#BlogTour | #BookReview: Last Seen by Joy Kluver @bookouture #BooksonTour #LastSeen #damppebbles

Last-Seen-KindleA little girl is missing from under her mother’s nose. She’ll be scared and vulnerable – if she’s still alive. But no one is helping us search. No one wants to give us information. No one even seems surprised. What’s going on?

Detective Bernadette Noel came to this quiet rural corner of south-west England from London to lie low after a high-profile prosecution led to death threats against her family. But she has barely settled in when the call comes. A woman’s voice, shrill with terror and thick with tears: ‘Help – it’s my daughter, Molly – I only had my back turned for a minute… She’s gone!’

A child abduction is about as far from lying low as it gets, and her boss wants to assign a different detective. But there’s no way Bernie’s not taking the case – she can’t miss this chance to prove herself.

Five-year-old Molly Reynolds has been snatched from the playground in the village where she lives. Normally in cases like this the community is an asset – eager to help search and full of local knowledge. But although Molly’s mother Jessica is in anguish, the other villagers don’t seem to want to know.

As details emerge, Bernie discovers a possible link to a shocking crime that has never been solved, and which the locals have never forgotten. But what exactly is the connection to Molly’s abduction? Cracking a cold case is the only way to find out – and meanwhile time is running out for Molly.

A dark and compelling crime thriller that will have you reading late into the night. If you like Val McDermid, D.S. Butler or Angela Marsons, you’ll love Joy Kluver.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year with you – Last Seen by Joy Kluver. Last Seen was published on 26th March 2021 by Bookouture and is available in paperback, digital and audio formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Last Seen but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Bookouture for an early copy and asking me to be part of the blog tour.

Last Seen is Kluver’s debut novel and what a cracking start it is! It was a joy to meet DI Bernadette (Bernie) Noel – new to the area and newly promoted – as she took on her first case with Wiltshire Police, the desperate search for a missing five-year-old child. This is a very assured debut from an author to watch!

Shy and sensitive Molly Reynolds has been warned about stranger danger by the adults in her life. But that doesn’t stop her from being snatched from the local park, mere feet from her mother’s turned back. New to Wiltshire Police, DI Bernie Noel, is tasked with finding the girl and reuniting her with her family. But Bernie’s search is hampered at every turn by the folk of Ottersfield who seem uncaring, uninterested and reluctant to take time out of their busy schedules to help find the child. Why would a village react like that? Bernie and the team are at a loss. Every lead turns out to be a dead end. Until Bernie discovers the disappearance of another child twenty-five years earlier. Are the two cases connected and will Bernie find Molly in time…?

I really liked DI Noel who came across as a very relatable, very real character. Not only has Bernie got a challenging case on her hands but the author hints throughout the book of a troubled past which intrigued me. There are references to Bernie’s life in London and a case which still visibly haunts her. And all of this on top of the search for little Molly! The reader also gets to discover more about Bernie’s family which isn’t all sunshine and rainbows (pretty normal then!). These well-plotted layers add up to a very likeable new detective who I’m looking forward to spending more time with in the future.

The characters who form Bernie’s team are also well-written and I felt they all contributed to the story. DS Kerry Allen has a heart of gold but won’t take cr@p from anyone. Matt Taylor is a young, ambitious detective constable who personally, I liked the most. I hope he features in future books. Although he’s not officially part of the team (he should be!), Sergeant Alan Turner was just wonderful! And lastly, we have DS Dougie Anderson who I couldn’t work out (I don’t think I was the only one!). He seemed totally obnoxious one minute, only to turn sweetness and light the next! I think DI Noel and DS Anderson have a very interesting future ahead of them, although fingers crossed it’s not a romantic one! 

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Last Seen is a compelling read featuring an intriguing new detective. I loved the secrets, the deceit and the small town apathy Bernie finds in Otterfield. Normally, when a child goes missing it’s all hands to the pumps, but not in this case and the reasons behind the residents complete lack of interest kept me turning the pages. It’s a great start to a new series and I’m excited to see what is in store next for DI Noel and the team. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Last Seen. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Last Seen by Joy Kluver was published on 26th March 2021 and is available in paperback, digital and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comApple BooksKoboGoogle BooksGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Last Seen - BT Poster

about-the-author3

joy kluverJoy Kluver has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. More recently she’s been escaping the madness of motherhood by turning her hand to crime novels. A book blogger, she’s also part of the First Monday Crime team and if you’ve been to any of their events it’s likely you’ve eaten one of her cookies. She also organises author talks for her local library. Joy lives in SW London with her husband and three children. ‘Last Seen’ is her debut novel and the first book in the DI Bernadette Noel series.

Joy is represented by Anne Williams at the Kate Horden Literary Agency.

WWW Wednesday | 24th March 2021 #WWWWednesday #damppebbles

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

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

What are you currently reading?

mirrorland

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
The most dangerous stories are the ones we tell ourselves…

No. 36 Westeryk Road: an imposing flat-stone house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A place of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. But it’s what lies under the house that is extraordinary – Mirrorland. A vivid make-believe world that twin sisters Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what?

Now in her thirties, Cat has turned her back on her past. But when she receives news that one sunny morning, El left harbour in her sailboat and never came back, she is forced to return to Westeryk Road; to re-enter a forgotten world of lies, betrayal and danger.

Because El had a plan. She’s left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets. And to discover the truth, Cat must first confront the reality of her childhood – a childhood that wasn’t nearly as idyllic as she remembers…

‘The love child of Gillian Flynn and Stephen King. In Mirrorland nothing is as it appears and the kaleidoscope twists and turns will have you frantically turning the pages until you reach the gasp-out-loud ending’ GREER HENDRICKS, bestselling co-author of The Wife Between Us

What did you recently finish reading?

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey
When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

What do you think you’ll read next?

greenwich park

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret…

Masterfully plotted and utterly addictive, Greenwich Park is a dark, compelling look at motherhood, friendships, privilege and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves.

#BookReview: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward @ViperBooks #TheLastHouseonNeedlessStreet #damppebbles

“This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review (mini review may be the best description – or perhaps burblings) of The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. The Last House on Needless Street was published by the fabulous Viper Books last week on 18th March 2021. I received a free ARC of The Last House on Needless Street but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy.

I am a keen advocate of book reviews (goes without saying really, running a book blog where 95% of what I publish is reviews). Book reviews help readers find a hidden gem. Book reviews give readers an insight into what to expect before committing to reading. Book reviews are awesome. PLEASE DON’T READ ANY REVIEWS OF THIS BOOK, INCLUDING THIS ONE. There, I’ve said it. I’ve broken the rules 😮. Not sure what to do with myself now…

Oh, you’re still here? Normally at this point in a damppebbles review I give you my take on what the book is about. I can’t do that with The Last House on Needless Street. I really hope I’m piquing your curiosity here because you do NEED to read this book but what I’m aiming for, my hope for you, is that you go into this book without any prior knowledge of the story. PLEASE DON’T READ ANY FURTHER! I read a few reviews before starting the book so I went in suspicious (honestly, stop reading this review NOW!!) and when I say ‘suspicious’, I considered every single possible option as the story played out in front of me. Unfortunately, I was able to work out where the author was going to take certain aspects of the story so they didn’t have the same wow-factor which I know other early readers have experienced (I’m a highly suspicious person, it’s a serious flaw). I still savoured every single second of the book though, it has that effect.

What can tell you about The Last House on Needless Street? This is a beautiful, heart breaking piece of fiction that smashes boundaries. It was captivating and enchanting. Terrifying and horrific. I loved it but felt desperately uncomfortable at times. If I could read it all over again without having read those reviews in the first place, I would pay good money to do so. Of course, you may not be the same as me and you may be able to forget that you ever saw this review (I won’t be offended – in fact I’d even encourage it – or any others that you may happen across). Please, when you crack this book open, go in with a clear, open mind and enjoy every second of Ward’s spellbinding tale. It will be so worth it.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Last House on Needless Street needs to be read by everyone. Please don’t let the mention of gothic or horror put you off. It’s dark and unsettling, worms its way under your skin and stays there malevolently grinning at you. It’s brave and totally addictive. A slow burn story that will be impossible to forget. Despite my few good guesses, by the end of the book I was a completely broken woman. The author’s writing is sublime. The power of her words took my breath away. What the writer exposed me to devastated me. The Last House on Needless Street is something very special and I suggest you do whatever you can to get hold of a copy. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Last House on Needless Street. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward was published in the UK by Viper Books on 18th March 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreadsthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

CATRIONA WARD was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.

Stephen King praised her upcoming gothic thriller, saying: ‘The buzz building around Catriona Ward’s THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET is real. I’ve read it and was blown away. It’s a true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end. Haven’t read anything this exciting since GONE GIRL.’ THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET is published 2021 by Viper (UK) and Tor Nightfire (USA).

Ward’s preceding novel LITTLE EVE won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award, as well as the August Derleth Prize at the British Fantasy Awards, and was a Guardian best book of 2018. Her debut RAWBLOOD also won the 2016 August Derleth, making her the only woman to have won the prize twice. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. ‘The Pier at Ardentinny’ was shortlisted for the ALCS Tom Gallon Trust Award organised by the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London and Devon.

#BookReview: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks #EveryVowYouBreak #damppebbles

“After a whirlwind, fairytale romance, Abigail Baskin marries freshly-minted Silicon Valley millionaire Bruce Lamb.

For their honeymoon, he whisks her away to an exclusive retreat at a friend’s resort off the Maine coast on Heart Pond Island.

But once there, Abigail’s perfect new life threatens to crash down around her as she recognises one of their fellow guests as the good looking, charismatic stranger who weeks earlier had seduced her at her own Bachelorette party…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson. Every Vow You Break is published today (that’s Thursday 18th March 2021) by Faber Books and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Every Vow You Break but that has in no way influenced my review.

I LOVE Peter Swanson’s novels. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! He’s a favourite author of mine and picking up his latest release for the first time is one of the highlights of my year. His books are chock full of delicious suspense and always have a wicked twist in their tale. I heartily recommend ALL of his books – particularly The Kind Worth Killing and the absolutely stunning Rules for Perfect Murders which made it onto my ‘best books EVER’ list after being published last year.

Abigail Baskin is getting married! She’s all loved up (sort of) and heading off to California for her hen party (Bachelorette party for any US readers!) with a group of friends to let her hair down and wave goodbye to singledom. Following a night of delicious food and good wine, Abigail starts to chat with Scottie, a good-looking and charming divorcee. One thing leads to another, the wine flows and they end up in bed together. Abigail realises her mistake and hurries home to husband-to-be, Bruce, wracked with guilt, determined to forget it ever happened and make their marriage work. Until she starts to see Scottie everywhere she turns; in New York, at her wedding and most shockingly of all, Scottie is a fellow guest at the exclusive resort Bruce has chosen as their honeymoon destination. Why is Scottie following Abigail? What’s his agenda and will his presence on Heart Pond Island result in Abigail’s perfect life crashing down around her…?

This is a fantastic slow burn suspense novel which I found very readable. Swanson takes time and care to paint a picture of Abigail and Bruce’s lives together. You get to know Abigail particularly well and what makes her tick, before the author blows the couple’s worlds apart. When the bomb is dropped, OMG, it’s a big un! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough – I had to find out how things were going to end. I was gripped and loving every second of my reading experience.

I grew to like Abigail over the course of the novel. I will admit I wasn’t an instant fan but my judgement was based more on her indiscretion and my own personal feelings about cheating on a partner. I was hoping she would get her comeuppance. However, I quickly changed my mind as the story progressed. Oh boy, did I change my mind!!

I did have one tiny niggle about this book and you’re probably going to think I’m crazy! The use of the word ‘pond’. To me, as a Brit, a pond is a small, stagnant body of water. Probably infested with frogs, algae and water slugs (are they a thing?). In Every Vow You Break, characters are swimming and sailing on the pond which seemed to me to be vast. Isn’t that a lake? Perhaps it’s a UK vs US thing. Anyway, my point is, the use of the word jarred me a little every time it was used as what I pictured in my own mind didn’t seem to match with what the book was telling me. Maybe I’m just odd. Maybe I have no knowledge whatsoever of ponds and I should just shut up now…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Every Vow You Break is a great addition to Swanson’s back catalogue. The author remains one of my absolute favourites and I’m already looking forward to his next book. Every Vow You Break has a very interesting twist which drew me in to the story. At times I was on the edge of my seat, at other times I was furious with the characters. My blood was boiling. All in all, another brilliant reading experience from the master of suspense. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Every Vow You Break. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber Books on 18th March 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Peter Swanson is the author of seven novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Every Vow You Break. His books have been translated into over 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Yearn To Fear by Chas Murrell (@MurrellChas) @cobaltdinosaur #YearnToFear #damppebbles

“The greatest scientific invention of modern times…
Capable of curing humanity…
But more adept at controlling it…

Sydney scientist, Marcus Hall, is developing a radical 5G Wi-Fi receiver for CSIRO. With access to secretive Lamarr computer chips – this technology promises billions to repair Australia’s ravaged economy. On a caffeine boosted whim, he inadvertently discovers a therapeutic breakthrough in neuroscience. Or so he thinks…

His seemingly trustworthy lab partner, Henry, is an unlikely Australian spy. His official duty is keeping tabs on the project and their Lamarr chips. But the whole project is now classified top-secret.
Marcus remains blissfully unaware of the many secrets surrounding him, until he witnesses the graphic murder of a colleague. Could this event reveal Henry as a master deceiver and ruthless double agent? Will the scientific discovery be fatal for Marcus, those he loves, and the one he yearns for? Marcus faces a soul tearing dilemma: is the only means of stopping the carnage to weaponise his prototype?

Foreign intelligence agencies realise the top-secret breakthrough is priceless. One particular spy leads the race to seize the invention. A psychological master of the long game, espionage, and extortion, his only rule according to Kung Fu: Win.

Friend and foe alike confront this psychotic mastermind. All will FEAR him, but is their FEAR real? Only the next six minutes will tell…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I’m handing the blog over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who is going to share his review of Yearn to Fear by Chas Murrell as part of the blog tour. Yearn to Fear was published on 18th November 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats. Ryan chose to read and review a free digital copy of Yearn to Fear but that has in no way influenced his review.

Yearn to Fear is the debut novel from Chas Murrell and what is very impressive about this book is that Chas has his own distinct style already. Yearn to Fear is not a formulaic spy thriller, nor is it a dry police procedural. Rather it is a character driven espionage, spy thriller with weapons! It’s intriguing, it’s different and it’s well worth a read!

Yearn to Fear follows Marcus and Henry as they work at CSIRO on a new telecommunication chip. The work isn’t showing promising results but after one experiment they discover the unexpected power of the Lamarr chip. The chip can bring benefits to the users and the potential market is suddenly much bigger than the 5G companies. This is something that everyone wants to get their hands on and they will stop at nothing to get it!

Once we realise the power of the chip, the reader is plunged headlong into an exciting adventure where everyone we met in the first half of the book suddenly starts to show their true colours. When you have something every government would kill for, who can you trust? Each character starts to evolve; we see what drives them, we see more of their true purpose and that means things will get messy. Throw in a handful of heavies, some special ops and of the course the local police and you get a story you will not want to put down. I felt intrigued as to where this was going to go, who was really out to get who, and who may not be who they seem. There were definitely twists and surprises in this one that left me shocked.

I must say I found the first half of the story a little slow. The character building and the scientific explanation of what the Lamarr chip may or may not be doing felt carefully paced. However Murrell is teeing up the story for an explosive second half and what promises to be an interesting sequel. Not once as a reader did I feel overawed by the science, or the implications. The author moved the plot along at a rapid pace without befuddling the reader.

The interesting benefit of setting a story around a massive research institute like CSIRO is that you are allowed very intelligent characters.  Leaps of logic that in other books would seem out of place, were cleverly explained by the author. The ‘good guys’ didn’t just have to rely on serendipity and bullets in this novel. Brains were allowed and the mental chess game with the enemy spy made for entertaining reading.

I would recommend Yearn to Fear to anyone looking for a different take on the spy thriller and looking to find a new go-to author.

Ryan chose to read and review a free digital copy of Yearn to Fear. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Yearn to Fear by Chas Murrell was published in the UK on 18th November 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesdamppebbles bookshop.org shopGoodreads |

Chas Murrell has been a Police Officer, Senior Fire Commander, Customs Coastwatch surveillance mission co-ordinator, heavy machinery mechanic, emergency medical technician/ instructor, film extra, and General Manager of an event company. He has published academic papers on liquid hydrogen and held a worldwide provisional patent for a nonlinear mathematical calculation. He survived Australia’s largest gas BLEVE in 1987, and has provided operational support to some of Australia’s largest natural disasters in North Queensland.

On a personal level he has suffered from relentless and debilitating migraines all his life, is father to four and pop to two. He and his artistically entrepreneurial wife live in Tasmania, which looks very much like Scotland and they wouldn’t have it any other way. A direct descendant of Robert the Bruce (King of Scots), history runs deep in Chas’s veins, along with a profound knowledge of both World Wars. You may even come across him online playing World of Tanks.

In his Australian spy thriller books you will get to know Chas’s knowledge of technology, intrigue, crime, espionage, weaponry, banter, romance and even whisky… yet above all, there is believability and no loose ends.

WWW Wednesday | 17th March 2021 #WWWWednesday #damppebbles

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

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

What are you currently reading?

The Islanders by S.V. Leonard
Her dream escape is about to become a nightmare…

Kimberley King has spent the last five years trying to outrun the reason she left the police force. Her life is a mess and she’s desperate for change. So when she is randomly selected for the new series of the hit show LoveWrecked, she can’t pass up the chance to win the £100,000 prize. All Kimberley needs to do is couple up with one of her fellow contestants, win the infamous LoveWrecked challenges, and she will have enough cash for a fresh start.

But the island isn’t the paradise she was promised and within hours, one of the contestants is dead. Then the announcement comes: one of the islanders is a murderer and Kimberley must find out who, live on television. For every hour it takes her, one more person will die.

The game is rigged, everyone is hiding secrets, and time is running out…

An addictive and unputdownable crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lucy Foley and T.M. Logan.

What did you recently finish reading?

Last Seen (DI Bernadette Noel #1) by Joy Kluver
I can see her, shouting with laughter as she swings as high as she can, her beautiful blonde curls flying out behind her. I can feel her tiny hot hand in mine, and my heart aches. My little girl. If only I’d listened to my gut. Then maybe she’d be safe here with me…

When five-year-old Molly Reynolds is snatched from the park in the small village of Otterfield, Detective Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel throws herself into the search, sick with worry for the quiet, sensitive little girl and her distraught mother.

Wasting no time, Bernie finds a small green cardigan under a bush in the park. It still has the smiley face sticker Molly won that week at school. It’s the first in a chain of clues – and Bernie can’t shake the feeling that it was left deliberately, as a message.

But Bernie encounters a wall of silence. Otterfield is a close-knit community, yet no one in the village seems to care that Molly is missing at all. Why?

And then Bernie makes a chilling discovery: twenty-five years ago, another little girl went missing from the area. Her name was Sophie, and all they ever found of her was her teddy bear, hidden under a bush. Now Bernie knows she’s in a race against time to save Molly’s life.

Bernie’s team work round the clock to find a connection between the two girls, and just when they think they’re making progress a devastating tragedy strikes at the heart of the case. Molly’s family have been hiding a secret, and now their little girl is in greater danger than ever.

Can Bernie outwit the most warped criminal she has ever faced and bring Molly home safe, or will another innocent life be lost?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey
When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

#BlogTour | #Excerpt: The Night Gate by Peter May (@authorpetermay) @riverrunbooks @midaspr @SophMidas #TheNightGate #damppebbles

“In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house. The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart.

Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensics expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter. Two extraordinary narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown.

And Enzo’s investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders – the Mona Lisa.

Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as it is moved from château to château by the Louvre, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades.

Events that have led to both killings.

The Night Gate spans three generations, taking us from war-torn London, the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Berlin and Vichy France, to the deadly enemy facing the world in 2020. In his latest novel, Peter May shows why he is one of the great contemporary writers of crime fiction.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be kicking off The Night Gate blog tour alongside the fabulous The Book Magnet. The Night Gate is the seventh and final book in Peter May’s The Enzo Files series and will be published later this week on 18th March 2021 in hardcover, audio and digital formats by Riverrun.

To celebrate the books release I am thrilled to be sharing the prologue with you today. So pull up a comfy chair, put the kettle on and enjoy…

PROLOGUE

Emile Narcisse is pleased by his appearance. Vanity has always been a weakness. Where, perhaps, others see him as just another old man, he still perceives himself as the young Emile whose smile won hearts, whose blue-eyed looks turned heads. And after all, sixty-five is not so old. Vintage. Like a good wine, some men just get better with age.

Were he not so focused on his reflection in the mirror as he adjusts his tie and straightens his collar, he might have been able to look beyond it and see the certainty of death that lies in wait. But pride and greed blind him to his fate.

He has chosen a room at the back of the hotel with a view of the river.

Or, rather, its black slow-moving backwater broken only by the reflection of trees on the sliver of island beyond. On the far side of the island the River Dordogne, swollen by recent rains, makes a stately but more rapid progress towards the Atlantic two hundred and fifty kilometres to the west. But it is dark now, and he can see nothing beyond the glass.

He glances at his watch. Time to go. He feels a tiny, excited frisson of anticipation. But also doubt. Is it really possible that fate could have sent such good fortune his way? It is hard to believe. And, yet, here he is.

Floorboards creak softly beneath his shoes as he descends lightly to reception. The hotel is quiet, the tourist season a distant memory. A notice on the counter reminds customers that the hotel will be closed in just a few weeks for a full month. The annual congés . It will reopen in December in time for Christmas and  la nouvelle année , if indeed Covid will allow for a celebration of either.

Narcisse glances through double French windows that open into the restaurant. Empty tables beneath cold yellow light, the chill October night pressing darkly against windows all along the far side. Not yet seven-thirty. Too early for the French to dine. But on his return he expects to eat, and crack open a celebratory bottle of Bordeaux. A car passes in the street outside. He drops his key on the counter, pleased that there is no one around requiring him to wear his mask. He fingers it in his pocket, glad to keep it there. He detests the damn thing, stuffy and claustrophobic. Yet, he knows, it is a significant barrier against the virus. And at his age he cannot afford to take any risks.

He does not see the man sitting in the bar, face obscured by a local newspaper, a half-drunk beer on the table in front of him. But as Narcisse steps out into the frosted air, the solitary drinker lowers his paper, rising to cross quickly to a door that leads to the terrace. From here he watches the art dealer make his way towards the palisade, breath billowing in the street lights. Anger burgeons in this man’s breast, a seething rage close to boiling point. The duplicitous peacock has no idea that Bauer is even here. Bauer knows he is not expected for another thirty minutes.

But he knows, too, that beyond the gate opposite, a path will lead him through a garden straight to the top of the hill, where another gate will provide direct access to the terrace at the side of her house.

Narcisse turns left at the post office, before he reaches the palisade.

Above it, the château cuts a shadow against the starlit sky, and Narcisse shivers, pulling his collar closer to his neck. Medieval shuttered stone dwellings crowd him on either side, reducing the sky to a ribbon of black overhead. The icy air is almost heady with the sweet-smoke smell of autumn oak, the cold of it burning his nostrils.

Where the road opens out left and right, the gate to the small park at the top of the hill lies open. Some work in progress near the war monument has been taped off, and Narcisse sees the thin strip of plastic catch light from the street lamps as it flutters gently in the cold air that snakes through these fifteenth-century streets. But before he reaches the park he turns off to climb the long flight of stone steps to the house that overlooks it. A small covered landing at the door lies in shadow. He pauses and takes a deep breath before slipping on his mask, as if to hide his identity. This is the moment of truth, perhaps the moment to which his entire career has led him. The window shutters to the left of the door stand open, but only darkness lies beyond. There is not a light to be seen anywhere in the house, and Narcisse experiences his first sense of apprehension. He lifts the cast-iron knocker and sharply raps it twice against the wood. Inside he hears the echo of it smothered by the dark. Apprehension gives way to irritation as he knocks again, louder this time. Irritation burgeoning to anger, and then frustration. Is it all just some elaborate hoax? He tries the door handle and to his surprise feels it yield to his hand. The door swings into darkness.

‘Hello?’ His voice seems strangely disconnected from his body.

There is no reply. He steps into the doorway and reaches around the wall, searching for a light switch with his fingers. He finds it. But it brings no light to this world. He curses softly behind his mask and calls again.

‘Hello?’

Still nothing. He takes another step forward. He knows that he is in the kitchen because he was here earlier. A door at the far end, beyond a long table, leads to a short hallway, and then the grand salon. But he can see almost nothing, his eyes made blind by the streets lights he has just left behind. The house feels cold and empty, and his anger becomes incandescent, as if that might light the way ahead. He takes less cautious steps further into the kitchen, his fingertips finding the tabletop to guide him. Shapes are starting to take form around him now.

A sound that whispers like the smooth passage of silk on silk startles him. Movement in the darkness ahead morphs into silhouette.

Momentary light catches polished steel, before he feels the razor-like tip of it slash across his neck. There is no real pain, just an oddly invasive sensation of burning, and suddenly he cannot breathe. His hands fly to his neck, warm blood coursing between cold fingers. He presses both palms against the wound as if somehow they might keep the blood from spilling out of him. He hears it gurgling in his severed windpipe. Just moments earlier he had been consumed by anger. Now he understands that he is going to die, but somehow cannot accept it.

It is simply not possible. Consciousness rapidly ebbs to darkness and he drops to his knees. The last thing he sees, before falling face-first to the floor, is his killer. Caught in a fleeting moment of moonlight. And he simply cannot believe it.

Wow, I cannot wait to read The Night Gate! The prologue has hooked me right in so I’m moving this one up the TBR straight away.

Peter May is heading out on a virtual book tour later this week. You can find out when and where by clicking this link: https://maypeter.com/. You’ll also be able to book tickets!

The Night Gate by Peter May was published in the UK by Riverrun on 18th March 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Peter May is a Scot living in France.  Winner of two major French literary awards, May’s books have also won Crime Novel of the Year awards in France, Scotland, the UK, and the United States.

With more than 4 million copies of his books sold, he is best known for his acclaimed “Lewis Trilogy“, set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. His series of  six “China Thrillers” and six France-based “Enzo Files” are currently enjoying best-selling success in reprints.

His most recent works have been the standalone stories: “Entry Island“, “Runaway“, “Coffin Road“,  and “I’ll Keep You Safe“.

Peter May started his writing career as a journalist, winning a national award at the age of 21. Still in his twenties, he switched to writing drama for UK television. He created three major drama serials in the UK and has credits for scriptwriting or producing more than 1,000 episodes of ratings-topping shows. He quit TV in the 1990s to concentrate on his first love, writing books.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Comeback by Chris Limb (@catmachine) @unbounders @cobaltdinosaur #Comeback #damppebbles

“Genie has everything – a BRIT award, a singing career, the attention of the press and Oliver Fox, a pretty boy who looks good on her arm.

Until he dies.

His death brings Genie’s long buried feelings bubbling to the surface. Her grief over the death of her lover Wendi who introduced her to this world. Her self doubt and fear that she will be exposed as a fraud.

How far is she prepared to go to fix things? 

The afterlife isn’t the most comfortable of places for anyone who’s still alive, but Genie’s not going to take any crap from the dead – she’s got years of experience in the music business.

Sometimes going to Hell and back takes a lifetime…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I’m handing the blog over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, today who is sharing his review of Comeback by Chris Limb as part of the blog tour. Comeback was published by Unbound on 21st January 2021 and is available in digital and paperback formats. Ryan chose to read and review a free digital copy of Comeback but that has in no way influenced his review.

There are some blurbs that are easy to forget but this blurb caught my attention and intrigued me, and I am so glad it did.  Comeback charts the story of Genie from her introduction into the world of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll to a commercially successful peak and then personal freefall after her partner, Oliver Fox, dies. For most authors that would be enough, but not for Chris Limb! For here in Comeback death is not the end of the story, just the start of the next chapter.

The story is not told linearly, with the reader learning more about Genie and Ollie’s past as the story progresses. Comeback will pull the reader into its plot and leave you fascinated as to where the story will go next. I loved the energy of the settings, the characters and the honesty about the seediness of the music world. The flashbacks to Genie’s unexpected journey to pop stardom acted as a perfect counterweight to the incredible situations she was finding herself in in the afterlife, and meant that the book strangely kept some form of realism amongst the fantastical elements.

Genie is a fascinating central character and we see her grow from a shy retiring wallflower to staring out from the front cover of a music magazine. But rather than letting commercial success seem the pinnacle, Limb shows that the personal changes around Genie are not happening at the same time. Commercial success does not always equal happiness, and sometimes it takes an event or adventure to put this in perspective. And what an adventure Genie goes on!

By reading Comeback you will be taken to places you didn’t think possible. The story contains genuine wit, characters that evolve and change in front of you and wonderful classical mythological references. I wish I could say more but I don’t want to spoil the surprises for you!

I don’t think many authors could bring together the disparate references of BRIT award winners and mythology and create something this good!  Genie’s tortured choices of whether to do what was expected of her for success, versus what she wanted to do for herself, were a common element throughout the story and we watch as her self-confidence grows and crumbles at different times.

Would I recommend Comeback?  I would! If you are after something different to read, a book that will take you to Hell and Back but leave you with a smile, then Comeback is the book for you. Chris Limb has written something so out of this world that it may just be the tonic we all need for today’s reality!

Comeback by Chris Limb was published in the UK by Unbound on 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesBlackwells | Barnes & NobleHive.co.uk | bookshop.orgFoyles | Book Depositorythe damppebbles bookshop.org shop | Goodreads |

Chris is a writer based in UK, who has had a number of short stories published over the past few years, blogs on a regular basis and occasionally reviews books and audios for the British Fantasy Society.

Chris wrote a short pop memoir which was published in 2011 and went down well with its core-audience. It continues to sell at a steady rate to this day.

Chris also plays bass guitar and performs random acts of web and graphic design for a diverse selection of clients.

WWW Wednesday | 10th March 2021 #WWWWednesday #damppebbles

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

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

What are you currently reading?

Last Seen (DI Bernadette Noel #1) by Joy Kluver
I can see her, shouting with laughter as she swings as high as she can, her beautiful blonde curls flying out behind her. I can feel her tiny hot hand in mine, and my heart aches. My little girl. If only I’d listened to my gut. Then maybe she’d be safe here with me…

When five-year-old Molly Reynolds is snatched from the park in the small village of Otterfield, Detective Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel throws herself into the search, sick with worry for the quiet, sensitive little girl and her distraught mother.

Wasting no time, Bernie finds a small green cardigan under a bush in the park. It still has the smiley face sticker Molly won that week at school. It’s the first in a chain of clues – and Bernie can’t shake the feeling that it was left deliberately, as a message.

But Bernie encounters a wall of silence. Otterfield is a close-knit community, yet no one in the village seems to care that Molly is missing at all. Why?

And then Bernie makes a chilling discovery: twenty-five years ago, another little girl went missing from the area. Her name was Sophie, and all they ever found of her was her teddy bear, hidden under a bush. Now Bernie knows she’s in a race against time to save Molly’s life.

Bernie’s team work round the clock to find a connection between the two girls, and just when they think they’re making progress a devastating tragedy strikes at the heart of the case. Molly’s family have been hiding a secret, and now their little girl is in greater danger than ever.

Can Bernie outwit the most warped criminal she has ever faced and bring Molly home safe, or will another innocent life be lost?

What did you recently finish reading?

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson
After a whirlwind, fairytale romance, Abigail Baskin marries freshly-minted Silicon Valley millionaire Bruce Lamb.

For their honeymoon, he whisks her away to an exclusive retreat at a friend’s resort off the Maine coast on Heart Pond Island. But once there, Abigail’s perfect new life threatens to crash down around her as she recognises one of their fellow guests as the good looking, charismatic stranger who weeks earlier had seduced her at her own Bachelorette party…

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Islanders by S.V. Leonard
Her dream escape is about to become a nightmare…

Kimberley King has spent the last five years trying to outrun the reason she left the police force. Her life is a mess and she’s desperate for change. So when she is randomly selected for the new series of the hit show LoveWrecked, she can’t pass up the chance to win the £100,000 prize. All Kimberley needs to do is couple up with one of her fellow contestants, win the infamous LoveWrecked challenges, and she will have enough cash for a fresh start.

