#BlogTour | #BookReview: Blood Tears by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @grabthisbook #BloodTears #DIRayMcBain

blood tears cover.jpg“The first in a series of books with D.I. Ray McBain – a Glasgow detective who turns to his best friend, Kenny O’Neill when he goes on the run after he becomes the prime suspect in a grisly murder. 

An old man is found murdered in his Glasgow flat. DI Ray McBain is called to the scene and is the first to notice that the man’s wounds mirror the Stigmata. The police quickly discover that the victim is a former janitor who worked in several care homes where he abused his charges. Is someone taking revenge thirty years after the fact?

McBain, as a child was a resident of Bethlehem House, a Catholic run care home where the murdered man worked and early on in the investigation, McBain decides to hide a crucial bit of evidence relating to his stay in the convent orphanage.

When his superiors find out, McBain becomes the prime suspect in the case and has to make a decision which will leave him on the run and alone, trying to solve the murders and, at the same time, the puzzle of his past – a past that is pushing into the present with a recurring suffocating dream of blood and feathers that descends on him every night.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Blood Tears blog tour.  Blood Tears is the first book in the DI Ray McBain series written by Michael J. Malone, and it has recently been given a fantastic new makeover!  I first discovered Malone’s books a couple of years ago when I read A Suitable Lie; it blew me away.  Beautiful, haunting and oh so powerful, it was an easy choice for my book of 2016.  Since then I have read several other works by this author and loved each and every one of them.  Blood Tears was no different.

A brilliantly graphic and gory start pulls the reader straight into this hard-hitting story.  I’m a strange creature (maybe) and I have before confessed to loving crime novels which revolve around religious practices and institutions.  And oh boy, this one certainly does.  DI Ray McBain is called to investigate the grisly murder scene and immediately notices something no one else has; the victim’s wounds mirror Stigmata.  Having had a lonely childhood in the local Catholic orphanage, Ray is all too familiar with the marks.  What he doesn’t realise, as he starts to investigate the killing, is that he’s going to have to confront those childhood traumas head-on.  Straight back to the malicious Sister Mary and memories of his lonely, far from perfect childhood at Bethlehem House.  Desperate to stay on the case, determined to find the killer, Ray makes a catastrophic mistake and convinces a younger officer to lie on his behalf. Before long DI Ray McBain is their number one suspect and on the run.  Can McBain solve the case from afar and clear his name before it’s too late…

I loved Ray McBain (how could I not?!).  I do like my lead characters to have ‘something’ about them, something that makes them a little more, shall we say, interesting…?  Ray is certainly that.  He knows right from wrong but in the interests of the investigation, there are certain lines which he is more than happy to blur a little.  And as for his mate, well, he’s a local ‘businessman’ who doesn’t seem to care how criminal the business he’s in is as long as the money keeps rolling in!  It wasn’t just Ray and BFF Kenny who had my full attention.  Virtually every character created by Malone in Blood Tears stands strong and brings something worthwhile to the story.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  This is a strong, well-written piece of crime noir and I enjoyed every moment I spent in the company of Malone’s characters.  There are wonderful dashes of laugh out loud humour dotted here and there which bring a lightness to the intense, terrifying plot.  This isn’t a story for the faint hearted though; with language which made me blush and many references to bumping uglies*, I was a suitable shade of scarlet at times! Incredibly dark and brilliantly gripping; I can’t wait to read A Taste for Malice (DI McBain #2).

Four out of five stars.

*Google it, if you dare!

Blood Tears by Michael J. Malone was first published in the UK in June 2012 and is available in eBook format (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Michael Malone PhotoMichael J Malone is the author of over 200 published poems, two poetry collections, six novels, countless articles and one work of non-fiction.

Formerly a Faber and Faber Regional Sales Manager (Scotland and North England), he has judged and critiqued countless poetry, short story and novel competitions for a variety of organisations, and for a number of years was the Scottish correspondent for Writers’ Forum.

Michael is an experienced workshop leader/ creative writing lecturer to writers’ groups, schools and colleges as well as a personal coach and mentor. He has a Certificate in Life Coaching and studied as a facilitator with The Pacific Institute.

As a freelance editor he has edited and mentored writers in a variety of genres and for traditionally published as well as self-published authors.

He is a regular speaker and chair at book festivals throughout the UK– including Aye Write, Bloody Scotland, Crimefest and Wigtown.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Needle Song by Russell Day (@rfdaze) @fahrenheitpress #NeedleSongBook

needle song“Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband. 

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.”

It is my great pleasure to be one of two blogs closing down the Needle Song blog tour today.  Needle Song is the first full novel from debut author Russell Day and is available to purchase now having been published by Fahrenheit Press in April 2018.

Needle Song is something quite special.  What you see isn’t quite what you get but it’s done in such a glorious way that it really doesn’t matter.  What struck me the most about this book is the quality of the characters.  Now I’m a reader who loves a story that centres around its characters, so Needle Song was a real pleasure for me to read.  I also like those characters to be different, a little odd maybe and with appealing quirks.  Once again, Needle Song ticks all the boxes.

When Chris Rudjer is arrested for the murder of his new girlfriend’s husband, tattoo shop owner and psychology graduate Doc Slidesmith and his somewhat unenthusiastic sidekick, Yakky, leap to his aide.  Armed with a love of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and a loaded deck of tarot cards, Doc and Yakky poke where the police fear to tread – all in the name of saving their mate from a life in prison.  After all, Chris looks the most likely suspect in the murder.  But Doc knows better.  Doc knows that man mountain Chris would never hurt a fly (unless provoked!) and it’s down to him (and the slightly dubious Yakky) to prove it!

I loved Doc Slidemsith, but Yakky stole my heart.  The story is told from his perspective so the reader gets to see and feel what he’s experiencing.  The moments when Doc suddenly pronounced his latest theory and Yakky’s obvious underwhelmed reaction to the reveal was just wonderful.  Very reminiscent in a lot of ways to one of my favourite movies ‘Without a Clue’.  Just brilliant!

I was compelled to keep turning the pages and was engrossed in the investigation from start to finish.  I admit that I was a little disappointed with the ‘whodunit’ but I was delighted that Doc was able to uncover the mystery in such a dramatic and flamboyant style.  Miss Marple would have been proud of him!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I don’t want to say this book is delightful as that makes it sound twee (it’s not twee; voodoo, tattoos, bikers, blood spill, murder, suicide and shotguns under the floorboards…) but that’s the first word I think of when I think of Needle Song.  It was a joy to read, a delight!  It breaks down genre barriers with the wonderful Christie-esque mystery but the modern day, darker setting makes it so different to everything else.  Needle Song blurs the lines and I really enjoyed it.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of Needle Song.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Needle Song by Russell Day was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 28th April 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Fahrenheit Press online shop | Goodreads |

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Russell Day (1)Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s always been a miserable bastard.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni (@robertdugoni) @AmazonPub @midaspr @SophMidas #ASteepPrice #ThomasandMercer

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“Called in to consult after a young woman disappears, Tracy Crosswhite has the uneasy feeling that this is no ordinary missing-persons case. When the body turns up in an abandoned well, Tracy’s suspicions are confirmed. Estranged from her family, the victim had balked at an arranged marriage and had planned to attend graduate school. But someone cut her dreams short.

Solving the mystery behind the murder isn’t Tracy’s only challenge. The detective is keeping a secret of her own: she’s pregnant. And now her biggest fear seems to be coming true when a new detective arrives to replace her. Meanwhile, Tracy’s colleague Vic Fazzio is about to take a fall after his investigation into the murder of a local community activist turns violent and leaves an invaluable witness dead.

Two careers are on the line. And when more deadly secrets emerge, jobs might not be the only things at risk.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the A Steep Price blog tour. A Steep Price is the sixth book in the Tracy Crosswhite series written by bestselling author Robert Dugoni. To celebrate the book’s release earlier this week I have a fantastic guest post to share with you today about Robert’s path to becoming a full-time writer and the obstacles he had to overcome.

So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Robert…

I knew long before I became a lawyer that I wanted to be a writer. I just needed the courage to pursue that dream.

