#FirstMondayCrime: The Panel – December 2019 @1stMondayCrime @shaminiflint #SimonBrett @tarquinhall @samblakebooks @JakeKerridge #CriminalMastermind @severnhouse #damppebbles

Hello and welcome to the blog today. I’ve donned my Santa hat and I’ve put up the Christmas decorations. Actually, that’s not true. It IS only November after all! Bah humbug. But December is just around the corner which means that it’s time for another brilliant First Monday Crime panel in London. Cancel all of your plans for Monday 2nd December at 6.30pm and head over to the First Monday website now to reserve your FREE ticket.

December’s panel is looking fantastic. And as a special Christmas treat, the team have lined up a little something extra which I will tell you about soon.

First, let’s find out who will be on the panel…

1_FlintShaminiShamini Flint – ‘A Frightfully English Execution’
Shamini Flint is a Cambridge graduate and was a lawyer with the UK firm Linklaters for ten years, travelling extensively in Asia during that period, before giving up her practice to concentrate on writing. She is the author of several children’s books. Visit her at http://www.shaminiflint.com

xsimon-brett.jpg.pagespeed.ic.cQ2w13ZhKRSimon Brett – ‘The Killer in the Choir’
Simon Brett worked as a producer in radio and television before taking up writing full time. As well as the much-loved Fethering series, the Mrs Pargeter novels and the Charles Paris detective series, he has written a number of radio and television scripts. Married with three children, he lives in an Agatha Christie-style village on the South Downs. You can find out more about Simon at his website: http://www.simonbrett.com

tarquin-hall-46978953Tarquin Hall – ‘The Case of the Reincarnated Client’
Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has previously lived in the USA, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. He now divides his time between the UK and India, and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand. He is the author of four previous Vish Puri mysteries

Sam-Blake-full-body-jason-clarke-photography-final-683x1024Sam Blake – ‘Keep Your Eyes on Me’
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the multi award winning national writing resources website http://www.writing.ie.

She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication.
Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. The first in her bestselling Cat Connolly triology, Little Bones, was nominated for Irish Crime Novel of the Year. 

And Jake Kerridge will be moderating. December’s panel is not to be missed, I’m sure you’ll agree.

But what of the extra little something I mentioned? Well, to start with, Severn House is sponsoring the night and will be offering ticket holders a free glass of wine. But it doesn’t end there, no siree! There will also be another event taking place that evening called Criminal Mastermind featuring the brilliant Claire McGowan and Angela Clarke.

Make sure you get your ticket before they are all snapped up! The event will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 2nd December at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

#BookReview: The Whisper Man by Alex North @MichaelJBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheWhisperMan #FirstMondayCrime #damppebbles

the whisper man

“If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window…”

Hello bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today because I get to share one of my favourite books of the year with you! The brilliant Alex North will be appearing at First Monday Crime this month which is the perfect excuse for me to shout about The Whisper Man for a second time. Scroll down to find out who else will be appearing at First Monday alongside Alex on Monday!

I received a free ARC copy of The Whisper Man but this has in no way influenced my review.

Well, this is an absolutely cracking read and a strong contender for my book of the year! You know when you see a book and you just know, without any shadow of a doubt, that you’re going to LOVE it. That happened to me at a crime fiction festival last year when I won a book. I could choose between this and another title. A very naughty publicist (who shall remain nameless) talked me into taking a different book against my better judgement and since then I have been hankering after a copy of The Whisper Man. I haven’t read the other book yet, by the way, and it’s got some awesome reviews. I was drawn to this one though and should have gone with my gut!

This a wonderfully creepy and dark read which I powered through – probably quicker than anything else I’ve read this year. There’s a definite horror vibe about it which just added to my overall enjoyment of the book. But what I loved most were our lead characters, Tom and Jake, who absolutely shone from the pages. Tom and his 7-year-old son, Jake, don’t have the easiest of relationships. Rebecca; wife, mother and the glue which held the family together, died suddenly leaving the pair of them to fend for themselves. Jake discovered his mum’s body slumped at the bottom of the stairs. Something that would traumatise most adults. He misses his mum terribly and has a new found fear of the stairs. Which is why Tom decides a fresh start is what they need. They leave the painful memories and the frightening stairs behind and move to the sleepy village of Featherbank. But Featherbank has a dark past of its own. The Whisper Man killed a number of young boys fifteen years ago. And now another boy has gone missing. Bewildered by Jake’s behaviour normally, Tom is even more confused when Jake starts acting even stranger…

