#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (@detectivekubu) @OrendaBooks

DYING TO LIVE cover.jpeg“The sixth mystery in the beloved and critically acclaimed Detective Kubu series. Kubu and his colleague Samantha Khama track a killer through the wilds of Botswana on their most dangerous case yet.

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles… but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.”

I am delighted to welcome you my stop on the Dying to Live blog tour.  My lovely blog tour buddy today is Sheila over at The Quiet Geordie.  This is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series and it was a joy to read.  So far I have managed to devour two previous ‘Kubu’ novels; click here for my review of Deadly Harvest and here for my review of A Death in the Family.  Dying to Live was my third journey to glorious Botswana and my third experience of ‘sunshine noir’.  Dying to Live was published by Orenda Books on 12th July 2017.

For those new to this series, the author, Michael Stanley is a writing team of two.  But you would never know.  Every time I pick up a Michael Stanley novel I’m expecting to see the divide between the two voices, to be able to ‘spot the difference’.  But I can’t.  The writing is seamless and wonderfully confident.

I am incredibly fond of Detective David Bengu who most of the characters refer to as ‘Kubu’, the Setswana word for hippopotamus.  He’s not my usual broken, addiction riddled detective –  the type I’m usually drawn to.  He’s a family man who lives by his principles.  I found the sub-plot of his adoptive daughter’s HIV suddenly deteriorating quite hard to read without becoming emotional, but welcomed this revealing insight into Kubu’s home life and his relationship with his wife, Joy.

Something I tend to find with Michael Stanley books is that you always get something different.  For example, the investigation in Dying to Live initially focused on the death of a Bushman.  Which leads us to the Kalahari and into the secretive world of witch doctors.   But the most important thing to note is that this is a GREAT mystery.  I was completely drawn in to the story and loved the different threads of the investigation and the connections made by Kubu and Detective Samantha Khama.  I couldn’t work out whodunit so was rather surprised by the reveal (always a bonus when you don’t see the twist coming!).

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  This is a great series which I will always come back to.  I feel a real warmth towards Kubu and his family, there’s something very reassuring about reading these books.  Saying that, please don’t be fooled into thinking they are fluffy reads because they are most definitely not.  I recommend that you also read Deadly Harvest and A Death in the Family.  Not because you need to as I think Dying to Live works perfectly well as a standalone, but because they are great books.  More Kubu please, Michael Stanley – the sooner, the better :).

Four stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Dying to Live.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 12th July 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Foyles | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Michael Stanley photo.jpgMichael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#CoverReveal: Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines)

I’m very excited to be part of the cover reveal team for A.J. Waines’s latest Dr Samantha Willerby crime thriller, Lost in the Lake.  Lost in the Lake is the second book in the Dr Willerby series, following on from the brilliant Inside the Whispers.  I absolutely loved Inside the Whispers, you can see how much by clicking here.

So without further ado, here is the blurb of Lost in the Lake:

She came at first for answers…now she’s back for you

Amateur viola player Rosie Chandler is the sole survivor of a crash which sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake. Convinced the ‘accident’ was deliberate, but unable to recall what happened, she is determined to recover her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.

But Rosie is hiding something…

Sam is immediately drawn to the tragic Rosie and as she helps her piece the fragments together, the police find disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? And what happened to the violin lost in the crash, worth over £2m?

When Rosie insists they return to the lake to relive the fatal incident, the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – but by now, she’s seriously out of her depth…

The second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series, Lost in the Lake is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder.

Doesn’t that sound great?  I can’t wait to get hold of a copy and reacquaint myself with the wonderful Samantha Willerby.  Now for that cover…

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Gorgeously creepy and incredibly atmospheric!  I love it.  Here’s a sneak peek at the full paperback cover (and look out for what may be a familiar name loitering on the back cover…)

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Lost in the Lake is available to pre-order in eBook format NOW.  Click here for amazon.co.uk (only 99p) or here for amazon.com (only $1.28).  Both the paperback and eBook will be published on 7th September 2017.

about the author3

WainesAJ6.jpgAJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 & 2016 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 was ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in 2016. She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Visit her website and blog, or join her on Twitter, Facebook or on her Newsletter.

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan (@johnlenahan) @KillerReads

ice lake.jpg“…WHERE EVERYBODY LIES. AND SOME PEOPLE KILL…

An electrifying debut crime novel and the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Peter May.

AN ABANDONED BODY
Deep in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the body of a man is found – shot three times, dumped under the trees where the local kids will find him.

A HAUNTED PSYCHOLOGIST
Psychologist Harry Cull, tormented by his past, arrives in the picturesque town of Ice Lake to help with the murder investigation. There he unravels a web of lies and deceit that leads to the dark heart of a community torn apart by fracking, drugs and murder.

A DESPERATE KILLER
It’s not long before the second corpse turns up, this time a lawyer left for dead in the forest, and Harry finds himself on the trail of a twisted killer – who will do anything to keep the town’s darkest secrets buried.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn to host the Ice Lake blog tour.  Alongside me are two fabulous bloggers, Helen at Life of a Nerdish Mum and Alison at Ali the Dragon Slayer.  Both blogs are brilliant so please make sure you pop over and say hello!  Ice Lake is author, John A Lenahan’s debut crime thriller and was published by Killer Reads on 7th July.

