#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.

#BlogTour | #GuestPost & #Excerpt: False Prophet by James Hazel @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #FalseProphet #damppebbles

false prophet.jpg“A secret buried for two thousand years.
The rise of an ancient evil.
An invisible killer who will stop at nothing.

When a brutal serial killer defies all known methods, the police call in prolific lawyer and former homicide detective, Charlie Priest, to assist the hunt.

Working together they soon discover a link to a lost scripture that contains a secret so devastating that its custodians are prepared to die to keep it.

Tangled in a dark world of fanaticism, chaos and deadly secrets, Priest comes up against a nemesis more formidable and deranged than any he has previously encountered.

There is no Judgement Day. There is something far worse.”

Happy Friday. Welcome to damppebbles and to my stop (the final stop) on the False Prophet blog tour. False Prophet is the third book in James Hazel’s Charlie Priest series and was published by Zaffre Books in paperback, audio and ebook formats on 19th September 2019.  Today I am delighted to share both an extract from the book along with a brilliant guest post from author James Hazel.

Let’s get stuck in…

Prologue
The Snake and the Boy

There was once an angel named Samyaza. He was the leader of a band of angels known as the Watchers; the holy ones who descended from heaven to be with man.

It was propagated that, in the beginning, Samyaza changed his form into that of a snake: a copperhead serpent said to be the most cunning of all of God’s creatures. It is in this form that Samyaza took up his position in the Garden of Eden and enticed Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, telling her that the fruit’s consumption would give her the powers of God.

Like Prometheus stealing fi re to give to man, which angered Zeus because he knew that, with fi re, man would eventually find little need for gods, so the Christian God was enraged by Samyaza’s trickery. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, but man’s ultimate punishment was to live forever under the crushing weight of his own morality.

From high above, Samyaza watched as God punished man, no longer welcome in the celestial outworld of Heaven. Resentment, anger and lust boiled within him. And something else too. Hatred of God, and the burning desire for revenge.

Then one day, Samyaza felt a cold hand on his shoulder. In his rage, he made to throw off the hand, break it, smash it, tear it apart. But when he turned, his eyes flooded with bloodlust, and he met the cool, unrelenting gaze of the only creature who still had any dominion over him. Satan. And into Samyaza’s receptive ears, Satan poured a devilish plan.

Later that day, in accordance with Satan’s plan, Samyaza proposed to his followers, one hundred and ninety-nine other Watchers, that they descend to Earth, permanently, and make wives for themselves of the humans below waiting for them. It was a dangerous enterprise, one that would draw the ultimate wrath of God himself; Samyaza would take personal responsibility if they were uncovered. But the one hundred and ninety-nine drew a pact together – they would not let their leader sacrifice himself alone.

And so a covenant was reached – each Watcher was bound to himself, his kin and to Samyaza. Together, they descended to Earth, and in so doing became the Fallen Ones. Others called them Demons. Each took a human woman as his wife. And they procreated. Their off spring, a hybrid race of demon and human, were known as Giants.

But the Giants were a blasphemy. Nothing has ever existed that was more malevolent. They were a union that was supposed to be forbidden in every sense. Soon, God’s greatest creation had become corrupted, ravaged and ruined. When the Giants began to outnumber the purebloods, they turned upon their cousins – devouring them like the monsters they really were. From his demonic castle in the clouds, Satan observed the chaos below with gleeful eyes, knowing that his tenure became safer with the death of every pureblood. He knew about the prophecy; the Bible told of it. Th e one to overthrow him will be a man. Well that can’t happen if there are no men left, can it . . .

In retaliation, God sent a flood to cover the Earth, and destroy all living things, including the blasphemous demon hybrids. But in order to preserve the purebloods, God saved Noah and his family. Noah, who was perfect in his generations. The purest of pure, whose lineage was untouched by the demons. The Earth’s last hope.

But Satan was not done yet.

Janus was the son of a farmer; honest and hardworking. The kind of man who would have lived and died in total obscurity, ploughing the oil seed fields or tending to cattle in the arid wilderness of southern Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq. That is, were it not for one fateful day.

On that day, Janus was sent by his father to recover a lost sheep, a journey which took him across the unforgiving wastelands for two days. Starving and dying of thirst, Janus was about to give up on his pursuit when he tripped and fell, a sharp pain rippling up his leg. When he looked up, he saw he had been bitten by a snake; a creature with deep crimson scales, the colour of the Arabian sunset. The same copperhead serpent that curled artfully around the Tree of Life, and who lured Eve into sin. This was God’s partisan, the wicked Samyaza.

Afraid, Janus was about to strike out with his crook, when, just as the serpent of the Garden of Eden had, the snake spoke to him, warning Janus of the forthcoming deluge. The snake advised Janus that there was no hope for his father and mother but that he, Janus, might survive if he were to stowaway on the Ark built by Noah, which was then nothing more than a wooden carcass, a giant timber skeleton jutting out of the desert.

Then the snake writhed away, and where it slithered, crops grew and water flowed. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Janus set off to find the Ark. When he did, he disguised himself as one of the labourers, but whereas those men hired by Noah to unwittingly build his vessel of survival went about blindly following Noah’s directions, Janus constructed a small, secret room below deck where he stayed until the Ark was complete.

There he remained, as the rain lashed and the wind hurled the Ark around for forty days and forty nights until the highest mountains were covered with black water and all life on Earth was extinguished, save for Noah, his family, the animals aboard the Ark and their stowaway.

When the clouds parted, and the rain relented, Janus picked his moment and crawled away, the demon bloodline pulsing through his veins.

Above him, Satan smiled. His plan had worked. It would not be long before Janus spread his demonic seed. Soon, the age of the demon would be born again.

Why the biblical story of the flood is weird on a whole other level

When it comes to religion, there’s one thing that we can all agree on, and that’s that no one can agree on anything.

Not even the data. I recently read two articles in a popular mainstream newspaper less than a year apart. The first article declared that “faith is becoming more and more popular”. The second purported to chart religion’s “continued decline”.

Both articles were peppered with carefully selected statistics and bold statements about their meaning.

Atheism may or may not be on the rise, depending on whose survey you read this week, but one thing is for sure: there are some very strange things going on in the Bible. From talking donkeys (Numbers 22:28-30) to bans on people with crushed testicles from being Christian (Deuteronomy 23:1), there is an awful lot to worry about.

It turns out that one of the strangest is also one of the most well-known.

The story of the Flood can be summarised roughly as follows: God looked upon the Earth and decided that it was permeated with evil and vice. Thus, He destroyed all living things with a deluge; all except of course for Noah and his family.

It is an early example of indiscriminate genocide.

There is, however, a part of the Flood narrative that is less well known. This is the story of a band of angels who fell from grace to fornicate with human women thereby producing a race of hybrid offspring known as ‘giants’.

It’s there: written in the Book of Genesis, hiding in plain sight, although, generally, it is omitted from the Sunday School account of Noah and the Ark.

~

To understand what’s going on here, it’s helpful to bear in mind that the Bible is not a comprehensive, flowing story. It is a collection of vaguely connected material written by multiple authors across a timespan of up to a full millennium. It is therefore not difficult to find inconsistencies in the chronicle.

Moreover, the stories in the Bible, especially those of the Old Testament, may be supplemented by other scriptures that aren’t deemed part of the canon.

In the case of the Flood, the true story cannot reasonably be understood without consideration of the Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish work ascribed to the prophet Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. The Book of Enoch is not considered part of the Christian Bible.

Enoch tells the story of the Watchers, a band of rebellious angels led by Samyaza who decided one day to visit Earth and take female humans as their wives (whether this is a story of divine love or mass rape is open to interpretation).

The union between the Watchers and such women, who were either blessed or the victims of preternatural sexual abuse depending on your viewpoint, produced a race of half-angel / half-human hybrids called the Nephilim.

This story might have been confined to the annals of obscure Jewish history, were it not for the fact that the Nephilim are referred to directly in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 6:4). The King James version of the bible uses the word ‘giants’, which is the Hebrew translation of the word Nephilim.

Enoch then has the giants running riot, ‘devouring mankind’ and sinning ‘against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish’ while ‘devouring flesh’ and ‘drinking blood’ (Enoch Ch VII 1-6). This has led some to speculate that the hybrids might have ultimately become demons.

It begs the question: did God instigate the flood to rid the world of evil created by man, or to destroy the giants?

~

There may be some clues in the text, such as that describing the basis of God’s decision to burden Noah with the unenviable task of survival after the extinction of ‘every living thing’.

The orthodox explanation is that Noah was about the only decent soul around, the only one trustworthy enough to restart the human race after the deluge. He was a good-egg, immune from the unmitigated evil to which just about everybody else was seemingly predisposed.

That’s not quite accurate though. The actual text puts it slightly differently. Noah was chosen because he was ‘perfect in his generations’ (Genesis 6:9).

Was this a reference to Noah’s flawless character and devotion to God, or to his bloodline? Perhaps the point is that Noah’s ancestry was pure, untainted by demon DNA.

~

Whatever the truth of God’s intentions, all accounts seem to indicate that the plan (if that was the plan) failed. The giants are still around. The Bible is very clear on this (Genesis 6:4; Numbers 13:33).

Perhaps even Goliath, the Philistine behemoth slain by David, was a giant (incidentally, David’s slingshot was just about the deadliest weapon available at the time, and Goliath may have suffered from a disorder known as acromegaly, meaning he probably couldn’t see straight. Why David remains the underdog in this tale is beyond me. But I digress).

We must acknowledge that there are competing interpretations of all of this. Perhaps there were two races of giants, one pre-flood and one post-flood. Perhaps the giants were wiped out, but reintroduced by incubuses (demons that have sex with or rape women). Perhaps Noah’s son Ham was wicked, and his wife was a Pagan bearing the giants’ seed.

The latter explanation has some credence to it. Genesis gives an account of a rather strange incident wherein Noah plants a vineyard (Genesis 9:20). Pleased with himself, Noah takes to drinking an awful lot, leading to him falling asleep in a tent in a drunken stupor. During this period of incapacitation, Ham apparently sodomises him.

Even more curiously, Noah decides not to punish Ham for this act of gross indecency directly, but instead punishes (by way of a curse) Ham’s son, Canaan.

Whatever the explanation, the fate of the giants is left distressingly unresolved.

~

Given how the Bible was put together, perhaps this isn’t surprising.

The Old Testament once existed without a flood story. The account was added later by Jewish priests putting their own spin on the Sumerian / Akkadian / Babylonian cast of the same event. These additions and changes, introduced over centuries, constantly interrupted and disrupted the fluidity of the overall narrative.

Things were lost. The giants may well be part of that residue; their story was suddenly no longer relevant.

The debate about all of these matters rages on. Some people have pointed to a prophecy embroidered into the pages of Genesis: the one to overthrow Satan will be a man (Genesis 3:14-15). Perhaps it was Satan’s plan all along to contaminate the human bloodline with the divine seed of fallen angels so that there can be no pure man to overthrow him.

Perhaps the Biblical tale is just too convoluted, too confusing to make much sense of at all. It is ungraspable, like trying to catch fog in your hands.

~

None of this necessarily proves or disproves anything. All religions have an array of bewildering backstories. Many have flood narratives. Few have any cogent historical foundation. The lacuna between faith and evidence is staggeringly wide.

It’s easy to dismiss these stories as myth, the antiquated ramblings of an ancient sect. It’s easy to say that they have been misunderstood, misinterpreted by ignorant laymen who fail to grasp their deeper meaning. It’s easy to say that they have been taken out of context, ravished by flawed analysis and glossed over with misinformation. It’s easy to say that they shouldn’t be taken literally.

It’s easy to say that they’re just nonsense.

Perhaps all of these things are true to one degree or another. After all, what is proof, other than what we ourselves define it as? When it comes to matters of religion, just like metaphysics, we set our own bars.

There is a race of human-angels in the Bible; the same book that has codified the beliefs of billions of people throughout history. The same book that promotes misogyny, homophobia and a set of morals that seem utterly disconnected from a modern liberal social contract. The story of the giants isn’t proof of the Bible’s paucity when it comes to questions of credibility, but the lack of explanation does seem like an oversight when set against the vehemence with which certain Christian rhetoric is espoused, such as the insistence that God’s word is truth.

James Hazel is the author of False Prophet, out on the 19th September 2019 and published by Bonnier-Zaffre.

Many thanks to James for such an interesting guest post and allowing me to share an excerpt from False Prophet.

False Prophet by James Hazel was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 19th September 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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james hazel.jpgBefore turning his hand to writing, James Hazel was a lawyer in private practice specialising in corporate and commercial litigation and employment law.

He was an equity partner in a regional law firm and held a number of different department headships until he quit legal practice to pursue his dream of becoming an author.
He has a keen interest in criminology and a passion for crime thrillers, indie music and all things retro.

James lives on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds with his wife and three children.

#BlogTour | #BookSpotlight: Sleep by M.K. Boers (@PurpleQueenNL) #SleepMKBoers #damppebbles

Happy weekend bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be closing down the Sleep by M.K. Boers blog tour today following a week of brilliant reviews and content posts from some amazing book bloggers.

Today I will be shining the spotlight on Sleep so read on to find out more…

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“A marriage made in heaven, a murder made in hell.

Why kill the man you love?

Lizzy was struggling, everyone knew that.
He shouldn’t have done those things.
He shouldn’t have pushed her so hard.
And now, her children, her marriage, her hope – gone.
It was all her fault, she knew that, but was there a chance of redemption?

Lizzy Dyson’s on trial for her life. She knows she must pay for what she did, even if it wasn’t planned, but will the jury believe her?

A domestic noir, suspense-filled psychological drama, about heartbreak and betrayal, Sleep reveals what drives a woman to murder.”

Doesn’t that sound BRILLIANT?! Here are what others have been saying about the book:

“You’ll love Lizzy and you’ll hate her. You’ll want to hug her, you’ll want to slap her. But in the end, you’ll want to save her. An enthralling insight into one woman’s shattered life, and the strength she must summon to rebuild it.” Michael Wombat, Author of The Raven’s Wing & Fog.

“A compelling domestic drama where the tragic build-up to an awful crime unfolds through the eyes of a desperate woman.” – SJI Holliday, Author of The Lingering & Violet

“I thought the court scenes were fascinating, I enjoyed the way the witnesses were taken down by the prosecution and the defence and the way that each of the witnesses seemed to help Lizzy accept her actions. Regardless of whose side they were on. I particularly enjoyed the way Reedy’s true nature was revealed. ” – Steph’s Book Blog

“A well written, well paced novel for fans of psychological suspense.” – Liz Loves Books

“I loved the honesty with which the author portrayed the lives of all the characters, both the main ones and other friends and relatives. Each put their stamp on this story. I can wax eloquent about Boers’s book, but it ought to be read for its genuineness and commitment to her story.” – Shalini’s Books & Reviews

Sleep by M.K. Boers was published in the UK on 29th August 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 | Goodreads |

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M K Boers spent her early childhood in Surrey, in the south of England, and her teens moving round the UK, but currently resides in the Netherlands.

Under her pen name Miranda Kate, she has been featured in several Flash Fiction anthologies, and has published two collections, one of dark flash-fiction tales called Mostly Dark, and another of science fiction stories called Slipping Through, the latter containing a short novella for which a sequel will be forthcoming this year.

Find M K Boers on her website, on her Facebook page and on Twitter – @PurpleQueenNL

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Endgame by Daniel Cole @TrapezeBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #Ragdoll #EndgameBook #damppebbles

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A locked room. A dead body. A secret that went to the grave.

When retired police officer Finlay Shaw is found dead in a locked room, everyone thinks it’s suicide. But disgraced detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes isn’t so sure.

Together with his former partner Detective Emily Baxter and private detective Edmunds, Wolf’s team begin to dig into Shaw’s early days on the beat. Was Shaw as innocent as he seemed? Or is there more to his past than he’d ever let on?

But not everyone wants Wolf back – and as his investigation draws him ever deeper into police corruption, it will not only be his career on the line – but the lives of those he holds closest as well…

The explosive new thriller from the Sunday Times and international bestseller, perfect for fans of Fiona Cummins and Helen Fields.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I am absolutely delighted to be one of two blogs kicking off the Endgame blog tour today. Endgame is the third and final book in the Ragdoll Trilogy written by Daniel Cole and will be published by Trapeze Books in hardcover, audio and ebook formats later this week on 5th September (with the paperback to follow in January 2020). I received a free eARC of Endgame from NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of this author’s books. I really liked Ragdoll. I LOVED the second book, Hangman. And knowing this was a trilogy I was very keen to read book three. But also a little nervous too. What if it wasn’t as good as the first two books? What if a series I felt quite invested in didn’t deliver? What if it wasn’t all rounded-off perfectly and I was left feeling completely let down and dissatisfied? No pressure there then 😬! Excited but apprehensive. I needn’t have worried, this is an absolute blinder of a book and I loved it.

The first thing I must say is I can’t quite see this book working unless you have read the first and second books in the trilogy. There is a lot going on and an awful lot of history here which the author alludes to but doesn’t really go into any detail about. This is an exceptionally good set of books though so you’d be daft to not want to start at book one and see the journey with Wolf, Emily Baxter, Edmunds and the team through to the very end.

When the team’s loved and respected colleague, DS Finlay Shaw, is found in a locked room having allegedly committed suicide the team are devastated. Despite being one of London’s ‘most wanted’, Wolf makes an emotional return to grieve the loss of his friend and mentor…only to be arrested! But Wolf’s gift of the gab and his promise to dish the dirt on a notorious international criminal means he’s permitted to join the investigation into Shaw’s death, but with certain caveats in place (a curfew for example, which involves spending every night under lock and key at the local police station). Because the people who knew and loved Finlay Shaw the most don’t think he would have killed himself. But will the team’s digging into Shaw’s past lead them to discover something they’d rather not know…

I loved this book, I think I’ve said that before. But it’s true so it bears repeating. It’s a fitting end to a wonderful trilogy of books and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to these characters (but who knows what the future holds). I’ll be honest here, I wasn’t all that sure about Wolf and Emily after reading the first book. But oh my gosh, how my opinion has changed. The banter and familiarity between all the team (including ‘Lab Guy’) is just wonderful and really drew me into the story. The dark humour made me laugh out loud at points and at other points I found myself holding my breath.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But as I mentioned, it’s probably better to start with book one and make your way through the series in order. It’s a wonderful conclusion to a brilliant trilogy and no matter what Daniel Cole writes next, I will be making a point of reading it. I probably would have preferred a slightly ‘less perfect’ ending, something to appeal to my darker side, but that’s just me. Other readers will find the ending fitting and it finishes our time with these characters off nicely. A real page-turner of a novel with lots of really clever, laugh out loud moments. Highly recommended.

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

Endgame by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover, 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 | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer, and most recently for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Ragdoll is his first novel. He lives in Bournemouth, England.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City by Pete Adams (@Peteadams8) #CauseandEffect #KindHeartsandMartinets @cobaltdinosaur @NextChapterPB #damppebbles

Cause and Effect cover“A self-labelled enigma, Detective Inspector Jack Austin is at once miserable and amusing, melancholy and motivated. Running the Community Police Unit from his deck chair, D.I. Austin is known for his ability to solve crimes out of the blue.

Trying to work cases while struggling with his mental issues, Austin deals with a variety of major crimes, including bicycle theft. But when the case of an executed police officer lands on his desk, he accidentally uncovers a malevolent scheme.

Can he discover who is behind it all – and keep what’s left of his sanity?”

It’s the weekend! Happy Saturday and welcome to damppebbles. I’m only popping in briefly to hand over to my trusty sidekick (he’s going to kill me for saying that 😂), my husband and guest reviewer, Ryan.  Ryan is reviewing the first book in Pete Adams’ Kind Hearts and Martinets series, Cause and EffectCause and Effect was published in paperback and ebook formats by Next Chapter Publishing on 28th June 2019 and Ryan received an eARC which has not influenced his review.

Over to Ryan…

How do you describe Detective Inspector Jack Austin?  Well, I should certainly start by calling him ‘Jane’ as everyone else at his station does.  To use his own words, which he muddles often, he’s a “riddle wrapped up in an enema”.  An aging detective who seems to attract the odd crisis whilst nicknaming almost everyone he meets, solving crimes and getting his words wrong as frequently as possible.

If you don’t like word play, (or sometimes just the wrong darn word!) then I will suggest now that you may not get on with this book. Jane’s use of language is somewhat unique but as the book progresses you soon become used to his turns of phrase.  Stick with it, it’s worth it.  The story from Pete Adams is well put together with multiple strands, criminal and personal playing out at a good pace throughout the book.  Supported by Mands (a.k.a. Mandy Pumps, Mandy Lifeboats, Amanda) , Jo-Jums, Nobby and KFC (no, not the chicken place – don’t ask – you’ll find out when you read it!) DI Jane sets out to solve a case that keeps growing. From stolen bicycles and assault, the story grows and ends up with major criminal rings.  All whilst Jane fights with the English Language and top brass.

The story is strong and I kept picking up my kindle to sneak another chapter in whenever I could.  I have already moved onto book two, Irony in the Soul: Nobody Listens Like the Dying, to find out where the story leads.  The ending is clever revealing threads that had been hinted at.  I must admit in the first chapter I was a little confused by the fact everyone had at least two names (real name and ‘Jane given name’) but this added to the human side of the story and gave insight into the way Jack felt about his team.  Jack is liked by most of the characters in the book, leading the reader to warm to him.  Although there are times when his maverick approach does seem out of kilter with the sleepy suburbs of Portsmouth.

Would I recommend the book?  I would. I can imagine some readers will find the first couple of chapters tricky but the team which emerges as the book progresses makes it worthwhile.  Pete Adams has introduced me to characters I like and I enjoyed spending time with them. Book two, which as I mentioned I’m currently reading, is also getting interesting but more about that next month…

Ryan chose to read and review an eARC of Cause and Effect. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City by Pete Adams was published in the UK by Next Chapter Publishing on 28th 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.ukamazon.comBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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pete adams.jpgPete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

Author Links:TwitterFacebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Here To Stay by Mark Edwards @AmazonPub @midaspr #HereToStay #damppebbles

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“A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of welcoming strangers into your home.”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my stop on the Here To Stay blog tour. I am delighted to be one of two blogs kicking off the tour for this brilliant psychological thriller. Here To Stay is the latest standalone release from one of my ‘must read’ authors, Mark Edwards, and will be published in all formats by Thomas & Mercer on 1st September. I received a free ARC of the book but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of Mark Edwards’ books. He’s a favourite author of mine and someone I always mention when asked for reading recommendations. You can’t really go wrong with his novels – they’re all rather brilliant (In Her Shadow, The Retreat, The Lucky Ones, The Devil’s Work, Follow You Home). And this latest release is another stonking addition to this author’s body of work. I would even go as far as saying it’s bordering on my favourite!

I loved the main character, Elliot. He’s a really decent bloke who enjoys his quiet, ordered life. He has a beautiful home which, after years of gruelling refurbishment, is exactly how he wants it. But there’s no escaping the fact that he’s lonely. A chance encounter one day leads him to meet Gemma. There’s no denying the chemistry that’s bubbling away between them. And when Gemma saves his life Elliot decides it’s time to be spontaneous and ask Gemma out. The couple become inseparable and in a second attempt to keep the spontaneity flowing, Elliot proposes to Gemma after a couple of months. Before long they’re married and life couldn’t be better. That is until one day when Gemma receives word from her parents that they’re leaving France and returning to the UK with nowhere to stay. Gemma asks her new husband if her parents can move in briefly whilst they look for somewhere new to live. Elliot instantly agrees, wanting to keep his new wife and in-laws happy. But he has no idea who he is welcoming into his home and the devastating secrets they’re hiding…

What a page-turner! I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. Edwards’ brilliant characters really leap off the page at the reader and oh my gosh, some of them made my blood boil. The frustration I felt at their behaviour and the empathy I felt for Elliot was palpable at times. I was completely in the story with Elliot and the Robinsons, living each and every moment with them. Watching Elliot attempt to regain control of the situation only for his plans to be dashed by the dastardly in-laws. If you’re looking for a book to get under your skin then you must grab a copy of Here To Stay and meet the Robinsons.

I spent a fair amount of time wondering where Edwards would take the story. The in-laws from hell made great reading but I couldn’t foresee how the story would end and every option I came up with was completely unsatisfying to me. But that’s why Mark Edwards is a bestselling author and I’m not! Oh, the ending of this book is GLORIOUS! It takes the kind of turn which I love in my fiction. It’s a great book but as you approach the end it becomes something SUPERB. I loved it.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend all of Mark Edwards’ books but this one is something quite special. I did manage to guess one of the whodunnits along the way but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all because the author made me doubt myself often. Another great read from Mark Edwards which I recommend. I lived the rage, the frustration and the fear with Elliot and I loved it!

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

Here To Stay by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 1st September 2019 and is available in hardcover, 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 | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (@MWCravenUK) | @GoldsboroBooks #GlassBell Award 2019 Shortlist #damppebbles

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“Welcome to the Puppet Show . . .

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …”

Hello and a warm welcome to damppebbles. I am absolutely delighted to be bringing you my review of the utterly magnificent The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven again today to celebrate this corker of a book being shortlisted for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award. The Puppet Show is up against five other brilliant titles; VOX by Christina Dalcher, Snap by Belinda Bauer, Our House by Louise Candlish, Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg- Jephcott and The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. The winner will be announced by Goldboro Books on Monday 16th September.

Launched in 2017, the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award is awarded annually to an outstanding work of contemporary fiction, rewarding quality storytelling in any genre. The winner of the Glass Bell will receive £2,000 in prize money, and a handmade, engraved glass bell. The jury of ten consists of team members from Goldsboro Books, DHH Literary Agency and The Dome Press. There is no fee, nor limit to the number of books that a publisher may submit, allowing both established and debut authors a chance to win. The inaugural winner was Chris Cleave, for his extraordinary Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre), the moving and unflinching novel about the profound effects that the Second World War had on ordinary citizens back at home in Britain. Last year, the award went to John Boyne for his sweeping, poignant and comedic odyssey of post-war Ireland, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Transworld).

Without further ado, here’s my review of The Puppet Show:

A little over two years ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a book called Body Breaker written by Mike Craven (that’s Mike Craven as in M.W. Craven, if you were wondering what odd tangent I was meandering off at!), and it was an absolute joy to read from start to finish. I pretty much fell in love with Craven’s protagonist, DI Avison Fluke. Then I heard Mike was about to release a new book called The Puppet Show, featuring a brand new detective with a brand new publisher (to Craven, that is). Now I openly admit, I was intrigued. After all, what crime fiction fan wouldn’t be? Particularly when I heard the main character of The Puppet Show is called Washington Poe (what a name! Where does this author get inspiration from for his character’s names? He appears to err on the unusual which is a rather splendid thing IMHO). Then, as if by magic (I pressed a button on NetGalley) a copy of The Puppet Show arrived on my Kindle and the deal was sealed. Washington Poe and I were destined to meet…

And truth be told, I flipping love him as much as I love DI Fluke. Craven certainly knows how to write and develop a character to the point where they jump off the page at the reader. I was smitten from early on; particularly as we meet Poe after he has shunned modern life and is living with his loyal pet dog, Edgar, in a semi-converted shepherd’s croft in the middle of nowhere (for ‘nowhere’ read Cumbria or the Lake District! Please don’t hurt me Cumbrians, it does sound pretty vast, lonely and desolate from Craven’s illustrative descriptions and I’ve never visited 😉). Suspended from work following his last (bodged) case and awaiting the result of an internal investigation and an IPCC inquiry, Poe has pretty much decided that his past is very much behind him and that his future lies in Herdwick Croft with Edgar, and the sheep. But that was before Cumbria’s latest serial killer, The Immolation Man made matters personal. Whether he wants to or not, Poe must return to the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) and to a case that could easily be the death of him.

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.

As I’ve mentioned Washington Poe’s supporting cast it would be rude to ignore them. First and foremost, Tilly Bradshaw is a shining star and will appeal to nerds far and wide. Her intelligence and her awkwardness are a delight to read and I hope she makes future appearances with Poe as her sidekick! Beleaguered DI Stephanie Flynn is now her ex-bosses boss (!) which makes things somewhat tricky between her and Poe at times. He’s a little reckless and likes to follow the evidence anywhere, whereas Flynn likes to play by the book. I would LOVE to read a prequel to The Puppet Show and see the dynamic between the two of them before Poe was demoted from DI to DS and Flynn was promoted. Not dropping any hints here, Mike…

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.

Five out of five stars.

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

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The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 7th June 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Although Mike Craven was born in Cumbria in 1968, he grew up in the North East, going to the same school as Newcastle and England centre-forward, Alan Shearer, before running away to join the army. He believes, but has no proof, that his little sister moved into his bedroom before the train had even left the station. He trained for two years as an armourer (that’s gunsmith to you and I) before spending the next ten being paid to travel the world and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.

In 1995, sick of writing postcards and having fun, he decided it might be time to do something a bit more sensible. And it doesn’t get more sensible than doing a law degree. So he did Social Work instead. Two years later, as pimply-faced, naive social worker he started working in Cumbria as a probation officer. Sixteen years, and a few promotions, later he is still there, although as a crime writer, he now has different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

Mike’s first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and will be out on 11th June, published by Caffeine Nights. His collection of short stories featuring Fluke and his colleagues from the Cumbrian Force Major Incident Team, Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything, is out now.

In March 2017 Mike signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown for his new Washington Poe series. The first book, The Puppet Show, was released under his new name, M .W. Craven, in June 2018.

In between joining the army and securing a publishing deal, Mike found time to have a pet crocodile, survive cancer, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He wanted to call him Gimli but was told to grow up. He lives in Carlisle where he tries to leave the house as little as possible and gets annoyed by people who say “it’s too cold to snow” and “watch that swan, its wings can break your arm”.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer @cobaltdinosaur #BaseCowboys #damppebbles

Cowboys“BASE COWBOYS is a comic crime trilogy set in the Scottish Borders. It is the sixth laugh-out-loud book in the CULLEN series written by Borders author Mark Farrer and will appeal to readers of Christopher Brookmyre, Carl Hiaasen, Nick Spalding or Tom Sharpe. The book tells the stories of three amoral ne’er-do-wells, their unfortunate and accidental intrusion into Cullen’s life, and the imaginative ways he finds of ensuring (his) justice is done:

Dirty Barry
The first casualty of adultery is… the tooth!
Barry Sullivan is a sordid dentist who resorts to blackmail to keep his string of married women in line. But now Cullen has toothache – and a very different interpretation of the dental code of practice.

Bronchial Billy
Meet Billy – the fastest gun in a vest.
Billy is a geriatric slum landlord desperate to win first prize in a Country & Western gunfight competition. But his trigger-happy birthday celebrations provoke Cullen, and now Billy must pay. Will he meet his High Noon at the Grand Ole Opry or will he go out with a bang? Whatever happens, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Pale Ale Rider
There’s trouble brewing…
Tyler is a teenage tearaway with the eyes of a serial killer. But when he decides to rob Big Paul’s local pub, he gets more than he bargained for. Will Tyler lose his bottle, or just get smashed? Cullen thinks he’s seen dead eyes like those before, and now he has a plan: he’s not bitter, he’s just a little twisted.

Emma has very kindly left me with the keys to the blog today to review Mark Farrer’s Base Cowboys.  This collection of three novellas centre around Cullen who I first met when reviewing The Good, The Bad and The Rugby.  Farrer is a great author whose comedy characters have just the right balance of realism whilst erring on hilarious caricatures.  I wasn’t sure how I would find 3 novellas versus a full novel but it was a nice change of style.  Each of the novellas works on its own but reading them in this way helps you dive into Farrer’s world and stay there until the end and you have to make your way back to the real world.

Cullen is an enigma and these novellas allow a focus on the other characters with Cullen only entering the story to help put things back to his version of right.  Each of the stories brings a new villain from the repulsive Barry Sullivan, dentistry’s very own Lothario to the meanest landlord in the area, Bronchial Billy.  Mark Farrer’s evil characters are clever parodies and I am sure they will show characteristics where each reader will say “I know someone like that”. Fan Favourite ‘Big Paul’ also makes his return in these stories, lumbering through the narrative with an awareness of the situation that is normally sub-optimal but makes for great set pieces.  Cullen’s affection for Big Paul, one of his few friends, is clear and the two make an unlikely double-act with no doubt who provides the brains and who provides the brawn!

For me, Tyler in “Pale Ale Rider” was the worst of the bunch, a schemer with grand plans but little attention to detail when it came to planning.  Seeing him pitted against Cullen, you weren’t quite sure how Cullen could get to him without getting hurt, but it made the last 40 pages of the book fly past.

Would I recommend Farrer’s books? Absolutely, they are a joy to read.  I look forward to reading more in the future and hope new readers choose this series and encounter these wonderful characters in equally wonderful situations for themselves!

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

Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer was published in the UK by Funny Business Press on 21st July 2019.

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Mark FarrerMark Farrer is the author of six comedy novels and novellas, each set in the Scottish Borders with a distinctive Scottish backdrop – whether salmon farming, textile mills, Rugby Sevens or the Scottish criminal justice system. His books are multi-stranded storylines involving larger-than-life characters, whose plans and incompetence inevitably exceed their wits. All feature an itinerant loner, Cullen, who lives off the grid and finds himself inadvertently drawn into someone’s crazy scheme, only for his own (very individual) sense of right and wrong to be offended. That’s generally when things start to go wronger.

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead Inside by Noelle Holten @KillerReads #DeadInside #damppebbles

46902123_2290495507850861_1185184031919046656_nThe killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Dead Inside blog tour.  Dead Inside is one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2019.  Partly due to the fact the blurb sounds brilliant and partly due to the fact that the author is the fabulous Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie.  I received a free eARC of Dead Inside via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

Dead Inside is the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series set in Staffordshire, and Noelle Holten’s debut.  From the harrowing prologue to the books big reveal, I was on the edge of my seat.  What shines from the pages is the author’s knowledge of her subject matter having worked as a senior probation officer for many years.  I’m guessing that Noelle has probably seen it all!  I also found the probation aspects of the storyline absolutely fascinating as I can’t bring to mind another crime novel that focusses so strongly on this particular part of the criminal justice system.

Following a particularly difficult case involving the apprehension of a serial killer, DC Maggie Jamieson is temporarily transferred to the new Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit (DAHU).  Not long into her first shift she and her colleagues are called to investigate a murder.  The victim is a known offender with a history of violence towards his partners.  The attack seems personal and all avenues need to be investigated so PC Mark Fielding gets in touch with probation officer, Lucy Sherwood.  As the story progressed I found myself focussing less on the police team and more on Lucy.  Lucy lives a double life.  By day she’s a kick-ass probation officer staring down the most hardened criminals.  By night she returns home to her vile, abusive husband who torments her physically and emotionally.  My heart broke for the character.  Trapped because she had convinced herself that staying in the relationship would be the best thing for her husband’s young daughter.  This may be the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series but Maggie isn’t in the spotlight here.  It’s all about Lucy, just as it should be.

The other characters in the book are a good mix of people you warm to and people you instantly loathe (it’s really not hard to loathe the abusers in this book!).  I did struggle a little at times with the characters names as the author has used the names of several book bloggers, people I know in ‘real life’.  I found it difficult to picture the character without seeing the ‘real life’ person.  Holten isn’t the first person to do this – it happens a lot – but the number of names used is far greater in Dead Inside.  I felt I had to try a little harder to visualise someone different in my mind.

The big reveal was a complete shock and one I really didn’t expect.  But I loved it!  It felt so satisfying.  The way the situation was also dealt with by the characters involved was also brilliant.  I loved the total lack of shame or reproach – wonderful stuff!  I was able to guess where another of the big storylines was going but I thoroughly enjoyed the way it played out and knowing what was coming didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  It’s a great start to what promises to be an exciting new series written by an exciting new talent in crime fiction.  The ending of Dead Inside is set up beautifully for book two in the series and I’m already very intrigued.  I can’t wait to get my mitts on a copy.  A compelling read with some fascinating characters at its heart.  Emotional, raw and a complete page-turner.  Recommended.

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

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 31st May 2019 and is available in eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in August (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.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

#DeadInside B L O G T O U R

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screenshot-2018-12-03-at-13-14-311Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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