#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Lyme Regis Murders by Andrew Segal @HappyLDNpress @cobaltdinosaur #Giveaway #TheLymeRegisMurders #damppebbles

New FC Lyme RegisThree children found murdered on Lyme Regis beach.

A local reporter announces the horrific story, throwing the quiet town into turmoil at this shocking discovery.

Unused to dealing with murder on his peaceful seaside beat, the local Detective Chief Inspector has taken the easy option, pointing a finger at the step-father, Eric Goldcrest, as the only suspect directly linked to the children. 

But wealthy Goldcrest, now forced to leave the marital home by his hysterical wife and the constabulary’s suspicions, has gone to ground. The only person he can trust to prove his innocence is unconventional, Private Investigator, Tammy Pierre. But as the case gets more complicated, Tammy, uncovering new evidence becomes a target herself, when first subjected to a brutal knife attack, and then chased by three big SUVs aiming to force her off the road. She now realises the seriousness of the case as her life is at risk, but by whom? 

Possible suspects, Goldcrest’s business partners admit they hate the man for the past criminal gains he’s made at their expense. Could Tammy now be within their sights.

Fresh information has the town’s folk alarmed by news of the return, after twenty years in jail, of a convicted child rapist and murderer. Someone answering his description has been seen lurking in the back gardens of the Goldcrest children’s home late at night.

But the children’s murder is just the start, as killing follows killing and Tammy, still seeking to prove Goldcrest’s innocence, finds  herself groping for solutions in a nightmare of senseless slaughter. 

Might revenge be the motive? Or is there something far more sinister happening? The Lyme Regis Murders will keep you riveted to the end.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Once again, I am handing the keys (and perhaps the title deeds too seeing as I haven’t written a review in the last two months) over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who is sharing his thoughts on Andrew Segal’s The Lyme Regis Murders for the blog tour.

Over to you, Ryan…

I am not sure anyone reads crime books unless they want to play at being a secret sleuth.  You may not announce to the rest of the bus that you think it was Eric Goldcrest, or tell the office that you think the recently released prisoner is the chief suspect.  But I think we all do it.  And if you do it with this book you are going to name a lot of potential suspects!  Andrew Segal does a good job of swinging suspects into view and teasing a little bit of motive or evidence right in front of you, before taking the story off in another direction.

Now I can tell you, honestly that my guess was correct (one of my 8 guesses that is!) so I was pretty pleased with myself.  Not for my skills in detection but for my career choice of not becoming a policeman!  Based on this evidence there would be a lot of innocent people locked up if I were in the constabulary!

There are multiple storylines running through this book; predominantly the murders of three innocent children and the growing body count on the Jurassic coastline, but also the protection job Tammy Pierre has been recruited for and the turmoil that is Tammy’s private life.  Tammy has a lot going on. From a case with many suspects but few leads, through to death threats about the protection job she has been contracted to take. Tammy is a strong female lead; clever, persuasive, undecided on all of life’s big decisions and about to have a massive period of self-doubt.  Can she really solve the murder before the police do and protect her client?  Can she save herself and her overseas client who needs to be protected? And can she really do all this whilst having a stable home life?

I enjoyed Tammy as a character. The constant activity felt draining and as the book progresses, you see Tammy start to feel the pace and become irritable and less rational in her actions and responses.  I felt this characterisation was done well and it was easy to like Tammy even if you didn’t agree with her choices.

Eric Goldcrest is a character that is easy to hate. Brash, arrogant and generally loathsome with a penchant for double crossing his friends and colleagues.  But would he go low enough to kill the children? Why’s he running and what is he hiding from?

Whether you want good or evil, trained or incompetent, suspicious or apparently law abiding there is a character here that you will love or loathe.  The ending of the book is clever with an unexpected twist. The murders keep coming throughout the book and the constant turmoil and exhaustion will surely take their toll on something, but who will still be there come the final pages?

I enjoyed this book by Andrew Segal and would recommend it to anyone looking for a character driven and suspicion filled read!

Ryan chose to read and review a free digital copy of The Lyme Regis Murders. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Giveaway:
One of three signed hardback copies of THE LYME REGIS MURDERS with a personal letter from the author

To Win:
Click the link, answer the questions and include the code DP2271 with your final answer: https://www.happylondonpress.com/blogtourprizes

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Our policy is such that we will not pass on your details to any third party without your prior consent.

The Lyme Regis Murders by Andrew Segal was published in the UK by Happy London Press on 1st September 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.com | Kobo |

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andrew12Andrew Segal is a prolific author with books ranging from rhyming kids’ stories through ‘The Hamilton Conspiracy’ to this series of fascinating thrilling short stories. His ‘day job’ provides the basis for many entertaining tales, and his imagination conjures characters and situations that will leave you eager to read more.