And what a cracking crime debut! I really liked Lenahan’s lead protagonist, ex-cop turned psychologist, Harry Cull.  I’ve always been interested in the study of body language and what your subconscious is revealing about you, the secrets it discloses. Those little ‘tells’ that indicate to a professional that you’re lying.  And that’s exactly what Harry does. Having experienced Harry’s ‘powers’ at a conference, he is drafted in by Trooper Ed Cirba to assist in a murder investigation which has rocked the picturesque town of Ice Lake.  Harry and Trooper Cirba are at a loss.  Then another body is discovered, this time a lawyer left for dead in his car.  Will Trooper Cirba and Harry be able to discover who is lying and who the murderer is before a third victim is found…?

There is a lovely level of humour in this book and the banter between Cirba and Cull really adds to the story.  As regular readers of the blog will know, I’m one for the characters in a story and Ice Lake is chock full of some really interesting people.  I particularly liked Todd, the miserable local gossip who also happens to own the local shop.  Todd to his face, Toad behind his back!  And then there’s MK, the love interest.  I don’t tend to enjoy reading about budding relationships in my crime novels but I warmed to MK so much that their smoochy moments didn’t really bother me.  I appreciated that the author stopped narrating the action as soon as it became a bit frisky too.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I can’t wait to read the next in the Harry Cull series.  This is a really promising start to what could become one of my future favourite crime series.  Great pacing, lots of wonderful dialogue between this cast of appealing characters and a great ‘didn’t see that coming’ twist.  I really liked Ice Lake.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Ice Lake.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 7th July 2017 and is available in eBook format (with the paperback to follow in August 2017) | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Goodreads | Book Depository | Foyles |

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about the author3

John Lenahan came to Britain from his native Philadelphia for a short trip and has never quite made it back.

 John originally grabbed the headlines as the first person in 85 years to be expelled from the Magic Circle. The 3-card trick he exposed on How Do They Do That? is no more than a gambling con, but John took the rap and enjoyed the publicity.

 2004 saw him staring in a new primetime BBC1 show, Secrets of Magic. His own BBC2 series, Stuff The White Rabbit, achieved record ratings for the slot. Other TV credits include presenting the travelogue Open Road, playing the voice of the toaster in Red Dwarf, and guest appearances on everything from TFI Friday to Celebrity Squares. He also fronted HoaxBusters, an ITV network show lifting the lid on scams and hoaxes.

John has performed onstage all over the world, from Beijing and Dubai to Dublin. He has toured alongside Jack Dee, Victoria Wood, Lenny Henry and Michael Ball.

Besides all this, Lenahan is one of the most successful corporate entertainers in the country. Apart from his show-stealing cabaret, he has made kitchens appear, taught Bank of England staff to juggle, read thousands of minds and levitated a 20-pound Toblerone bar. He was the first person on record to perform magic live over the Internet, for BT.

John has been described by The Guardian as ‘the mascot of a magical renaissance’ – and by Jackie Collins as ‘extremely good looking’.

John Lenahan lives in Cricklewood, London. In a world dominated by awards, he is proud to have once been voted Time Out Street Magician of the Year.

John’s novels: Shadowmagic , The Prince of Hazel & Oak and Sons of Macha are now available in one omnibus –The Shadowmagic Trilogy – published by Harper Collins and is out in paperback iBook, Nook and Kindle formats.

The Magic Circle has finally  recognised their mistake and reinstated John.

Author bio from http://podlit.wixsite.com/site-4

Author Links: | Facebook | Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill (@SophieJonasHill) @urbanepub

nemesister.jpg“An American Gothic thriller of deception and obsession, slicked in sweat and set in the swamps of Louisiana. 

It’s a psychological mystery where the female protagonist stumbles into a deserted shack with no memory but a gun in her hand. There she meets an apparent stranger, Red, and the two find themselves isolated and under attack from unseen assailants. 

Barricaded inside for a sweltering night, cabin fever sets in and brings her flashes of insight which might be memory or vision as the swamp sighs and moans around her. 

Exploring in the dark she finds hidden keys that seem to reveal her identity and that of her mysterious host, but which are the more dangerous – the lies he’s told her, or the ones she’s told herself?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Nemesister blog tour.  Nemesister is written by debut author, Sophie Jonas-Hill and was published by Urbane Publications earlier this week.

That blurb!  It was the blurb which initially drew me to this book.  An American gothic thriller set in the sweaty swamps of Louisiana?  Here, take my (measly) life savings because I am well and truly sold!  As you can imagine, I started reading Nemesister full of nervous excitement.  And I’m sorry to say that it didn’t quite have the oomph I was hoping for.  Now, it may just be me but I found the first half of the book slower going than I had hoped.  I had built this book up in my own mind so the blame for that rests totally at my door.  However.  And it’s a big ‘however’ so prepare yourself.  The second half of this book totally blew my socks off.  Wonderfully twisted and dark, it felt like a real indulgence.  Our main protagonist, we’ll call her Margarita – that’s not her name but it’s easier that way – is sassy, fiery and a bit of a badass.  Having lost her memory and stumbled on a secluded shack, Margarita comes to with a gun in her hand and a stranger trying to coax her down.  Locked in the shack overnight with the mysterious stranger, Margarita decides to search for clues, as well as a key to open the padlocked door.  What she thought she knew and what she actually know turn out to be two very different things…

