#BlogTour | #BookReview: You Die Next by Stephanie Marland @TrapezeBooks #YouDieNext #damppebbles

you die next.jpg“A group of urban explorers stumble into a murderer’s kill room in a derelict film studio. Terrified, they run, thinking they are safe. Then a message appears on their video channel: Who dies next?

As DI Dominic Bell and his team investigate the series of murders in hidden locations across London, they fail to find the connection between the victims. The only person who can help is Clementine Starke, an academic researching adult thrillseekers. However, Clementine is haunted by dark and violent obsessions, including her former relationship with DI Dominic Bell.

As the body count rises, Clementine Starke and DI Dominic Bell form an uneasy alliance to hunt the killer. But as they close in on their prey, and things turn personal, Clementine has to decide which side of the law she’s really on.

A cat-and-mouse thriller for fans of Mark Billingham, Sarah Hilary and Rachel Abbott that unfolds in a number of terrifying hidden locations across London. Readers who enjoyed Thomas Harris’s Hannibal series will be thrilled by the deadly relationship between DI Dominic Bell and Clementine Starke.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the You Die Next blog tour.  You Die Next is the second book in the Starke and Bell series written by a favourite author of mine, Stephanie Marland (also known as Steph Broadribb). You Die Next was published by Trapeze Books earlier this month in eBook, audiobook and paperback formats.  I received an eARC copy of You Die Next which has in no way influenced this review.

I am a huge fan of this author’s writing no matter what guise it takes.  Be it home-grown amateur sleuth, Clementine Starke, and her favourite obsession, DI Dominic Bell.  Or whether it’s a trip stateside with kick-ass bounty hunter, Lori Anderson.  Stephanie Marland knows how to tell a story and I, for one, enjoy reading them.  Here’s my review of the first book in the Starke and Bell series, My Little Eye, to prove it.  When I discovered that book two in the Starke and Bell series was imminent, I knew I had to get a copy.

And I’m so very glad I did.  I have to be honest, I think I preferred the second outing of this intriguing duo a touch more than the first.  Both Dominic Bell and Clementine Starke are fascinating characters and I cannot wait to see where Marland takes them.  From book one to book two they’ve taken a step (or rather Clementine has!) towards the dark side and I love that!  That’s what I want from a series of crime novels – something a little different, something that’s going to make me sit up and take note.  There’s so much potential here, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

The plot focuses on a group of urban explorers who one day stumble upon a grisly murder scene.  Being in the act of breaking the law themselves they fail to notify the police but the guilt eats away at some of them.  Then subtle yet threatening messages start appearing on their video feeds.  The plot was interesting and kept me gripped throughout. I loved the set-up of the murders and the way individuals within the group were picked off one by one.  The reveal of whodunit was a complete surprise and I spent a lot of my time whilst reading coming up with motives and suspects.  I was wrong…a lot!

Would I recommend this book? I would, definitely.  However, I’ve read both books in this series and I’m not sure if You Die Next works as a standalone.  By going straight to book two you will miss a lot of background information about Clementine and Dominic so I would recommend you start with My Little Eye first and then move onto You Die Next.  Stephanie Marland is a must read author for me and this is a must read series.  I can’t wait for book three to be published.

You Die Next by Stephanie Marland was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 4th April 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesGoodreads |

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stephanie marlandStephanie Marland has worked in the University sector for over ten years and published research on how people interact and learn together in virtual environments online. She’s an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and an avid reader of all things crime fiction, blogging about books at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com. Steph also writes the Lori Anderson action thriller series (as Steph Broadribb) for Orenda Books.

Author Links: | Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski @cobaltdinosaur #GuestReview #MamasGone #TheLagottiFamily

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“When children grow up, the parents must die

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love.

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them.

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone?”

Hello my bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today to my guest reviewer’s stop on the Mama’s Gone blog tour. Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi is the fourth book in The Lagotti Family series and was published earlier this week on 18th March 2019. I’ll hand straight over to my guest reviewer, Ryan (or ‘the husband!’).

Starting a post on damppebbles is always tricky. It’s a great blog [Emma: You have to say that!] and I always worry whether my review is going to get it a bad reputation? But after reading Mama’s Gone, a mob crime thriller, I’m not so worried! I’m considering up and leaving damppebbles, setting up my own blog, making some money out of the marks and building my own blogging mob empire.

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski is effectively the fourth book in the Lagotti Family series. However, having read it, I would not have known this. It reads well as a standalone with plenty of back story and character history. The book moves at a rapid pace, starting with a shooting before bringing out what has gone before. The four main characters are each clearly cast; hard working Alice, lazy Mama’s boy Frank, reliable Bobby and of course Mama. Mama runs a traditional mob; drugs, prostitution and gambling but with two children growing up as rivals to be the successor and Russian mobs moving in, what will happen? Will the traditional mob be victorious as it has been so many times in the past or is a new dawn coming?

I must admit by the end of the book I didn’t really like any of the characters. Normally I like a good anti-hero but the author does a great job of showing the multiple flaws of each character. Too much loyalty in one, a ruthless streak for succeeding in another and what some would call a pathological streak in yet another. The book cleverly draws the story forward quickly with each small battle a character faces adding to the story. As we near the crescendo the characters not only have to fight with the outside world but also inside the family as Mama slowly loses her grip on the helm of the family organisation.

I have to say I liked the story. It read well as a standalone and bought some distinct characters into being. The author wasn’t afraid to let his characters live and die by their bloodthirsty, ruthless decisions. Decisions of a mob character rather than your typical reader and watching this happen from the other side of a kindle screen worked well! If crime is a genre you enjoy this will be an easy read for you and I recommend it to all.

However, as I reach the end of this review I can confirm I enjoyed the book but I’m not brave enough to be a mob boss, so I will just thank everyone for reading and quietly creep out before anyone notices!

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi was publsihed in the UK on Monday 18th March 2019 and is available in eBook format: | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Leopold 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 |

#BlogTour┃#BookReview: The Lost Man by Jane Harper (@LittleBrownUK) #TheLostManIsComing

the lost man.jpg“‘He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.’

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…”

Happy Monday! I am delighted to welcome you to my first ‘actual’ book review of the year and my first blog tour post of 2019 which is for The Lost Man by Jane Harper.  I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher but that has in no way influenced my review.  I am a huge fan of Harper’s writing having loved her previous novels, the epic The Dry and the superb Force of Nature.  This latest book, however, is a standalone and not part of the brilliant Aaron Falk series so if you’ve not picked up one of Jane Harper’s books before now is the time to start!

When Jane Harper has a new book coming out you can guarantee it will be one of my most eagerly anticipated reads of the year.  Full stop.  If Jane Harper writes something then oh boy, do I want to read it!  The Lost Man is a brilliant addition to her repertoire but one I found quite different from her previous works.  One thing I will say is that in every Harper novel I have read you can guarantee that the landscape; that desolate isolation, the unpredictability of the Australian Outback plays as much a part of the story as the lead characters do.  I think it’s something us Brits tend to struggle to get our heads around.  Exactly how much open space there is, how far you have to travel to see another human being and how totally alone you can feel.  Harper writes these scenarios with such aplomb and so vividly that I found myself totally immersed in the picture she was painting for us readers.

The Lost Man is about the Bright family, an isolated family of cattle farmers.  You can’t help but like Nathan, the eldest of the three Bright brothers.  Early on you discover that he has done something so catastrophic that the entire town has turned their backs on him.  What exactly that is you don’t discover until later in the story but for a community so dependent on each other and so isolated you can guarantee it’s no small thing.  Despite discovering what terrible thing Nathan did, my like of the character did not waiver.  He comes across as a struggling, part-time, single parent who regrets past decisions he made but most of all he comes across as very lonely.  Tidbits of information fall into the reader’s lap as the story progresses and things gradually start to crystalise.  Before long Nathan realises that not everything is as it seems…

Would I recommend this book? I would. This was a slow burn of a read for me that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a well-written story.  The setting and the characters combine to make a suspenseful tale about the Bright family and the secrets they hide within their familial bubble.  I had my suspicions about what had happened to Cameron, the deceased middle brother, but it was interesting to watch the story unfold and have my suspicions confirmed.  Harper throws in some wonderful red herrings to keep her readers on their toes and I had several moments of doubt before the perpetrator was uncovered.  You can’t go wrong with a Jane Harper novel and if you haven’t read one of her books before then please do yourself a favour and grab a copy.

I read and reviewed an eARC of The Lost Man by Jane Harper.  The above is my own unbiased opinion.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper was published by Little,Brown on 7th February and is available in hardback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): ┃amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads

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jane harperJane Harper is the internationally bestselling author of The Dry and Force of Nature. Her third book, The Lost Man, was released in October 2018.

Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year.

Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.

Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

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

Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Dead in the Water by Simon Bower (@SimonBowerBooks) @cobaltdinosaur #DeadInTheWaterBook

dead-in-the-water-cover“Was it murder, suicide or an accident? Who will be next to die?

Six international friends all appear to be successful, albeit to different levels. A human rights’ lawyer, an IT geek, a businessman, a waitress, a phone guy and a physiotherapist. None of them are known to the police.

One of them must know what happened that fateful night on the catamaran.

Agent Georges Fournier is assigned the case in the French resort town near Antibes. He’s short on time, with a growing health problem and a District Attorney who just wants the case closed as accidental. But he’s not letting go.

Chrissie is a single mother and respected flight attendant in New York. When she finds out who her father is, she’s ecstatic and wants to meet him. 

But within a week she’d wish she’d never known.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my guest reviewer’s stop on the Dead In The Water blog tour.  My guest reviewer, for those of you who don’t know, is my wonderful husband who is learning to love fiction once again after many years of not wanting to pick a book up (having my old Kindle helps I think…!).

Let’s find out what he thought about Simon Bower’s Dead In The Water

Thanks to Emma for letting me into damppebbles again. I am really excited to bring you my latest review of Simon Bower’s Dead In The Water.  I always get nervous writing reviews of crime books as I want to avoid giving away spoilers – but here goes….

Dead in the Water is a well constructed crime thriller, with a timeline that flits between the past and the present.  The author cleverly sets up teaser shots from the present day, without giving us too much information.  Someone is dead – but who, someone is in a hospital bed – but who and why?

The constant tease and reveal structure worked well to keep me speeding through this read and the author manages the pace nicely.  All of the 7 core characters are well formed – the 6 protagonists and Agent Fournier, the dogged detective tasked with understanding whether there was foul play in the death of ….(did you think I was silly enough to tell you who died!).  Simon Bower has carefully constructed his characters to show likeable elements and their not-so-nice side!  Characters and their story evolve through the book and I found myself re-assessing my liking for characters as I moved through, which is a good sign that I was engaged with the story.

Dead in the Water takes us on a pan-European adventure and the author has worked hard on his research – dropping in little facts as we move across the continent to give more depth and atmosphere to the locations.  Coupling this with the story’s narration switching between the main characters and you get an immersive and enjoyable read which will keep you guessing till the very end.

Would I read more Simon Bower – almost certainly.  Would I recommend this book to someone looking for an easy reading and enjoyable book that will immerse them in a fantastic story – yes.  Would I go on a boat with Simon – no….bad things seem to happen!

So hopefully I haven’t given too much away, death, hospitals, characters, Europe…you need to read it to find out the rest!  Thanks again to Emma for letting me takeover today!

4 stars out of 5.

Dead In The Water by Simon Bower was published in the UK by Middle Farm Press in May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats [only 99p to download on Kindle this week!] (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles |

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SIMONBOWERSimon Bower is a British and Canadian author born in Berkshire in 1973. Since 1998, he’s adopted a global lifestyle, setting up home at times in Europe, Africa and North America.  In 2016 Simon turned to writing full time, which led to his first published work, Dead in the Water, being released in paperback and eBook by Middle Farm Press in 2018. Simon currently lives in France, near the Swiss border, where his young family, mountains, acrylic paint and sharpened skis keep him in regular mischief.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Silent Dead by Graham Smith @bookouture #TheSilentDead #DCBethYoung

The-Silent-Dead-Kindle.jpg“He’d found an angel for his collection. But one angel at a time was never enough…

Detective Beth Young has just joined the Cumbrian major crimes team when a body is found posed in a ritualistic manner – arms spread and graceful wings attached – at a crumbling castle in the hills of the Lake District. 

The entire police force are on red alert. But Beth begins to feel she’s the only one who can follow the disturbing clues left by the twisted killer. Because she doesn’t think like everyone else. To Beth, crimes are puzzles she can solve. Even if real life is a little harder.

As more bodies are discovered in derelict stately homes across the Lake District, she knows she’s in a race against time.

But the killer is looking for another victim to add to his collection… Will Beth be able to save her? Or will he get there first?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Silent Dead blog tour.  The Silent Dead is the start of a gripping new crime series from one of my go-to authors, Graham Smith, and was published by Bookouture on 30th November 2018.

To celebrate the book’s release I am delighted to have a brilliant guest post from Graham Smith to share with you today…

New Faces and Old Friends

As a reader I love the familiarity of reoccurring and series characters whose exploits I’ve followed over a number of years / novels. However, I also take great interest in broadening my horizons and meeting characters and authors who are new to me. After all, every great series / character has to start somewhere.

One day while scaling the lower slopes of Mount-To-Be-Read for my next read, I happened to start thinking about my own writing and how it’s a mixture of old faces and new friends. As soon as the thought entered my head I went all introspective and started comparing the different characters, from their personality traits to their methodology and how they engaged not just me, but also my readers.

A quick recap for those unfamiliar with my writing

My debut novel, Snatched from Home featured a grizzled DI, Harry Evans, who is facing enforced retirement as well as an immense personal trauma.

The next series I wrote was about a Utah doorman, Jake Boulder, who found himself on the trail of serial killers.

Now we come to my latest series which features a newly promoted DC Beth Young whose first case in FMIT sees her investigating bodies which have been left in the cellars of derelict country houses.

All three characters have their own individual traits which neither of the others share, yet they all have a strong desire to bring about justice for the victims, a keen investigative mind and a determination to get results regardless of what it may cost them on a personal level.

Individually they have their failings and baggage, DI Harry Evans is bereaved and is trying to dodge a retirement which is largely being enforced due to his renegade ways. He’s politically incorrect in a VERY type way and while he has the hardened carapace of an embittered man, he has a good heart and will always find a way to do the right thing. His stamping ground is Cumbria and he thinks of it as a personal fiefdom.

Jake Boulder is a different kettle of fish altogether. Glaswegian by birth he enjoys the rough and tumble of tossing drunks and the girls who’re attracted to his quick fists and ready wit. Coupled with his PI friend Alfonse Devereaux he gets himself embroiled in all manner of escapades as they take on cases with ever more complexity. He’s resolute, brave and smarter than you’d expect for a doorman, but the only person who can control him with any measure of success is his narcissistic, grandchild-wanting mother.

Beth Young is something of a step into the unknown for me. As a somewhat cynical man in my forties, I gave myself a challenge when choosing to have a mid-twenties female lead. DC Beth Young is on an upward trajectory in the police although it’s results that drive her rather than opportunities for promotion. A puzzle-solver by nature she has a quirky mind that works best when allowed to think on a lateral level. She’s loyal, determined and resourceful, and when she’s put under the most extreme pressure she can always find a way to triumph regardless of the odds against her. Like Evans she’s based in Cumbria although she’s in Penrith to Evans’ Carlisle. A constant driver for Beth is the search for the man who thrust a broken bottle into her cheek.

If anyone would like to jump in on the first of any of these series, they are as listed below.

DI Harry Evans – Snatched from Home
Jake Boulder – Watching the Bodies
DC Beth Young – The Silent Dead

Thanks ever so much, Graham.  It always amazes me how authors manage to create totally different characters with each new series they start.

The Silent Dead by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Bookouture on 30th November 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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Graham Smith Author PicGraham Smith is the bestselling author of four explosive crime thrillers in the Jake Boulder series, Watching the Bodies, The Kindred Killers, Past Echoes and Die Cold. Watching the Bodies spent over two weeks at number one in the Amazon UK chart and Amazon CA charts. Graham is also the author of the popular DI Harry Evans series and has collections of short stories and novellas. His latest novel – The Silent Dead is published by Bookouture and set in Cumbria / the Lake District, featuring DC Beth Young.

He is the proud father of a young son. As a time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since 2000 he has been the manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer for the well-respected review site Crimesquad.com since 2010.

When not working, his time is spent reading, writing and playing games with his son. He enjoys socialising and spending time with friends and family.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Her Last Move by John Marrs

Her Last Move cover.jpg“He hides in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment. Each kill is calculated, planned and executed like clockwork.

Struggling to balance her personal and professional life, young DS Becca Vincent has landed the biggest case of her career – and she knows that it will make or break her. But how can she identify one face in a sea of thousands? With the help of Police Super Recogniser Joe Russell, she strives to catch a glimpse of the elusive murderer, but he’s watching her every move.

Time is not on their side. The body count is rising, and the attacks are striking closer and closer to home. Can Becca and Joe uncover the connection between the murders before the killer strikes the last name from his list?

From the bestselling author of When You Disappeared and The Good Samaritan comes his most thrilling novel yet.”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to ‘not my stop’ on the Her Last Move blog tour.  When I was asked to organise a blog tour for Her Last Move by John Marrs earlier this year I was put in touch with a number of keen bloggers and reviewers.  One of which was a movie reviewer, Steve Silver of Silver Screen Videos.com.  Steve runs a highly successful movie review site but doesn’t tend to include book reviews (despite being an avid reader).  That’s when it dawned on me that he could use my book review blog with an established audience to share his thoughts.

So without further ado, here’s Steve’s review: http://www.silverscreenvideos.com/herlastmovereview.html

Thanks Steve 🙂

 

#BlogTour | #Giveaway: The Lingering by SJI Holliday @OrendaBooks #TheLingering #Win

the lingering.jpg“Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Lingering blog tour.  The Lingering is the latest book from SJI Holliday and was published by Orenda Books on 15th November 2018.

To celebrate The Lingering’s release I have a paperback copy up for grabs today.  To be in with a chance of winning a copy all you have to do is pop the name of your favourite spooky book in the comments.  We’ve missed Halloween but that doesn’t matter. Ghost stories work no matter what time of year!

The giveway is open internationally and the winner will be announced shortly after midday on Sunday 25th November (GMT) when the giveaway closes.  The winner will need to provide me with their name and address which I will pass on to the blog tour organiser.  There is no cash alternative.  Good luck everyone!

The Lingering by SJI Holliday was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th November 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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Susi author photo.jpgS.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and
The Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls has been described by David Mark as ‘Dark as a smoker’s lung.’ She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #Extract: The Snow Girls by Chris Mooney (@cmooneybooks) @PenguinUKBooks #TheSnowGirls #DarbyMcCormick

the snow girls.jpg“It’s been eleven years since Claire Flynn disappeared – abducted without trace from a snowy hillside, leaving her parents heartbroken.

Investigator Darby McCormick remembers the case. She knows there’s only ever been one suspect, Father Richard Byrne, linked inconclusively to two similar disappearances.

Finally, terminally ill, Byrne is willing to talk. But he’ll only talk to Darby.

She’s expecting a confession – but what she hears is far more disturbing.

And it soon becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep this cold case on ice…”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Snow Girls blog tour.  I am a huge fan of Chris Mooney’s books and I’ve always had a bit of a girl crush on the fabulous Darby McCormick!  I can’t wait to read The Snow Girls which is the latest book in the series, published in paperback by Penguin Books on 15th November 2018.

Today I have a brilliant extract to share with you as part of the blog tour celebrations so make yourself a cuppa, sit back and enjoy…

Chapter 1

Darby hadn’t seen the inside of the Belham Police Station since her father was a beat cop. She had worked plenty of forensic cases in Belham, back when she was in the crime lab and then later, as a forensic investigator, but the last time she’d actually set foot inside? Had to be at least twenty years.

She parked her rental car in the lot shared by the station and the church. It was Friday, coming up on 7 a.m., the cloudless November sky already a bright, hard blue. Winter had come to New England this year, sending the temperature down to the low twenties and creating the kind of harsh, biting winds that made you question why anyone in their right minds insisted on living in such a climate. Thanksgiving was three weeks away, and the downtown area was already decorated with white Christmas lights strung around small bare trees planted on the sidewalks, the telephone poles holding green plastic wreaths and stringy, weather-beaten tinsel.

Some things from your childhood never changed. Belham Station was one of them. The outside still looked the same: an imposing brick building with tall windows that never seemed clean, no matter what time of season. It gave her the feeling she’d had as a kid, which was that this was the sort of place where you would never find comfort.

The security cameras, she noticed, were dented and banged up from the weather and from having people throwing stones, Belham having the distinction of not only becoming Boston’s most violent neighbourhood but also the leader in attacks against the police.

The station’s interior, amazingly, hadn’t changed  –  same concrete walls painted in light and dark blues; the same shitty black-and-grey-speckled linoleum floor and the same steam-heated air containing the same odd mixture of Lysol, body odour and . . . was that pork?

The desk sergeant sitting behind the dispatch-office window saw her sniffing at the air and said, ‘No, you’re not imagining it. It’s pork. Sausage, as a matter of fact.’ Darby picked up the clipboard. ‘Thought I might be having a stroke.’

‘No, that’s burnt toast, what people smell right before they have one. Look, I’ll tell you the same thing I told the last one, which is “No comment”.’

‘Okay.’ Darby signed her name and said, ‘I’m here to see Detective Chris Kennedy. He’s expecting me.’

‘You’re not a reporter from the Belham Tab ?’

‘Nope.’

‘They send the real pretty ones down here to ask their questions – like that’s gonna work. Your name?’

‘Darby McCormick.’ His face changed, went from mildly pleasant to turnaround-and-get-the-hell-out. It didn’t bother her as much any more. She had grown . . . not used to it but had simply accepted it. There was nothing she could do to change some people’s minds.

‘ID,’ he said gruffly, not looking at her. She handed over her driver’s licence, which was tucked in the same black leather wallet as her investigator’s badge and concealand-carry permits. He handed it back to her, along with a visitor’s pass, and then pointed to the bench near a couple of payphones. The bench had been painted, but it was the one where she’d sat as a kid, waiting for her father.

Darby sidled over to the bulletin board, the wall above it adorned with framed pictures of cops who had died in the line of duty. Her father, Thomas ‘Big Red’ McCormick, was in the top row, dressed in his uniform blues, the auburn-coloured hair she’d inherited from him hidden underneath his cap.

He looked down at her with a stern expression, as if to say, What are you doing back here, with these people?

Her gaze slid away, to the bulletin board full of papers advertising needle exchange and gun-buyback programmes, as well as a list of detox centres. Someone had tacked a torn piece of paper to the board, the handwriting neat and legible: This is the place where hope goes to die.

From somewhere inside the station  –  probably the holding pen, Darby guessed – she heard a long, drawnout scream: the raw, painful kind she associated with someone experiencing either a psychotic break or suddenly realizing the soul-crushing horror of his or her fate.

There had been a time when hearing such a sound would have caused her heart to leap in her throat. The skin on her face would have tightened and flexed across the bone; she’d feel cold all over, and have trouble thinking and concentrating. Now? Now, the sound was as harmless as radio static, and she wondered when this shift had happened. Wondered if she had simply become used to it or maybe had just stopped caring.

‘Should have been here an hour ago,’ Chris Kennedy said to her. ‘Woman came in here, a big ole smile on her face, carrying a pastry box. Guy manning the desk, Mr Personality back there, Charlie, he asked her how he can help her and she says, “I’m here to feed the pigs”.’

Darby walked beside him as they navigated the halls, heading to his office.

Then,’ Kennedy said, his eyes bright and mischievous, ‘she opens the box, takes out uncooked sausage and pork chops, starts smearing everything all over the window and counter.’

‘Wow. Clever and original. What a combo.’

Her sarcasm made him smile. He was the only cop who looked at her in a friendly way. Almost everyone else either averted their eyes or deliberately glared at her.

Kennedy’s face turned serious. ‘Stuff like that’s happening more and more these days in Bedlam.’

Back when Darby was growing up, people called the city ‘The Ham’. The downtown area where she had spent most of her youth had been replaced by cheque-cashing stores and pawnshops, and the vacant buildings had been taken over by the rampant homeless population, which was made up primarily of heroin addicts that came from all walks of life. Now kids were snorting, smoking, ingesting and injecting heroin and bath salts. They had abundant access to handguns, shotguns, semi-automatic rifles and hollowpoint ammo, and now almost every kid had ‘active-shooter’ drills at schools. The crime rate here had surged so much everyone referred to the city as ‘Bedlam’.

‘And you can forget eating anywhere in town if you’re a cop,’ Kennedy said. ‘People spit in your food, rub it on their genitals, sometimes even stick shit in it. And by“shit” I mean actual shit. We’re here to help them, keep everyone as safe as possible, and everywhere we go we’re treated like the Gestapo. Not a good time to be in law enforcement. What’s with the jacket?’

Darby wore a stylish black motorcycle jacket made of thick black leather. ‘You don’t think it makes me look like a badass?’

‘You are a badass. I just thought women with fancy Harvard doctorates got dressed up all fancy – you know, shirts, skirts and heels.’

‘You’ve got the wrong girl.’

‘No, I’ve got the right one.’ He smiled knowingly. ‘This is me, right here.’

His office had the look and feel of an underground war bunker  –  no external windows, the small space feeling even more claustrophobic on account of the boxes stacked high against the walls, full of case files and forensic reports. Kennedy, she knew, had recently been placed in charge of Belham’s cold-case squad.

He picked up a stack of files from one of the two chairs in the corner of the room. Darby looked out through the window, into the bullpen, where a handful of cops were openly staring at her in disgust and contempt.

Years ago, back when she was working an investigation for Boston’s Criminal Investigative Unit, she had uncovered a decades-long string of police corruption that extended up to the commissioner and the FBI’s Boston office. These same people who had sworn to protect and serve had also orchestrated the murder of her father, Big Red McCormick, who had discovered the seeds of a criminal enterprise operating within the Boston PD. He had been shot while on duty.

Her father was strong. He had lasted a month before her mother decided to take him off life support. Darby insisted on being at the hospital. She was thirteen.

The reason for the vitriol she was witnessing right now was a result of her committing the cardinal sin of law enforcement: going public with the truth instead of playing the role of the good soldier and keeping the matter confined within Boston PD, where the bureaucrats and spin doctors would work tirelessly to bury the matter. She was branded a rat, ostracized for not following their rules. Then she’d lost her job.

Kennedy saw where she was looking. ‘Ignore them.’

Don’t worry, I am. She said, ‘You must’ve made a helluva lot of friends, asking me to come here.’

‘You’re the best at what you do. Granted, you have the subtlety and grace of a wrecking ball, but you do get results.’ He chuckled. ‘Have a seat.’

Kennedy was well into his early fifties but except for his hair, which had gone from black to a steel-grey, and maybe an extra ten or so pounds, he still looked like the same beat cop she remembered from her days in Boston –  the tough and crafty baseball catcher who’d earned a free ride to Boston College. He would’ve gone pro if he hadn’t suffered a devastating knee injury, one that tore both his ACL and MCL, during his junior year.

‘Who’d you piss off?’ Darby asked, looking around his office.

‘That’s a mighty long list. Could you be more specific?’

‘You worked homicide; now you’re stuck in Bedlam working cold cases.’

‘I needed a change of pace.’

‘What’s the real reason?’

‘Doctor’s orders.’

‘High blood pressure?’ Every homicide detective she knew suffered from it. That or alcoholism. Depression. The list went on and on.

‘That and the two heart attacks that followed,’ Kennedy said.

‘Why didn’t you retire? You put your time in.’

‘And do what? Take up golf? Besides, my wife would kill me, having me around all day. Can I get you coffee? Water?’

‘I’m all set.’ Darby took a seat.

‘So,’ he said, hiking up his trousers as he lowered himself into the chair. ‘Claire Flynn.’

Two days ago, Darby had been in Long Island, New York, winding up her consulting gig on a possible serial killer who, over a three-year period, had dumped the bodies of six women, all prostitutes or runaways, in the dunes. Kennedy called her out of the blue, asked if she’d take a look at a case Darby had worked more than a decade ago, and one that still haunted her: Claire Flynn, a six-year-old Belham girl, who, on a snowy night eleven years ago, went up a hill with her slightly older friend and never came down. It had been Darby’s first case. She’d flown in yesterday morning and spent the next twenty-four hours poring over the evidence, the police reports, everything.

‘What’s your verdict?’ he asked.

‘She’s dead.’

Love it! Doesn’t that sound fantastic?! I want to know more!  I can’t wait to read this one and I hope you feel the same too.  If you’re a crime or thriller fan then you can’t go wrong with Chris Mooney’s books.

The Snow Girls by Chris Mooney was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 15th November 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats: | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

The Snow Girls Blog Tour

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chris-mooney-200.jpgHailed as “one of the best thriller writers working today” by Lee Child and “a wonderful writer” by Michael Connelly, Chris Mooney is the international bestselling author of ten novels, most recently the new Darby McCormick thriller Every Three Hours. His fourth book, The Missing, the first in the Darby McCormick series, was a main selection of the International Book of the Month Club and an instant bestseller in over thirteen countries. Chris’s third book, Remembering Sarah, was nominated for an Edgar for Best Novel by the Mystery Writer’s Association.

Chris has sold over one million books, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. He occasionally teaches writing courses at the Harvard Extension School and lives in the Boston area with his wife and son, where he is at work on the next Darby McCormick thriller.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Good Samaritans by Will Carver (@will_carver) @OrendaBooks #GoodSamaritans

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“One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach.

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.

But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…

And someone is watching…

Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Good Samaritans blog tour. Good Samaritans is written by Will Carver and was published by Orenda Books in paperback yesterday.

I’m pretty much a single genre reader. I don’t mind that, it’s my personal choice. I love crime fiction and I’m more than happy to spend my days immersing myself in some brilliant dark stories. But I find that, as time progresses, it takes a really unexpected twist or a different slant to grab my attention and keep it. I often find, whilst reading a book, that I can pretty much guess which direction the plot will go in. That’s why Good Samaritans was such a breath of fresh air. What a book! If the eye-catching cover doesn’t grab you (that gorgeous yellow and blue!), if the tagline doesn’t pique your interest; ‘One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach’. C’mon, you’re intrigued, right? Then let me assure you, the author’s words will certainly demand your attention 100%. The story Carver shares with us is something else, something fresh, something exciting and I loved it!

Shortly after starting this book I realised I had already become heavily invested in the characters’ lives. They’re all a little peculiar but that just made them more appealing to me. They’re human, they’re flawed, they are perfect. I couldn’t stop myself from reading. This was one of those ‘just another chapter’ books and when I was carrying out mundane ‘life stuff’, I was thinking about Seth, Hadley and Maeve. So involved was I in their lives that I had almost forgotten I was reading a suspense novel. That’s when the first shock twist hit. I remember the sharp intake of breath I took, the dizzying realisation of what was happening and the heart-stopping ‘nooooooooooo’ which rang through my mind. From that point on I could predict which direction the story was headed but oh my gosh, I loved it! It really didn’t matter one jot.

The plot is seamless, I was so absorbed in the story I didn’t feel as though I was reading a book (hopefully I’m not the only person this happens to, where you’re so involved you forget what you’re actually doing!). This is a book which will stay with me for a long time to come and I expect it will get a mention on my top 10 of the year. It was so exquisitely different, so utterly refreshing and so dark – I flipping loved it!

I will say one more thing before I sign off. I’m not a lover of sexy scenes in the books I read. Often they seem unnecessary, like the author wants to add an extra *shock* factor by including a few saucy bits here and there. Good Samaritans is quite naughty (it’s doing quite well in the ‘erotica’ section on Amazon as I type). However, I didn’t feel the author was trying to pad the story out, the scenes felt a necessary part of the story and to be honest, I wasn’t the slightest bit offended by them. Saying that, if sexual content is not your thing you may want to give this book a swerve.

Would I recommend this book? Oh yes! I love this book and I want you to read it and love it too. It’s brilliantly done and something quite special. A book which will stay with me. I loved all of the characters and their devious, dark little ways. Will Carver has become an author to watch out for in the future because if this is the quality of work he is producing then oh boy, I want more! Memorable, dark, highly readable and something completely different! Loved it. Want more. Now please….

Five out of five stars.

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

Good Samaritans by Will Carver was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th November 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series (Arrow). He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off.

He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company.

He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer (@mark_farrer) #TheGoodTheBadTheRugby @cobaltdinosaur

GBR-Front-Cover.jpg“Getting to the truth. By trial… and eror error.

Cullen is on jury duty, and the sleepy Scottish town of Melrose is experiencing a rare crime wave: the famous Rugby Sevens trophy is stolen, a dead body is unearthed, there is a spate of petty arson, and someone drives a van into Gloria’s front room.
Why? And what is her husband doing every night up on Eildon hill?

In this hilarious crime romp, misguided loyalties, thwarted love, and unbelievable gullibility reach crisis point on the one day in the year when the world pays a visit to Melrose.

At the final whistle, Cullen will ensure that justice is done.

Because sometimes twelve good men just isn’t enough.”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to the final stop on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby blog tour.  I’m once again handing the reins of the blog over to my husband who is my overused and underappreciated guest reviewer!  Here’s what Ryan thought about The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer…

I’ve just read “The Good, The Bad & The Rugby” and am delighted to be reviewing it for damppebbles.  Crime fiction comedy writers can miss the mark in many different ways; focusing on the comedic value rather than the story, humorous twists that are way too obvious and having long periods of story telling between “the funny bits”.   But as I think back on this book I believe Mark Farrer nailed it!  I’m not one of those reviewers who leaves these things to the end, it was 5 stars, my favourite fiction book of the year.

As I read the story it reminded me of Christopher Brookmyre’s work; fantastic characterisation, a well-paced and balanced storyline and lots of laughs.  I think the title is good but hope it doesn’t scare readers off who aren’t rugby fans.   You don’t need to be a rugby fan to enjoy this book.

I don’t know about you but one of my main criteria for judging a book like this is l how I reacted, so let’s do the checklist;

1) Did I laugh out loud? Yes

2) Did I laugh out loud somewhere I would have preferred not to? Yes (seat 13b of flight BA705 Vienna to Heathrow)

3) Did I read bits out to my wife despite not considering context or whether she was interested? Yes

4) Am I sad the books finished? Yes

5) Am I going to tell people about the book? Yes

So five out of five!  I have a sad Kindle staring forlornly at me now, it will surely have more of Mark’s books on it in the near future.

Looking forward to my next adventure with these characters!

I think he liked it! If Mark Farrer’s books encourage my husband to read more fiction then I am over the moon.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer was published in the UK on 18th October 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com |

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Download Mark Farrer’s novella DIRTY BARRY for FREE via this LINK!

 


UK Only Giveaway:

For your chance to win 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books, please click the following Rafflecopter link.  Please note this a UK only giveaway.  The 14 winners will be selected at random and your postal address will be passed onto Mark Farrer.  There is no cash alternative.  The giveaway ends of midnight (GMT) on 16th November 2018.  Any personal information stored by the Rafflecopter giveway will be deleted after the winners have been drawn.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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about-the-author3

Mark Farrer.jpgMark was born in Liverpool, studied Computer Science at Hull University, then had a successful career in IT management in London and the South-East for twenty years before moving to Edinburgh in 2001. He continued working in IT until 2015 when he decided to retire from the rat race and focus on becoming a writer. He now spends half his time writing and the other half worrying why he is not yet making money from writing.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby is Mark’s third comic novel featuring a morally righteous loner called Cullen. He also has a perma-free novella on Amazon, called Dirty Barry, which tells how Cullen and Big Paul first met. He is currently at work on a second novella, called Bronchial Billy.

Mark has three children, one at University, one on a gap year in Ghana, and one still at High School. He lives with his partner Claire, a photographer, near West Linton, in the Scottish Borders.

He likes: his Mini Cooper, songwriting, playing piano, vanilla pannacotta, The Beatles, woodburning stoves, wittertainment, Bill Bailey, #sadmanonatrain, fruit gums, Carl Hiaasen, The Wire, spicy food, Van Gogh, Lindsey Buckingham, oaked chardonnay, House MD, long walks, cinema, reading in bed, florentines, Only Connect, board games, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Budweiser, GBBO, India, cheese, David Armand’s mimes, bookshops, Scandi Noir, Diet Coke, The Economist, Blackadder, good sausages, Dickens, Helena Bonham-Carter (secret crush), the Times crossword, the song mmmbop, and pies.

And lists.

He dislikes: ITV, pinot grigio, tattoos, ballet, ready meals, rap, religion, clutter, artificial raspberry flavouring, marmite, jazz, under-powered showers, people who don’t look after their stuff, opera, sprouts, and waste.

And mashed potato.

He really doesn’t like mashed potato.

Author Links: Twitter | Website | Amazon |