An idea for the first short story came out of the blue, (don’t they often?), and witnessed the production of the somewhat surreal, ‘Cat and Mouse,’ duly presented to wife and daughter, his sternest critics, for approval, which having thus been gained, resulted in Andrew joining a writer’s group.  The success of that first foray into the world of writing encouraged Andrew to write further, with the group clamouring for more each week.

Andrew finds inspiration for many of his stories in real life events. His story, ‘The Leopard,’ relates to an appalling event involving a family member when they were just 6 years old, and already showing signs of leadership skills.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. by Bill Flockhart #OperationLargeScotch #OLS @cobaltdinosaur #damppebbles #bookreview

OLS“Fearing the Good Friday Agreement will effectively end the lifestyle his IRA terrorist cell has enjoyed for years, Michael Caldwell the leader of the 1972 Club (named after the Bloody Sunday Massacre) decides to turn his attention to targeting the UK Government economically. He launches an attack threatening to bomb the Scotch whisky industry unless the British Government pay the terrorists a £20m ransom.

Armitage Brown, Assistant Controller of MI5 is given the task of stopping the terrorist attack but is unable to get any information on the assailants as to how, where and when they are going to deploy their explosives if their demands are not met. He co-ordinates a strategy, using all the emergency services, to thwart the terrorists under the code name ‘Operation Large Scotch.’

Both the military and the intelligence services have been guilty of murderous acts going back over the previous eighteen years. John Johnston, a young Ulsterman, living thousands of miles away in South Africa, is determined to get revenge for the killing of his father in Belfast. With the assistance of Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service he releases information that will haunt both the British Military establishment and the terrorists.

Will MI5 succeed in preventing mayhem in various towns around Scotland?”

Hello! Long time, no see. Officially I’m not here. If you saw my end of year post which featured my top 10-ish books of 2019 you may remember me mentioning the fourteen reviews I had yet to write. I have good news – those fourteen reviews are now SIXTEEN reviews (which means I’ve read another two books since that post was published – good news, right?!). Yes, despite my best-laid plans I have failed. But the good news is Ryan, my guest reviewer (and husband), is keeping the damppebbles ship afloat and today he’s reviewing Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. by Bill Flockhart for the blog tour. Let’s find out what he thought…

Let’s start with the big news, Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. is an easy to read thriller that pulls you in from the early chapters and flies along at a great pace. The author has been very clever in limiting the number of characters to avoid confusing side plots and making it very clear from the start who the bad guys are. I love the books where the reader gets to see what both sides are doing and how far away the police/MI5 are from solving the mystery.

You follow the story wondering how anyone on the MI5 side is going to move from being in the dark to figuring out how to progress, and you watch the dissident IRA cell plot atrocities in cunning ways. Set in Antrim, Scotland and South Africa the story moves across multiple years and locations and manages to carry real peril throughout the story.  I can do it no higher praise than say that it would not have surprised me to see “elements of this book were based on real events” in the epilogue.

Michael Caldwell, the leader of the dissident IRA cell is a main character in the book and is clearly drawn by the author. Bill Flockhart has a knack of drawing characters in just the right level of detail. He shows the human side of characters on both sides of the story, combined with a strong storyline which has led to a great book with action, emotion and suspense.

If you are looking for a book to fly through with strong characters then this is a must-consider.  I can’t wait to see if Bill Flockhart writes a second.

Ryan received a free digital copy of Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. by Bill Flockhart was published in paperback and ebook formats on 11th December 2017 (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.com |

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bill-flockhart‘Operation Large Scotch’ is my first book and at my age (71) possibly my last. it reflects on my life in many respects having worked in a distillery in my early working life before digressing into financial services.

My interests are sport (especially golf, swimming and basketball, (the latter through my two sons who played at international level) and current affairs in our ever changing world.

I have always enjoyed a challenge, which producing a book has certainly proved to be, but I would recommend writing to the retired population as it certainly keeps your brain active.

Two years after publishing ‘operation large scotch’ I am delighted to release my second novel ‘She’s Not a Lovely Girl’ which is a sequel to my first book. I only hope it gives everyone the pleasure ‘O.L.S.’ did judging by the favourable reviews it received.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) #TheBowerySlugger #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

1 Bowery Slugger Hi Res 1910A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.

When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?

The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Bowery Slugger blog tour. The Bowery Slugger is the first book in the Alex Cohen series by Leopold Borstinski and was published on 10th November 2019 by Sobriety Press. I received a free eARC of The Bowery Slugger but that has in no way influenced my review.

