#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Death Dolls by Simon Farrant (@asfarrant) #DeathDolls

Death Dolls Cover .jpg“Benjamin McGuinness fulfils his dream of establishing successful businesses and gives jobs with a new home to some of life’s misfits, deep in the English countryside on a farm. Everything seems perfect and his workers are as close as family.

A fire strikes close to home, a disaster that changes his perception of life and one of his loyal workers takes the chance to propose a life-changing venture.

This new business drags Lisa, his sister, into the deadly web of deception.

When exiled Russian twins join the family a symbolic tattoo is created that drives Benjamin’s money into a new league.

Benjamin knows that his future is defined by ‘the family’.

Will greed cause everything to crumble before his eyes, or will there be brutal consequences to their actions?”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to my stop on the Death Dolls blog tour.  Look at that cover, isn’t it fantastic? Regular visitors to damppebbles will know that I like my fiction dark and dangerous and oh boy, that cover SCREAMS dark and dangerous at me!  And then you read the blurb…. Well, dear reader, I can confirm Death Dolls is riding high on my wishlist!

I am delighted to welcome the author of Death Dolls, Simon Farrant, to damppebbles today as part of the blog tour celebrations.  Simon is going to share some deep, dark secrets with us….

Hello, and thank you for inviting me onto your blog Emma! When I read what you wanted me to talk about, I did wonder if I could think of ten things… But we all have things about us that we forget that not everyone knows!

1 – I have a reptile pet! Before we got Skeddie I never thought that I’d have a reptile in a month of Sunday’s. We visited Bugtopia ‘zoo’ at Rutland Water, and I was mega impressed with the skinks. To the person who has never seen one before, imagine a snake with legs.

Of course, me being me, I didn’t go for a Blue Tongued Skink as they are the more common skink pets. Skeddie is a Pink Tongued Skink. All she eats is snails! She is an ideal pet for me, as a chronic illness sufferer. She needs no walks or high maintenance, just a small amount of husbandry such as picking snail shells out of her home and love.

2 – I was born with 2 extra fingers! Well, not properly formed ones but little stubs off the side of each little finger. Gross! I’m told that when I was born the hospital tied cotton round each one and they died and fell off… yuk!

3 – The doctors told me that I couldn’t father any children. Now we have three! Reuben, 10, Gabriella, 8, Tobias, 3.

4 – In the 1980s, as a child, my Dad tried to get me to take up football. I took up bellringing, aka campanology, at a local church. That didn’t last long…

5 – My last job before I lost it due to the chronic illnesses was a HGV C+E driver. An articulated truck driver, which I did for Morrisons for over 10 years. In addition to the car and truck licences I also hold a full motorbike licence too!

6 – This is getting tricky now… My books are not the first time that I have had the written word published. Back in the 1990s I did work experience for university at the Sunday Express newspaper in London. I had a short article about fire safety in the home published.

7 – I once did a bungee jump and a static line parachute jump for charity.

8 – Last year I summoned up the courage to go for my first tattoo. I wanted a lion. The artist said that everyone has a lion or a pocket watch. I left with a lion and a tiger half-sleeve! I have said that if I get to 2000 copies sold of Death Dolls then I shall get the featured tattoo…

9 – I have written two books of a trilogy that I shall release a week apart from each other. These are completely different from the books that I have already written. (Does this one count?)

10 – I am the eldest of 6 cousins. Maybe not the most grown up though.

I feel we know so much more about you now, Simon. And no, number 9 does not count *sigh*.  I must say, I am suddenly very keen for you to sell at least 2000 copies of Death Dolls (so you have to get the featured tattoo!).  I’m off to buy my copy now….

Death Dolls by Simon Farrant was published in the UK on 22nd August 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

death dolls banner.jpg

about-the-author3

Simon Farrant Author Picture.jpgI am an emerging author, a submission to a short story anthology kicked it all off.

Black Cat is my first short story, and the hero isn’t maybe who you would assume.

Originally from Doncaster, South Yorkshire and now Corby in Northants. I’m in my forties, married with three children. We share our home with a Bengal cat and a Pink Tongued Skink.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had an interesting (well to me!) life. I have been a truck driver, university graduate and motorbike salesman amongst other things.

My two novellas, Newdon Killers series, The Crucifix and Famously Ordinary are out now! The third book, Death Dolls is coming soon estimated launch date 22 August.
Later this year a new series in a different genre Mystery / contemporary fantasy will be published.

I have a Facebook page, Simon Farrant Official, I’d be pleased to see you there.