I come from a family of compulsive overachievers. I have nine brothers and sisters. Growing up as the middle child I watched my siblings choose their career paths – doctors and pharmacists and accountants. My siblings were all science oriented, but I was always different. I’ve always wanted to write novels. That was my dream since I was a young boy.

My mother was an English teacher out of college and had terrific books around the house that I gravitated to. I read The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and many other classics. As I got older I recall reading, All the President’s Men in one day. I read books like Lonesome Dove, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Great Santini, and many others. These inspired me to want to tell stories.

When my high school basketball career fizzled I got the best advice of my life from the most unusual source. The basketball coach told me while cutting me from the team that the journalism instructor mentioned that I could really write, and he suggested that writing might be a better path for me. I remember leaving his office and feeling relief. I remember being excited to get the chance to write, and to have people read my articles. So I became the editor in chief in high school and moved toward a career in journalism at Stanford University. Again, however, my peers were all heading to professional school and I felt pressure to join them. I’d ruled out medicine, but I thought I could go to law school, get a degree, and put that in my back pocket while I pursued a writing career.

It didn’t work out that way, at least not right away, but the passion to tell stories never left. I found different outlets. I pursued acting and landed roles in theatres all over the San Francisco Bay Area. Those ten years instilled in me a desire to not give up on my dream to write. When that desire hit me hard again in my thirties, I pursued it without hesitation, but a lot of trepidation. I was married with a young son when I left the practice of law and all the security a regular salary provided to take on a new adventure.

I started with legal thrillers, something I first started to think about in law school when I read Presumed Innocent. Scott Turrow and John Grisham exploded onto the market with best selling legal thrillers. It seemed a natural fit for a lawyer looking to start a writing career. There were a lot of stops and starts – mostly stops – along the way, but I fell under a lucky star when I reluctantly attended a party and met an agent from the Environmental Protection Agency. Together we wrote The Cyanide Canary, a 2004 Washington Post best book of the year selection. I then created the character David Sloane, an attorney in San Francisco seemingly unable to lose a case. That story became The Jury Master. Four more novels with David Sloane followed. I then created Tracy Crosswhite and wrote My Sister’s Grave which became a runaway bestseller in half a dozen countries and has sold more than a million and a half copies.

Just recently I had a chance to write the story I grew up reading as a young boy, the novels my mother used to hand to me. The story came to me in bits and pieces, but when I had the character, the plot came in a wave, and I found myself getting up in the middle of the night to write The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell. It is a story of a man looking back on his life with Ocular Albinism. He has red eyes. It is a story of love, of faith and of hope that reminded one reviewer of the early works of John Irving.

It’s taken me nearly twenty years to reach my dream of telling stories fulltime, but it is a journey I would not trade for any other profession in the world.

Thank you for joining me today Robert and sharing your road to becoming a full-time writer. It’s always fascinating to see the dedication and drive of a writer; that desire to write, no matter what.

A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 26th June 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of The Tracy Crosswhite series, My Sister’s Grave, Her Final Breath, In the Clearing, and The Trapped Girl. The Crosswhite Series has sold more than 2,000,000 books and My Sister’s Grave has been option for television series development. He is also the author of the best-selling David Sloane series, The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm Murder One and The Conviction, and the stand-alone novels The 7th Canon, a 2017 finalist for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for best novel, The Cyanide Canary, A Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and several short stories. He is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction, and the Friends of Mystery, Spotted Owl Award for the best novel in the Pacific Northwest. He is a two time finalist for the International Thriller Writers award and the Mystery Writers of America Award for best novel. His David Sloane novels have twice been nominated for the Harper Lee Award for legal fiction. His books are sold world-wide in more than 25 countries and have been translated into more than two dozen languages including French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and biog © https://www.robertdugonibooks.com/

#BlogTour | #BookReview: After He’s Gone by Jane Isaac (@JaneIsaacAuthor) #AfterHesGone #DCBethChamberlain

afterhesgone-isaac-ebookweb.jpg“The safety catch on the Glock snapped as it was released. Her stomach curdled as she watched the face of death stretch and curve. Listened to the words drip from his mouth, ‘Right. Let’s begin, shall we?’

When Cameron Swift is gunned down outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer: a dual role that requires her to support the family, and also investigate them.

As the case unfolds and the body count climbs, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets.

Even the dead…”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and my stop on the After He’s Gone blog tour.  After He’s Gone is the first book in a new series written by established crime writer, Jane Isaac.  I am such a fan of Jane Isaac’s books and have featured the last two novels in the DI Will Jackman series on the blog; Beneath the Ashes and The Lies Within.  When I heard Jane was due to release the first book in a brand new, self-published series featuring a new detective, in the form of DC Beth Chamberlain, I couldn’t wait to read it!

After He’s Gone opens with a terrifying prologue, shortly followed by a shocking first chapter guaranteed to get the heart rate up!  From that point forward I was hooked and wanted to know absolutely everything that was happening to these normal sounding people and of course, why it was happening.  Luckily we readers have the wonderful DC Beth Chamberlain on our side, persistently poking at the mysterious half-truths and secrets in an attempt to solve a somewhat bewildering case for Northampton Police Force.  But the more she pokes, the more confusing things become.  Can Beth manage to piece together the evidence before it’s too late and the killer strikes again…

I really liked Beth.  She’s probably less angst-ridden than many of the detectives I normally read about but it’s nice to have a break from my usual damaged souls, in a literary sense.  Her secret ‘friends with benefits’ agreement with a senior officer gave her a bit of an edge, particularly as he’s keen for more but Beth won’t admit to how she feels.  I’m not one for love’n’stuff in my crime novels but I can see this relationship bringing friction to a normally harmonious working relationship.  I look forward to seeing where Isaac takes this storyline in future novels.

Would I recommend this book?  Definitely.  It’s a great start to what promises to be a brilliant new crime series featuring Family Liaison Officer DC Beth Chamberlain.  I found myself drawn into the story from the get-go, brilliantly written and skillfully plotted by a talented author.  I managed to read After He’s Gone in just over a day which is very quick for me.  Testament to the fact that I struggled to put it down.  I’m excited about the future, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Beth Chamberlain novel.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of After He’s Gone.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

After He’s Gone by Jane Isaac was published in the UK on 15th June 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links (except the Universal Link) are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Universal Link |

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jane-isaac-photoJane Isaac lives with her detective husband (very helpful for research!) and her daughter in rural Northamptonshire, UK where she can often be found trudging over the fields with her Labrador, Bollo. Her debut, An Unfamiliar Murder, was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’ The follow up, The Truth Will Out, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-Thriller.com.

After He’s Gone is Jane’s sixth novel and the first in a new series featuring Family Liaison Officer, DC Beth Chamberlain. The second DC Beth Chamberlain novel will be released later in 2018.

Author LinksWebsite | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Date by Louise Jensen (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture #TheDate #Prosopagnosia

the date“One night can change everything. 

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her…

From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister, The Gift and The Surrogate, The Date is a gripping page-turner that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go To Sleep.”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today because I’m kicking off The Date blog tour, eeek!  The Date is the fourth book written by one of my very favourite authors, Louise Jensen.  And if that wasn’t enough, it’s publication day too so a very happy book birthday to Louise and the folk at Bookouture!  I’ve read and reviewed all of Jensen’s previous books and I can’t recommend them highly enough; The SisterThe Gift & The Surrogate.  If you want a guaranteed emotive, twisty, shocker of a read then look no further than Ms Jensen.

With this in mind, I was really looking forward to making a start on The Date.  Ali is heading out on her first date since reluctantly separating from her husband, Matt.  The following morning she wakes dazed and confused, slowly realising that something terrible has happened, that she’s been subjected to an unknown trauma.  The effects are devastating, the doctors tell Ali that she now suffers from prosopagnosia; face blindness.  Now I have to be honest here.  I have recently read another book where the main character suffered from the same condition.  I have no experience of face blindness myself and struggle to visualise how sufferers live their lives but I think, having that previous experience (albeit reading a book!) did diminish the shock factor.  The news of Ali’s new condition didn’t hit me as hard as it would a reader coming to prosopagnosia for the first time.  However, what really resonated with me was how utterly terrified Ali was.  She has no memory of the date which changed her life forever.  She’s broken and bruised and suddenly, thanks to the face blindness very, very alone and she can’t trust anyone.  Absolutely terrifying.

Jensen is a master at making you think one thing whilst doing some clever sleight of hand under the table so you’re never really sure what to expect.  I don’t think I have ever been as surprised as I was at the end of The Surrogate, Jensen’s previous book.  Which put me on my guard this time around.  I was obsessed with looking for clues and hints.  I’m delighted to confirm that once again the author worked her seemingly effortless magic and I was miles out in my predictions.  I had concocted all manner of possible scenarios, all but the one it actually was!

Ali’s past is a lot more complicated than it first seems and I enjoyed reading the flashbacks to her childhood.  As childhoods go, Ali’s wasn’t the greatest but again, for reasons you do not expect at first.  It was fascinating to see the events which made her the woman she is, the birth of the guilt she carries so heavily as an adult.  I felt enormously sorry for her many times throughout the book but strangely, I struggled to like her.  Ali is a character who will be loved by many readers but for me, she lacked gumption; I wanted her to be a little more kick-ass and a little less whiny and timid.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, but then I would highly recommend ALL of Jensen’s books as she is a step above most other writers in the same genre.  The Date is bursting at the seams with shedloads of delicious intriguing suspense. The ending was an absolutely perfect fit for the story and I can’t stop picturing that final scene in my head and wondering to myself….

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Date by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 21st June 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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15183346Louise Jensen is the Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate.

To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

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 |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin (@JackieMBaldwin1) @KillerReads @LoveBooksGroup #PerfectDead

Perfect Dead - high-res - Copy (1).jpg“Each murder brings him one step closer to the perfect death.

Ex-priest, DI Farrell is called on to investigate a gruesome death in rural Scotland. All evidence points to suicide, except for one loose end: every light in the cottage was switched off. Why would he kill himself in the dark?

The question sparks a murder investigation that leads to the mysterious Ivy House, home of ‘The Collective,’ a sinister commune of artists who will do anything to keep their twisted secrets hidden.

And when the remains of a young girl are uncovered on a barren stretch of coastline, Farrell realises that there is something rotten in this tight-knit community. Now he must track down a ruthless killer before another person dies, this time much closer to home…”

I am thrilled to be one of two blogs kicking off the Perfect Dead blog tour today.  Perfect Dead is the second book in the DI Frank Farrell series written by Jackie Baldwin and it’s published by Killer Reads in eBook TODAY!  A very happy publication day to Jackie and the Killer Reads team.

I was a huge fan of Baldwin’s first DI Farrell book, Dead Man’s Prayer.  So much so, that it featured on my books of 2016 list.  Which means that I’ve been waiting for the release of Perfect Dead and Frank’s second outing with bated breath.  For those new to this series our protagonist is DI Frank Farrell, an ex-priest turned Detective Inspector in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland.  Frank is conflicted as he doesn’t really know where his heart truly lies; is he destined to hunt the seedy criminals and lowlifes of the lowland or does he have a much higher, spiritual calling?  What I love most about Frank Farrell is that he is unlike any of the other detectives I tend to read about.  They are more often than not addiction driven, tortured souls but Frank, with his past in the Church, isn’t.  He fascinates me.

I was also delighted to see DC Mhairi McLeod make a welcome return to proceedings.  Her intelligent insight and her wonderfully feisty attitude really added to the story for me this time around.  I liked her character in the first book but I felt she really came to life in Perfect Dead, often leaving DI Farrell in the shadows.

When Frank and Mhairi are called to a suicide in Kirkcudbright something just doesn’t feel right.  Gut instinct and a good investigative brain mean that before long they are treating the artist’s death as suspicious.  The investigation leads to ‘The Collective’s door, a group of uninhibited ‘invite only’ artists who keep themselves to themselves and their secrets well and truly hidden.  Frank’s suspicious suicide was once part of ‘The Collective’ flock, so it’s only natural that he starts asking questions.  But that’s only the beginning.  When the remains of a young woman, missing for several years is discovered nearby, all roads lead to ‘The Collective’.

I really enjoyed how there were several plot threads intricately woven throughout the story and the way the author managed to keep the investigations separate, to a point.  Parts of the story I found a little predictable but then I just can’t help playing amateur detective whilst reading detective fiction (any fiction!).  I was looking for clues from the moment I started to read which is very normal for me.  It certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.  Although I had guessed ‘whodunit’ I really did love the conclusion of Perfect Dead.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I love how Jackie Baldwin writes and her characters are wonderfully unique.  I just can’t help myself when it comes to DI Frank Farrell, there’s something so appealing about him that I will read this series until the author decides she has had enough!  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the team in action again and I can’t wait to see what Baldwin has in store for us next.  A delightfully intricate and enjoyable novel.

Four out of five stars.

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

Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 15th June 2018 and is available in eBook format, with the paperback to follow in August (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Jackie_02_by_Kim_AyresJackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead was published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. However, she now practices in Dumfries as a hypnotherapist which is where her novels are set. Married, with two grown-up children, she has filled her empty nest with Golden Retrievers. She can often be found in a forest walking the dogs, covered in mud and with twigs in her hair.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith (@GrahamSmith1972) @caffeinenights @rararesources #WhenTheWatersRecede

When Waters Recede Cover.jpg“When a car is pulled from raging floodwaters with a dead man in the front and the decapitated body of an evil woman in the boot, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the investigation.

The woman is soon recognised, but the man cannot be identified and this leads the team and their former leader, Harry Evans, into areas none of them want to visit.

Before they know it, they’re dealing with protection scams and looking for answers to questions they didn’t know needed to be asked.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the When the Waters Recede blog blitz.  When the Waters Recede is the latest release from Graham Smith featuring the Cumbria Major Crimes Team and their dogged ex-guv, DI Harry Evans.  Except he’s Mr Harry Evans now after being retired off some time ago and replaced with the unlikable, self-absorbed DI John Campbell.

This is the second full-length novel featuring Harry Evans which I have read, the first being I Know Your Secret.  And I’ve had the pleasure of reading two of The Major Crimes Team (MCT) novellas; Matching the Evidence and No Comment.  But I came to this series part way through so there are two further books which I haven’t read as yet, Lines of Inquiry (novella) and Snatched From Home (not to mention Smith’s EPIC Jake Boulder series published by Bloodhound Books).

Having read No Comment, the latest MCT novella a couple of months ago my appetite was well and truly whetted and I was looking forward to making a start on When the Waters Recede.  The book opens with a tragic accident due to the unseasonal rains and flooding.  A car is dramatically pulled from the flood water, the driver of the car unfortunately deceased.  DC Lauren Phillips is there to formalise proceedings but, when looking for clues as to the driver’s identity, she makes a horrifying discovery in the boot of the car.  A woman’s naked body minus a head.  Thankfully the victim’s head is stashed with the body which leads to a quick identification and turns out to be a notorious, hated local criminal.  What Lauren and the team don’t realise is that in searching for the identity of the driver and potential murderer, they will end up in the middle of an investigation they never foresaw.

There’s something about Smith’s characters which make the reader feel invested in them.  I, for one, am not particularly fond of DC Lauren Phillips (something I may have mentioned before) and she does play a significant part in this book.  But despite not necessarily liking her, I felt I had to find out what she was up to, what was going to happen to her and to the team.  My favourite characters have always been Harry Evans, DS Neil Chisolm and DC Amir Bhaki.  But without Phillips and DI Campbell, I just don’t think the team dynamics would work as well.

The plot is interesting and keeps you on your toes as it tends to flit from the initial investigation of a decapitated body to a bigger, unexpected case.  A case that leads to one of the team coming face to face with a remorseless killer!  Harry was as gruff as ever and I loved seeing how he was adjusting to life as a police consultant rather than ‘the Guv’ and leading the pack.  I have to say, and this is probably just me, that the reoccurring references to a middle-aged, balding man’s building libido was a little….well, off-putting really.  I can see how this was a major part of the story, why the author has made such a plot point of it but UGH.  Characters may have ‘needs’ but I’d rather that they keep them to themselves, lol!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It can be read as a standalone but the characters have so much history behind them that you may feel you’ve missed something if you don’t start at the beginning.  A great series and one I will return to again and again.  Personally, I cannot wait for the next book as I think Harry’s going to be in for a bit of a rough ride if the final chapter of When the Waters Recedes is anything to go by.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of When the Waters Recede.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights on 31st May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Giveaway:
To celebrate the release of When the Waters Recede, Graham Smith is offering one lucky reader the chance to win all six books in the Harry Evans series.

To enter, simply sign up for his newsletter via the link provided before the 5th of June 2018 and you’ll be entered into not just this competition, but all competitions that he runs. International entrants are welcome.
http://blogspot.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?

When Waters Recede - 6 Book Giveaway

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about the author3

Graham Smith Author Pic (1)Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

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 and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: It Was Her by Mark Hill (@markhillwriter) @TheCrimeVault @millieseaward #ItWasHer

it was her.jpg“Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.

Did she do it?

Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Poppy. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she sees families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.

Did she kill them?

As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the It Was Her blog tour.  It Was Her is written by ex-blogger and journalist, Mark Hill and was published by Sphere on 17th May 2018.  This is the second book in the DI Ray Drake series.  The first book, His First Lie (originally published as ‘The Two O’Clock Boy’) I thoroughly enjoyed and you can read my review by clicking HERE.

I was really looking forward to being reacquainted with DI Drake and DS Flick Crowley, having enjoyed His First Lie as much as I did.  But before we go any further, a word to the wise.  There’s something really quite special and different about this series and some things, although expertly explained and recapped by the author, work so much better if you read them first hand.  You get that spine-tingling shock factor, that unexpected ‘WOW’ moment that you just can’t get via a recap.  I may get in trouble for saying this but PLEASE read His First Lie first.  It’ll give you goosebumps and you’ll learn exactly who you are dealing with in Ray Drake.  Now don’t get me wrong, Hill has done a terrific job of giving new readers an overview of what happened to Ray as a child but no matter how expert the writing, this is one series that you should experience, from the beginning, yourself.

I’ll climb down off of my soapbox now (more of a biscuit tin really…) and get on with reviewing It Was Her!  DI Ray Drake is a troubled man.  DS Flick Crowley is dealing with her own demons which are all due to Drake, her boss and his troubled past.  I found Flick hard to like in the first book.  It Was Her has completely changed my opinion.  They’re an odd couple, but I really like them.  There’s a wonderful sense of impending doom about the two of them; the knowledge that if either of them says the wrong thing, confides in the wrong person then life could drastically change for both.  They’re bound together by secrets, whether they like it or not.

One of the things I’m growing to love about reading a Mark Hill novel is his flair for writing interesting, well-developed characters.  Although this book is all about DI Drake his supporting cast are solid, believable characters who all contribute to the storyline.  Hill has, however, outdone himself with the toxic Bliss family.  Tatia is the ‘adopted’ (although not through the normal, legal channels) middle sister of the family.  Poppy is the older sister, Joel is the younger brother and Will died at a young age when he fell from a clifftop whilst on holiday with his family.  Tatia was blamed for the ‘accident’ and sent home to an orphanage in Georgia and a life of poverty, abuse and degradation.  The scars run deep and all Tatia wants is a beautiful home of her own and her family reunited.  So much so that breaking and entering doesn’t seem that big-a-deal.  But then the owners of the properties start dying in violent circumstances and Tatia becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation.  Did she do it?  Only DI Drake and DS Crowley can discover the truth…

Every so often throughout the story, there are flashbacks to x number of days or weeks after Will fell from the cliff.  These chapters give the reader a great insight into the workings of the Bliss family and how events have turned out the way they have.  I’m afraid I did my usual and tried to work out whodunit before it was revealed.  I did guess the perpetrator but oh my gosh, that ending was NOT expected!

Would I recommend this book?  I would but do start with His First Lie as it gives you the necessary background.  DI Drake is a fascinating and complex character and it helps to understand his experience and his motivations before reading It Was Her.  Deliciously dark characters, a poisonous middle-class family and a detective inspector with more to hide than most!  Another thoroughly enjoyable read from Mark Hill.

Four out of five stars.

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

It Was Her by Mark Hill was published in the UK by Sphere on 17th May 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

mark-hillI’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR.

But I write now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for clicking.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are oh-so-many ways to do it!

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty (@Hardisty_Paul) @OrendaBooks #Absolution #ClaymoreStraker

absolution“It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.

Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolutionis a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Absolution blog tour. Absolution is the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series written by author, Paul E. Hardisty and published by Orenda Books. I had the pleasure of reading ‘The Evolution of Fear‘, the second book in this series back in 2016; you can read that review by clicking HERE. I also took part in the blog tour for the third book, ‘Reconciliation for the Dead‘ with a rather stonking guest post.

It’s been a while since I was last acquainted with the dynamic and dangerous Claymore Straker and oh my goodness, it seems so much has happened to him, near him and because of him in the meantime! But then this is Claymore Straker we’re talking about here and he’s no ordinary man. The reader only has to wait until a mere 4% into the book before the action starts and oh boy, it is a shocker! But then I would expect nothing less from the pen of this highly descriptive and thoroughly accomplished author. One of the things I always enjoy about Paul E. Hardisty’s Straker books is that they are intelligent, well-researched works which the reader can sit back and immerse themselves in. As you’re reading you feel that you’re in safe, knowledgeable hands which only adds to the reading experience.

Chapters alternate between letters from Straker’s lover, Rania and life as it happens to Straker. The chapters which narrate Claymore’s journey are high-octane, thrill rides which leave you wondering what could possibly go wrong next. Will Claymore survive the next gun-toting militant he has the unfortunate pleasure of stumbling upon? Well, you’ll have to read the book for yourself and find out.

I loved the letters from Rania. Early on the reader discovers that Rania never intends on sending the letters to Claymore, which makes them all the more candid. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a modern Muslim woman, and how her strong belief system supports her through difficult times, and occasionally takes her life in a direction she would rather it not go. I really felt for Rania on many levels. But above all else, her character appealed to me because I always like a kick-ass female character.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of the thriller novel then yes, absolutely! You must read this book, along with the others in the series. As far as thrillers go, this is the most detailed, intelligent and captivating series out there with a heck of a lot of heart added for good measure!

Four out of five stars.

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

Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook format (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Paul HardistyCanadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

#BlogBlitz | #Giveaway: The TV Detective by Simon Hall (@SimonHallNews) @fahrenheitpress #TheTVDetective

The TV Detective cover“Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.”

Hello bookish friends.  For personal reasons, there has been a slight change to The TV Detective blog blitz schedule today so I am welcoming you back to the ‘pebbles for a little bit more The TV Detective love!  You lucky things, you!

On Monday I posted my review of The TV Detective which, if you missed it, you can read by clicking HERE.  Today, however, I am offering one lucky international winner the chance to win an eBook copy of the book.  So if the sound of likeable Dan Groves and the studious, yet suave DCI Adam Breen appeals, and you want to find out more, then here is your chance.

If you need further persuasion then check out these great reviews featured on the blog blitz so far; Bookmark ThatCafe ThinkingThe Irresponsible ReaderLive and DeadlyJuliaPaloozaGrab This Book and Wrong Side of Forty.

To win an eBook copy of The TV Detective all you have to do is follow the instructions in THIS tweet.  Giveaway will close at midday (BST) on 25th May 2018.  One winner will be selected at random and will be notified via Twitter.  The winner will be required to send me their Kindle email address so I may forward an eBook copy of The TV Detective directly to their device.  There is no cash alternative.  Good luck everyone!

The TV Detective by Simon Hall was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Purchase from Fahrenheit Press |

TV Detective

about the author3

Simon HallSimon Hall is an author and journalist.

He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.

Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective) and studying pop lyrics.

For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Website |