There isn’t a lot else I can say without dishing out some rather large spoilers.  Nothing is as it seems and I love it when an author can trick me into thinking the story is heading one way, only to take a massive about-turn and take me somewhere completely unexpected.  I’ve heard a rumour that this may be the start of a series and if that’s the case then please consider this my pre-order for book 2!  I loved the language, with the ain’ts and darlin’s and that distinctive Louisiana feel which the author writes so well.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but I can’t get away from the fact that I found the first half such slow going.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Jonas-Hill is setting the scene exactly as she should.  Without that first half nothing else would make sense!  But oh, that second half is SUBLIME!  If there had been a touch more oomph in the first part I would have given this book five stars.  I can’t help thinking the problem was more down to me than the actual story telling so I’m going to give it four and a half stars out of five.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill was published in the UK by Urbane Publications on 6th July 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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Author Image and Bio from Urbane Publications with thanks.

I’ve always written and told stories, for as long as I can remember. My first self published work at the age of seven, fully illustrated in felt pen and crayon. I continued with a series of insightful ‘When I grow up I want to be an author’, essays, and an attempt at a ‘Bonk-buster’ series of supernatural thrillers written from a position of utter ignorance on all topics, until I was distracted by Art college. A never ending, or never finished, fantasy epic kept me going through my twenties, but it was motherhood in my thirties which concentrated my mind enough to actually finish a novel. It’s amazing what a bit of life experience and the sudden curtailing of your free time can do to concentrate the mind.

After that I began giving myself permission to take my writing seriously enough to spend time on it and actually listen to critiques. The writing festival in York proved invaluable, and time and disappointment got me to the point of producing something readable, which I was lucky enough to have read by Urbane publications.

If you make or write anything, the number one question you get asked is ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ In answer to that question, it’s an easy process which combines working on your craft every hour you can for as long as possible – hard graft – reading as much as you can of everyone else’s work – stealing – and inspiration, which is just one of those things that just happens. The inspiration for ‘Nemesister’ comes from a dark episode of family history, and a moment from a dream; an image of a man standing in the doorway of what I knew was an abandoned shack, which was gone as soon as it came and yet lingered, the way some dreams do.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hunting Angels Diaries by Conrad Jones (@ConradJones) @EmmaMitchellFPR

“When an author is asked to help the police with the investigation into a double murder by identifying occult symbols, which had been carved into the victims, he is plunged into nightmare and forced to go on the run. Hunted by law and a powerful cult, he has to stay one step ahead to survive.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Hunting Angels Diaries blog tour.  I had the pleasure of reading Brick, one of Conrad Jones’s crime thrillers last year (and if you click here you can read my review).  I discovered whilst prepping that post that Conrad Jones is also the author of a number of horror thrillers and you know me, I can’t resist a horror novel!  So when the opportunity to read the Hunting Angels Box Set arose, well….I would have been a fool to pass it up.

Now before I go any further, I should add that this is part one of my review.  Somehow, time has gotten away from me and I’ve only managed to read the first book in the box set, A Child for the Devil.  So look out for part two which will feature the second book, Dark Angel coming your way very very soon.

I enjoyed reading A Child for the Devil.  I can’t compare it to any of the my previous reads as I don’t think there is anything even vaguely similar.  What struck me as ‘standout different’ is that the author mentioned in the blurb is, well, the author.  This is the story of Conrad Jones’s dealings with the devil.  Or to be more specific, his encounter with an occult loving group of satanists.  And they are everywhere; your local councillor, the headteacher of the primary school, your librarian, your parents….  Having previously referred to this particular group in one of his crime novels, they now know exactly who Conrad is and he is the skurge of their lives, the stain to be removed.  He is a writer and all writers must be destroyed.  At points throughout the book you are advised to Google the cult if you don’t believe what you’re reading.  I couldn’t do it.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I was too scared to look!  And I think that says a lot.

It is gory and it is violent but I got the feeling the author knew where the limits were and made sure the explicit content was pulled back.  In all honestly, I probably would have liked a little more gore but then I’m strange!

I didn’t really feel anything for the characters.  Although I do not know Conrad Jones personally, I know of him and see him interacting in several bookish Facebook groups. Having pondered on it I’m pretty sure that is why I felt no connection to the characters, I had trouble separating the real person from the fictional account.  I guess I invest more in characters that are new and I can shape them in my mind as I wish.  Although I would like to know exactly how much of this book is autobiographical (and I don’t mean the toting of the sawn-off shotgun*!).  Other readers may not have this problem.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I can’t wait to make a start on the second book in the box set and find out what is going to happen next.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of A Child for the Devil (Hunting Angels Diaries). The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

*I can’t recall if the shotgun was sawn-off or not but it sounds so much better when it is!  Apologies if the shotguns mentioned in this book are not sawn-off.