Twitter @asfarrant

I also have a newsletter. Sign up to receive the latest news first 🙂
https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/b2t0m0

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Author Newsletter Sign-up |

Advertisements

#BlogTour | #BookReview: After He Died by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @OrendaBooks #AfterHeDied

thumbnail_AFTER HE DIED cover

“You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the After He Died blog tour. After He Died is the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Michael J. Malone and is currently available in eBook format with the Orenda Books paperback publishing later this week on Thursday 20th September 2018.

As soon as I hear Michael J. Malone has a new book coming out, I want a copy! For those of you who are new to damppebbles, Malone’s first Orenda release, A Suitable Lie absolutely blew my socks off (and then some!) back in 2016. It was my book of the year and I still, to this day, recommend it to EVERYONE! Here’s my review if you missed it the first time, and if you haven’t purchased a copy yet, then you MUST! I’m also a massive fan of Malone’s self-published gritty Scottish crime series featuring the ‘rough-around-the-edges’ DI, Ray McBain. Another must read if you haven’t already discovered this series yet. So new Michael J. Malone titles immediately kick the book craving into gear, particularly those published by Orenda Books. I love a gritty police procedural like the McBain series, they’re my bread and butter and Malone excels at writing them. But his novels published via Orenda Books are very different; they’re domestic noir thrillers that set a benchmark so high, others can only dream of achieving what he does. They’re chock full of heart, with real living, breathing characters. And more often than not, they take my breath away. They have so much soul, there’s so much emotion between the pages and the unease the reader feels is really quite glorious.

After He Died is another top-notch domestic thriller from the twisted mind and pen of Michael J. Malone. Another page-turner full of secrets and lies; you never know what to believe! The unease I felt whilst reading was palpable and I very much enjoyed every moment I spent in Paula and Cara’s company. Did I like them? Well…I didn’t hate them. I found myself strongly disliking Thomas from quite early on which was rather unfair of me as he is the ‘he’ who has died. I can’t say I liked Paula or Cara but I was definitely on their side, wanting to solve the mystery, urging them on to discover the truth.

Would I recommend this book? I would. If you want a surefire, guaranteed good read then Michael J. Malone’s After He Died is the book for you. Or any other of Malone’s books actually, they’re all wonderful compulsive reads that I’ve struggled to put down. Malone knows how to write a character; whether it’s someone to love or someone to hate, eliciting that emotion is what is all about and Malone does that with ease and lashings of style. After He Died is bulging with secrets, it has a wonderfully Scottish edge that will appeal to many readers – you feel as though you’re reading something very special. Recommended.

Four stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of After He Died. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

After He Died by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 20th September 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

After He Died Blog Tour Poster.jpg

about-the-author3

Michael Malone Photo

Michael J Malone is the author of over 200 published poems, two poetry collections, six novels, countless articles and one work of non-fiction.

Formerly a Faber and Faber Regional Sales Manager (Scotland and North England), he has judged and critiqued countless poetry, short story and novel competitions for a variety of organisations, and for a number of years was the Scottish correspondent for Writers’ Forum.

Michael is an experienced workshop leader/ creative writing lecturer to writers’ groups, schools and colleges as well as a personal coach and mentor. He has a Certificate in Life Coaching and studied as a facilitator with The Pacific Institute.

As a freelance editor he has edited and mentored writers in a variety of genres and for traditionally published as well as self-published authors.

He is a regular speaker and chair at book festivals throughout the UK– including Aye Write, Bloody Scotland, Crimefest and Wigtown.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia @QuercusBooks #LeaveNoTrace

leave no trace cover.jpg“Ten years after a boy and his father went missing in the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the boy – who is no longer a boy – walks back out of the forest. He is violent and uncommunicative. The authorities take him to Congdon Mental Institution in Duluth, on the edge of mighty Lake Superior.

There, language therapist Maya Stark is given the task of making a connection with this boy/man who came back from the dead. But their celebrity patient tries to escape and refuses to answer any questions about his father or the last ten years of his life. In many ways he is old far beyond his years; in others, still a child.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world – but at what cost to herself?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Leave No Trace blog tour.  Leave No Trace is the latest release from author Mindy Mejia and was published by Quercus Books on 4th September 2018.  I read and reviewed Mejia’s fantastic The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman last March and thoroughly enjoyed it, so Leave No Trace sits high on the wishlist.

I am thrilled to have an extract from the book to share with you today.  So without further ado, grab yourself a cuppa and dive straight in…

The patient faced the back of the room with his hands on the cement block wall in a push-up position. From the way he stoodwith h is shoulders tensed and legs braced it looked like he was trying to move the entire wall. I took a step closer and noticed his hospital shirt was torn at the bottom and he’d used the missing strip to tie his hair back.

‘Hello, Lucas.’

He remained still for a second, but then surprised me by turning his head. I saw his face in person for the first time.

He wasn’t a boy.

My brain stuttered on that one thought for what felt like a stupidly long time as our eyes met and held. Why did all the media keep calling him a boy? Lucas Blackthorn looked at least as old as me and stood a foot taller. His cheeks were hollow and shaded with the beginning of a beard. His skin was a deep reddish tan, not the pasty white of most of our long-term patients, and his eyes conveyed things that no first session speech therapy could have drawn out: intelligence and caution mixed with undisguised curiosity.

Moving slowly and deliberately, I walked to the bare mattress between us. There was no table, so we’d have to start the flashcards on the bed. He watched my progress, studying my hair. The short, pixie-cut combined with its dyed color grabbed a lot of patients’ attention. One of the men in ward two, a lifer named Big George with a traumatic brain injury, even liked to touch the ends of it that swished in front of my ears. I made sure he stuck to the left side so he didn’t get distracted by the tiny silver hoop earrings along my right ear. Lucas noticed those, too. I watched him catalog every part of me, absorbing the appearance of this outsider to his room, like someone would analyze a newly discovered insect. His gaze paused on the blue fabric bag I carried, his expression unreadable now.

I put a hand on my chest and waited until his attention snapped back to my face.

‘I’m Maya.’ Three syllables. Slow rate, distinct pronunciation. I didn’t smile. I’d never trusted strangers who smiled at me – they always wanted something.   Patting the place where my pulse beat too fast, I nodded and said it again. ‘Maya.’

He swiveled back toward the wall, dismissing the insect. I glanced behind me where Stan was shaking his head through the lead glass. Shrugging, I started to pull out the flashcards when suddenly Stan’s face changed. His eyes widened and his mouth opened in a warning I couldn’t hear.

I hesitated and before I could turn around, a giant force threw me into the wall and something was being looped around my neck. The metal door shrieked as Stan wrenched it open and I was pulled back, my body turned into a human shield. The thing around my neck tightened and I panicked, unable to breathe. Lucas had my arms locked behind me in an impossibly strong grip. I fought against it, desperate to free myself.

‘Keys,’ he said in a hoarse voice. I bowed my body against his, trying to find some slack in the cord around my throat, but met only a column of unyielding muscle. If anything, the cord grew tighter.

My vision started to contract, black creeping in at the edges. I kicked viciously, striking his shins so hard they should have snapped in half, and used the rest of my oxygen in the process. The last thing I saw before everything went dark was Stan’s hand, holding out his ring of keys.

Doesn’t that sound good?!  I’m really looking forward to reading Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia was published in the UK by Quercus Books on 4th September 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

Leave No Trace blog tour poster updated (1).jpg

about-the-author3

mindy mejia.jpgMy name is Mindy Mejia and I’m a writer. I write because, ever since I was six years old, my favorite game has been pretend. My life doesn’t have symmetry, theme, symbolism, or meditated beauty and I gravitate toward these things like a houseplant to the sun. I love the perfect words; I love how “fierce” and “confounded” and “swagger” look on the page and how my chest expands when I read them. I write because I believe in the reality of my fantasies, the truth in my fabrications. I’ve always had stories sneaking around my head, thrillers like THE DRAGON KEEPER and EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, and sometimes I inhabit those stories more than my own life. (Best not to mention that last part to my husband, kids, or boss.)

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Overkill by Vanda Symon (@vandasymon) @OrendaBooks #Overkill #NewZealandNoir #SamShephard

Overkill Cover  (1).jpegWhen the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.

Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.

To find the murderer … and clear her name.

A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Overkill blog tour.  Overkill by Vanda Symon was published by Orenda Books on 6th September 2018 and is the first in a new crime series featuring PC Sam Shephard.

I have travelled the world thanks to my literary choices over the years; it’s something I love to do.  Reading about a place far from home is always interesting and exciting – a different way of living, different cultures.  Until recently I had not managed to make my bookish way to New Zealand.  Australia, yes.  New Zealand, no.  However, thanks to Overkill I can now add a New Zealand stamp to my literary passport as this delightful piece of crime fiction is set in Mataura.

I am a huge fan of books set in small, close-knit towns.  The claustrophobia, the suspicion, the uncomfortable feeling you get as the characters start to realise that you can’t trust anyone.  The small town feeling Vanda Symon conveys in Overkill is wonderful.  The residents of Mataura have all been mucking along quite nicely together for years.  Then the body of a young mother is discovered in the river; the suicide note left behind confirms she couldn’t face life any more.  But PC Sam Shephard’s gut is telling her differently, something is wrong.  Before long Sam is investigating a murder.  What she doesn’t realise is that she’s the main suspect in her detective colleague’s eyes.  Can Sam solve the murder and clear her name…?

I loved Sam.  She’s so wonderfully human, so normal.  She has a chequered history with the victim’s husband which hangs precariously over her head throughout the entire investigation.  Her conflicted emotions and her self-deprecating manner made her all the more likeable.  I was also very fond of her flatmate and best friend, Maggie who stands by Sam when others don’t.  The writing and the narrative had a wonderful Kiwi flavour to it; it felt very real and I was pleased to see Sam wasn’t dressed up to be something she wasn’t.  She’s tough, resilient and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty.  She certainly needs to be tough as the only police officer stationed in Mataura!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Sam is a very likeable character who will appeal to many readers and Symon’s honest, no-nonsense writing brings her gloriously to life.  If you’re looking for thrills and spills a minute then maybe Overkill isn’t the book for you.  But if you’re wanting a cleverly woven mystery with characters who shine through then it’s well worth a read.  Claustrophobic, delightfully mysterious and a with a fierce female lead you can’t help but like.  I can’t wait to read the next book in the Sam Shephard series!

Four out of five stars.

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

Overkill by Vanda Symon was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 6th September 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

Overkill Blog Tour Poster (1).jpg

about-the-author3

vanda symonVanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.

A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.

As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.

And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.

Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.

When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.

Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.

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

Biography © http://vandasymon.com/

 

 

#BookReview: Brothers in Blood by Amer Anwar (@ameranwar) @dialoguebooks #BrothersinBlood #ZaqKhan #ZaqandJags

brothers in blood cover.jpg

“A Sikh girl on the run. A Muslim ex-con who has to find her. A whole heap of trouble.

Southall, West London. After being released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put the past behind him.

But when Zaq is forced to search for his boss’s runaway daughter, he quickly finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge.

With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?”

Well, this review has been a long time coming! Last year I was drawn to a book called Western Fringes thanks to a number of fantastic reviews. There was so much love for it, it had won the CWA Debut Dagger and oh boy, did I want to read it. My TBR was terrifying though (still is if I’m honest) so I was strong. It resulted in unnecessary twitching but I WAS STRONG! Then I met the author of Western Fringes at Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate and he is the nicest bloke you could wish to meet. I told him how much I wanted to read his book (I missed out the part about the twitching) but sobbed into my white wine about my terrifying TBR. So imagine my surprise a year later when a copy of Brothers in Blood lands on my doormat (I adore unexpected #bookpost!). It’s by Amer Anwar, author of the aforementioned, much sought after book, Western Fringes. Hold on, it IS Western Fringes with a new title and a cracking new cover. The brilliant new imprint from Little, Brown – Dialogue Books – have snapped up Western Fringes and made something great, even greater!

So dear reader, after a long build-up, after waiting for such a long time to read a copy, what did I think of Brothers in Blood (previously titled Western Fringes)? I absolutely flipping loved it! I found it utterly compelling and wonderfully refreshing compared to many of the other books I read. There’s a lot of heart but a heck of a lot of guts between the pages too.

Zaq Khan, our lead protagonist, is a convicted killer. He’s a good bloke but he thinks with his fists and then lives to regret it. Zaq has a big heart and a smart head on his shoulders, and that was one of the things I liked most about him. He’s a very intelligent man who got into a bad situation and has had to carry the burden of it for a long time. Time well spent under the watch of Her Majesty’s prison service. But that’s all in the past now and Zaq is trying to put his life back together, to move on. He’s got a job working as a delivery driver for Mr Brar and he’s getting back on his feet. That is until Mr Brar asks him to carry out a special task; find his missing daughter, Rita, and return her to her family. But Zaq has no idea what he’s getting himself into. What initially seems like an easy assignment suddenly turns into something much more sinister…

Brothers in Blood will stay with me for a long time to come. I became quite consumed with the story and the characters. Whilst doing every day things like sorting the laundry or cooking the dinner, I began to ponder on Zaq’s situation. I found myself quietly chuckling to myself as I relived the banter and camaraderie between Zaq and best mate, Jags. Anwar has created some very memorable characters and I relished every moment I spent with them.

I loved how our amateur sleuths, Zaq and Jags, approached solving the mystery (and the humorous references to deerstalkers made me chuckle!). Zaq is very much the brains of the outfit and Jags, the wheels (and the cash!). At times I was longing for a bit more violence (I’m an odd creature) but when that violence came it made my stomach turn a little and I had to take a short break (yay!).

