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

the intrusions cover.jpg

“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

stav sherez.jpg

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 |


#CaseClosed: #February2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello! Remember me? I’m the book blogger who hasn’t really posted very much this month (but has been reading like a machine, for some reason!). The one that likes crime fiction but gets irked when people get the name of her blog wrong (damppebbles, one word – no capitals)? Anything? No, well, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if you have forgotten me. I haven’t been very ‘present’ this month for which I apologise.

It’s been a bit of a funny one, truth be told. The half term holiday always slows my reading down but this half term I had to organise a rather last minute birthday party for my four-year-old on Valentine’s day because he was suddenly having grommets and a tonsillectomy on the Friday of half term week. Then, of course, we had a very sad little man for the following week which was complicated when hubby came home from work on the Monday with this darned ‘flu that’s going around at the moment. Grumpy man child plus grumpy man – not easy. Then as the husband is getting (gradually, slowly) better I come down with a vicious case of tonsillitis myself. Gah! That’s all I could say, by the way. GAH! So to cut this incredibly long and boring story short, I have been reading but finding the time (or, whilst ill myself) the inclination to sit down at the laptop and write a few reviews was near impossible. A grumpy Emma is probably ten times worse than a grumpy man child and a grumpy man put together, after all.  My apologies dear reader. I hope March will prove to be a jam-packed bookish month on the blog.

So, what did happen? I took part in FIVE blog tours during February:

All five stops were review stops:

Past Echoes by Graham Smith | Force of Nature by Jane Harper | The Reunion by Samantha Hayes | Kiss Me, Kill Me by J.S. Carol | The Pact by S.E. Lynes |

I managed one review for around publication day and that was for The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave.

the memory chamber

I still absolutely flipping love that cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?! And what a very different subject for a book. Worth checking out if you’re looking for something a bit different.

So now I hope you see why I am so disappointed with the number of blog posts I have published this month. A measly six, I mean….SIX!!

Two very gorgeous things did happen though. I was sent a fabulous Valentine’s Day gift from the lovely folk at Dead Good Books. Look at how magnificent it is – but I totally failed to acknowledge the delivery or share it on social media, harumph.  Thank you Dead Good Books, I absolutely love my gift! So many beautiful things 😍😍.  Dead Good are focussing on helping us all find a little more time for ourselves this year and see reading as the perfect way to do that.  I have to say, I couldn’t agree more!  Reading IS the perfect hobby to help us all relax a little more.

I also won the fabulous Bibliobeth‘s fifth blogiversary giveaway.  My prize was to pick any five books and Beth would get them sent to me!  Yup, you heard that right – ANY FIVE BOOKS!!  I spent A LOT of time deciding on the five and here they are in all their glory.  What do you think?  Have you read any of them?  My thanks again to Beth for her super giveaway.  Still thrilled to have won and it was a few weeks ago now!


In other news, I have been accepting books and blog tours like nobodies business so have made the decision to reset my year of tackling the TBR starting tomorrow – 1st March 2018.  If you missed my original post (aka failed plan) then click HERE.  No new books and limited blog tours allowed from now on until 1st March 2019!  Eek!

I think that’s about it for February.  All that’s left to do is name my book of the month…


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I had four five star reads this month so it was a tough choice but I have picked….

kiss me kill me

Kiss Me, Kill Me by J.S. Carol is my book of the month for February!  I love James Carol’s books, they always have a great hook which keeps me glued to the pages from start to finish.  And oh, the emotions I felt reading this one.  Talk about a mixed bag!

“It’s superb, incredibly entertaining and really quite disturbing in places. I was completely smitten with Carol’s characters in this novel but in quite different ways…I loved this book. Love, love, loved it!”

That’s it from me for February.  Make sure you pop back tomorrow when I will be joining the blog tour for Blue Night by Simone Buchholz.  Then on Friday I will be sharing my review of Stav Sherez’s The Intrusions as Stav and a bevvy of other fabulous authors will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 5th March in London.  Make sure you grab a ticket now so you don’t miss out!

Wrap up warm lovely people, it’s a bit chilly here at the moment but with only a sprinkling of snow, and I will see you on the other side (or maybe I should just say ‘March’).

#BookReview: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (@cjtudor) @MichaelJBooks #TheChalkMan @1stMondayCrime

the chalk man.jpg

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

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

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

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

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

C.J. Tudor will be appearing at the first First Monday Crime event of the year on Monday 5th February 2018.  C.J. will be appearing alongside Tammy Cohen, Chris Carter, Craig Robertson and moderator Joe Haddow of BBC Radio 2’s Book Club.  The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7pm on Monday 5th February in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, Tait Building, City University London.  Click HERE for more information, directions to the venue and to book your place!