Hunting Angels Diaries by Conrad Jones was published in the UK by GerriCon Books on 28th November 2013 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | #1 amazon.com | #2 amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

conrad jones.jpgConrad is the author of seventeen novels, eight author guides and two biographies. He has three series;
* The Detective Alec Ramsay Series; seven books Gritty Crime Thrillers
* The Soft Target Series; Gritty Thrillers six books (Reacher Style)
* The Hunting Angels Diaries; three books Horror Thrillers
You can find out more; http://www.conradjonesauthor.com | jonesconrad5@aol.com

I am Conrad Jones, a fifty-year-old author, originally from a sleepy green-belt called Tarbock Green, which is situated on the outskirts of Liverpool. I spent a number of years living in Holyhead, Anglesey, which I class as my home, before starting a career as a trainee manger with McDonalds Restaurants in 1989. I worked in management at McDonalds Restaurants Ltd from 1989-2002, working my way up to Business Consultant (area manager) working in the corporate and franchised departments.
On March 20th, 1993, I was managing the restaurant in Warrington`s Bridge St when two Irish Republican Army bombs exploded directly outside the store, resulting in the death of two young boys and many casualties. Along with hundreds of other people there that day I was deeply affected by the attack, which led to a long-term interest in the motivation and mind set of criminal gangs. I began to read anything crime related that I could get my hands on.

I link this experience with the desire to write books on the subject, which came much later on due to an unusual set of circumstances. Because of that experience my early novels follow the adventures of an elite counter terrorist unit, The Terrorist Task Force, and their enigmatic leader, John Tankersley, or `Tank` and they are the Soft Target Series, which have been described by a reviewer as ‘Reacher on steroids’; You can see them here;

I had no intentions of writing until 2007, when I set off on an eleven-week tour of the USA. The Day before I boarded the plane, Madeleine McCann disappeared and all through the holiday I followed the American news reports which had little or no information about her. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the terrible kidnap would inspire my book, The Child Taker years later. During that trip, I received news that my house had been burgled and my work van and equipment were stolen. That summer was the year when York and Tewksbury were flooded by a deluge and insurance companies were swamped with claims. They informed me that they couldn’t do anything for weeks and that returning home would be a wasted journey. Rendered unemployed on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, I decided to begin my first book, Soft Target. I have never stopped writing since. I have recently completed my fifteenth novel, ‘Brick’, something that never would have happened but for that burglary and my experiences in Warrington.
The Child Taker was the 6th book in the Soft Target Series but it also became the first book in the Detective Alec Ramsay Series when I signed a three-book deal with London based publishers, Thames River Press. The series is now seven books long with an average of 4.8 stars from over 2000 reviews. The first two books are always free with over 1100 5-star reviews. You can see them here;

As far as my favourite series ever, it has to be James Herbert’s, The Rats trilogy. The first book did for me what school books couldn’t. It fascinated me, triggered my imagination and gave me the hunger to want to read more. I waited years for the second book, The Lair, and Domain, the third book to come out and they were amazing. Domain is one of the best books I have ever read. In later years, Lee Child, especially the early books, has kept me hypnotised on my sunbed on holiday as has Michael Connelly and his Harry Bosch Series.

#GuestPost: Being Afraid by Robert E. Dunn (@WritingDead)

a living grave cover.jpg“The first in a gritty new series featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams, as she investigates moonshine, murder, and the ghosts of her own past…
 
BODY OF PROOF
 Katrina Williams left the Army ten years ago disillusioned and damaged. Now a sheriff’s detective at home in the Missouri Ozarks, Katrina is living her life one case at a time—between mandated therapy sessions—until she learns that she’s a suspect in a military investigation with ties to her painful past.
 
The disappearance of a local girl is far from the routine distraction, however. Brutally murdered, the girl’s corpse is found by a bottlegger whose information leads Katrina into a tangled web of teenagers, moonshiners, motorcycle clubs, and a fellow veteran battling illness and his own personal demons. Unraveling each thread will take time  Katrina might not have as the Army investigator turns his searchlight on the devastating incident that ended her military career. Now Katrina will need to dig deep for the truth—before she’s found buried…”

***

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From the author of A Living Grave comes a gripping police procedural

featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams as she exposes the dark underbelly of the Missouri Ozarks . . .
 
DREDGING UP THE TRUTH
 
Still recovering from tragedy and grieving a devastating loss, Iraq war veteran and sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams copes the only way she knows how—by immersing herself in work. A body’s just been pulled from the lake with a fish haul, but what seems like a straightforward murder case over the poaching of paddlefish for domestic caviar quickly becomes murkier than the depths of the lake.
 
Soon a second body is found—an illegal Peruvian refugee woman linked to a charismatic tent revival preacher. But as Katrina tries to investigate the enigmatic evangelist, she is blocked by antagonistic FBI agents and Army CID personnel. When more young female refugees disappear, she must partner with deputy Billy Blevins, who stirs mixed feelings in her, to connect the lake murder to the refugees. Katrina is no stranger to darkness, but cold-blooded conspirators plan to make sure she’ll never again see the light of day . . .

I am delighted to welcome Robert E. Dunn to damppebbles today.  Robert is the author of a number of horror, mystery and thriller novels which are available to purchase on amazon by clicking here.

Today Robert has chosen to talk to us about being afraid.  You would think, being a horror author, that this is one of Robert’s very favourite subjects.  But it’s the not the fear of monsters and demons that’s scaring Mr Dunn.  Oh no.  It’s the fear of writing…

BEING AFRAID by Robert E. Dunn

I want to talk to you about fear. Or—more accurately—I want to talk about being afraid. I’ve written before in other places about experiencing terror and mortal danger. And I’ve written about using the experiences we’ve all had, being afraid and feeling threatened, in writing. This is something different. I want to talk about the fear I experience about writing itself.