But the island isn’t the paradise she was promised and within hours, one of the contestants is dead. Then the announcement comes: one of the islanders is a murderer and Kimberley must find out who, live on television. For every hour it takes her, one more person will die.

The game is rigged, everyone is hiding secrets, and time is running out…

An addictive and unputdownable crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lucy Foley and T.M. Logan.

#BookReview: Time Is Running Out by Michael Wood @0neMoreChapter_ #TimeIsRunningOut #damppebbles

“You’re a survivor, aren’t you, Matilda? But what’s the point in surviving when everyone around you is dead?

When DCI Matilda Darke receives a mysterious telephone call, she immediately dismisses the threat. Afterall the Homicide and Major Enquiries team are a regular target for prank calls.

But ignoring this warning might soon be the biggest regret of Matilda Darke’s life.

A lone gunman is on a deadly rampage around Sheffield, leaving a bloody trail in his wake. Taking his shots with a sickening precision, he’s about to leave his mark on the world and change Matilda and her team’s lives forever.

The next chilling instalment in the DCI Matilda Darke thriller series, perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney and Angela Marsons.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of the latest book in the DCI Matilda Darke series by Michael Wood – Time Is Running Out. Time Is Running Out was published on 26th February 2021 by One More Chapter and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in May. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Time Is Running Out but that has in no way influenced my review.

This book is incredible and all kinds of insane! I’m a little awestruck but in the best way possible. Flipping heck! I have been reading the DCI Darke series for a while now. Although, I have to admit, I haven’t read the first two books but that has not hampered my enjoyment of the series at any point. My advice to you, before reading this latest instalment (which coincidentally is book seven), is to get to know the recurring characters a little first. Become familiar with and completely invested in this fantastic team. So then, when you get round to reading Time Is Running Out, the events and the outcome of this brilliant book will smack you about the head and leave you utterly dazed with your jaw on the floor. I ADORED this book!

It’s a normal day at South Yorkshire Police HQ when DCI Matilda Darke receives a strange phone call. She dismisses it, not giving it much thought and starts the morning briefing. But the phone call marks the start of an unforgettable day in the lives of those in and around the Sheffield area. The day a gunman terrorised their city, killing numerous people. The devastation and the grief is far reaching. Will life ever be the same again for the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team. And in particular, for DCI Darke…?

Holy moly, what a book! I’ve always said in my reviews for this author’s novels that he is not afraid to put his characters through the wringer and oh boy, I think Time Is Running Out proves that. What a brave, unflinching piece of absolutely gut-wrenching and gripping fiction. Fans of the series are either gonna love it or need counselling. I devoured this book and I loved every single bloodied second of it.

Now all I need to do is work out how to talk about the book without spoilers, which will be a challenge. We join the team on a normal day at the start of January and very early on the author gives readers a piece of good news – something to celebrate and warm the cockles. And then it all goes horribly, horribly wrong for the people of Sheffield. The initial scene, where we discover a gunman is on the loose, is utterly shocking. The pacing is perfect and I was holding my breath throughout. I kept muttering to myself under my breath – ‘surely, he won’t… oh, he has!!!’. It was jaw dropping and so brilliantly done. From there, things actually get a whole lot worse. If I said I was on the edge of my seat that would be an understatement. I had goosebumps, I had chills, I had palpitations.

The action doesn’t really stop from that point forward. Despite their best intentions and all resources being put into the investigation, the team falter. They struggle to find out the identity of the gunman or his reason for carrying out the devastating carnage. Time Is Running Out is so cleverly written, so very immersive and it was a dream of a novel to read. I am a little peeved at the author for a couple of things but hey, I can understand why he did what he did. I just wish other authors were as brave.

Would I recommend this book? I would recommend Time Is Running Out whole heartedly but only after you’ve read a couple of earlier DCI Darke novels. I think you need a good understanding of the team and what makes them tick to get the best out of the book. It’s a truly epic piece of crime fiction and I loved it. The best police procedural I’ve read in a long time, no doubt about it. Life will never be the same again. However, I will say it’s probably not for the faint hearted and contains some distressing scenes that not everyone will be comfortable with, but I devoured this book with glee. I cannot wait to see what the author comes up with next. Brave, bold and completely hypnotic. I struggled to put this one down. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Time Is Running Out. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Time Is Running Out by Michael Wood was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 26th February 2021 and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in May (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | the damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

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

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |