#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

rod reynolds.jpg

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

Author Links: | Twitter |

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#BookReview: Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson (@Author_Dave) @BonnierZaffre #DSNathanCody #20BooksofSummer #DontMakeaSound

don't make a sound

“You can’t choose your family. Or can you?

Meet the Bensons. They’re an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.

There’s just one problem.

SHE’S NOT THEIRS.

D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . .”

When I was compiling my list for #20BooksofSummer there was one read I knew I HAD to include. If you haven’t had the pleasure of discovering the DS Nathan Cody series yet then I urge you to go and purchase the epic A Tapping At My Door (book #1). Followed by the equally epic Hope to Die (book #2) and then finish your spending spree off with this deliciously dark and terrifying little beauty, the third book in the series, Don’t Make a Sound. I can promise that you won’t regret it!

Now you may have already gathered that I’m quite a fan of David Jackson’s DS Cody series. I’d even go as far as saying it’s my joint-favourite crime series (not telling you who it shares the top spot with but if you follow damppebbles.com regularly then you may be able to guess…). Jackson has created an engaging cast of memorable characters and I, for one, can’t get enough of them!

If like me you’re a regular reader of the crime genre then chances are you’ve read a few missing child storylines in your time. And, if you’re anything like me, chances are you’re ‘kinda’ getting bored with this particular trope (no? just me then…?). The main storyline of Don’t Make a Sound is exactly that, about a missing child. But this is something entirely different to everything else. Don’t Make a Sound takes the somewhat overly familiar missing child plotline and turns it upside down.

DS Cody and the Major Incident Team are well and truly flummoxed after a young girl is snatched in the middle of the night from her home, while her parents sleep in the next room. There is zero evidence, the team struggle to comprehend the type of criminal who would target a young girl in this way and time is running out. When a second girl is taken but this time with deadly consequences, the stakes are raised tenfold. No one knows why the girls are being taken but it’s not going to be for anything good. Can Cody and his DC, the wonderfully spirited Megan Webley find the missing girls before it’s too late….?

If you’re new to Jackson’s novels then there is only one really important thing to know. The plots are great, the writing is incredible but the characters are utterly sublime. I’m a little bit in love with DS Nathan Cody (and a little bit in love with DC Megan Webley too, if truth be told!). But it’s not just our two main characters who leap off the page at the reader. The whole Major Incident Team are head and shoulders above many other ‘lead’ characters from other well-established crime writers. DCI Stella Blunt with her ‘verging on the unprofessional’ soft spot for Cody (no, not like that!) and computer nerd/all round geek, Grace Meade, are two prime examples of standout supporting characters. This time though, we get to hear from DC Jason Oxburgh, the FLO who has a good cry on his wife’s shoulder at the end of a tough day. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

It’s not just the good guys in Don’t Make a Sound who deserve a mention though. Malcolm and Harriet Benson make a ‘good’ story ‘great’. I don’t feel I can say too much as I don’t want to give lots away but the Bensons are something else altogether! I loved them for being so utterly loopy but oh my gosh, they made me so angry. I’ve been struggling with my reading mojo recently. Not any more; thanks in part to David Jackson but the main share of the credit goes to Malcolm and Harriet Benson. Before I summarise, I must mention Daisy. If the Bensons make a good story great, Daisy makes a great story something completely memorable and heartwrenching. Something that will stay with me for a long time to come. WOW!

Would I recommend this book? Definitely. This AND the other two books in the DS Nathan Cody series. Make sure you read them in order though as Cody has a traumatic past which is revealed fairly early on in the series (if you suffer from coulrophobia like I do, then be warned!). You also don’t want to miss out on the banter and the undeniable chemistry between Cody and DS Webley (the two do have a romantic history but I love the ‘will they/won’t they’ feel Jackson gives his books!). Dark, utterly compelling and head and shoulders above others in the same genre. The DS Nathan Cody series just keeps getting better and better. I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait to read book four.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Don’t Make a Sound. My thanks to Joanne at Brew and Books Review for sending me her ARC after she had finished with it. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

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Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 3rd May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow on 1st November 2018 (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

david jackson

David Jackson is the author of a series of crime thrillers featuring New York Detective Callum Doyle. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. When not writing fiction, David spends his time as a lecturer in a university science department. He also gives occasional workshops on creative writing. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BookReview: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner @DuttonBooks #UNSUB #20BooksofSummer #DetectiveCaitlinHendrix

unsub cover.jpg

“A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?”

You may be wondering why I haven’t featured a #20BooksofSummer review on damppebbles for a few weeks. It’s because I’m totally failing at the challenge! It’s official, I have lost my reading mojo. Not only that, I have lost my reviewing mojo too. What do you do in times of fading mojo? You find a book you know you will LOVE. Something that will give you that spark back, reignite your passion and put your worries to one side. So that’s exactly what I did.

Except it didn’t work as well as I had planned. Sometimes you just get a feeling about a book; you know you’re going to love it (and I mean LOVE IT!) before you make a start. That’s how I felt about Unsub by Meg Gardiner. It has everything I want from a book; serial killers, a kick ass female lead, blood and gore galore, it’s American – set in gorgeous San Francisco, it’s had some scorching hot reviews and I have coveted it for what feels like a flipping long time. And I really enjoyed it. I just didn’t love it as I had expected to. I truly wanted to love it but I’m going to have to go with ‘I really liked it’ and be satisfied with that. No one’s fault but mine.

Caitlin Hendrix is a woman on a mission to hell. Prolific serial killer, The Prophet, destroyed her family and her father twenty years ago only to seemingly disappear into thin air. Now he’s back and this time his sights are set firmly on newly qualified Caitlin. The body count is rising. Can Caitlin do what her father, Mack, failed to do all those years ago and put a stop to The Prophet’s murderous spree?

I don’t need to tell you that I loved Caitlin Hendrix. That goes without saying. She’s tough, gun-toting and determined to solve the crime. Everything I love in a female protagonist. I also really enjoyed her relationship with her father, which is a cornerstone of the story. There’s blame, there’s guilt and there’s a heck of a lot of anger there. It’s clear Caitlin had a very different childhood from her peers, with a father who was drowning in his failure and gradually falling apart. Not to mention the grisly murder scene photos left out for her to see. I did enjoy the way that despite the unpleasantness of her upbringing, this was obviously the reason she’s the woman she is.

I loved the gory murder scenes, they really appealed to my need for darker fiction. I was a smidge disappointed when The Prophet’s MO was revealed. I hate to say it but I felt it wasn’t a new idea, that maybe it had been done before? I loved the ending. There were two points during the conclusion though where I felt a little let down. A couple of things happened and they felt an ‘odd fit’ for the rest of the story. I expect that it’ll all make perfect sense in book two though (in other words, maybe they were added to the story so there could be a second book..?).

Would I recommend this book? I would, particularly if you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller. I don’t want anyone to get me wrong here. This is a great book, one I really enjoyed and on any other day I would be singing its praises from the hills. I thought it was my missing reading mojo rescue remedy, but it wasn’t (that’s a lot of pressure to put on one book!). I’m probably being a lot more critical in this review than I normally am so my apologies to the author and publisher for that but I was so desperate to love this book and I just feel a little disappointed (in myself). All in all, I love how Gardiner writes, I love her characters and I would pick up the second book in the Unsub series without a moment’s hesitation. I’m just a grump at the moment.

Four out of five stars.

My thanks to Beth at Bibliobeth for sending me a copy of Unsub. I won her blogiversary giveaway where the prize was five books of my choice. Unsub was one of the books I chose.

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Unsub by Meg Gardiner was published by Dutton Books in January 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

damppebbles #BookReview: Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing #LastTimeILied #20BooksofSummer

last time i lies

“Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

It was Emma’s first summer away from home. She made friends. She played games. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned. . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all. . .

A gripping new thriller that you won’t be able to put down with a plot that will keep you guessing. If you enjoyed A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window, you’ll love Last Time I Lied”

Of all the books in all the world that are due to be published in 2018, THIS book was my most eagerly anticipated read. I could not wait to get my paws on Last Time I Lied. Why, you ask? Well, dear reader, it’s because Riley Sager’s debut, Final Girls, blew my mind. It was my number one book of 2017, it’s claimed a top space on my favourite books of ‘ALL TIME’ list and it left me with the biggest book hangover I have ever experienced! I loved it. Actually, I more than loved it. I became quite obsessed with it. Have you read Final Girls? No? You REALLY should…

But this isn’t a review of Final Girls. This is its follow-up and I have a confession to make. I’ve had Last Time I Lied on my NetGalley TBR since the start of the year. I bet you’ve been there. You’re so looking forward to reading a book but you’re nervous too, really flipping nervous. Will it live up to its predecessor? Am I expecting too much? (Yes.) Have my expectations been blown wildly out of proportion? (Yes.) Will I cope if the book disappoints me? (Most probably not.) You know what I’m talking about, right?

I was nervous making a start, really flipping nervous. My nerves were somewhat calmed by discovering that our lead character is called Emma (brilliant name, more Emmas are needed in books! Might have said that before). The reader discovers that Emma attended Summer Camp at the tender age of thirteen. She made friends, learnt new skills, discovered boys and suffered one of the most devastating events of her young life. Her three cabin mates; Vivian, Natalie and Allison snuck out early one morning, never to return. Traumatised well into her adult life by the events and the guilt of 15 years ago, Emma turns to art and becomes a well-known painter. Each forest scene she creates contains the three missing girls, painted over in great swathes of green and brown oil paint. Surprisingly, her latest benefactor is Mrs Francesca Harris-White, multi-millionairess and head of Nightingale Camp where the devasting events of 15 years ago happened. Harris-White is reopening the camp and wants bygones to be bygones, so invites Emma to return to Camp Nightingale as an art instructor. Emma feels she wants to put the past behind her and returning to the scene of the crime will help lay the ghosts of 15 years ago to rest. But memories run long and someone knows that Emma lied all those years ago…

Before I go any further I want to get something out of my system. I enjoyed reading Last Time I Lied, it’s a great book and it will have an army of fans singing its praises, but I’m afraid it didn’t get anywhere near close to Final Girls in my opinion. I’m so upset, so sad that I didn’t love Last Time I Lied. This is proper #bookbloggerproblems territory here, people. I feel absolutely rotten that I didn’t love this book and I’m kicking myself for missing what others have seen and loved. So much so, I am – for the first time in a LONG time – considering re-reading in the next few weeks!

It’s weird, I didn’t really relate in any way to Quincy’s story in Final Girls (but loved everything about it) and I really struggled to connect with Emma’s story. I can’t quite understand what the massive difference is between these two books for me. What I do know is this book is not Final Girls. It was never going to be Final Girls. I just realised that too late and my experience of Last Time I Lied suffered because of it (hence the planned re-read!). It’s a good read, it just doesn’t compare to its mighty predecessor.

I found the ‘whodunit’ a little obvious. There were several times when the author made me doubt myself but I always came back to the same conclusion and in the end I was right. The story moved along at an enjoyable pace and I wanted to discover what was going to happen next, but I had moments where I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading or it all seemed a little too far-fetched. There was a wonderful twist towards the end of the book that I didn’t see coming and it really satisfied my need for something a bit darker to happen. However, the author skillfully uses flashbacks again in this book to tell his protagonist’s frightening tale and create a vivid picture for the reader of their palpable fear which I couldn’t fault.

Would I recommend this book? I would. But I’d make sure you read Final Girls first as that is by far the superior book (IMHO). It’s an interesting tale, Emma intrigued me but became a little too whiny for my tastes at times. My heart was 100% with the devilishly devious Vivian and I could read about her all day long! I’m so glad I read Last Time I Lied. It was enjoyable, and I will recommend it in the future. There was a wonderful ‘horror movie’ element to Final Girls which I really missed in Last Time I Lied. It lacked a certain darkness that Final Girls had and I missed it enough for it to be a ‘thing’ for me. I’m sorry.

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

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Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Press on 12th July 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

pseudonym

Riley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called “The first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King), was published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#CaseClosed: #June2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove #20BooksofSummer

Hello my bookish friends. You nearly caught me out there, I was convinced Sunday was the last day of June! It’s currently Friday evening and I had sat down to a lovely chilled glass of wine after a busy week, only for the penny to drop – and cue one chilled out Emma dashing from the sofa ‘a là comedy moment stylee’ and flinging open the laptop. It’s true, I could have left posting until Sunday but that’s not how these things work and I would have been waaaaaay too twitchy. But it’s OK, everything is OK…phew!

A very warm welcome to June’s #CaseClosed post and for the first time, a #20BooksofSummer update. June has been an odd month at damppebbles HQ. I’ve been reading like crazy but the blog has been relatively quiet. I’ve even read two books this month that I haven’t (shock, horror!) reviewed. What has happened to me?!

During June I took part in five blog tours:

Four posts were reviews:
When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith | Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin | The Date by Louise Jensen | After He’s Gone by Jane Isaac |

And one was a guest post:
A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni |

I also managed a number of other reviews and posts:
Rubicon by Ian Patrick (book review) | Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett (cover reveal) | The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (book review) | The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond (book review) | Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge (book review) | The Caller by Chris Carter (book review) |

Plus I can’t forget to include the two books I have chosen not to review; a short collection from a well-known author and a crime thriller.

Here’s how my #20BooksofSummer list currently looks:
The Rule of Fear by Luke Delaney
The White Road by Sarah Lotz
Unsub by Meg Gardiner
Watching Edie by Camilla Way
The Dark Inside (Charlie Yates #1) by Rod Reynolds
The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
The Nightstalker by Sebastian Fitzek
Perfect Remains by Helen Fields
Rattle by Fiona Cummins
Sirens (Aiden Waits #1) by Joseph Knox
The Caller (Detective Robert Hunter #8) by Chris Carter
Heartman by M.P. Wright
Hide and Seek (DI Helen Grace #6) by M.J. Arlidge
Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Normal by Graeme Cameron
Blood City by Douglas Skelton
Cut To The Bone by Alex Caan
Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Not off to the best start but I hope to improve on that during July. I have a couple of books coming up that I would like to get reviewed for publication day, along with ONE blog tour read. Yup, just the one. Nothing scheduled for August at the moment so I’m feeling positive – I CAN DO THIS!

damppebbles blog tours has the MOST exciting week ahead. I have organised four absolutely cracking blog tours next week; three starting on Monday and one starting on Thursday. If you’re not already on my blogger database then please do sign up. And if you’re a crime author looking to promote your book then maybe I can help ➡️ damppebbles blog tours.

Which leaves only one thing left to do.

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My book of the month for June is…….

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The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven

the puppet show

“I have a bit of a thing for serial killer novels. They’re my favourite, particularly if they are a smidge on the gory side as well (which this book is). I also thoroughly enjoy books which make you think the plot is heading one way and then totally flips things over and makes you gasp in surprise when you end up somewhere you didn’t expect (which again, this book did). Another thing I love is a cast of well-written, individual, stand out characters who all add something to the story (yup, that’s The Puppet Show). I loved this book.

“Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely. If you’re a fan of crime fiction, if you can stomach a drop of blood or a pool of melted human fat (OK, it is a little grisly in places and you may need a slightly stronger stomach than I’ve alluded to in this paragraph, but for me I loved the gruesome touches to this book. Plus the author provides a wealth of information about burns and the effect of fire on a human body) then you will enjoy this well-written, engrossing crime thriller. I struggled to put it down and I’m left wanting more Washington Poe and more Tilly Bradshaw. I can’t wait for the next instalment.”

So there we have it! I can’t wait to find out what my book of July will be (although I do have a sneaking suspicion. I won’t say any more at this point!). That’s it from me for this month. Make sure you join me on Friday 6th July as I have a rather fabulous cover reveal to share with you. It’s an Orenda Books book, it’s written by Steph Broadribb and it features a certain bounty hunter (girl crush swoon!). Don’t miss it!

#BookReview: The Caller by Chris Carter @simonschusterUK #TheCaller #DetectiveRobertHunter #20BooksofSummer

the caller

“After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring. The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward. Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.

Karen is gagged and bound to a chair in her own living room. If Tanya disconnects from the call, if she looks away from the camera, he will come after her next, the deep, raspy, demonic voice at the other end of the line promises her.

As Detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia investigate the threats, they are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear.”

I recently mentioned in another review that I was using the #20BooksofSummer challenge to catch up with a few series which I have fallen behind on. I am utterly ashamed to admit that I am behind in this particular series because of all the books in all the world, this one should have been at the very top of my TBR. I LOVE Chris Carter’s Robert Hunter series with a passion. Whenever anyone asks me for a crime thriller recommendation Chris Carter’s Detective Robert Hunter series is ALWAYS at the top of the list. No matter what, this is the series you must read…but make sure you haven’t eaten beforehand!

I was lucky enough to interview Chris Carter when The Caller was first published last year. Click HERE to witness my fangirling in all its glory!

The Caller is the eighth book in the series and I was thrilled to be reunited with Detective Robert Hunter once again. Things you should know about Hunter….he has an exceptionally high IQ, he has a Ph.D. in Criminal Behaviour Analysis and Biopsychology and he works for the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes (UVC) Unit. Yup, you read that right, the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit (if you read my reviews often then you may be getting some idea why I love this series as I do!). Hunter works alongside Detective Carlos Garcia, the only other member of the UVC, and what a team they are! There is such a strong dynamic between the two characters, they complement each other perfectly.

Hunter and Garcia are only ever called in for the most violent and bizarre murders so when Tanya Kaitlin receives a shocking video call from her best friend, Karen, you know things aren’t going to end well for either of them! When a second victim is discovered following another terrifying video call it blows all of Hunter’s theories out of the water and the UVC are back to square one, struggling to discover the killer’s motivation before they strike again. One thing is for sure and that’s Carter knows how to write a depraved mind. His books tend to be gorier than many of his peers but I just flipping love that! I visibly winced at points in the book and I am always in awe of the new and inventive ways the author comes up with killing his characters off. This book and the others in the series are not for the faint-hearted, you have been warned.

I wasn’t able to spot whodunit but this is a tricky one to do that with (I won’t say any more about that for fear of spoilers). Carter’s books are always page-turners and this one is no different. I found that as I know the lead characters so well, it made The Caller all the more compelling. Is this the best book in the series? I wouldn’t necessarily say it is (that crown belongs to One by One in my opinion) but it’s another stonking addition to a thoroughly magnificent series.

Would I recommend this book? 100%, always. And every other book in the Detective Hunter series too. If you haven’t read any of these books yet then you are truly missing out. They’re edgy, thrilling and utterly compulsive reading. I love them. Chris Carter is my absolute favourite author and having read The Caller I now can’t wait to make a start on book nine, The Gallery of the Dead. I need more Detective Robert Hunter in my life. End of.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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The Caller by Chris Carter was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster UK on 27th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

Author photo

Biographies can be an absolute drag, so I won’t bore anyone with a long life story.

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well-known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full-time writer.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook |

#BookReview: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge @MichaelJBooks #DIHelenGrace #HideandSeek #20BooksofSummer

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“Prison is no place for a detective
Helen Grace was one of the country’s best police investigators.
Now she’s behind bars with the killers she caught.

Framed for murder
She knows there is only way out:
stay alive until her trial and somehow prove her innocence.

Locked up with a killer
But when a mutilated body is found in the cell next door,
Helen fears her days are numbered.

A murderer is on the loose.  And she must find them.  Before she’s next . . .”

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog you may be aware that I am a MASSIVE fan of a strong, kick-ass female lead character. Particularly police officers; senior female coppers are one of my favourite hooks when it comes to crime fiction. So when I decided to take on the 20 Books of Summer challenge it seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up with a few of my favourite detectives and with a number of series that I have unfortunately unwittingly fallen behind on.

DI Helen Grace has always been a firm favourite of mine. Hide and Seek is the sixth book in the DI Helen Grace series and my new favourite. Despite reading book five in the series, Little Boy Blue over two years ago, the plot and that breathtaking ending have been playing on my mind. Yes, it’s true, I have spent the last two years wondering about the general health and well-being of a fictional character! Book blogger problems taken to a whole new level, maybe?!

If you’re new to this series let me tell you, it is incredibly difficult to start this review as anything I say, anything I hint at could be (is) a massive spoiler regarding a previous book (the massive spoiler is also mentioned in the blurb so don’t look 🙈)! I will be as vague as possible and hope you don’t mind. Helen Grace finds herself somewhere no copper wants to be, in an environment as hostile as they come. I could make a couple of witty puns about a fall from ‘Grace’ but I won’t torture you, dear reader. I have been champing at the bit to find out what was going to happen to our battered and bruised hero and all I can say is wow, just WOW! I loved the environment Arlidge has immersed his lead character in, I really enjoyed the motley cast of characters she met on her journey into the pits of Hell and I’m sorry, I’m going to say it, I loved Helen’s fall from ‘Grace’, dangit!

Whilst Helen is otherwise engaged, her right-hand woman the tenacious DS Charlie Brooks, is out trying to right a few wrongs. The two plots run seamlessly alongside one another and I was compelled to keep turning the pages, flitting between the two investigations at breakneck speed. I had a fair idea of whodunit from early on in the book but I was completely wrong. The author has added some very believable red herrings which I fell for; hook, line and sinker.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s true – this is my favourite DI Helen Grace adventure so far. However, I’m not sure this book will work all that well as a standalone. There is a heck of a lot of history that won’t necessarily make sense to readers starting with Hide and Seek. My advice would be to start at the beginning and get to know Helen Grace from book one. I guarantee you will fall head over heels in love with her, just like I did. Oh, and don’t read the blurb. It gives far too much away in my opinion 😉

Four and a half stars out of five.

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Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 29th December 2016 and is available in hardcover, 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

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M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including the prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and Silent Witness. Arlidge also pilots original crime series for both UK and US networks. In 2015 his audio exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a Number One bestseller.

His first thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek, and Love Me Not.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and bio © https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/m-j-arlidge/96806/

#BookReview: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #20BooksofSummer #TheMarriagePact #Giveaway

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“First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes your first big mistake.

How far are you willing to go for the perfect relationship?

Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered a mysterious wedding gift – membership of a club which promises its couples will never divorce.

Signing The Pact seems the start to a perfect marriage.

Until one of them breaks the rules.

The marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Because The Pact is for life.

And its members will do anything to make sure no one leaves . . .”

Michelle Richmond’s The Marriage Pact has been on my bookish radar for some time now. It was mentioned as part of my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature where I immediately added it to the TBR. I was then lucky enough to receive a paperback copy from the lovely Dead Good team as a Valentine’s Day treat (more about that later!). And then, of course, I kept seeing some really good reviews. Bearing all of this in mind, it was a natural addition to my #20BooksofSummer challenge.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. I love it when weird, life-altering, mostly catastrophic things happen to normal, run-of-the-mill people. Just me then? Oh… Anyway, the thought of a newlywed couple suddenly being trapped in a pact with a group of controlling strangers, having to live by the rules of the group (no matter how humiliating or demeaning) and managing to break the rules without even trying was something I had to read about. I’ll admit, the plot is a little far-fetched but d’you know what? I was just after an entertaining read, something a little different to my much-loved detective fiction and that’s exactly what I got with The Marriage Pact. A highly entertaining read.

When I was able to find time to sit down and read The Marriage Pact I found it an incredibly easy read, flying through the pages in great chunks and not realising that hours had passed. I was desperate to see what awful predicament Jake and Alice were going to find themselves in and what terrifying punishment they were to be subjected to. At times I found myself feeling really quite uncomfortable; as though I was intruding on a young couple’s most personal moments. I was also irked that many of the odd punishments were meted out to Alice, the wife, where little seemed to happen in the beginning to Jake, the husband, (he doesn’t get away scot-free but I do believe Alice suffers a lot more than her husband). I’m a huge fan of a strong female lead in my novels and Alice had so much potential with her punky, free-spirited background but she never really got going in my eyes. Was she diluted because of her marriage to Jake or was the pact to blame? I guess we’ll never know

I’m afraid I really struggled with the ending of The Marriage Pact. Things were going great guns and I was engrossed in the terrible punishments The Pact were dishing out to our beleaguered couple, but then the ending happened and I had a bit of a ‘huh?’ moment. For a thriller, the ending is quite sedate and I will be totally honest here and say I was a little disappointed. I had an inkling that the story was building up to ‘that ending’ but had hoped the author would pull something utterly mesmerising and unexpected out of the bag. It’s a well-written book with a nice ending. My black heart, unfortunately, wasn’t quite satisfied with a nice ending.

Would I recommend this book? I enjoyed 90% of The Marriage Pact and it’s only because I’m a fan of the darker side of fiction that I think I was a little disappointed with the ending. I would recommend this book but to readers who maybe err towards the gentler side of thriller fiction. It’s well written with a really interesting concept (although a little far-fetched at times) but most of all, I found this book entertaining and that’s exactly what I was after. I liked it!

Three out of five stars.

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

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GIVEAWAY:
The lovely folk at Dead Good sent me a paperback copy of The Marriage Pact but I decided to read my eARC (it’s a long story which involves adjusting (or not!) to new varifocal glasses which I won’t bore you with!). So I have an unread paperback copy of The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond which I am going to give away to one lucky UK winner!

To be in with a chance all you have to do is leave a comment below. It’s that simple. The winner will be selected at random and will need to provide their postal address so I can send them their prize. The competition will close at midday on Monday 25th June 2018 and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards. There is no cash alternative. Good luck everyone!

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books on 14th December 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBooks 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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Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels and two award-winning story collections. Her books include the 2017 psychological thriller THE MARRIAGE PACT, which has been sold in 30 languages and was a Sunday Times bestseller in the UK; GOLDEN STATE, the critically acclaimed novel that imagines modern-day California on the brink of secession from the United States; the international bestseller THE YEAR OF FOG; and the story collection HUM, winner of the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Her novels are set in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives, and in the South, where she grew up. Michelle was born and raised in Alabama and has made her home for eighteen years in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

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

Author Image and Bio © http://michellerichmond.com/