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. With its wonderful British Asian flavour, it’s cast of fully-formed, standout characters and the intriguing mystery behind it all, it’s an absolute must-read for crime fiction fans. I just hope that we get to see Zaq and Jags again in the future. Wonderfully intense, raw and gutsy – I thoroughly recommend Brothers in Blood. No wonder this book won the CWA Debut Dagger. Absolutely outstanding!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Brothers in Blood. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Brothers in Blood by Amer Anwar was published in the UK by Dialogue Books on 6th September 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

amer anwar.jpg

The dodgy looking geezer in the photo is me. I grew up in West London. After leaving college I had a variety of jobs, including; warehouse assistant, comic book lettering artist, a driver for emergency doctors and chalet rep in the French Alps. I eventually landed a job as a creative artworker/graphic designer and spent the next decade and a half producing artwork, mainly for the home entertainment industry. I have an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London and am a winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. For everything else, I’ve got an alibi. It wasn’t me. I was never there.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward (@sarahrward1) @FaberBooks #DCConnieChilds #TheShroudedPath #MustRead

the shrouded path cover.jpg

“The past won’t stay buried forever.

November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.

October, 2014: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: ‘Find Valerie.’ Mina’s elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?

DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs’ old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Shrouded Path blog tour. The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward is the fourth book in the excellent DC Connie Childs series and continues to remain a very firm damppebbles.com favourite. A series I return to time and time again. And it’s the eBook publication day today for this latest instalment so a very happy release day to Sarah and the folk at Faber Books. The hardback will follow later this week on Thursday 6th September.

One of my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year is always the next DC Connie Childs book from Sarah Ward. And do you know what? I am NEVER disappointed. Never. It’s that simple really. If you’re a fan of crime fiction and you haven’t read one of Ward’s books, then you’re doing something wrong. Her characters are fully formed, living beings who leap off the page at the reader. You’re drawn into the misty fictional town of Bampton and it’s surrounding Peak District towns, a landscape which feels as much a part of the book as the characters. And then you’re handed a complex, enthralling mystery to get your teeth into. It’s fictional bliss and I can’t get enough of Ward’s masterful writing.

I adore Ward’s lead protagonist, Connie Childs, but I also have a rather large soft spot for her DI, Francis Sadler, who, unlike many senior officers you find in crime fiction, is supportive of his DC. Sadler offers an encouraging word and a gentle shove in the right direction whilst also providing the authority which spontaneous and impulsive Connie needs at times. They’re a wonderful match and such a refreshing change to many other DI/DC relationships I read about. I must also mention the new boy, DC Peter Dahl. He’s not as fiery as some of Connie’s previous colleagues but he felt a good fit for the team. I look forward to finding out more about him in future novels.

I very much enjoyed the leaps from the late-1950s to the present day. The author has built a wonderfully enjoyable mystery around a small group of school friends, both in the past and in the present. The secrets, the lies and the half-truths made for compelling reading. And yes, I tried from the very start to figure out where the story was headed and who was responsible but I would never have reached the correct conclusion. I was bowled over by how simple parts of the story were, how Ward manages to keep her big reveal, her ‘taddah’ moment away from the reader’s mind. Absolutely brilliant.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. And it’s predecessors too. This is one of the very best crime fiction series out there at the moment and Ward’s books are a must read for every crime thriller fan. A dark and brooding mystery which I couldn’t put down. The eerie atmosphere of ‘the Cutting’ sent chills down my spine. I absolutely loved it!

Five out of five stars.

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

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward was published in the UK by Faber Books on 6th September and is available in hardcover and eBook formats, with the paperback to follow in 2019 (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

SP_BLOG_TOUR (2).jpg

about-the-author3

sarah ward

Sarah Ward is the author of four DC Childs novels, In Bitter Chill, A Deadly Thaw, A Patient Fury and The Shrouded Path set in the Derbyshire Peak District where she lives. On her website, Crimepieces (www.crimepieces.com), she reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world. She is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels. Sarah was a 2015 Amazon Rising Star and A Patient Fury was The Observer’s Thriller of the Month in 2017.

Author Links: | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

about the author3

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

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

the dark inside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four and a half stars out of five.

Rod Reynolds will be moderating the September First Monday Crime panel on Monday 3rd September 2018. Rod will be appearing alongside Clare Mackintosh, Beth Lewis Lucy Atkins and Vicky Newham. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 3rd September at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

20-books

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

about the author3

rod reynolds.jpg

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

Author Links: | Twitter |

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

godlefe's cuckoo.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVERS BLOCK 1.jpg

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

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

about the author3

2017-12-20 15.50.35.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

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

about the author3

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

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

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |