowed owner of the writers retreat and mother of missing daughter, Lily. Life hasn’t been kind to Julia; her daughter disappeared and was believed to have drowned in the River Dee, her husband leapt in to save his daughter only to drown himself. Julia firmly believes that Lily is still alive and convinces Lucas who sets out on his own mission to find the truth. That’s when the strangest things start happening at Nyth Bran and to the residents of Beddmawr…

Most of the chapters in the book are narrated in real time, but every so often the reader gets to hear from Lily before she went missing back in 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed these chapters and marvelled at how well Edwards managed to replicate an 8-year-old girls voice (I have a 7-year-old daughter myself so feel I’m fairly well qualified to comment!).

Would I recommend this book? I would. Read this and every single other book written by Mark Edwards as I can guarantee, you will not be disappointed. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel a little on edge, a book to take you to places you never imagined and to witness deeds you never foresaw, then give The Retreat a go. Such a compelling, well-written and accomplished book and one I devoured in just over 24 hours. Mark Edwards remains one of my very favourite authors and can’t seem to do anything wrong in my eyes.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Retreat by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 10th May 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please be aware, the following links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

EDWARDS 7 TS 28

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For (2014), Because She Loves Me (2014; also a No.1 bestseller in the UK) and Follow You Home(2015).

He also co-writes with Louise Voss. Their novels are: Killing Cupid (2011); Catch Your Death (2011); All Fall Down (2012); Forward Slash and a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle (2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). Read more about Voss & Edwards.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

When he’s not writing or looking after children, Mark reads a lot, devours TV box sets and spends far too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where he loves chatting with readers. He also wishes he had more time to do the activity he loves most: karaoke.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Pressure by Betsy Reavley (@BetsyReavley) @BloodhoundBook #Pressure

Betsy Reavley - Pressure_cover_high res.jpg“When the submarine departed, none of the ten people on board knew it would turn into a nightmare.

Trapped on the sunken vessel on the bottom of the ocean and unable to escape, one of them is discovered dead. The tension escalates as the survivors realise there is a murderer among them, who is preparing to strike again and again…

With mounting desperation, people begin to turn on each other. While they struggle to identify who is responsible, each must contend with their own past, the claustrophobia and the secrets they are hiding. 

But who is who?  And which of them will be next to die? 

Below the surface, the pressure is building and time is running out…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Pressure blog blitz.  Pressure is the latest release from author and entrepreneur, Betsy Reavley.  I absolutely fell in love with the magnificent The Optician’s Wife, one of Reavley’s earlier releases which, if you haven’t read yet then you really should get yourself a copy!  My love for The Optician’s Wife always makes Betsy Reavley’s books something to look forward to for me.  Pressure is published today so a very happy book birthday to Betsy and the team at Bloodhound Books.

I found Pressure to be lots of fun; lots of blood-soaked, terrifying, ‘impending sense of doom’ fun.  My absolute favourite type!  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I am a sucker for crime/horror crossover books (I flipping LOVE them!).  And although this isn’t really a horror novel I had that feeling while reading, that fear in the pit of my stomach, that uncertainty and that glorious unease a good horror book can give to its reader.  What you may not know about me is that I am a terrible claustrophobic; I can’t even play ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ at my children’s birthday parties as having my eyes covered makes me panic.  If like me you tend to suffer from an intense fear of confined spaces then Pressure should probably come with a health warning.  It’s about a submarine.  Not only is it about a submarine, it’s about a submarine which fails and sinks to the ocean floor with ten people onboard.  And one of them is a murderer, slowly killing the others off, one by one.

I loved the setup of this book.  I’m a huge fan of stories where the characters are trapped, with little to no chance of escape and one sadistic soul is offing them in disturbing and unique ways.  Parts of Pressure reminded me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None with a cast of devilish characters hiding their dastardly secrets from the rest of the world.  I spent my time reading Pressure and ATTWN not being sure who the murder was.  Reavley has done a masterful job of throwing in some very convincing red herrings along the way and boy, did I fall for them!

Each chapter is either told from a child’s perspective, told in real-time as the bodies mount on the submarine or, is one of the characters giving a brief snapshot into their background, a fleeting glimpse into their past and often the wrongs they have committed.  The chapters narrated by the child are hard-hitting and difficult to read at times.  The unknown narrator tells a tale of extreme abuse, of a mother’s hatred for their child and of a life lived very much alone.  As the child grows into a young adult the reader gets to see how this horrific abuse has contributed towards and helped cause unending damage to this young mind (nature or nurture, I’m not sure).

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It was a compelling read and just the sort of book I love to lose myself in.  Being really rather grisly in places just added to the enjoyment for me.  As I progressed towards the end I was starting to feel a sense of disappointment, I believed I had guessed what was going to happen next and it wasn’t what I would have chosen.  But I was wrong, and the ending couldn’t have been better.

Four stars out of five.

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

Pressure by Betsy Reavley was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 4th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

4th May_BookstormerBooks Of All KindsBits About BooksChelle's Book ReviewsDamppebblesCheekypee Reads And ReviewsKeeper Of Pages.jpg

about the author3

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Author of  The Quiet Ones, The Optician’s Wife, Frailty, Carrion, Beneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.

As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#CaseClosed: #April2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove

Hello my bookish friends and welcome once again to my monthly wrap up post, #CaseClosed! How has your April been? We had a couple of days of fabulous sunshine but then temperatures plummeted back to the UK’s usual arctic conditions (the heating was turned off, and then immediately back on again!). I’ve also been very busy setting up my new business, damppebbles blog tours and feel my reading has taken a bit of a hit because of it. It’s certainly been a quiet month on the blog. But here’s to a better, more productive, warmer May. I have promised lots of reviews during May so you will be hearing from me more often.

I took part in the three blog tours this month:

Two were reviews: My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland & Keeper by Johana Gustawsson, and one stop was a guest post; Our House by Louise Candlish (guest post)

I did manage to read a few other books here and there:
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (for First Monday Crime) | Our House by Louise Candlish | All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson | Anything For Her by G.J. Minett (for First Monday Crime) | Dark Water by Robert Bryndza |

I also hosted a couple of fabulous giveaways (which are now both closed):
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (giveaway) | Hangman by Daniel Cole (giveaway) |

Then there were a few other promotional posts thrown in for good measure:
In For The Kill by Ed James (guest post) | Needle Song by Russell Day (cover reveal) | Needle Song by Russell Day (Free Short Story) |

And then there was the incredible news that damppebbles has been nominated for the Best Book Review Blog at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. By the time this post goes live I expect voting will have closed but, y’know, if you’re at a loose end…..

damppebbles.com nominated for Best Book Review Blog at ABBA’s

That’s it, that’s April at damppebbles HQ. Lots of posts but it didn’t feel very busy, well, not to me.

In other news, Twitter jail has finally won *sigh*. I have had to significantly reduce the number of book posts I share to Twitter, which makes me sad as I always thought the whole point of Twitter was to share the things you love. On the plus side, I haven’t ended up in the slammer now for a few weeks so it does appear to be working.

And that’s it really, except for my BOOK OF THE MONTH (which should come as no surprise!)…

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So, without further ado, my book of April 2018 is…..

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giphy (2)

It’s Keeper the second book in the Roy and Castells series written by Johana Gustawsson and published by Orenda Books. With threads from the past and nods to Jack the Ripper, this book blew me away.

KEEPER COVER AW 2.indd

“I adored this book. Plain and simple. If Keeper doesn’t make it to my top three books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me. Regular visitors to the blog will be fully aware that I like my crime thrillers a little more on the dark side. Keeper is one heck of a dark read. Picture the scene, there I was merrily reading away thinking to myself, ‘yup, it’s another good one – probably four stars at the moment but we’ll see how things go’. Then all of a sudden Gustawsson stepped things up a notch (or two). My jaw hit the table and I was utterly smitten with the author’s story. One of those, ‘WOAH’ moments that I absolutely live for.”

“Totally gratifying, deliciously dark and WHAT a thrill-ride. Yeah, I loved this one. You really should read Keeper.”

So there we have it. No big surprise really seeing as I can’t stop talking about Keeper.

And that’s it from me for April.

I hope you all have a wonderful May, full of some absolutely brilliant books and lots of time to relax and read them. See you next month.

#BookPromo: #FREEShortStory to celebrate the release of NEEDLE SONG by Russell Day (@rfdaze) @fahrenheitpress #NeedleSongBook

needle song“Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband.

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to a slightly different post for me.  Today is the official release in eBook of Needle Song by exciting debut author, Russell Day.  You may have seen my cover reveal post for this book on Thursday which details exactly how Russell Day and Fahrenheit Press came to cross paths.  (If you missed it then please click HERE and check it out as it’s worth reading!).

Today, to celebrate the release of Needle Song, I have a short story written by Mr Day to share with you.  So without further ado, grab yourself a cuppa, sit back and get stuck in…

Not Talking Italics
by Russell Day

#1

…at three fifteen a.m. Present are James Slidesmith, Detective Constable Stephen Barker and, myself, Detective Sergeant Christopher Wade. For the benefit of the tape, Mister Slidesmith would you-

I’m sorry?

It’s Doctor Slidesmith, not Mister.

My apologies. For the benefit of the tape, Doctor Slidesmith-

No italics.

I’m sorry?

You know, when you write something down you put it in italics to give it a certain inflection, make it sound sarcastic or patronising maybe. I hold a PhD in Psychology. So, just Doctor. No italics.

Doctor Slidesmith, for the benefit of the tape, will you confirm that you have been given the opportunity to seek legal counsel but, have chosen to waive that right at the present time.

Yes, I have waived the right to have a legal representative present during this interview.

Okay, would you care to tell myself and DC Barker what happened last night at number, five Elton Avenue.

Let’s see, me and Yakky got there around about quarter past ten.

Yakky being Andrew Miller, it that correct?

Mister Miller works for you?

He tattoos at my shop and I take a percentage. Technically he’s self-employed.

Okay, go on.

We pulled up around quarter past, we were running a bit late ‘cos Yak’s bike was playing up again. They’d started without us. And it was already going sour.

Going sour?

Yes, going sour. Good use of italics. We’d been told we’d being playing limited-raise. When we got there, they were playing pot-limit.

And that was a problem?

You play Texas Hold Em’ at all Sergeant, you a poker man?

I know the rules.

How about Constable Barker there, no? Alright, for the benefit of Constable Barker and the tape, when you play Texas Hold ‘Em, the betting takes place in rounds and the players take turns. The first bet is compulsory and it’s for a pre-agreed amount, the second bet doubles it. That’s compulsory too. This is to get the pot started. From then on, if you want to stay in for that particular hand, you have to match the previous bet. If you think your cards are going to beat everyone else’s, then you’re going to want a bigger pot. So, you raise. If the game’s limited-raise the pot can only grow so fast, it limits the value of each hand. Limits what you can lose in one go. Pot-limit is slightly different, the max amount you can raise, is the size of the pot currently on the table.

Now, Constable, I’ll give you a piece of invaluable advice. Do not, I repeat not, take pot-limit poker games lightly. People hear the term no-limit and promptly wet themselves ‘cos they think they’re about to lose all their hard earned, and most likely they are. In a lot of no-limit games, hands are lost just because people can’t match the last bet. You can be holding five elevens, and still lose. But … people tend to do that once. They go in, all Johnny-Big-Bollocks, lose that week’s wages and the next month’s rent, then go home and cry about it. It’s not something a lot of people do twice. Now, if you looking to take someone to the cleaners, then no-limit’s all well and good, but if want a cash cow, a nice little Friesian that’s going to roll up for milking time and time again, you need pot-limit. Isn’t that right Sergeant?

I wouldn’t know.

Really? I thought you might. Nice watch by the way. Rolex?

Made in China.

Very convincing, looks real from here. They’re clever these Chinse. Sorry, lost my train of thought, Oh yeah, pot limit.

Most people, at least most westerners, aren’t too good at maths. If there’s a few people playing, and there were five of us last night, pot-limit can increase the value of each hand very, very quickly. But, a lot of people won’t notice that. Take someone’s wages and their Rolex—fake or otherwise—in one hit and they tend to remember. When it’s delicately taken away bit by bit over the course of a whole night, they don’t tend to feel the loss so keenly. So, maybe your Friesian heads back for another try. Isn’t that right Sergeant?

So, why didn’t you walk away from the table?

I would have done, if Li hadn’t been there.

That would be Ms Li Chang?

That’s right.

She works at your shop too, is that right?

She’s my apprentice, learning the ink.

And you had no idea she’d be there?

That’s right Sergeant. Only, I had No-Idea without the italics.

You weren’t aware she played poker?

A lot of people play poker, apparently you play poker, that doesn’t mean I expect to find them sitting next to Billy Sinclair shuffling a pack of cards.

She didn’t mention it to you at work?

If you were playing poker with Billy Sinclair, would you tell your boss?

Okay, so you decided to stay and play with Billy Sinclair and Ms Chang. Was Mister Miller happy to play too?

No, Yakky dropped out. He just stayed to watch.

Just watch.

That’s right. Nice italics by the way.

You think this is some sort of joke? A man’s died in case you’re forgotten.

According to your Rolex—sorry fake Rolex—it’s now three twenty-four in the a.m. The wee small hours, when the human body is at its lowest ebb. I’d say by now, two men have died.

Did you know Ms Chang had a criminal record when you took her on?

Of course I did. Anyway, she was up front about it.

It didn’t put you off employing her?

She served her time. And it’s not everyone can say that, is it fellas?

What’s that meant to mean?

I’m saying she’s paid her debt.

The man she stabbed might argue with that.

If she’d stabbed him two years earlier, she’d have been too young to have it on her permanent record and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

You think she was being abused?

I think we’ve all got history, Sergeant. That all I’m saying.

Shall we get back to the events of last night? You said there were five people present, is that correct?

Not quite, there were six people. five of them, including me, were playing cards.

Who were they?

Myself, Li and of course Billy Sinclair were at the table with two other players. Yakky was somewhere behind me, watching.

Who were the other two?

I don’t know their names. One of them was the Bumper.

And the final man?

He was the guy who wasn’t meant to see the sucker.

And for the benefit of the tape?

But not for you, eh?

Just tell us what you mean, Doctor Slidesmith.

And we’re back to the italics. There’s an old saying about poker: if you can’t see the sucker, it’s you.

So, this guy was the sucker?

He was meant to be, well, we all were. Aside from Billy of course and the Bumper.

Doctor Slidesmith, for the benefit of the tape, would you explain what the term Bumper means.

Let’s suppose we three were having a game of poker, and Constable Barker is sitting there with a royal flush. That’s the top hand, Constable in case you don’t know, as good as it gets, cannot be beat. Only problem is the pot is next to nothing. You’ve got the best hand possible but all it’s going to get you is loose change. What would you do, Constable?

When it’s my turn to bet I raise as high as I can?

Why not tell him why you’re shaking your head, Sergeant Wade?

The thing is Barker, if you make a big raise you’re telling people you have something worth betting on. So, unless they’re holding something pretty good, they’ll just fold.

So, what you need is a Bumper. Let’s say you ask your friend Sergeant Wade here—oh, now don’t look like that, I’m sure he’s lovely—you ask Sergeant Wade to keep bumping up the stakes for you, a little bit at a time. You don’t need to raise at all, with each round you just put in enough to stay in the game.

Now, of course, I don’t know you’ve made this arrangement. I’m just seeing two players betting cautiously, as if they’re sitting on moderately good cards. So, I keep on playing, and if I’m a sucker, I d on’t notice that the pot’s growing fat on my money.

That can go on for quite a while. Particularly if I’m holding what looks like a decent chance, the big casino sitting on a flush, say, or the dead man’s hand. And bad players quite often bet on mediocre cards, especially if they’ve put a lot in the pot already.

What are-

The big casino is the ten of diamonds, Constable. The dead man’s hand is two eights and two aces.

Well, well Sergeant Wade, it sounds like you know a bit more than just the rules.

Who was the sucker?

I told you I don’t know. He was a bloody awful card player though. He even had a lucky charm.

A lot of people have lucky charms.

People either have lucky charms or skill. I’ve yet to see a poker player with both. Anyway, not only did he have a lucky charm … he tapped it against the table when he had a good hand.

He had a tell.

He had more give-aways than Father Christmas.

And you don’t know who he was?

Never seen him before.

And the other man, the Bumper?

Never seen him either. Barely saw him when he was there if you know what I mean.

No, I don’t.

He was good at blending into the background. He was like a coat of beige paint.

Come in… For the benefit of the tape, WPC Gillian Web has entered the room at three thirty-seven a.m.

Can I speak to you outside for a moment?

Pausing interview at three thirty-eight.

 

#2

Interview with James Slidesmith, re-commencing at three fifty-nine a.m. Doctor Slidesmith, does the name Matthew Dolan mean anything to you?

It seems Mister Dolan was the sucker. One of the Doctors at the trauma unit thought he recognised him. They pulled up his medical records and his widow has just confirmed ID. You were right, two men are dead.

It wasn’t much of a deduction. He’d lost a lot of blood before the ambulance got there.

A fair amount of that blood was found on Mister Miller’s hands and clothing. Substantial amounts on Ms Chang as well.

Li was beside him when the bottle went in. Sit near a served artery and your dry-cleaning bills get out of hand.

You told me Mister Miller was sitting behind you. He was covered in blood but you weren’t.

Yakky jumped in to do some first aid and I stayed out of the way.

You we’re happy to let him bleed? I thought you were a Doctor.

Doctor of psychology. I leave the organic stuff to other people.

People like Mister Miller.

He knows more about first aid than I do.

So, after Mister Dolan was stabbed you stepped aside while Mister Miller gave first aid. What time was this?

I couldn’t say exactly. I’d estimate a little after midnight.

You called the ambulance?

That’s right.

The dispatcher’s log records the time of your call as twelve thirty-seven a.m. That’s more than a little after midnight. Why the delay?

It took me a while to find a phone.

You didn’t have a phone with you?

What about Mister Miller or Ms Chang?

Yakky and I didn’t take our phones. Billy Sinclair didn’t allow mobile phones at his table. Rules of the game. Both our phones are back in my flat. Why don’t you call the search team you’ve got there, they’ll confirm it.

Ms Chang?

Li was at the table so I assumed she wasn’t holding a mobile either.

You assumed?

She was helping to stem Mister Dolan’s blood loss. It wasn’t the time to ask if she had a phone I might borrow.

So, you sat and watched?

No, I went through Billy Sinclair’s pockets. I figured he’d still have his phone on him, it being his table and all.

And did he?

Yeah, it was in the back pocket of his trousers. Last one I checked because he’d landed on his back and I had to roll him over to get to it.

Searching Mister Sinclair’s dead body didn’t trouble you at all?

All the troubles I’ve had over the years have been handed to me by the living not the dead.

Billy Sinclair must have had a lot of pockets if it took you thirty minutes to go through them.

It took a couple of minutes. But his phone was locked, so even after I found it I couldn’t use it. I tore round the house looking for a landline.

You looked around the whole house?

That’s why your forensic team’s going to find my prints all over the place.

Did you find a landline?

In the end I ran out the house and started banging on doors. No one wanted to answer.

Why not?

I’m guessing Billy wasn’t a very neighbourly person. When you start interviewing people, I think they’ll tell you he wasn’t too considerate about keeping the noise down and wasn’t too pleased if people complained. I burst out of his house at gone midnight and started shouting the odds. It took a while to find someone willing to talk to me.

So, you’re at a table where a man has just had an artery served. While he’s spraying blood over Mister Miller and Ms Chang, you conduct a body search and a body roll, on a man who’s just been shot. And yet your hands are totally … clean.

Again: good use of italics.

You’re not as funny as you think, or as clever. Three pairs of black latex gloves were found in your jacket pocket. Care to explain that?

I’m a tattooist, I use latex gloves when I work. Black’s the favoured colour because they hide smears of blood and ink. It saves upsetting squeamish clients.

And you took three pairs to Billy Sinclair’s house because?

I ride a nineteen seventy-eight Sportster. When you ride a machine getting on for forty years old, you expect to be fixing things by the side of the road from time to time. Latex gloves keep my hands … clean.

Did you wear a pair of these gloves when you searched the body?

I think you did. I think that’s why your hands don’t have any blood on them. Or any powder burns from the shot gun.

I didn’t need to put gloves on, and when you get the lab reports, they’ll tell you my prints are all over Billy Sinclair’s phone. He took both barrels right between the eyes. He’d have been dead before he landed and dead people don’t tend to bleed. The mess was behind him, it wasn’t dripping into his pockets, it was dripping down the wall. The reason there’s no powder burns on my hands is simpler still. I didn’t fire the gun.

When WPC Web asked me to step outside a moment ago she didn’t just inform me that Dolan was dead. She told me the team currently at Sinclair’s property reported finding a pair of black Latex gloves, with blood on them.

Cool Hand Luke.

What?

Bad poker players, guys that remember winning once but forget a dozen losses, they have a favourite film. It’s either The Cincinnati Kid or Cool Hand Luke. With you it’s Cool Hand Luke, the bit where Paul Newman’s got a handful of bugger all and bluffs his way into a win. You can only bluff certain people at certain times. And, Sergeant, your bluffs are as clear as glass.

So, tell me what happened.

We’d been playing for about an hour and a half. In my experience that’s when the sharks come out to play and feeding time starts. Most players can’t play well for that long, they think they can but they’re wrong.

So?

So, I started cranking it up a little. Since I’d made the Bumper, I kept my eye on him. I couldn’t spot the signal he was getting to start upping the pot but I could see when he started betting and when Billy held back. Dolan was building up the pot quite nicely. So was Li. They were both losing money hand over fist.

That bothered you?

Li works for me, I know what I pay her and I know what she can’t afford to lose. Once she’d lost all her stake money, and that was more than a month’s earnings, Billy said he’d open a line of credit. That bothered me, a lot. It bothered Yakky too.

Does he have the hots for her?

Yakky’s not as mean as he looks, he’s got a weakness for lost souls. They bring out his maternal side.

What happened?

I told Li she’d do well to fold her cards and call it a night. Billy reminded her how much she’d just tipped into the pot and said it would be a shame to give it up without a fight.

How much was in the pot at that point?

Just short of three thousand. Of that Billy had put in less than two hundred. I’d largely coasted it but Dolan and Li had followed the Bumper and had both put in about a kay.

You thought that was enough?

It’s never enough if you stand to win. I don’t know what Billy had but I was holding David, Alexander, Julius and Charles.

What-

He means he had four kings, Constable.

I was happy to let the hand carry on. I win, I keep the pot and use a chunk of it to pay off any debt Li might be about run up with Billy. If I’m feeling greedy I just buy the debt and stop it from her wages. Either way it’s in my interest to keep the pot going.

Yakky, doesn’t know what I’m thinking and tells Li to walk away. Billy doesn’t like him butting in and tell him to shut it. Li is getting pissed off at me and Yakky, for telling her what to do. She tells both of us she can take care of herself and then tells Sinclair she’ll take the credit. Billy takes out this address book, he handles it with a certain flair, pale blue leather and obviously very expensive. Then he pulls out a fountain pen, opens the book at C and, very carefully, writes Li’s name down.

The games still on. Three more rounds, by now its big money just to stay in and Dolan’s nerve finally breaks. He folds then the bumper bows out and I tell Billy I’ll see him.

And you nail him with your picture show?

He is not a happy bunny at this point. Yakky puts his oar in again and tells Li she should walk away, again. Billy tells him to shut the fuck up. The atmosphere is not what you’d call pleasant. Little-Boy-Beige sitting all alone starts getting a bit jittery and drops his cards. Trouble is they land face up and Dolan sees what he’s been betting against for the last twenty minutes.

And it looks wrong?

Very wrong, Mister Bump was holding nothing. Dolan was a lousy player but he wasn’t green. He twigged he’d been set up. He looks at the Bumper’s cards then at Billy and it’s obvious all hell is about to break loose. I should have just walked away there and then.

Why didn’t you?

The pot. There was over seven grand on the table by then. And it was mine.

Dolan didn’t see it that way?

To be fair, he didn’t know who was who at that point. As far as he could tell, everyone at that table was in on the trick. I go to take my winnings and he stands up and tells me to keep my hands off. I tell him okay and back off, but he’s working himself into a state. There was bottle of Scotch on the table, best Hollywood traditions and all that. Dolan grabs it, smashes it on the edge of the table, then walks around to Billy calls him a cheating piece of shit.

What are your people doing all this time?

My people?

Mister Miller and Ms Chang.

Me and Yakky were having a lad’s night out playing some cards. Li being there was a surprise. They’re not my people.

Alright, so what were Mister Miller and Ms Li doing?

Li was trying to edge away from the table. Yakky was behind me, so I couldn’t say what he was doing. Probably bricking it, same as me.

And Billy?

He was laughing. Laughing at the sucker. It didn’t do anything to improve the situation.

If Dolan’s the one holding the broken bottle how did he come to get cut?

Billy and Dolan were to my right. The Bumper was on my left, putting him almost opposite them. And he wasn’t only bumping, he was playing body guard. That’s partly what tipped me off that he was on Billy’s pay role. I couldn’t see Billy Sinclair having people in his drum and not having a heavy at hand.

The way you describe him, this Bumper doesn’t sound like a heavy.

Well, pulling a gun lent weight to his point of view.

So, tell me, how is it Dolan ends up bleeding out with a chunk of glass in his neck and Billy Sinclair gets a face full of shot from his own man?

As I say, the Bumper’s a smallish guy but the gun he’s holding makes up for that. He leans across the table, over all that money, and tells Dolan to put the bottle down. Dolan does as he’s told. He puts the bottle on the table, moves slow, keeps his hands where Bumper can see them. He wasn’t stupid.

When Billy stands up, the avuncular river-boat-gambler act is over. He sucker-punches Dolan in the ribs, folds him in two, then takes hold of the bottle. Dolan was doubled over with his head almost on the table. Billy grabs his hair, I think he was planning to give him a few scars to remember the evening by.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to kill him. But Dolan was panicking and thrashing about. He twisted at the wrong moment. Instead of his face, the bottle goes into his neck. That’s where Li picked up most of the blood stains. It was like a hose pipe. A fair amount of it goes over the Bumper too.

Dolan’s still thrashing about and, by chance, grabs the barrels of the gun. I expect Bumper just tugged on reflex, only his finger’s on the trigger. Boom, he’s unemployed. And very unlikely to get a reference.

So, it was all a big mistake?

That how it appeared to me. But what does it matter? It’s too late to say sorry, they’re both dead.

Then what?

When Billy got shot he went over backwards and let go of Dolan’s hair. Dolan slides off the table and that’s when Yakky started doing his Florence Nightingale act. We didn’t notice what he’d done to his knee until later.

And the Bumper, and you?

Neither of us moved for a second. Rabbits in the headlights, you know? Then Bumper looks at what’s left of his boss and starts moving again. Once he’d got his wiggle on I unfroze too, but I didn’t do anything other than watch him for a moment. For all I knew he was about to reload.

But he didn’t?

He pulled out a handkerchief and tried to wipe the gun down. I don’t know how well he did it. Then he dropped it on the floor and started stuffing my bloody winnings into his pockets, when they were filled he stuffed the rest down his shirt front.

And you let him?

He didn’t look like he’d be easily dissuaded at that point. Anyway, once I was happy he wasn’t about to start putting the witnesses away I was more concerned with finding a phone.

That was when you went through Billy’s clothes?

At first, I was looking around the room for the landline that didn’t exist. I didn’t think of checking Billy’s body until I saw Bumper go over to him and take that fancy blue address book out of his pocket.

And this Bumper character disappeared?

I heard the front door slam.

So, he just left, covered in blood, carrying seven large in cash?

All the cash … and Billy’s little blue book.

We’ve yet to find anyone to corroborate this story. None of Mister Sinclair’s neighbours report seeing the man.

If you had Billy Sinclair for a neighbour I expect you’d keep your curtains closed too. That’s why it took me so long to make the nine-nine-nine call, remember? No one wanted to put their head outside their door.

Mister Miller’s story differs substantially from yours.

Word of advice Sergeant Wade, one card player to another: some people are harder to bluff than others.

Okay, tell me again-

I’d liked to take a break

I’m sorry?

I said I’d like to take a break. I’ve cooperated fully. I’ve answered all your questions. I’ve listened to your veiled accusations and I’ve done all that without a lawyer being present. Now, I want a break and a cup of tea.

We’ve nearly done here and I think-

I don’t care what you think. I have a right to remain silent and if I don’t get a cup of tea that’s what I’m going to do. Then I might exercise my right to legal representation. And you see, Sergeant Wade, if that happens it’s likely to ruin the delightful rapport you and I have. Once I start dealing with an up-right and conscientious member of our great legal system we lose the intimacy, you see? Things, once revealed, may have to sit out there in the cold light of judicial scrutiny.

Are you refusing to answer any more questions?

Yes, unless they relate to tea.

Constable, nip out and get us some teas eh? See if you can scare up some biscuits too, I’m starving. For the benefit of the tape, Constable Barker has left the room. Interview suspended at four forty-three a.m.

 

#3

And then there were two.

You know something Doctor? You’re full of shit.

Now the tape’s not running, we could drop the formalities. Why not just call me Doc? You could drop the italics then.

The papers are going to love you. All this clever-clever talk and call-me-Doctor patter is going to go down a storm in the press gallery. But I’ll tell you something: juries don’t like smartarses. Neither do judges. If you’re lucky, with good behaviour, you’ll be out in under twenty. If you’re lucky.

Twenty years for calling an ambulance? That seems harsh. What do you think they’ll give Yakky for administering first aid?

I see it less as first aid, more as interfering with a crime scene. Was slicing himself open in the process part of the plan, bit of a sympathy ploy?

Plan?

I’ll tell you what I’m looking at Doctor. I’m looking at a room with three people in it, one of them with a history of putting a knife into somebody. Two of these three are covered in blood and just happen to work for the third. There’s a baize covered table in the room, playing cards scattered all over the shop and two dead bodies on the floor. All the markings of a high stakes poker game gone very, very wrong. All expect the money, which isn’t there. What I’m not seeing is hide nor hair of this mysterious Bumper who vanished, pausing just long enough to take the money and wipe any prints off one of the murder weapons of course. While he was doing that, your man Yakky manages to kneel on the broken bottle. And, because we can’t lift reliable prints off a pile of glass fragments, that destroys any evidence of just who used it to kill Dolan.

That’s what you’re seeing is it?

It is. I think the only Bumper there last night was Ms Chang. You and your little crew went over to Billy Sinclair’s with the intention of skinning him alive. Only you over played your hand and underestimated the dangers of taking money off villains. Or maybe you didn’t underestimate them and that’s why Mister Miller was there along with a shot gun. In case it went sour, to use your words. Now, the three of you are up to your ankles in blood. So, while Billy’s bleeding out, you gather up the money and come up with this cock and bull story about needing to scour the neighbourhood for a phone. Only you’re not looking for a phone, you’re looking to hide the money somewhere so you can collect it later.

Can you see this?

Your hand?

Yeah, my hand. Notice something?

It’s trembling, you starting to worry Slidesmith?

The story I told you is as genuine as your fake Rolex, Sergeant. Think about that. When real players see another player pick up a card and get the shakes, they know it’s time to fold.

Meaning?

You tremble when the danger’s past. All the adrenaline as nothing to do, so it wanders round your veins and jangles your nerves. When a player picks up a card and trembles, it’s because he’s got the card he needs. He’s relieved, not worried.

What have you go to be relieved about?

You didn’t mention the blue address book. You see, Sergeant Wade, players, real players, don’t talk about tells, or know the fancy nick names for the cards and they don’t talk about luck. What they do is remember all the times they win and forget all the times they’ve lost. And they lose a lot. And that costs a lot. And the minute I saw you, I knew the only way you’d ever see the sucker at the table, was if someone handed you a mirror.

We’ll stick with the story about the Bumper but let’s add a twist. Maybe he didn’t run away with the money and the blue leather address book. Maybe I took the blue book. Billy had written down my apprentice’s name in it and I really didn’t want her name connected to a dead north London villain, not in writing. And maybe, being the curious sort, I spent a moment flipping through that book.

There were a good few names. people owing Mister Sinclair money, or favours in lieu. One of those names was Wade. Wade DC, to be exact, next to some very big numbers. DC? Darren Colin Wade? Dave Charles Wade? Who could know? Then guess what? I find my interviewing officer is a Detective Sergeant Wade. And DS Wade knows the silly names losers give to playing cards, talks about tells and thinks he has a talent for bluffing. So, I’m faced with a man who talks like a piss poor card player and wears a watch worth three kay. That he pretends is fake. So, I wonder—and please set that tape rolling again any time you like—if DC might stand for Detective Constable. Of course, that would mean DS Wade has been in Billy Sinclair’s pocket since before he was promoted. That would mean DS Wade has been losing money for quite a while. And that begs the question, where does a man who has on-going gambling debts to a local villain find the money to buy a Rolex? A Rolex he tells people is fake. I believe you, about juries not liking smartarses. Now, believe me; they like bent coppers even less.

Good luck proving any of this Doctor Slidesmith.

Oh dear, back to the italics are we? I don’t really need to proof it though, do I? I don’t even need to plant the-seed-of-doubt, because it’s there already, in someone’s head. I’m not the only one who can tell a genuine Rolex from a copy, and you can bet I’m not the only one to wonder about it.

If Billy Sinclair’s little blue book, as described on that tape over there, should turn up on someone’s desk, certain wheels might start to grind powerful small. Better it’s not found, better it stays lost, along with all the money.

And do you think this Bumper character is likely to keep it somewhere safe, where it’s not likely to be found?

Oh, I’m sure of it. I’m also sure that when DC Barker comes back with our tea, we’ll resume the interview. I’m also sure that, for the benefit of the tape, Mister Miller, Ms Chang and my good self will be praised for our attempts to save the unfortunate Mister Dolan. And then we’ll all walk out of here; free and clear.

And Sergeant Wade, when I say free and clear, I’m not talking italics.

THE END

Oh my gosh, I love it.  What an introduction to Doc Slidesmith!  If you would like to read more then you need to get yourself a copy of Needle Song, published in eBook by Fahrenheit Press today | Purchase Needle Song via Fahrenheit Press |

Needle Song by Russell Day was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 30th April 2018 and is available in eBook format with the paperback to follow.

about the author3

Russell Day (1)Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s always been a miserable bastard.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: Dark Water by Robert Bryndza (@RobertBryndza) @bookouture #DetectiveErikaFoster #DarkWater

dark water cover.jpg“Beneath the water the body sank rapidly.  She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as eleven-year-old Jessica Collins.  The missing girl who made headline news when she vanished twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she discovers a family harbouring secrets, a detective plagued by her failure to find Jessica, and the mysterious death of a man living by the quarry. 

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.”

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Surely Emma has got this wrong.  Surely she meant to include the title, cover and blurb of Deadly Secrets, book 6 in the Erika Foster series and the most recent release.  Surely she can’t mean Dark Water, the third book in the series, can she?  Being the dedicated, up-to-date crime fiction blogger she is, she MUST have read Dark Water AGES ago”.  I’m right, aren’t I?  That’s exactly what you’re thinking.  No?  Well, truth be told, I am deeply ashamed to admit that I have fallen (significantly) behind in some of my favourite series; Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster series being one of them (there are many, MANY more!).

I came up with a brilliant idea the other month whilst staring at my burgeoning NetGalley shelf and wondering what the heck I was going to read next.  I decided to pass the buck and get someone else to decide for me by running a poll.  Dark Water was the winner, closely followed by another Bookouture author and, erm…another Robert Bryndza book!  And I am so glad you chose Dark Water for me to read, thank you!  I’ve missed Erika a lot.

It’s been nearly TWO YEARS (oh gosh *hangs head in shame*) since I last caught up with my favourite Slovakian detective.  You can read my review of The Girl in the Ice (book #1) by clicking HERE and my review of The Night Stalker (book #2) by clicking HERE.  I was a little concerned as I started to read.  Worried that I wouldn’t remember enough of Erika’s history, worried that I’d forgotten the dynamics of her working relationships and, my immediate ‘main’ concern, why all of a sudden she was based in Bromley?!  I needn’t have worried (although I am still trying to figure out the move to Bromley!).  Within a few chapters I was reminded exactly why I love this tough, determined and dedicated DCI as much as I do.

Erika Foster and her new team unwittingly find themselves in the middle of a heart wrenching cold case investigation.  In the dead of night, Erika and the Met Police Marine Recovery team are searching Hayes Quarry for ten kilos of heroin with a street value of four million pounds.  What they find is worth so much more than four million pounds to one family.  The grisly discovery of Jessica Collins’ remains rewinds the clock by twenty-six years.  A high profile missing child case which was never solved and destroyed not only a family but the career of the Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Amanda Baker.

Of course, that doesn’t stop Erika from wanting to jump into the driving seat of the case now it’s been reopened.  And now that’s it’s become about a young girl’s murder, Erika is determined to bring justice for Jessica.  But, just as DCI Amanda Baker failed all those years ago, it seems Erika might be destined to fail on this one too…

I love Erika Foster. I was also very happy to see, despite the move to Bromley, that Erika was able to recruit the DIs she worked with in South London; DI Moss and DI Peterson (two very familiar characters who I feel I know well, yay!).  Bryndza’s characters are always so real and very memorable.  Other characters in the book also stood out for me.  I found myself loving the Collins family which may surprise some people.  I felt there was something the family unit was hiding; something….not quite right and I loved them for that.  It’s always the darker characters, the secretive ones that grab my attention!

I’m afraid I managed to guess one of the major twists in the story fairly early on, but that certainly didn’t put me off and there was a lot more to come!  Plus, I was keen to see what Erika was going to do and how she was going to solve the case.  I wanted to know what her break would be and how Bryndza would tie up the threads of the story.  That was more important to me than anything else.

Would I recommend this book?  Oh definitely.  I adore Robert Bryndza’s writing and I absolutely love Erika Foster (it’s true, I still have my #girlcrush on her!).  Beautifully detailed, devilishly good and a book that’s hard to put down.  I promise to make a start on Last Breath (book #4 in the series) soon.  I DEFINITELY won’t leave it so long this time!

Four out of five stars.

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

Dark Water by Robert Bryndza was published in the UK by Bookouture on 20th October 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository |

about the author3

robert bryndza.jpgRobert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice, which is the first in his Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath and Cold Blood are the second, third, fourth and fifth books in the series. The sixth book, Deadly Secrets is now available to purchase.

Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into 27 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

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