A little more than a year ago I was sending out a manuscript for a new book. That’s a daunting, stressful task itself. But my submissions were successful. I had quick responses and a few offers to choose from. Let me tell you that is a good situation to be in but not as easy as you might think. Each offer had its own good points. One was from a publisher with whom I had worked before. They do great work and I have a great relationship with them. I wanted to give them the book. Sometimes we have to go with what we think is best over what we want.

I had an offer from Lyrical Press, a digital imprint of Kensington Publishing. They offered an e-pub contract with print of demand books but no initial print publication. That was all right because the imprint has a great reach and a catalog of great books and authors to attract readers. I tamped down my fears and took the harder choice. It was an amazing choice. But I only knew that after stressing about it for a long time.

That’s a professional fear. Putting your work out there, into other hands, and hoping you have made the right decision for your book. Heck, that’s a relatively minor fear for me. Once you know you can work with the team all is good. Things progress. Then comes publication.

Yes, I think all of us who write for publication, especially those who write books, fear for our work. What if no one likes it? What if someone influential says it sucks? Worse than bad reviews—what if no one even notices? Those are fears that are blunted by experience. Get past the first release or two and you know what to expect. If you know, you can usually deal.

My fear, one I didn’t even know I had, came from that book published by Lyrical Press. A LIVING GRAVE was released in Nov. of 2016. That’s not very long ago. For that book I had been offered a contract for two books with an option for a third. Any multi book deal is a great thing for an author. For a small press author like me it can feel like a huge step up in the publishing world. And that’s the fear inducing thing. Success.

Snicker if you want but a two book contract was terrifying because I had already written the story I had planned. It was a great story. I’m a believer in not selling your work short so it’s great, but that is MY opinion. Book two had to be with the same main character. Did I have another story about Katrina Williams in me? Was it any good? Can I do this? And can I do it on a deadline?

I told myself I could. I told my editor I could. I settled myself and set to work on revising and editing A LIVING GRAVE. At the end of the process my editor asked me what the next book was about. I didn’t know. You can see the fear now can’t you? The first book had been very much an Ozarks mystery with country music, moonshine, bikers, and murder. With only a vague notion, I told my editor the next book’s storyline would include another murder, fish poaching, and evangelical religion. Then I had to write that. Terror.

Most of us know the difficulty of staring at a blank page trying to create a story from scratch. For me it’s a lot harder staring and knowing what the story has to be about without knowing what the story is. The combination of fear and not knowing is very good at pushing your activities in other directions. To paraphrase the bad guys in a thousand movies—Procrastination is an ugly word.

I sucked it up and worked out what I needed to write. Then, of course, life got in the way. I’ll let you in on a secret. I didn’t actually begin writing A PARTICULAR DARKNESS until Aug. 3rd. It was due at the end of November the publication month for A LIVING GRAVE.  I worried but I wasn’t afraid. Because by then I knew. The story, the character, the stakes were in place. I was ready. Then my daughter had a car accident. She was fine but it disclosed an underlying illness that needed talk and consideration and time. Much of that was just worry time. Then a big tree fell on my house. You see where this is going? To near panic. I had given myself four months and one was eaten by life issues.

You will be proud to know I delivered the manuscript two weeks into Dec. My editor was already bogged down and was happy to give the extra time. Revisions went quickly. I gave things a little time then asked about the option on the third book. My editor did not respond right away.

Oddly enough I was fine with that. If they decided not to go on with the series it was about sales. I had confidence in my work. That’s to say, I had done my best and I was happy with that. I want sales but so much of that is built up over a long time. Books are bricks. Sales are the great wall.

Then came the scariest e-mail I had ever gotten. It began with praise. My editor and the team at Lyrical liked my books. They had faith. That made my hair stand on end. A LIVING GRAVE had been out three months so there was no a lot of sales history to base decisions on. Still they wanted to extend the series. Lyrical wanted two more books. And they asked if we could increase the frequency.

Occasional standalone books of my own choosing and my own pace—that I could do forever. Delivering a series on a schedule. That terrifies me. I just finished writing A MOMENTARY LIFE book three of the Katrina (Hurricane) Williams series. I have no real idea what I’m doing for book four. I’m beginning to deal with that. I think I can get one more book out and make it a good one. This newest one has me feeling good. It works and I’m proud of it. So I’m on a high thinking about book four.

The only thing I have to fear right now is the possibility that I might be asked to keep the series going beyond four.

Thank you for this wonderfully honest piece, Robert.

about the author3

robert dunn.jpg

Author photo and bio taken from robertdunnauthor.blogspot.co.uk with thanks

I wasn’t born in a log cabin but the station wagon did have wood on the side. It was broken down on the approach road into Ft. Rucker, Alabama in the kind of rain that would have made a Biblical author jealous. You never saw a tornado in the Old Testament did you? As omens of a coming life go, mine was full of portent if not exactly glad tidings.

From there things got interesting. Life on a series of Army bases encouraged my retreat into a fantasy world. Life in a series of public school environments provided ample nourishment to my developing love of violence. Often heard in my home was the singular phrase, “I blame the schools.” We all blamed the schools.