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Penguin Random House – Michael Joseph Books on 11th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please be aware, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | WaterstonesGoodreads |

about the author3

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

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

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

One GLORIOUS Louise Jensen post (@fab_fiction) @1stMondayCrime @bookouture @TheCrimeVault

Some of you lovely folk may be aware that I am one of the ‘First Monday Crime’ blogger team.  First Monday Crime is a brilliant event held for crime fiction fans on the first Monday of the month in London.  To find out more, visit their website by clicking HERE.  One day I hope to make it along myself so I’ll hopefully see you there 🙄.

When I heard that Louise Jensen is appearing at the event in December, well, I squealed with glee.  You see, I am a MAHOOSIVE fan of Louise’s work.  She is a superb writer and I want other readers to discover her incredible books (my mum thinks I’m on commission, I can assure you I’m not!).  So I came up with the idea of sharing all three of my Louise Jensen reviews in one glorious post.  Three stupendous books, three enthusiastic damppebbles reviews…

the sisterGrace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear that there was a lot she

didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie . . . Or was there?

This is a psychological thriller and a half!  Huge congratulations to the author, Louise Jensen, as this is her debut novel, what an achievement!  No pressure Louise but you’ve set the bar incredibly high for yourself!

Grace and Charlie are childhood best friends.  On her first day at her new school, Grace encounters a classroom bully who is immediately put in his place by the forthright Charlie.  From there builds an unbreakable friendship, BFF together forever.  But, six years after burying their precious memory box, Charlie is dead.  Grace finds it impossible to cope with the grief, pushing everyone away and gradually falling to pieces. In a bid to help her accept Charlie’s death she decides to find Charlie’s wayward father. It’s something Charlie always wanted to do herself and it feels the right thing for Grace to do.  That’s when the mysterious Anna walks into Grace’s life.  Anna claims to be Charlie’s half-sister but before long she has ensconced herself firmly in Grace’s life.  Grace is overjoyed, she finally has a link to Charlie again.  Or does she…?

Wowsers!  This is a stonking, heart-stopping read and I loved it.  I couldn’t put it down (I refused to put it down more like!).  I loved Louise’s style and I wanted to keep reading, no matter what else was happening around me.  The story was so engaging that I became transfixed with Grace’s tale, wanting to discover what strange occurrence was going to happen next.

I didn’t really warm to any of the characters, except for Grace’s grandfather who was just lovely.  Grace was a little too needy for me.  Charlie would probably be my favourite but she’s only present for a small percentage of the novel so I’m not sure she counts.  As for Dan, Grace’s boyfriend, he needs to man up, grr!  Anna is just sinister with a capital S and thinking about her makes me shudder.  I didn’t want to like any of this lot though, that’s part of the appeal of a psychological thriller.  What’s the point in having likeable characters?

The plot moves at an enjoyable pace.  There are twists and turns along the way which keep you on the edge of your seat.  It’s pretty darn perfect, in my opinion.

Would I recommend this book?  Oh yes, without a doubt.  It’s a creepy tale of when good intentions turn bad.  It had my heart racing and I didn’t want to stop reading for anything.  A fabulous debut and I cannot wait to see what Louise Jensen has in store for us next.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Sister by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 24th August 2017 and is available in paperback format.  Previously published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

51ssdz2lgl-_sy346_Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets…

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

Jenna is critically ill and needs heart replacement surgery.  The worst possible news at a time when donor organs are scarce.  Luckily for Jenna, a heart becomes available and the transplant goes well.  But Jenna can’t stop thinking about whose heart now beats inside her chest.  She is desperate to meet with the family and they don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting after she gets in touch.  Against the advice of her therapist, Jenna goes to meet Tom and Amanda.  It’s an uncomfortable start but Jenna feels she owes this couple and refuses to walk away.  Then the dreams start, along with other strange feelings and what appear to be memories…things Jenna herself never experienced. Jenna knows that something isn’t right.  The way she is told Callie, her donor, died doesn’t tally with what she’s seeing in frightening visions.  Jenna decides that Tom and Amanda need closure to stop the hurt they’re suffering, and Jenna is the right person to deliver that closure.  So she starts to investigate; attempting to tie the feelings, the dreams and what little evidence she has together.  But the deeper she digs, the more secrets she uncovers. What really happened to Callie?  And how far is Jenna willing to go to find out…?

First off, I want to say that I find it very hard to believe in some of the theories affecting Jenna in this book.  I seem to have a scientific head on my shoulders and try as I might, sometimes (most times!) I can’t submerge myself in unproven theories.  But I want to put that side of things away for now and comment on other aspects of this novel.  I absolutely ADORE Louise Jensen’s writing.  Jensen has a way of pulling you in, the way her words flow is sublime and that is exactly what she has achieved once again.  She is such a gifted storyteller and one of my very favourite writers.  Full stop.  I had highly anticipated the release of this book after falling head over heels in love with The Sister and I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed, despite the scientific noggin!

I absolutely adored Jenna, the lead protagonist.  That drive and determination for her cause gave me goosebumps at times.  I love a strong, spirited female lead in my books and Jenna fits the bill nicely.  Strangely, that same determination did also annoy me a little.  Particularly when she was pushing away ex-boyfriend, Sam and best mate, Rachel in her bid to give Callie’s parents closure.

As I have come to expect from Louise Jensen’s writing, you never really have a hold on exactly who the bad guy/gal is or his/her reasons for being the bad guy/gal until the reveal.  The Gift is full to the brim of twists and turns.  There was an audible gasp from me at one point; I was so shocked by what I was reading!  Brilliantly crafted twists which send your brain into overdrive as you try and guess what will happen next.  But I bet you can’t…

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would (and grab yourself a copy of ‘The Sister’ whilst you’re at it!).  Sleek, assured writing that pulls the reader into the story from the opening pages until the shocking conclusion.  Superb!

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Gift by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 16th November 2017 and is available in paperback format.  The Gift was originally published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | WaterstonesGoodreads |

And last but by NO MEANS least….

the surrogate coverShe can give you everything you want… But can you trust her?

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents. All they want is a child to love but they are beginning to lose hope. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives them one last chance.

Kat and Lisa were once as close as sisters. The secrets they share mean their trust is for life… Or is it?

Just when the couple’s dream seems within reach, Kat begins to suspect she’s being watched and Nick is telling her lies.

Are the cracks appearing in Kat’s perfect picture of the future all in her head, or should she be scared for the lives of herself and her family?

How far would you go, to protect everything you love?

Dare I say this is Jensen’s best book to date?  Y’know what, I think I dare!  The Surrogate has become my very favourite of Louise Jensen’s books knocking the incredible The Sister from the top spot.  If this one doesn’t end up on my list of top ten books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.

Kat is desperate for a baby.  Unable to have her own child she turns to adoption to fill the baby-sized hole in her heart.  But when it all falls through she is devastated.  After all, she has decorated the nursery for Dewei and is a familiar (rather too well-known) face in Mothercare.  The second attempt to adopt Mai also falls through leaving Kat at her wit’s end.  And then Lisa miraculously appears in her life.  Unsure of her intentions to start with, Kat is wary of her ex-best friend.  The women have a murky past which Kat fears has not been forgotten.  Before long, Lisa is entertaining Kat with tales of how she acted as a surrogate for a friend, how she gave birth to baby Gabrielle and then willingly handed her over.  How she feels more of an aunt towards the baby than the infant’s birth mother.  Kat can see a way out of her predicament, a way in which she can finally have the baby she so craves.  All she has to do is convince husband Nick and make sure she keeps Lisa happy and relaxed, totally stress-free.  But exactly how far is Kat prepared to go for that little bundle of joy…

There are so many surprises in The Surrogate that I became dizzy with joy while reading.  You think you know what’s going on, where the story will lead you but in reality, you know nothing!  Jensen has created a wonderfully intricate web of lies and half-truths with bucketfuls of creeping paranoia.  I loved it! (I may have said that already…)

The thread of malice woven through many of the character’s relationships was sublime.  The reader is frequently given glimpses into Kat’s teenage years at school and her interaction with the younger Lisa.  We also get to see how Nick, Kat’s husband was raised by his parents and how, due to injury and the inability to work, Nick’s father begins to mistreat his son.  Both episodes are unsettling and add so much emotion to the story.  I found myself becoming more and more invested in Kat and Nick, knowing something awful was heading their way but not knowing exactly what.

And WOAH, that ending.  Hugely satisfying, totally unexpected and I can guarantee it will stay me for some time to come.  I had my own ideas of how I wanted the story to end but what Jensen has given the reader blows everything else out of the water.  Absolutely superb!

Would I recommend this book?  Without a shadow of a doubt, I would.  If you are a fan of the psychological thriller then you MUST get yourself a copy of The Surrogate.  Louise Jensen just keeps getting better and better and I am so excited about what she has in store for us in the future.  You’ve set the bar even higher now, Louise.  No pressure!  A superb, twisty read that I wish I could give more than five stars to.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th September 2017 and is available in eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

So there you go, a plethora of Louise Jensen loveliness.  Three cracking books, three reviews.  I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan, Louise!