I occasionally indulge in a little historical crime fiction. Not often enough though, not as frequently as I would like. Which was why I was so excited to make a start on The Bowery Slugger. Set in the 1910s, The Bowery Slugger is the first book in Borstinski’s Alex Cohen series. Teenage Alex has recently landed on the shores of America after a long and arduous sea crossing from his native Ukraine. Quickly discovering the streets of America aren’t paved with gold, Alex realises that providing for his family is his responsibility. Using skills he acquired at home he falls in with the gangs of the Bowery and soon makes a name for himself…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bowery Slugger. With its violent opening, I was hooked from the first page and sucked into Alex’s world. The author’s vivid descriptions made it easy for this reader to be whisked back in time to the Bowery in the 1910s, and I loved it! When I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about it and keen to return to Alex’s gritty, violent world.

I really liked Alex, but I often tend to prefer the darker characters in the books I read. I was expecting there to be more violence in this book than there actually is but I wasn’t disappointed. Alex’s lifestyle draws him into some tricky situations and he reacts, for him, accordingly. None of the violence in this book is over the top or gratuitous and it fits perfectly into the story.

Alex’s flirtation with his neighbour, Rebecca, was a great sub-plot which softened Alex’s edges a little. I was surprisingly entranced by their ‘will they/won’t they’ relationship as I’m not a fan of romance in the books I read. But it added another layer to Alex Cohen which I enjoyed.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. This a great start to what promises to be a brilliant new historical crime series and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. The ending of The Bowery Slugger came maybe a little too quickly, but I can see exactly why the author ended the novel that way and how it will lead into the second book. Gritty, compelling and oh so good! Highly recommended.

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

The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 10th November 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats | amazon.co.ukamazon.comNookGoodreads |

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FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogBlitz: Mercy by Stephen Bentley (@StephenBentley8) @Shalini_G26 #Mercy #damppebbles

Hello bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for the first book in Stephen Bentley’s Detective Matt Deal thriller series, MercyMercy is currently available to purchase in paperback with the ebook to follow later this month on 30th November. Not long to wait now! Stephen is a new author to me but this book sounds right up my street. I can’t wait to read it!

Let’s find out a little more about Mercy

ResizerImage360X540 (1)His daughter was taken. He’ll never get her back.

Set in the near future, Matt Deal is a British businessman married into a wealthy Florida family.

Mercy, his fifteen-year-old daughter, is the glue in his rocky marriage to Lorey. His life is changed forever after Mercy is brutally sexually assaulted on a Destin beach leaving her in a persistent vegetative state.
Trusting the local detectives to bring the rapists to justice, mixed martial arts expert Deal concentrates in vain on his Florida gym business, only to have his world further explode on learning the men responsible for his daughter’s injuries may escape justice. Deal is isolated and at his wit’s end after his rich father-in-law sends death threats blaming him for all these ills.

Who can he turn to? Where can he go? What will he do? Who can he trust?
Will he return to a post-Brexit Britain or ultimately will he seek revenge?

Fans of Jack Reacher, Barry Eisler, and any vigilante justice novel will love this book.

Genre: crime fiction (noir)/thriller/urban fiction with some graphic scenes and language.”

And here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite…

As much as he tried to hide it, Deal felt nervous as he knocked on the door of Internal Affairs.

The voice resonated in his head. “Enter.”

It was the tone, the command, the authority in the voice that reminded him why he was nervous. One false word, one false move and I’m fired, he thought.

Reading the open file, Emily Breen looked up through heavy-rimmed glasses before speaking again. “We meet again, Detective Deal. Sit.”

Breen pointed to a regular-looking seat on the opposite side of the desk from her high-backed executive chair. She continued reading. Deal sat watching her in silence.

Peering over her glasses, Breen said, “Remind me. When was the first time we met?”

“I think you know. It’s all there in my file. Larry Etchwell, Coroner’s Court. I was still with the Human Trafficking Department.”

Breen was silent. She appeared to be deep in thought.

Her next words broke the silence. “The psych evaluation is all good. Says you are fit to remain on active duty.”

“Good. I knew that but it’s good to hear the experts say it too.” Deal emphasised experts. The sarcasm wasn’t missed by Breen.

“Deal. You know the score. Why do you make things difficult for yourself?”

Deal ignored caution. “I always do things the hard way. Haven’t you heard?”

Breen ignored him. “What is this thing with the stutter?”

“How do you mean?”

“You’ve seen the report. What you told the shrink.”

“Remind me. What did I say?”

“If you were a rattlesnake, the stutter would be your rattle.”

Deal smiled at the thought of that meeting with the shrink. “Yeah. That’s what I said. It’s a fact.”

“But why? Why a stutter?”

“I don’t fucking know why. Why does a rattlesnake have a rattle?”

“There you go again, Detective Deal.”

“What?”

“Not helping yourself.”

“Are we done?”

“No. We are not. I have to tell you, one more loss of control. One more death, self-defence or not, you are finished. Do you hear me?”

“I hear you.”

“Good. Is there anything else you wish to say?”

“Can I ask a question?”

“You may.”

“Why does a bird fly?”

“What do you mean?”

“Asking me why I stutter if threatened is like asking a bird why it flies. Why an elephant has big ears. It’s just so. And one other thing – ask these guys what they were going to do to me.”

“I can’t. You killed them.”

“Too right. Before they killed me.”

Doesn’t that sound fantastic?! I can’t wait to read Mercy myself.

Mercy by Stephen Bentley will be published in the UK on 30th November and will be available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk (paperback)amazon.co.uk (ebook)Other eBook Stores |

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Stephen Bentley is a former UK Detective Sergeant, barrister, and author of a bestselling undercover cop memoir. He also writes crime fiction.

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AI Sheets for trade booksellers may be found here at hendrypublishing.com

 

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: 17 Church Row by James Carol @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #17ChurchRow #damppebbles

17 Church Row: We all have darker instincts . . . (Paperback)

“Three years ago, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes suffered a devastating loss when their four-year-old daughter Grace was tragically killed in a road accident. Ethan, a radio personality, escapes into work, leaving Nikki to care for their remaining child, Bella, who hasn’t spoken since that day.

Seeking a fresh start, the family moves into a revolutionary new house designed by renowned architect, Catriona Fisher. The house features a state-of-the-art security system, along with every amenity you could dream of.

For the Rhodes’ this is a chance to finally pick up the pieces and get on with their lives in a place where they feel totally safe.

But what if 17 Church Row isn’t the safe haven that they think it is?”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop (one of the first two stops!) on the 17 Church Row blog tour. 17 Church Row is the latest release from the brilliant James Carol and it will be published in paperback later this week. I received a free eARC of 17 Church Row but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of James Carol’s writing. If Mr Carol writes it, you can guarantee I’ll be reading it as soon as humanly possible. His Jefferson Winter series is absolutely sublime and his standalone novels (of which 17 Church Row is one) are all thrilling, captivating reads. If you’ve never picked up a James Carol novel then you’re really, REALLY missing out.

Nikki Rhodes took her eyes off her twin daughters for only a split second, and that was all it took for tragedy to strike. Nikki knows their lives have changed forever when she hears the screeching of tyres and sees the front door swinging wide open. Learning to rebuild their lives after the loss of Grace is the toughest thing they’ve had to face, but particularly for Bella – Grace’s twin sister – who hasn’t spoken since the accident. When Ethan suggests they move house, leaving behind the painful memories, Nikki doesn’t know what to do for the best. But radio DJ, Ethan has found the perfect house for them – 17 Church Row in Kensington. It’s the house of the future and architect, Catriona is looking to build many, many more. Having a media star like Ethan Rhodes move into her project is a gold mine. You just can’t buy that kind of publicity! 17 Church Row is a futuristic abode decked out with the latest in AI technology. The house is run by ‘Alice’ who can answer to your every whim and is always one step ahead of you. The pain of losing Grace will be with the family forever. Bella is their number one priority now and they have to do everything they can to make her life as happy and as fulfilled as possible. And there’s always the chance that this change of scene could be the catalyst to get Bella to talk again. But what if their new safe haven isn’t as safe and secure as they believe…?

If memory serves I’ve said this before: Woah! If this is the future then I’m locking myself in a library and NEVER, EVER leaving! The last time I said that it was about self-driving cars. I think it’s fair to say I feel the same about self-driving houses! Oh.My.Goodness. This futuristic thriller is one scary read and I’m quite happy in my very normal, very non-AI house – thank you very much! If you had presented 17 Church Row to be me before I read this book I would have bitten your hand off. Modern, sleek, visually stunning. Carol paints a beautiful aesthetic with his words. But I’ve read the book. You can keep your all-singing, all-dancing house!

This is an entertaining thriller and with some interesting characters. I really felt for Nikki who was punishing herself on a daily basis over her daughter’s death. To want to escape the memories but at the same time not feel able to leave them behind, what a tough decision to make. And poor little Bella broke my heart on a number of occasions. I did feel one of the characters was only part of the story to move the plot along – a bit like being a red jerseyed ensign about to embark on your first mission with Captain James T. Kirk to an alien planet. You’ve had a few lines, played a small part and now we all know you’re going to get in in the neck! It wasn’t a huge surprise for me when something questionable happened to them. The architect, Catriona, is also super creepy…yuck!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend all of James Carol’s books as they are all brilliant. If you’re in the mood for something a little bit different then this is the book for you. It’s quite terrifying to think this is how we could be living in the future. Quite an eye-opener. And yes, my Alexa is now in the bin….

I chose to read and review an eARC of 17 Church Row. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

17 Church Row by James Carol was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 14th November and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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James Carol was born in Scotland, where he spent his early years. He moved to England in the eighties and has lived there ever since. At various times he has worked as a guitarist, sound engineer, guitar tutor, journalist, and a horse riding instructor.

Broken Dolls, the first Jefferson Winter thriller, was published in 2014 and has sold a third of a million copies and been translated into twelve languages. This was followed by three other Jefferson Winter thrillers and a trilogy of novellas set during Winter’s FBI days.

James has also written three standalone thrillers. The first of these, The Killing Game was shortlisted for a CWA Ian Fleming Dagger award.

When he’s not writing, James can usually be found in his recording studio where he is currently writing and recording the first Dream Nation album.

James lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, two children, a dog and a horse.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Safe House by Jo Jakeman @HarvillSecker #SafeHouse #damppebbles

SH_7.jpg“NOT EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE . . .

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She calls herself Charlie, but it’s a name she’s only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. Because Charlie has a secret.

Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn’t a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed. This sacrifice cost her everything.

And now she has a chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she’s really paid the price for what she did.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Safe House blog tour. Safe House is the second book from Jo Jakeman and it’s published in hardcover and ebook formats today! The happiest of publication days to Jo and the team at Harvill Secker. I received a free eARC of Safe House but that has in no way influenced my review.

Charlie Miller is a woman with a lot to hide. What’s the best thing to do when you’ve made a number of terrible mistakes and want to forget your past? When you walk down the street of the town which you’ve lived your entire life in and people spit at you? You obviously up sticks and move to a different part of the country! Charlie Miller moves her meagre belongings to Penderrion in Cornwall and starts afresh. But Charlie Miller is a brand new creation. A new identity to help ex-convict Steffi Finn fit in. Steffi has just been released from HMP Hillstone for providing a false alibi for her partner, Lee Fisher. But that’s in the past. No one knows who Charlie really is. Or do they….?

I enjoyed this slow-burn psychological suspense novel. I found Charlie, despite her faults, easy to like and the setting, the beautiful and dramatic Cornish coastline, played as much a part in the story as the characters themselves. With Jakeman’s vivid descriptions I could picture myself stood on the cliffs overlooking the turbulent waves.

There’s a wonderful sense of impending danger and unease throughout the novel which comes from three angles. The lawyer husband of Jenn who seems to recognise Charlie on first sight, the unknown narrator who appears a handful of times throughout the novel and from Ben Jarvis who seems hellbent on trying to track Charlie down. For what purpose the reader is left wondering.

Would I recommend this book? If you like a lighter, edging on women’s fiction thriller, then yes – this is a book for you. Charlie’s neighbours were great characters and I enjoyed the community spirit they embodied – particularly Aubrey who was my favourite character in the book (and had very little community spirit about him but he was fond of Charlie and I think we all know or have known an Aubrey). An entertaining read to while away an Autumnal afternoon.

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

Safe House by Jo Jakeman was published by Harvill Secker on 31st October 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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JO JAKEMAN was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Safe House is her second novel and Sticks and Stones was her debut thriller.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Ghoster by Jason Arnopp @orbitbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #Ghoster #damppebbles

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“Kate Collins has been ghosted.

She was supposed to be moving in with her new boyfriend Scott, but all she finds after relocating to Brighton is an empty flat. Scott has vanished. His possessions have all disappeared.

Except for his mobile phone.

Kate knows she shouldn’t hack into Scott’s phone. She shouldn’t look at his Tinder, his texts, his social media. But she can’t quite help herself.

That’s when the trouble starts. Strange, whispering phone calls from numbers she doesn’t recognise. Scratch marks on the door that she can’t explain.

And the growing feeling that she’s being watched . . .”

Hello my bookish lovelies. Welcome to damppebbles and to my stop (one of the first stops!) on the epic Ghoster blog tour. Ghoster is the latest release from Jason Arnopp and will be published in ebook tomorrow (that’s Tuesday 22nd October) and paperback on Thursday 24th October (just in time to add it to your Hallowe’en reading list!). I received a free eARC of Ghoster but that has in no way influenced my review.

Jason Arnopp is a name that has been known to me for a while. If you’re a fan of horror fiction then you can’t have missed his previous novel, The Last Days of Jack Sparks. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading it myself yet but it’s waiting patiently on my bookshelf and as soon as I have a little downtime then it’s my next book of choice. So Ghoster was my first foray into the dark mind of Mr Arnopp and what a wonderful spooky experience it was. Reading Ghoster, if anything, has made me even more keen to get stuck in.

Paramedic Kate Collins is a modern woman who is a bit ballsy, very likeable but also very lonely. She also has an addiction many of us can relate to; her phone. A world where a hundred friends are ‘there for you’ but you don’t actually know a single one of them in person. A world where accumulating ‘likes’ is everything. So much so, that you view life through the lens of your phone’s camera – rather than actually live it. Following an incident at work Kate decides to dump her smartphone and buy a basic Nokia. She also takes herself off to Wales to a digital detox retreat. It’s here she spots a familiar face. Scott is a guy she super-liked on Tinder earlier in the year. He blanked her but now he’s here! They begin chatting, find out they have lots in common and before long they’re arranging to meet again in Leeds where Kate lives. Romance slowly blossoms and a few months later Scott asks Kate to move in with him to his luxurious seafront apartment in Brighton. Kate agrees without a moment’s hesitation and moving day looms. But then Scott vanishes. He doesn’t answer Kate’s calls or her texts. Kate’s first thought is that he’s lying dead in a ditch somewhere so rushes down to Brighton with all of her worldly possessions and a moving van in tow, only to find his apartment completely bare. No Scott. None of Scott’s stuff. Apart from one thing. His phone. Against her better judgement and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, Kate hacks into Scott’s phone. What she discovers will change her life forever…

This is a well-written, easy to devour supernatural thriller that had me turning the pages at the rate of knots. I really liked Kate but also found her utterly annoying at times. She is a little bit needy but then I think I would have completely fallen to bits a lot sooner if I were in the same situation. I loved how current Arnopp has made this story and I’m afraid I recognised myself in Kate a little – I think many people will. How often do YOU have to check your phone? Ghoster is also a stark reminder that dating in this day and age is a darn complicated business! It seems a lot has changed in the last 12 years since I first met my other half.

Once I warmed to Kate (which didn’t take long) I knew I had to see the journey through with her. I just had to know what was going on. Where the strange calls were coming from, what the blue things were and what was the cause of the strange scratch marks on the door. Her search for missing Scott takes up a large proportion of the novel and the mystery element was intriguing. I did find myself wanting Kate to quit moaning a couple of times and just get on with it. I understand that she was torn by the ethics of the situation but we all know she’s going to do it so stop questioning things and get on with it, Kate! We’re with you every step of the way! I loved the last section of the book though, particularly the diary chapters when the reader discovers a lot more about one of the characters. My heart broke. When everything is laid bare for the reader you can’t help but feel sad that things were not meant to be – because they would have been flipping awesome.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a fun and entertaining novel which I enjoyed. Arnopp has created a book which, if you use a smartphone, will make you think long and hard about how much you use it and whether you *could* actually manage without it. I don’t think I will be putting my phone in the bin just yet though! Not until the strange whispering phone calls start anyway. I am even more excited to read The Last Days of Jack Sparks now and can certainly see why Arnopp’s books are so incredibly popular.

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp was published in the UK by Orbit Books on 24th October 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Jason Arnopp is the author of the Orbit Books novel The Last Days Of Jack Sparks, which has been described as “a magnificent millennial nightmare” (Alan Moore), “scarier than watching The Exorcist in an abandoned asylum” (Sarah Lotz) and “The Omen for the social media age” (Christopher Brookmyre). Director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code) optioned the film rights shortly after the book’s 2016 release.

Arnopp co-wrote the official behind-the-scenes book Inside Black Mirror with Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones.

Why not check out his four shorter-form fiction titles? These are:
— Beast In The Basement, a suspenseful, mind-blowing thriller novella
— A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home, a chilling and groundbreaking short story set in YOUR home
— Auto Rewind, a dark, emotionally charged thriller novelette
— American Hoarder, a supernatural creep-fest available only when you join the author’s free mailing list at JasonArnopp.com

Arnopp previously wrote and executive-produced the Lionsgate feature film Stormhouse and script-edited the Peter Mullan feature The Man Inside. He has also written for the worlds of Doctor Who (BBC), The Sarah Jane Adventures (BBC) and Friday The 13th (New Line Cinema).

In his past life as a rock journalist, he interviewed the likes of Bon Jovi, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne and Guns N’ Roses. He was once surrounded by angry guards holding semi-automatic weapons at The Vatican. His Slipknot biography, Slipknot: Inside The Sickness, Behind The Masks, was released in 2001 and is now available as a Kindle Edition. Arnopp has also written a guide to journalistic interviewing, entitled How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else, which is also out on Kindle.

Arnopp’s latest non-fiction book is From The Front Lines Of Rock. Available in the Kindle Store now, it gathers 30 of his favourite interviews he wrote as a rock journalist, with the likes of Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Korn, Kiss, Faith No More, Garbage, Nine Inch Nails and Green Day.

When you sign up for Arnopp’s free newsletter at JasonArnopp.com, you can also download his short story American Hoarder for free. You might also want to check out his YouTube channel by searching for his name there. What a wonderful world.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. @Nichola14282741 @cobaltdinosaur #JusticeGone #damppebbles

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WINNER OF THREE AWARDS

2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD
NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCY AWARD – Best Legal Thriller OF 2019
SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2019 READERS’ FAVORITES AWARDS

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.
Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.
The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.
Crime Review

“When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

Today I am delighted to hand the blog over to my guest reviewer, Ryan the husband, who is going to share his thoughts on Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. So without further ado, let’s find out what Ryan thought…

N. Lombardi Jr took on a tough task with Justice Gone, writing a legal thriller around veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) without trivialising the huge impact this condition can have on their lives. Dr Tessa Thorpe is the central character in this novel and works at the New Hope Trauma Recovery Clinic in Lower Manhattan. The Clinic’s work has bought her into contact with many veterans including Donald Darfield and Jay Felson. The book opens with the traumatic beating of Jay Felson and builds a strong story in five sections through protests, a man hunt, court case and the outcome.

This book seems to capture something that is “very now” with media focus on police brutality in the US. Protesters taking to the streets and the public’s need for a conviction. So it is no surprise that the book has won awards. There is a strong cast of characters in the book from the driven Tessa Thorpe who finds an unlikely ally in Police Chief Garson. Casey Hull, another counsellor at the New Hope Clinic and a veteran himself and Felson’s father a retired Marine with an unhealthy disrespect for almost everything. Small scenes showing the Police talking informally in their favourite bar ensure that room is given for all viewpoints and build suspicion well.

Lombardi Jr does a great job of planting doubt in the reader’s mind about a number of the characters’ motives. I think I suspected at least four characters of various acts they turned out to be innocent of, as I progressed through the book (lucky I am not a police officer I guess!). I also can’t believe I have got this far through my review without mentioning Nathaniel Bodine; a blind lawyer with a showman’s panache, cynicism that could sink a battleship and unique legal style. I still don’t know whether I liked or loathed Bodine but for the middle section of the book he became the main character and he controlled the courtroom scenes in a unique and memorable way.

But what of Darfield himself? Darfield provided a fascinating case study of PTSD. Bravery in a warzone leading to PTSD which could make him violent…but a killer? You’ll have to read it to find out. The sensitivity with which the book addressed PTSD whilst emphasising its seriousness was impressive and added to the reading experience.

Would I read more by N. Lombardi Jr? I would, and it will be interesting to see if he takes any of these characters forward or leaves this as a stand alone. A highly recommended legal thriller.

I chose to read and review a free digital copy of Justice Gone. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr was published in the UK by Roundfire Books on 22nd February 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Goodreads | Book Depository |

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N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Visit his goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6982373.N_Lombardi_Jr_

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Family by Louise Jensen @HQstories #TheFamily #damppebbles

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ONCE YOU’RE IN, THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE.

Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.

But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader, Alex, refuses to go.

Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Family blog tour. The Family is the latest release from one of my very favourite authors, Louise Jensen and was published by HQ in paperback on Thursday 3rd October. I received an ARC copy of The Family but that has in no way influenced my review.

Louise Jensen is an incredible writer. If you haven’t discovered her books yet then you and I need to have serious words. They’re perfectly plotted family-driven psychological thrillers that leave you on the absolute edge of your seat. Only for Jensen to throw something completely unexpected and deliciously twisty your way, leaving the reader gasping and wanting more. They’re insanely good and the release of a new Louise Jensen book is a highlight of my year. So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to reading The Family. And oh boy, it didn’t disappoint.

The Family does have a slightly different feel to Jensen’s other books. There are twists and turns galore and a family is at the forefront of the action, as I have come to expect from this author. I found the pace to be quite different though. This is a slow and intoxicating unravelling of a clever and well-plotted story which held my attention from start to finish. I really felt for our main protagonist, Laura. Recently bereaved and on the brink of losing her livelihood, she is barely holding things together. Wanting to make sure she and 17-year-old daughter, Tilly, still had somewhere to call home she reaches out to her deceased husband’s family – only for them to shun her. Rapidly running out of ideas, Laura turns to charismatic Alex, asking for help. Alex has the legal know-how she needs and he and the Oak Leaf Organics community welcome Laura and Tilly with open arms. But not everything at Oak Leaf Organics is as perfect as it first appears. How does Alex know everything about Laura’s life? And exactly how close are Tilly and Alex becoming?

There are so many secrets for the reader to get their teeth into in this book. And secrets are what Jensen is the master of. Laura’s story is beautifully presented to the reader. You feel you have a fairly good idea of who is who and what is going on. Only for Jensen to pull one of her brilliant sleight of hand moves on you. Actually, in reality, you know nothing. And that is why Louise Jensen’s books are a joy to read. The Family is another example of how adept Jensen is at what I would assume is a difficult skill to master. You think you’ve got the measure of these characters, but you haven’t.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about The Family is the way Jensen puts a mother/daughter relationship under the microscope. This book was all about Laura and Tilly for me. I had several moments of ‘what if this was MY 17-year-old daughter? What would I do in Laura’s situation?’. There are some really powerful emotive parts to the story. Some I can understand because I’m a mum too. Some I thankfully will never understand. And there’s one twist, towards the end of the book, which very nearly broke me. That’s going to stay with me for a while to come.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. In fact, I suggest you just go and purchase every book Louise Jensen has written because they are all outstanding. Jensen remains one of my absolute favourite authors and I am now counting down the days until her next book is released. The Family is a very compelling, very real read that draws you in until the very final page. Highly emotive, chock full of delicious secrets and another incredibly readable book from the pen of Ms Jensen.

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

The Family by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by HQ on 3rd October 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s fifth thriller, The Family, will be published in Autumn 2019 by Harper Collins.

The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) @cobaltdinosaur #TheLagottiFamily #damppebbles

Boxset 3D.jpgTwo generations and four decades in the lives of Frank, Mary Lou and the rest of the gang

The Heist: After leaving Baltimore Penitentiary, Frank’s get rich quick scheme to rob a bank requires his girlfriend, Mary Lou to sleep with an inside guy and for his gang to stay together long enough to take down the vault. Meanwhile Mary Lou falls for the inside man and can’t decide whether to go with him or Frank. If she chooses the wrong fella she’ll be penniless and wind up dead. How would you choose between a fool and a dreamer?

The Getaway: After ex-con Frank and his girlfriend Mary Lou rob a Baltimore Bank, they must flee across country before the Feds find them and the mob ices them for stealing from an organized crime boss. As they dash to California, trust becomes the most important currency as Frank and Mary Lou grapple to decide whether love is enough to keep them together. And by the time they reach their goal, they must fight to the death to survive hired guns and trained police shooters. If they don’t kill everyone in their way then they will die themselves. Would you risk everything for a sack of greenbacks?

Powder: When Mary Lou takes the proceeds from a bank robbery to start up her heroin dealing business, old enemies circle overhead and threaten the lives of her twins. How will she keep them safe in such a dangerous place and what is she prepared to do to secure her new venture?

Mama’s Gone: When Mary Lou makes some bad decisions, her twins and her husband must decide whether she’s losing her mind. If they can get that cleared up then all they have to worry about is their feud with the Russian mob. And then someone goes and ices the old lady. Who would have the cajones to murder the head of the Lagotti family?”

Happy Friday and welcome to damppebbles. Ryan the guest reviewer here. Emma has let me take over with a review of Leopold Bortstinki’s book as she is looking through all of your lovely R3COMM3N3D2019 suggestions after her post yesterday (she’s also spent a lot of time adding books to her ‘Terrifying TBR’).  So whilst I am here, I thought I would share my review of The Heist. Without further ado, here’s what I thought…..

The Heist by Leopold Borstinski is the first book in The Lagotti Family Series Box Set. Now those of you with a keen memory will remember that earlier this year I reviewed Mama’s Gone, the fourth and final book in the series.  This blog tour offered me the chance for some reader ‘time travel’ and an opportunity to learn more about Frank and Mary Lou’s back story.

It is almost unfair to call Frank and Mary Lou the main characters as this book revolves around a small number of characters who are working to make Frank’s bank robbery a success.  Andrew and Brian represent the hired muscle and Pete, the getaway driver, completes the gang.  The story follows the planning of the job and the reader watches as tensions develop, scores are settled and each character works out how to get the best deal for themselves.  The deceit, plotting and characterisation in this novel are great as you soon realise that not everyone is going to get their way. And some characters are willing to spill a lot of blood to get a few extra dollars.

Outside the plotting is Mary Lou’s growing relationship with the inside man she is seducing to get information on the bank.   As time moves on you start to wonder who’s side she is on; is it Frank’s, Carter’s – the inside man, or just her own!  It has to be said there is a lot of carnal activity in this book and if that is something that you don’t enjoy then I would suggest you read something else.

My favourite aspect of this book was the slow burn. The planning isn’t over in a few days, it takes a lot longer.  Time for emotions to surface, characters to get hurt, plan their revenge and make whatever alliances are required.   In the background is the insidious Frank Snr, a character straight out of the grittiest noir novel, and a gritty noir novel is really what Borstinski has created here.  A novel which sets the platform for the rest of the box set.

So if you want strong characters, gritty noir and a sense of foreboding this is a good place to start. The Lagotti Family Series Box Set is going to show you a lot of twists and turns and probably a lot of blood before you put it down.  But beware, if you enjoyed this you will be straight into The Getaway – book two of this box set, as some plot lines are deliberately left dangling to entice you onwards. Follow them and watch a mob start from a bank job and develop through to an empire.  What are you waiting for?

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

The Lagotti Family Series box set was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 30th June 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.