Both my fantasy and my academic worlds left marks and the amalgam proved useful the three times in my life I had guns pointed in my face. Despite those loving encounters the only real scars left on my body were inflicted by a six foot, seven inch tall drag queen. She didn’t like the way I was admiring the play of three a.m. Waffle House fluorescent light over the high spandex sheen of her stockings.

After a series of low paying jobs that took me places no one dreams of going. I learned one thing. Nothing vomits quite so brutally as jail food. That’s not the one thing I learned; it is an important thing to know, though. The one thing I learned is a secret. My secret. A terrible and dark thing I nurture in my nightmares. You learn your own lessons.

Eventually I began writing stories. Mostly I was just spilling out the, basically, true narratives of the creatures that lounge about my brain, laughing and whispering sweet, sweet things to say to women. Women see through me but enjoy the monsters in my head. They say, sometimes, that the things I say and write are lies or, “damn, filthy lies, slander of the worst kind, and the demented, perverted, wishful stories of a wasted mind.” To which I always answer, I tell only the truth. I just tell a livelier truth than most people.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |

#CoverReveal: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture

I am happily bouncing off the walls because I’m part of the cover reveal team for the new book by LOUISE JENSEN!  Louise Jensen is one of my very favourite authors so I can’t wait to get my mitts on this little beauty.  We don’t have long to wait as The Surrogate will be published by Bookouture on 27th September 2017 (guys, it’s July tomorrow!  It’s really not THAT long!).  So let’s get this show on the road and have a peek at the blurb…

THE SURROGATE by Louise Jensen

‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’ 

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister and The Gift, this is an unputdownable psychological thriller which asks how far we will go to create our perfect family.  

How good does that sound?  I CAN’T WAIT to read The Surrogate.  I’m such a huge fan of Louise’s books (click here to read my review of The Sister, Louise’s debut and here for my review of The Gift) so this new release can’t come soon enough for me!  But I digress, here’s the stunning cover….

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Wow!  I love that cover, gives me the heebie jeebies and makes me want a copy of The Surrogate even more than I did before (if that’s possible).  Mark the date in your diary (27th September 2017) and make sure you grab yourself a copy on publication day.  I know I will be doing just that!

Here are those all important pre-order links:

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2sY4hK1
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2uqwxmv

about the author3

louise jensen.jpg

Louise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.

Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a puppy and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear (@CazziF) @BonnierZaffre

Sweet Little Lies.jpg“WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Sweet Little Lies blog tour.  Sweet Little Lies is written by debut author, Caz Frear and was named the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in conjunction with retailer WHSmith.  To celebrate the release of this engrossing crime thriller not only do I have my four and a half star review, I also have a fantastic guest post (yay! I do love a guest post!) on a subject close to my heart.  Well, sort of anyway!  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Caz…

Do female protagonists in crime fiction always have to have a ‘love interest’?

‘A love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective’s struggle to solve the problem.  The only effective love interest is that which creates a personal hazard for the detective….’

“Casual Notes on the Mystery Novel” (essay, 1949), first published in Raymond Chandler Speaking (1962)

I’ll be honest, I’m with Raymond on this one.  But as nearly seven decades have passed since he first offered his thoughts, I thought, what the hell, maybe it’s time to play devil’s advocate and see if I can make a case for the ‘love interest’ in female-led crime fiction.  After all, women, more than ever, are the primary readers of crime fiction and they also remain the primary readers of romance fiction, so what harm in combining the two, right?  A twisty, disturbing crime thriller and a romance sub-plot all under the same roof.  What more could we ask for, eh?

Er, no. 

Although I’d kind-of-just-about-maybe agree with this if we could at least change the profile of the ‘love interest’ for a start.

In fairness, the injection of a ‘love interest’ isn’t just peculiar to female-led crime fiction.  Morse was always mooning over someone – trying, and usually failing, to seduce some posh lady with his Mark II Jag and mournful eyes. DCI Banks always has a girlfriend – usually they’re significantly younger and significantly hotter than he is, but somehow they’re always completely gaga over the wiry, aging jazz fan.  Even DI Frost, with his prickly manner, even pricklier moustache and decades-old grey coat, is never without an attractive (and usually younger) woman trying to bed him, and more-often-than-not, domesticate him.

But therein lie some crucial differences – the‘love interest’ in female-led crime is almost always…

  • Older, or at least of a similar age – for example, how many 40-something female protagonists have a twenty-something male model-type go completely nuts about them, all on the strength of their charismatic personality? NEVER. HAPPENS (but regularly happens the other way round)
  • Their boss or superior colleague (again, very rarely happens the other way round)
  • More, or at the very least as successful as the female protagonist, in their chosen field.
  • Aesthetically anonymous – much less focus on how gorgeous they are, and when their physical characteristics are described, they quite often aren’t gorgeous at all – our female protagonist simply loves them for their wrinkles/soft paunch/balding head etc, (I’ll say it again, very rarely happens the other way round.)

But in the interests of challenging Raymond Chandler (!) I’ll step down from my soapbox for a minute and share a few thoughts about why it’s sometimes good for our female protagonist to have a ‘love interest.’