Louise Jensen will be appearing at December’s First Monday Crime event alongside Chris Whitaker, Susi Holliday and Mel McGrath.  All expertly moderated by Claire McGowan.  The event takes place on Monday 4th December, 6.30pm at City University, College Building, A130.  Click HERE to book your FREE ticket.  Plus, because it’s December and we’re all starting to feel jolly festive, there will be extra fun and frivolities in store!  Check out the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about the author3

Louise Jensen author pic - no creditLouise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.

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

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

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Blog | Facebook |

#BookReview | #Giveaway: All The Wicked Girls by @WhittyAuthor @BonnierZaffre @1stMondayCrime

all the wicked girls“Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .”

Wowsers!  If you’re looking for a deeply emotive, delightfully intense and deliciously dark thriller then congratulations good reader, you have just found it.  There are many books which create a buzz.  Some deserve that hype, others…..don’t so much.  What works for Ant* doesn’t necessarily work for Dec*, you get my point I’m sure.  So I was looking forward to reading All The Wicked Girls but I felt strangely nervous too.  Would I ‘get’ this book like other readers have?  Would I fall under its spell when many popular books leave me feeling cold?  Well, yes, of course I would because this book is pure literary magic.

And to kick December off with a bang, I am giving away a copy of All The Wicked Girls to one lucky UK winner.  But more about that later…

Grace, Alabama is a small God-fearing town where teenage twin sisters Summer and Raine Ryan live.  As sisters go, the two girls couldn’t be more different.  Summer is popular and studious, whereas Raine….isn’t.  The town of Grace borders Briar County which is suffering its own living nightmare.  Young, church-going girls are being snatched by ‘The Bird’.  Town legend claims ‘The Bird’ isn’t entirely human.  All that is known for sure is that the police have so far failed to capture the creature.  Then Summer Ryan goes missing leaving only a note behind, which raises even more questions.  Is Summer ‘The Bird’s latest victim?  And what shocking secrets will Raine unearth as she starts her own investigation into Summer’s disappearance? And most importantly, will she ever find her sister alive?

If you’re a fan of the character-driven novel (like me!) then you must get yourself a copy of All The Wicked Girls.  Whitaker’s characters are exquisite, beautiful things full of heart and soul.  The reader is pulled into their world where fear reigns; fear of God, fear of the church, fear of ‘The Bird’ and fear of themselves.  I fell a little bit in love with two of the characters, Noah and Purv, who battle alongside Raine in the search for the truth.  Raine was also a very intriguing character but she’s a little overshadowed by Noah and Purv, her two sidekicks, who shine from the page.  Supporting these three is a cast of incredibly well-written, fully formed and perfectly individual characters.  Chief Black who struggles with a drug and alcohol problem (as well as his past failures), Samson with his unusual looks and peculiar behaviour, the Ryan brothers who stake out Chief Black’s HQ putting on the pressure with the imminent threat of violence, Pastor Bobby and his wife, Savannah – their marriage falling apart while both drown in their own private grief following the tragic loss of their young son.  Such a strong, wonderfully crafted collection of interesting people that I struggled to put this book down.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  This is an emotionally intense thriller which will appeal to so many readers.  Whitaker’s writing is a beautiful thing and I couldn’t get enough of his strong, striking imagery and his captivating prose.  I want more, please.  And soon.  Dark, emotional, unnerving and engrossing.  Superb stuff!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of All The Wicked Girls.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Chris Whitaker will be appearing at December’s First Monday Crime event alongside Louise Jensen, Susi Holliday and Mel McGrath.  All expertly moderated by Claire McGowan.  The event takes place on Monday 4th December, 6.30pm at City University, College Building, A130.  Click HERE to book your FREE ticket.  Plus, because it’s December and we’re all starting to feel jolly festive, there will be extra fun and frivolities in store!  Check out the First Monday Crime website for more information.

To be in with a chance of winning a BRAND NEW, unread ARC of All The Wicked Girls click on the following Rafflecopter link and follow the instructions.  Open to UK and ROI residents only due to postage costs.  Only one winner will be selected.  They will need to provide their postal address to enable me to send their book.  There are no cash alternatives and the giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday 5th December (GMT).  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker was published in the UK by Zaffre on 24th August 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

*Ant & Dec

about the author3

chris whitaker.jpgChris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.

Author Links:Twitter |

#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 |

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


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


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

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


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 |