I absolutely loved this book and will be sending people barmy by recommending it all of the time! The characters are just superb. I loved Tom and my heart ached for little Jake (I have kids around the same age) but there are other equally as brilliant characters in this book. I have to mention DI Pete Willis who I adored. A man with many regrets and forever searching for the one boy he couldn’t find. He has a troubled past which he tortures himself with on a daily basis and deals with an addiction which he takes one step at a time. Then there’s Frank Carter, an evil psychopath who revels in his past as The Whisper Man and who longs to be remembered for what damage he did. Brilliant, just brilliant!

You need this book in your life. It’s brilliantly creepy, edgy and chock full of surprises. I was totally smitten from the moment I read the first page. The characters are outstanding, the plot hooks you in in a matter of minutes and the writing is just sublime. Not forgetting the seemingly-quaint yet overwhelmingly sinister setting of Featherbank. This book has definitely left its mark on me. I loved it and it’s going to take something extra special to knock it off the top spot.

Would I recommend this book? You have to ask…?! Most definitely. It gave me chills and made my heart ache for Tom, Jake and their struggling relationship. Full of some of the most memorable characters I have ever met in a book – I loved it (do say if I’m repeating myself!). Completely unforgettable, impossible to put down and absolutely everything I want from a book. I am in love.

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

The Whisper Man by Alex North was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 13th June 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats with the paperback to follow in December (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 | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads | Foyles |

First Monday Crime:
Alex North will be joining the panel for November’s First Monday Crime event on Monday 4th November 2019. Alex will be appearing alongside Louise Candlish, Abir Mukherjee, Victoria Selman and Sophie Goodfellow. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 4th November at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about-the-author3

Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Lying Room by Nicci French @simonschusterUK @1stMondayCrime #TheLyingRoom #FirstMondayCrime #damppebbles

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Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn’t call the police.

‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’

A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?

A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of The Lying Room by hugely popular author, Nicci French. The Lying Room will be published in hardcover and ebook format on Thursday 3rd October 2019 by Simon & Schuster, with the paperback to follow next year. And to celebrate, Nicci French (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French) will be appearing at October’s First Monday Crime night in London on 7th October. The event is completely free to attend but you do need to reserve your spot. More information about how to do that shortly.

I received a free ARC of The Lying Room but that has in no way influenced my review.

I need to confess something to you, dear reader. We’ve known each other a while now. I feel I can open up to you and share a deep, dark secret. As you know, I am a huge (HUGE!) crime and psychological thriller fan. *In a tiny, squeaky voice* this is the first book I’ve read by Nicci French. I can actually hear your disappointment. I have to say I’m disappointed in myself too. However, let’s look on the bright side here – what an absolutely corking read to start with! Oooooh, I love a good character and Neve Connolly is so beautifully complex that I was smitten. I had to find out more.

On discovering her lover dead in his apartment Neve does the opposite of what most people would do. She cleans the flat from top to bottom eradicating every trace of her from Saul’s life, rather than calling the police and reporting what she immediately knows to be a terrible crime. She needs to keep their affair a secret; not only would it destroy her marriage but it would cause irreparable damage to her children, particularly fragile teenage daughter, Mabel. In doing so Neve sets herself on a path of constantly looking over her shoulder, fretting that she left a trace of evidence behind and becoming highly suspicious of the people she loves the most. That moment of madness, that split-second decision could destroy everything she cares about…

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive. (I was obviously a very deceitful child as I was reminded of this fairly often!) Poor Neve. You can’t help but feel some sympathy for her. The result of one very poor decision spirals and spirals until she doesn’t know who to trust or which path to take. A lot of extra pressure is piled on by the brilliantly written DCI Alistair Hitching who was by far my favourite character in the book. His interactions with Neve made me smile at times and his sleuthing reminded me a little of Columbo (the way he just knows the truth, and now all he has to do is find the proof). His slow, methodical picking apart of everything Neve says is just brilliant. Always trying to trip her up, always trying to find fault. Whilst Hitching was my favourite character, I struggled to understand Neve and Mabel’s relationship and found Mabel intensely irritating and by far the most difficult character to connect with or understand.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It’s an engaging slow burn of a domestic suspense novel which I think will appeal to many readers. I couldn’t work out for the life of me how the book was going to end but it was a fitting conclusion. It’s easy to see why this accomplished writing partnership have the fan base they do. I would certainly read more from Nicci French without a moment’s hesitation.

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

The Lying Room by Nicci French was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 3rd October 2019 and is available in hardcover and 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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

First Monday Crime:
Nicci French will be joining the panel for October’s First Monday Crime event on Monday 7th October 2019. Nicci and Sean will be appearing alongside Peter Robinson, Marnie Riches and Claire McGowan. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 7th October at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about-the-author3

Nicci-French.jpg

Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. The couple are married and live in Suffolk. There are twenty bestselling novels by Nicci French, published in thirty-one languages. Blue Monday was the first thrilling story in the Frieda Klein series, which concluded with Day of the Dead. The Lying Room is their latest novel.

facebook.com/NicciFrenchOfficialPage

#FirstMondayCrime: The Panel – June 2019 #BlindDatewithaBook @1stMondayCrime #damppebbles @TimWeaverBooks @TheAngelaClarke @doug_johnstone @HaningtonPhan

Hello bookish friends! I hope you’re starting to get ‘that Summer feeling’ with the lovely warm weather we’re having at the moment in the UK (I’m sure if you live outside the UK you’re very used to warm weather but it’s something us Brits rejoice in whenever the temperature rises about 12 degrees!).

What better way to celebrate the arrival of Summer (however brief it is this year!) than with an evening of crime fiction – First Monday crime fiction at that! Sounds like a perfect plan to me.  June’s First Monday will be the last before the hardworking team take a small siesta before returning in the Autumn, so don’t miss out.  And there’s an extra special bookish treat in June with the return of fan favourite, Blind Date with a Book.  Find the perfect book to take on your holibobs with you!  You can either visit this page to reserve your FREE ticket or scroll down for more information.

Let’s see what bookish delights the team have in store for us on Monday 3rd June…

tim weaver.pngTim Weaver is the Sunday Times bestselling author of ten thrillers, including I Am Missing and You Were Gone. Weaver has been nominated for a National Book Award, selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library award. He is also the host and producer of the chart-topping Missing podcast, which features experts in the field discussing missing persons investigations from every angle. A former journalist and magazine editor, he lives near Bath with his wife and daughter.

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Angela Clarke is the Sunday Times bestselling author of the Social Media Murders series. Her debut Follow Me was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month, longlisted for the CWA’s Dagger in the Library, and shortlisted for the Good Reader Page Turner Award. Angela has appeared on CBS Reality’s Written In Blood, on stage for BBC Edinburgh Fringe and on BBC News 24’s Ouch comedy special Tales From the Misunderstood, at Noirwich, Camp Bestival, Panic! (in partnership with the Barbican, Goldsmiths University and the Guardian), at City University, at HM Prisons, and she hosts BBC 3 Counties Tales From Your Life, and the Womens’ Radio Station Three Books show. She won the Young Stationers’ Prize 2015 for achievement and promise in writing. A sufferer of EDS III, Angela is passionate about bringing marginalised voices into publishing. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Crash Land. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is the drummer for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

peter-hannington-headshot
Peter Hanington is the author of A Dying Breed and A Single Source. He has worked as a journalist for over twenty-five years, including fourteen years at the Today Programme and more recently The World Tonight and Newshour on the BBC World Service. He lives in London with his wife and has two grown-up children.


And overseeing everything will be Jake Kerridge. Not to be missed, I’m sure you’ll agree! The event will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 3rd June at 
City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

 

#BookReview: The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor @ZaffreBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheDangerousKind #damppebbles

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“Perfect for fans of Anatomy of A Scandal, He Said/She Said, and Belinda Bauer,The Dangerous Kind is at once a gripping thriller and a stunning portrayal of the monsters that live among us.

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck. These people hide in plain sight, they can be teachers, doctors, holding positions of trust, of power.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.

But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into a web of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the safety of her own family.”

Woah, that was one hell of a ride!

Welcome my bookish friends to damppebbles. What are your plans for Tuesday? Nothing exciting? Then why don’t you head on over to First Monday Crime (on a Tuesday!) in London and hang out with some fabulous crime authors and brilliant book lovers? Appearing this month for your delectation are Chris Carter, Deborah O’Connor, Mark Billingham, Vanda Symon and Laura Wilson. It’s every crime fiction fans dream come true (well, it’s mine anyway 😍). More details to follow on the event after I’ve tried to put into words how I felt about Deborah O’Connor’s brilliant new thriller, The Dangerous Kind (or click here).

I need to rewind a little here first. Back in June 2016, a mere six months into my ‘career’ (if I can call it that!) as a book blogger, I was invited to join a blog tour for a debut Bonnier Zaffre author called Deborah O’Connor and her book, My Husband’s Son. I wasn’t able to review at the time (although I did at a later date) so offered to host a guest post instead. And what a guest post it was. It nearly broke my poor little WordPress blog. It still, to this day, gets regular hits. Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it before: The Bugaboo in the hall: Does having kids make it harder to be a writer? It’s so heartfelt, so wonderfully honest and I fell a little bit in love with it.

But what a gigantic leap O’Connor has made from her terrific debut to this, her latest book which is being billed as the thriller of the year. Uncomfortable, unsettling and so incredibly different to what came before. It’s a dark tale and, I’ll be perfectly honest, I found it hard to read at times due to the distressing subject matter but blimey – what a book! The Dangerous Kind is a multi-layered story of modern times and the terrible, destructive things adults can do. A highly emotional read but one which will stay with me for time to come.

Jessamine Gooch is a radio broadcaster who hosts a late night crime show. Potentially Dangerous People takes a retrospective look at past crimes and asks if it was possible to stop the act from being committed. Were there warning signs in the perpetrator’s behaviour? Could measures have been taken to intervene and stop the violence before the atrocity took place? Jessamine is a well-known broadcaster so she isn’t surprised when she is cornered outside Broadcasting House by a fan. Except the fan wants more than an autograph. Her friend, Cassie Scolari, has gone missing. Cassie’s husband has a history of abuse and Marnie is convinced he has something to do with Cassie’s sudden disappearance. Jessamine knows not to get involved, although her curiosity is piqued. She can’t help but wonder what happened to Cassie when life changes dramatically for her. With time on her hands, Jessamine starts to dig into Cassie’s past only to make some startling discoveries. Focussing on her investigation, Jessamine neglects to notice that her own daughter, Sarah, is starting a dangerous relationship of her own…

Chapters are told either in the modern day, in a specific character’s voice, or are flashback chapters set in the early 00s. The flashback chapters, which are mostly narrated by Rowena, are harrowing and the ones I found the most difficult to read. Although my heart broke on several occasions, O’Connor has pitched it just right. I was disgusted by the goings-on, yet I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. However, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The subject matter is distressing but the author has masterfully told her story in a compelling, sympathetic and non-gratuitous way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, O’Connor has made such a massive leap from her debut to The Dangerous Kind. This book gave me shivers and has left its mark on me for a long time to come. Oh, how I wept at one particular scene (I can feel myself welling up just typing this). The Dangerous Kind is an incredibly brave piece of fiction and absolutely devastating. Superb!

I received a free ARC of The Dangerous Kind but this has not influenced my review in any way.

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 16th May 2019 and is available in hardback, audio and ebook format (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 |

First Monday Crime:
Deborah O’Connor will be joining the panel for May’s First Monday Crime event on TUESDAY 7th May 2019. Deborah will be appearing alongside Chris Carter, Mark Billingham, Vanda Symon and Laura Wilson. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on TUESDAY 7th May at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about-the-author3

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Deborah O’Connor read English at Newnham College, Cambridge before going on to become a television producer. Having worked on everything from The Big Breakfast to Big Brother she produced the BAFTA award-winning poetry documentary Off By Heart and is currently the head of factual development at TV production company, CPL.

Born and bred in the North-East of England, she now lives in East London with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Goodreads | 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.

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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

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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 |

#BookReview: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough (@SarahPinborough) @HarperCollinsUK @1stMondayCrime #CrossHerHeart

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“SOMEONE IS LIVING A LIE… BUT WHO?

Is it Lisa?
Haunted by a tragic past, all Lisa wants is a quiet life with her daughter, Ava. And when she meets a new man, things seem to be falling into place. But Lisa is hiding a secret so momentous it could shatter her entire world…

Is it Ava?
When sixteen-year-old Ava saves a young boy’s life, she becomes a local hero. But never in a million years could she have anticipated the fallout of her actions…

Is it Marilyn?
Marilyn has the perfect life. Her husband, her job, her house—she seems to have it all. But she could never admit to her best friend Lisa the lies she tells herself to get through the day…

One moment will change these three women’s lives forever. And the secrets they’ve been keeping could destroy them all.”

Oh.My.Gosh! I’m a broken woman and it’s all thanks to Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough. Now this may come as a shock to many of you as I have a reputation as an on-the-ball crime blogger to uphold but this is the first book I have read by Sarah Pinborough. Her previous release, Behind Her Eyes was a little (<– understatement) popular last year with its #WTFthatending hashtag. I have a copy, I just haven’t managed to find the time to read it yet *hangs head in shame*. So when I heard Sarah Pinborough was appearing at the June First Monday Crime event in London, it was the perfect opportunity to make amends.

And what a book Cross Her Heart is! It’s not often a psychological thriller can bring me to tears but as I said at the start of this review, I am a broken woman. I feel as though I’ve gone ten rounds with a champion heavyweight boxer, beaten and bruised but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I had been warned previously that what you see isn’t necessarily what you end up getting with a Pinborough novel. This author is a master at making you think one thing, pulling the wool completely over your eyes and then going ‘taddah’ and you’re somewhere else entirely different to where you predicted. Top marks for doing it with such aplomb! Many writers try and achieve something similar and they do manage to some degree but this book, this author seem to reach a whole new undiscovered level.

I immediately liked Lisa. I could see a little of myself in her and maybe that was the reason I warmed to her as quickly as I did. She’s an overprotective parent of a sixteen-year-old. She keeps herself to herself, gets on with her life and spends her days fretting about keeping Ava, her daughter, safe. It becomes apparent to the reader that Lisa has a lot of history, that something happened in her past that she’s either running away from or there is someone she’s hiding from. She has secrets but we all have secrets, right? It’s just that some are a lot bigger, a lot more earth-shattering than others though…

Lisa is one of three strong female characters hiding their devastating secrets from the world in this story. Her daughter Ava has her own issues to deal with including an overprotective mother, exams and pressure from her friends to move her relationship with her boyfriend to the next level. Then we also have Marilyn, Lisa’s best friend who’s perfect life isn’t the idyllic picture she paints on a daily basis. I adored all three of these characters. As Pinborough tantalisingly revealed their secrets and dropped another bombshell on her reader, how much I liked them varied quite dramatically – and I found that utterly fascinating.

I do have to mention Daniel and how he totally broke my heart into a million pieces and how, during parts of the book, I had to put it down and walk away and clear my mind a little. I had to have a breather otherwise I would have been a shambolic, sobbing mess in the corner of the room. But as I’m a ‘no spoiler reviewer’ I can’t really tell you anything else about him or his story. If you want to find out more then you’ll have to get a copy of Cross Her Heart.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, yes! What a page-turner of a read. What a brilliant, yet devastating story this is. I was completely hooked and I didn’t want it to end. There were a couple of small points which I struggled to believe but the storytelling is so wonderfully intense and so riveting that I didn’t really care. I was just enjoying a stonkingly good novel! Heartbreaking, emotional, impossible to tear yourself away from and so utterly devastating in places, this book should win awards.

Five out of five stars.

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

Sarah Pinborough will be appearing at the June First Monday Crime on Monday 4th June 2018. Sarah will be appearing alongside Martyn Waites, Lisa Hall, Harry Brett and moderator Jake Kerridge. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 4th June 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.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough was published in the UK by Harper Collins on 17th May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Sarah Pinborough is the number one Sunday Times Bestselling and New York Times Bestselling author of the psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes (Jan, 2017). During her career she has published more than 20 novels and several novellas, and has written for the BBC. Her recent novels include the dystopian love story, The Death House, and a teenage thriller, 13 Minutes which has been bought by Netflix with Josh Schwartz adapting.

Behind Her Eyes has sold to nearly twenty territories so far and was sold at auction to the US in a significant deal to Flatiron, Macmillan. There are discussions on going with several movies studios about the film adaptation.

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

Author image and bio © https://sarahpinborough.com/

#BookReview: Anything For Her by G.J. Minett (@GJMinett) @BonnierZaffre @1stMondayCrime #AnythingForHer

anything for her.jpg“You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago? 

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.”

G.J. Minett’s books have been on my radar for a while now.  I’ve had Anything For Her‘s predecessor on my TBR since last Summer and it’s been giving me ‘the look’.  You know about ‘the look’, right?  The one that makes you want to forget about any other reading commitments you *may* have and just get stuck into another, taking you totally off-piste!  So I was delighted to see G.J. Minett’s name on the list for the May (..pril) First Monday Crime panel.  Finally, I would get to read one of this author’s books!

And I enjoyed it.  It’s a twisty slow burn of a tale which made me reach for my Sherlock Holmesesque deerstalker and try to figure out what was going on with Minett’s secretive cast of characters.  I failed, by the way – I couldn’t see ‘whodunit’ in Anything For Her.

Billy is an interesting character.  We get to see snippets into his early teenage years; the loving relationship he had with his terminally ill mother, the relationship he believed he had with his father.  What I really liked about Billy was the air of something being a little ‘off’ which he carries.  The reader knows early on that something isn’t quite right with Billy and that feeling built into a wonderful sense of unease for me.  Saying that having finished the book last night, I’m afraid I’m still none the wiser with regards to the true dynamics of Billy’s relationship with his father.  And that not knowing is gnawing away at me a little.

Billy and Aimi are an item.  In the throws of young, teenage love which Billy firmly believes is going to stand the test of time.  Fast forward eleven years and Billy is shocked to bump into Aimi in his sister’s local supermarket.  Billy, on a mercy mission having recently discovered his sister has a terminal illness, is both thrilled and surprised to be reunited with his one true love, despite her now being married to someone else.  As is Aimi, but for different reasons.  During a stroll along Camber Sands, Aimi confesses how bad her marriage is and shows Billy the bruises as proof.  What comes next is a devious plan to deceive her husband and his influential family, and escape to a new life overseas.  Once Aimi’s vanishing act has taken place with the help of the ever devoted Billy, he slowly becomes aware that the Aimi he met in Tesco and the Aimi from eleven years ago are now very different people…

There’s something really quite dark about both Billy and Aimi which appealed to my need for monstrous, manipulative characters in my books.  That was particularly the case with Billy, I never really felt I had a grasp on what he was fully capable of.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily liked him though.  Of all the characters in Anything For Her, the only one I felt any sympathy for or warmth towards was Billy’s sister, Mia.  Her acceptance of her condition and her pragmatic approach to dealing with the uncertainty of when things will end for her was really quite moving at times.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  The plot gradually works its way up to a surprising reveal but it’s the final act, that ending…which did it for me.  This book couldn’t have finished any other way, in my opinion.  A perfect finale.  If you’re looking for a well written, character-driven psychological thriller to submerse yourself in, then you may just have found it!  I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by G.J. Minett.

Four stars out of five.

G.J. Minnet will be appearing at the Mayril (it’s May’s First Monday panel but because of the Bank Holiday here in the UK it’s happening in April instead!) First Monday Crime on Monday 30th April 2018. Graham (G.J.) will be appearing alongside Robert Goddard, Simone Buchholz, Cathi Unsworth and moderator Joe Haddow. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 30th April 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.

Anything For Her by G.J. Minett was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

gj minett.jpgGraham was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and lived there for 18 years before studying for a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge.

He taught for several years, first in Cheltenham and then in West Sussex before opting to go part-time and start an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Completing the course in 2008, he gained a distinction for the dissertation under the guidance of novelist, Alison MacLeod and almost immediately won the Segora Short Story Competition with ‘On the Way Out’.

Other awards soon followed, most notably his success in the 2010 Chapter One novel competition with what would eventually become the opening pages of his debut novel. He was signed up by Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency, who managed to secure a two-book deal with twenty7, the digital-first adult fiction imprint of Bonnier Publishing.

“The Hidden Legacy” was published as an eBook in November 2015 and the paperback version was published in August 2016. The second book in the deal, entitled “Lie in Wait”, was published as an eBook in August 2016 and the paperback version in March 2017.

Graham lives with his wife and children in West Sussex but retains close links with the rest of his family in Cheltenham.

Author Links:Twitter | Website | Facebook |

Author image and bio © http://www.grahamminett.com/

 

#BookReview: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (@stu_turton) @BloomsburyRaven @BloomsburyBooks #SevenDeathsofEvelynHardcastle #SevenDeaths @1stMondayCrime

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‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

Oh.My.Gosh! How to review this delightfully odd, somewhat insane and utterly beguiling piece of crime fiction…? *Pondering. I’m pondering here people, give me time to ponder*. Erm…..

Well, it was a wonderful read and you should definitely purchase a copy. Thank you for your time, and goodnight!

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Okay, maybe not the most extensive book review you may read today but that’s pretty much all you need to know; that’s my ‘take home’ message’ for Seven Deaths. It is utterly mesmerising as a novel and I do have to wonder exactly how Stuart Turton’s brain works. No, let’s not go there.

Aiden Bishop is in his own living hell. He’s trapped in Blackheath, a dilapidated manor house owned by the Hardcastle family. Every night he falls asleep and wakes the next day in a brand new body. Every day is exactly the same for Aiden; the day Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered at 11pm by the reflecting pool. He’s inhabiting ‘hosts’, strangers to him who have come to Blackheath for a rather macabre party. Aiden knows something isn’t quite right, he battles on a daily basis with his hosts. Their personalities sometimes pushing Bishop to the back, resulting in moments where he is not in control. Aiden is tasked by the Plague Doctor to solve the murder. He must report to the masked man at 11pm, tell him who killed Evelyn and he will finally be free. Will Aiden be able to solve the murder or will he be banished to a life of repetition. The same people, the same day, the same horrific murder, never able to remember who he is and, most importantly, what he’s left behind…

Honestly, I’m a little flummoxed about where to start. At no point whilst reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle did I ever, truly, feel like I knew what was going on. This is an incredibly clever piece of fiction which I imagine took a significant amount of time to write. I think it was my friend Joanne at My Chestnut Reading Tree who I first saw compare this book to Quantum Leap. I just want to jump to my feet here and now nodding enthusiastically at you, giving you a look that says ‘YES! Flipping YES!’. This book reminded me so much of Quantum Leap. Quantum Leap plus Groundhog Day with a hefty dose of the classic murder mystery. Time hopping, body leaping and I’m going to have to say it again, OH.MY.GOSH, what a mystery! If you’re a fan of historical crime, if you’re a fan of the mystery novel then you must experience this book. It’s so different, so deliciously complex, so….well, GENIUS! And in a mere 500+ pages as well.

I am fully aware that this is a very different type of review from me today but that’s because The Seven Deaths is unlike anything I have read before. This is such a brilliant tale, so intricate and devilish that I have to recommend it highly. Not only do we have the very likeable Aiden Bishop leaping from day to day and body to body we also have the evil Footman, lurking around every corner ready to slash Aiden’s throat (or rather, his host’s throat) as soon as look at him. I loved the tension the Footman brought to the story; he was also the bringer of gore (and I do love a bit of gore in my books!) which made him a firm favourite in my eyes.

Would I recommend this book? I would. Oh flipping heck, the pressure you have placed upon yourself Mr Turton with that tricky second novel. I think many of your readers will be waiting with baited breath to see what you pull out of the hat next time. What a bar you have set. What an incredible debut. Bravo!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Stuart Turton will be appearing at the April First Monday Crime on Monday 9th March 2018. Stuart will be appearing alongside John Connolly, Rachel Abbott, Leigh Russell and moderator Barry Forshaw, one of the UK’s leading experts on crime fiction and film. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 9th April 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.

My thanks to Beth over at the fantastic Bibliobeth. My copy of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was part of the prize package I won to celebrate her fifth blogiversary. If you haven’t done so already then please check Beth’s blog out – I love it!

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was published in the UK by Raven Books | Bloomsbury Books on 8th February 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Stuart is the author of a high-concept crime novel and lives in London with his amazing wife, and drinks lots of tea.

What else?

When he left university he went travelling for three months and stayed away for five years. Every time his parents asked when he’d be back he told them next week, and meant it.

Stuart is not to be trusted. In the nicest possible way.

He’s got a degree in English and Philosophy, which makes him excellent at arguing and terrible at choosing degrees. Having trained for no particular career, he has dabbled in most of them. He stocked shelves in a Darwin bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, worked for a technology magazine in London, wrote travel articles in Dubai, and now he’s a freelance journalist. None of this was planned, he just kept getting lost on his way to other places.

He likes a chat. He likes books. He likes people who write books and people who read books. He doesn’t know how to write a biography, so should probably stop before we start talking about his dreams or something. It was lovely to meet you, though.

Author Links: | Twitter |

Author image and bio © http://www.dhhliteraryagency.com/stuart-turton.html

#BookReview: The Intrusions by Stav Sherez (@stavsherez) @FaberBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheIntrusions

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“When a distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez’s work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities re-surfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two women have been subjected to?”

I recently finished reading The Intrusions by Stav Sherez and can confirm that I am now totally freaked out. This is normally the point where I say, ‘but in a good way’. However, I’m not all that sure that being *this* freaked out and a tad too nervous to log on to the internet is, in any way, a good thing or how it could be seen ‘in a good way’. I am of course jesting (a little) and I’m not really worried (well, maybe a smidge). Flipping heck!

The Intrusions is the third book in the Carrigan and Miller series and the first book I have read by author Stav Sherez. Going into a series part way through doesn’t really worry me too much these days. If the author in question is worth their salt then they should be able to plug any cavernous holes in the story for a new reader and, if anything, tempt you into wanting to read all previous instalments. Which is exactly what Sherez has done.

Within a few pages, I had fallen a little bit in love with gutsy, plucky DS Geneva Miller. Shortly after I was introduced to DI Jack Carrigan and knew that this book, this particular partnership, was something I was going to very much enjoy. I didn’t have the same instant affection for Carrigan, that built throughout the course of the book but I did like him – thanks to his somewhat reckless methods of getting an arrest during his last big case.

DS Miller is in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe it’s the right time). Making her way through the station’s reception area a young, distraught woman catches her attention. Madison claims that her friend, Anna, has been drugged and taken by a man in a van. Madison herself acts as though she under the influence of something and makes little to no sense during the interview. But DS Miller believes what she’s been told and wants to investigate. Before long, the team are thrown into a world they have very little knowledge of. A world where you’re watched from the moment you wake. A world where your life isn’t really your own.

The themes in The Intrusions chilled me to my very core. An incredibly compulsive read and one that will stay with me for time to come. I loved how the author leads you down one path, where you’re as flummoxed as his detectives and then totally turns the tables on you. I had a wild stab in the dark at one point, pinning my suspicions on one character. Only for those suspicions to be confirmed later on in the story. That certainly didn’t take any enjoyment away from the story for me. And even if you do take a lucky punt like me, there are still plenty of shocks and surprises to come.

Before I conclude this review, a word of advice for you. Find a post-it note, or find some blu-tack and stick it over the camera on your device. Really, this is something you WANT to do.

Would I recommend this book? Oh yes, I would. It’s a thrilling, frightening read which will make you think about the time you spend online, and who you are spending it with. The final chapter blew me away with its nail-biting intensity. And that epilogue…WOAH! I am thrilled to have discovered Stav Sherez’s writing. I think this is the start of a long and happy relationship.

Five out of five stars.

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

Stav Sherez will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 5th March 2018. Stav will be appearing alongside Elly Griffiths, Sarah Vaughan, Matthew Blakstad and moderator Jake Kerridge, crime fiction critic for the Telegraph. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 5th March 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.

The Intrusions by Stav Sherez was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 1st February 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Stav Sherez’s first novel, The Devil’s Playground, was published in 2004 by Penguin Books and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger.

Sherez’s second novel, The Black Monastery, was published by Faber & Faber in April 2009.

His third novel, A Dark Redemption, the first in a London-based police procedural series, was published by Faber and Faber in February 2012.
It deals with Joseph Kony and the legacy of LRA child soldiers now living in London.
A Dark Redemption was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2013.

The second in the Carrigan and Miller series, Eleven Days, was published by Faber in May 2013.

From 1999 to 2004 Sherez was a main contributor to the music magazine Comes with a Smile. He has also written for various other publications including The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, Zembla and the Catholic Herald.

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon |