#BookReview: The Binding Song by Elodie Harper (@ElodieITV) @MulhollandUK @1stMondayCrime

the binding song“Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…”

I was absolutely delighted to discover that Elodie Harper is one of the authors appearing at November’s ‘First Monday Crime’ event in London on Monday 6th November because it gave me the excuse (absolutely NO excuse needed) to read her debut, The Binding Song.  The Binding Song has been on my radar for some time now.  It was published by Mulholland Books in eBook and hardcover format earlier this year.  The paperback is due to be launched in February 2018 so keep an eye out for that.

As Autumn fades and Winter approaches it’s that time of year when I want to dive into a creepy, gothic thriller and fictitious HMP Halvergate in Norfolk provided the most perfect of settings to do that.  What a beautifully atmospheric and creepy story, one where I never really felt sure I knew exactly what was going on.  Even the sceptic in me believed in ghosts at one point during Harper’s haunting tale.  I felt apprehensive from the very first page and discovered a delightful ominous edge to Harper’s writing which had me hooked.

Dr Janet Palmer is the newly appointed forensic psychologist at the remote Norfolk-based Halvergate prison.  Halvergate is nothing like the prison she worked at before in London but the promotion seemed worth upping sticks for and moving away from her partner, Arun, and their comfortable life together.  Colleagues at the prison are distant and unfriendly, the prisoners are threatening and violent and Janet now feels very much alone.  Janet is made aware of an alarming increase in the number of suicides on D Wing – an occurrence which started under Dr Helkin’s care, and something she is keen to call a halt to.  But on starting work she discovers no one wishes to speak of her predecessor.  And Janet is approaching her caseload blind as all of Helkin’s notes seem to be missing.  She knows nothing about the deviant, sexual predators she faces on a daily basis and one particular prisoner both intrigues and repels her.  And what of the White Visitor, a pale black-eyed woman who is said to visit certain prisoners shortly before they take their own lives.  It’s down to Dr Palmer to uncover Halvergate’s secrets before more prisoners die and before the White Visitor comes to visit Janet…

As the story progresses you discover more about Janet and her tragic past.  The reader is given flashbacks into her teenage years and the heartache she and her family experienced.  At times I wondered why Janet would want to work in the prison service but as the story progressed and I was given more of an insight into her past, it all started to make sense.  Janet’s only friend in Norfolk is the prison chaplain, Steve.  Their relationship was interesting if a little stilted.  The friendship started to blossom only to be nipped in the bud by Janet’s frightening discoveries.  Knowing these two characters were friends but also so very alone created an eerie sense of isolation which sent shivers down my spine.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I’m looking forward to reading more from Elodie Harper in the future.  It’s a surprisingly creepy read with a breath-taking atmospheric feel at its core.  Ominous, tense and chock full of suspense.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of The Binding Song.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Binding Song by Elodie Harper was published in the UK by Mulholland Books on 29th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in February 2018) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Don’t forget to book your FREE place to see Elodie Harper alongside Stuart McBride, Simon Booker and Vaseem Khan with moderator Barry Forshaw on Monday 6th November at 6.30pm in Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket.  To find out more about the November panelists and to read the first chapter of their latest books, click HERE.

about the author3

elodie harper.jpgElodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, run by The Guardian and Hodder & Stoughton and judged by Stephen King. She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. She is married with a young son

Author Links: | Twitter |

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#BookReview: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear (@CazziF) @1stMondayCrime

Sweet Little Lies“WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

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

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

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

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

Hello, my favourite crime fiction people!  I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as I have another First Monday Crime review to tempt you with.  Today I am thrilled to feature my review of Caz Frear‘s awesome Sweet Little Lies.

Caz will be appearing alongside Mark Edwards, Ann Cleeves and Lilja Sigurðardóttir, not forgetting the lovely Rod Reynolds as moderator.  Make sure you reserve your FREE place at October’s event which takes place on Monday 2nd October at 6.30pm in Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket.  Only four sleeps to go….

my review2

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

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

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

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

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

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

about the author3

Caz FrearCaz Frear grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true.
She has a first-class degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, shop assistant, retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter.
When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) @1stMondayCrime

Edwards_The Lucky Ones (300dpi)“It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.

When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.

A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.

But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.

Happiness…and death.”

I am delighted to be able to share with you today my review of The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards.  Those who regularly follow the blog may be feeling an odd sense of deja vu about now and that’s because yes, I have featured this review on damppebbles before! But I have the most excellent of reasons for posting it again. Mark Edwards, one of my very favourite authors, will be appearing at First Monday Crime on 2nd October alongside three other superb writers (four if you count moderator, Rod Reynolds!).  For your chance to see Mark Edwards, Caz FrearLilja Sigurðardóttir and Ann Cleeves in the flesh (and, of course, the lovely Rod Reynolds!) all you need to do is click THIS LINK and book your FREE place.

my review2

I was a part of the blog tour for The Devil’s Work last year (another of Edwards’s books) and I think it’s fair to say I LOVED it.  I also reviewed Follow You Home in the very early days of damppebbles, as well reading The Magpies before blogging was a ‘thing’ in my life.

With that in mind, The Lucky Ones had a lot to live up to.   My expectations were high and I’m thrilled to confirm it did a stellar job. Another absolutely cracking thriller from the dark and dastardly mind of Mr Edwards (no offence intended, of course!).  Previous books have placed the main focus on everyday, normal characters and the terrible things which happen to them (which The Lucky Ones also does very well).  What came as a very pleasant surprise, as a die-hard crime fiction fan, was to discover an investigative duo in the form of DI Imogen Evans and DS Emma Stockwell playing a key role in the plot. And what a team!  I absolutely loved these two and would heartily encourage Mark Edwards to consider a spin-off series featuring this dynamic duo!  I’d read it, lol.

One of the things I admire about Mark Edwards’s writing is that he knows how to create a character.  If you’re a regular follower of the blog then you’ll know, for me, it’s all about the character (and the plot, and the setting….).  I’m not ashamed to say that I fell head over heels for newly single dad, Ben. I felt a real warmth for struggling Ben as he tried to settle back into country life after living with his cheating wife in London for so long.  And their poor son, Ollie having to adjust to life away from his mum and friends.  The characters were very real and I invested completely in them all.

The Lucky Ones reminded me of books with a similar premise where the killer is intent on making their victims happy before they die.  However, that’s where the comparisons end as the killer in The Lucky Ones knows what they are doing is wrong.  There is no warmth there and this is not a mission of mercy, this is a completely deluded psychopath. In my usual amateur detective way I was trying to work out who the killer was but I failed this time around and I’m glad I did as it gave me that, ‘oh wow’ moment which I love.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  I would recommend all of Mark Edwards’s work, even those I haven’t read as they will all be great reads.  Yup, I’m that confident.  If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller and you haven’t read a book by Mark Edwards then you are truly missing out.  A superb talent and one of my very favourite authors.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 15th June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Don’t forget to book your FREE ticket to October’s First Monday Crime which takes place on Monday 2nd October 2017 at Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket. Only one week to go….

Make sure you pop back to damppebbles on Thursday when I will feature my review of Caz Frear’s Sweet Little Lies in celebration of October’s First Monday Crime event.

about the author3

EDWARDS 7 TS 28

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Website | TwitterFacebook |