  • No woman is an island. Very few are a Billy-no-Mates.  Realistically, everyone has someone they can turn to, and arguably an intimate romantic relationship has more dramatic potential than the ‘chatting-with-a-best-friend-over-a-bottle-of-wine’ scenario, within the context of a crime novel.
  • In a genre where men don’t always get the best press – a lot of crime fiction focuses on male violence against women – a well-characterised male love interest serves as a reminder of the Good Men around.
  • Romantic relationships showcase a character’s vulnerability – you often open up to a lover in ways you don’t with other people.
  • Most women want/need sex from time to time, even if they don’t want steady romance, and therefore if you’re not comfortable creating a female lead who has quite a casual approach to hook-ups, you’re going to have to give her some sort of formal ‘love interest.’ It’s just not realistic for our female protagonist to live like a nun.
  • Sexual tension is fun. It’s interesting.  It’s delightful to write.  The will-they-won’t-they has never lost its appeal and when it simmers just beneath the surface, it can add a new level of tension to a crime novel (I’m thinking here of the brilliant dynamic between Derwent and Kerrigan in Jane Casey’s fantastic series – I actually enjoy this aspect more than the Maeve-and-Rob romance.)

Finally, just to say that despite my earlier talk about not loving the ‘love interest’, there is one in Sweet Little Lies, in the form of dishy Aiden Doyle (I know, I know….hypocrite…)  However, in my defence I will add (with a cryptic smile) that only time will tell how much of a “personal hazard for the detective” Aiden becomes…….

Let’s just say Raymond Chandler wouldn’t judge me too harshly….

Brilliant post, thank you Caz.  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I’m not a fan of slushy mushy romance in my crime thrillers so I found your arguments for a love interest fascinating.  Have I changed my stance?  Not quite, but the rather lovely Aiden Doyle COULD change my mind…. 😉

my review2

Whilst on holiday in Ireland with her family, eight year old Catrina is unwittingly drawn into a missing persons investigation.  Teenager, Maryanne Doyle; loud, brash and very much in your face, goes missing.  Catrina doesn’t know what happened to Maryanne but she is sure of one thing.  Her father lied to the police.  He claimed to not have known the teenager but Catrina vividly remembers Maryanne hitch hiking and her dad picking her up.  After all, Catrina was in the car as well.  Fast forward 18 years and Catrina is now DC Cat Kinsella with the Met’s Murder team.  Called to investigate the brutal murder of Alice Lapaine, the team find nothing but a secretive husband and a lot of dead ends.  Can Cat find out what happened to Maryanne all those years ago, exactly what part her father played in her disappearance AND solve a motiveless murder at the same time…?

So many delicious secrets!  This is a wonderfully intricate tale which I found hard to put down.  I was immediately drawn to the feisty Cat Kinsella.  She absolutely made the book for me and I couldn’t tear myself away from reading about her exploits.  How I loved her dry wit, her gutsy determination and her adorable relationship with Acting DI Luigi Parnell.  I found myself caring about what was going to happen to Cat, whether she would discover the truth and whether it would be the truth she actually wanted to hear.

For me, the characters in a book are one of the most important factors.  I feel Caz Frear deserves high praise for the cast of characters she has created in this novel.  After finishing the book I can still bring to mind certain scenarios, conversations and interactions between her creations.  They all stand tall, each one an individual.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s an excellent debut and I’m excited to see what Caz Frear has in store for us in the future.  It’s a gripping read, full of suspense and intrigue, chock full of lies and deceit from a sometimes dubious cast of characters.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 29th June 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Foyles | Book Depository |

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Caz Frear.jpgAuthor Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker (@jdbarker) @HQstories #4MK

fourth monkey cover.jpg“Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Fourth Monkey blog tour.  This was such an eagerly anticipated book for me.  When I heard it was Se7en meets Silence of the Lambs….well, my heart did a little happy flip.  Literary-wise, that’s about as good as it gets for me (and yes, I have read the novelisation of Se7en, lol!).

So did The Fourth Monkey live up to my incredibly high expectations?  Well, it did…and it didn’t.  All in all this is cracking serial killer thriller which delivered twists, a fair amount of gore and lots of page turning tension.  My problem however was that I expected something radically different and I didn’t get it.  OK, it was compared to two movies/books so maybe I should have taken that as hint, but I didn’t.  I’m sorry to say that I felt I had read several similar novels before and they were equally as good as The Fourth Monkey.  I really hope I’m not coming across as negative towards this book because I am most certainly not, I really enjoyed it.  It’s an absolutely storming serial killer thriller.  But I read mostly from the crime genre (OK, pretty much exclusively!) so maybe that’s the problem.

The Fourth Monkey killer or 4MK has been free to torture and terrify the citizens of Chicago for five long years.  Detective Sam Porter has been on the case hunting down the sadistic psychopath who delivers three white boxes wrapped with black string to the victims relatives.  One contains their loved one’s ear, the next their eyes and the third box contains their tongue.  Shortly after this the victim’s body is found with the message ‘DO NO EVIL’ written nearby in blood.  Sam Porter and his team are obsessed with 4MK. But Sam’s life has taken a turn for the worse and he’s on compassionate leave when called to a devastating bus RTA.  Porter doesn’t initially understand why his presence is necessary but all becomes clear when they find a small white box wrapped with black string in the bus victim’s pocket.  The race is on.  The 4MK killer is dead but the ear confirms one thing.  He’s taken another victim and they need to be found before they die of dehydration, or worse…

I liked Sam Porter but I warmed more to Detectives Clair Norton and Brian Nash.  They have a certain love/hate chemistry going on which brought a lighter note to a deliciously dark read.  I guessed what was going to happen from fairly early on in the story which I found a little frustrating this time around, as Porter and team seemed completely blind to there being another option.

It’s a fairly gory read but in all I honesty, I wanted a bit more of the ‘eugh-factor’.  Saying that, if you’re not a regular reader of this genre then you probably will find it quite disturbing.  In a good way, of course!

The chapters alternate between the present day detailing the ongoing police investigation and diary entries written by the 4MK as a young boy.  These diary entries I adored!  I wanted more.  I loved seeing how a young boy was shaped by his parents into a killing machine.  I will just say that 4MK’s upbringing is quite different to that of his serial killer peers and I found it utterly fascinating!  I would purchase a book written about 4MK’s early years and his relationship with his parents in a heartbeat.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and if you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller then it’s a must read.  This is going to be one of the most talked about books this Summer as it crosses lines other writers won’t and that is a wonderful thing.  A great serial killer thriller but I’m not sure I was supposed to be rooting for 4MK….!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and a review an ARC of The Fourth Monkey.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker was published in the UK by HQ on 27th June 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Foyles | Book Depository |

Giveaway #1:  Here’s your chance to win one of three copies of The Fourth Monkey. Click this link to enter: http://jdbarker.com/fourth-monkey-contest-win-draft-copy-upcoming-novel-4mk/

Giveaway #2:  Fancy being a character is a forthcoming J.D. Barker novel?  Then click this link to enter: http://jdbarker.com/be-a-character-in-next-book/

Giveaway #3:  I have one #4MK Killer Swag Box to giveaway.  The Box contains a signed copy of the book, bookmark, stickers, a letter from the 4MK killer and a diary!  All you need to do to enter is click on this rafflecopter link -> a Rafflecopter giveaway.  UK & US entrants only please.  You will need to provide your postal address so your prize can be sent  No cash alternative.  Giveaway ends on 5th July at midnight (BST).

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about the author2

JD Barker Photo 2.jpgBarker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public.

Barker’s indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

Author Links: | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson (@kerrywk) @bookouture

two sisters cover.jpg“They told us he had been missing for nearly two days, that he probably drowned. They told us a lie.

Megan was ten years old when her older brother, Zac, went missing among the cliffs, caves and beaches that surround the small seaside town of Whitecliff.

A decade later and a car crash has claimed the lives of her parents.

Megan and her younger sister Chloe return to Whitecliff one summer for the first time since their brother’s disappearance. Megan says it’s to get her parents’ affairs in order. There are boxes to pack, junk to clear, a rundown cottage to sell. But that’s not the real reason.

Megan has come to confront her family’s past after receiving a postcard on the day of her parents’ funeral. It had a photograph of Whitecliff on the front and a single letter on the back.

‘Z’ is all it read.

Z for Zac.

A totally gripping psychological thriller that will have fans of Louise Jensen, Sue Fortin and The Silent Child absolutely hooked.”

Today I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles as it’s my turn on the Two Sisters blog tour.  My partner in crime (or blog tour buddy, if you prefer) is the totally fabulous Claire Knight, guest reviewer extraordinaire over at one of my very favourite crime blogs, CrimeBookJunkie

Anyway, enough of the blogger love.  Let’s move on to what we’re all here for (which is obviously the book love).  I’ve seen author, Kerry Wilkinson’s name mentioned a lot. Wilkinson has penned a number of well received crime novels so he was, of course, on my radar.  But I hadn’t managed to read any of his books due to my blog tour commitments.  How to get round this, I thought to myself…feature on the Two Sisters blog tour, obvious really!

When I first started reading Two Sisters my heart sank.  I immediately disliked the lead character, Megan.  I mean she really got my back up.  I wondered how I was going to fare, having to read about this obnoxious, conniving little madam (I should add that she is 20 years old but felt much younger to me).  But then I met Chloe, her younger sister and I started to forgive Megan a little for being the cow she is.  And then you find more out about the girls upbringing, and although I still didn’t really ‘like’ Megan, I began to understand her more.  What I did like most about Megan is how much she loves and cares for her younger sister.  Surprisingly, Megan and Chloe don’t really know each other that well.  They were sent off to separate boarding schools from a young age but distance failed to break that sisterly bond.  And that was a joy to read.

Two Sisters works so well because of it’s creepy, claustrophobic setting of a small village called Whitecliff on the Cornish coast.  I loved the way the author stranded his cast of characters in this remote location.  I loved the friction between the locals and the well-to-do ‘dumped by their parents’ beach kids.  I loved that there was no mobile signal unless you went to the lightning tree.  It sounds like the core ingredients of a horror movie, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this book as much as I did.  It was brilliantly tense.  Despite loving the setting, I do often wonder (still to this day,  after a couple of weeks have passed) how this book would work set in small town America.  Maybe something for the future, eh Mr Wilkinson? *wink*.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller then I would say this is a must read.  It’s so wonderfully claustrophobic that I had to take breaks along the way to come up for air!  A really engrossing, enjoyable read and I will be making a point of reading Kerry Wilkinson’s books in the future.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson was published in the UK by Bookouture on 23rd June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author2

kerry wilkinson.jpgKerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |