#BlogTour | #BookReview: Fox Hunter by Zoë Sharp (@authorzoesharp) #CharlieFox

‘The dead man had not gone quietly … There was a time when I would have given everything I owned to be the one responsible for that.’

“Charlie Fox will never forget the men who put a brutal end to her military career, but she vowed a long time ago she would not go looking for them.

Now she doesn’t have a choice.

Her boss and former lover, Sean Meyer, is missing in Iraq where one of those men was working as a private security contractor. When the man’s butchered body is discovered, Charlie fears that Sean may be pursuing a twisted vendetta on her behalf.

Sean’s partner in their exclusive New York close-protection agency needs this dealt with—fast and quiet—before everything they’ve worked for is in ruins. He sends Charlie to the Middle East with very specific instructions:

Find Sean Meyer and stop him. By whatever means necessary.

At one time Charlie thought she knew Sean better than she knew herself, but it seems he’s turned into a violent stranger. As the trail grows more bloody, Charlie realises that unless she can get to Sean first, the hunter may soon become the hunted.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Fox Hunter blog tour.  Fox Hunter is the twelfth book in the Charlie Fox series and oh my gosh, I am absolutely kicking myself for not finding this series before now!  This high octane, international thriller was written by Zoë Sharp and is available to purchase in print, eBook and audio formats now.

Coming to a series part way through is always a risk.  I do consider myself quite the expert though and rarely find myself reading the first book in a series (the fourth, yes.  Or even the seventh!).  However, at no point, while reading Fox Hunter did I feel I had ‘missed something’.  The author does an excellent job of providing her reader with all the necessary background information to keep the story flowing and the reader engaged.  Does that mean that I will pass on the opportunity to read the first eleven books in this series? No, I would jump at the chance to read more (even if I’m breaking all the rules by reading out of sequence!).

Charlie Fox is my kind of character.  I always swoon a little over a strong, kick-ass, female protagonist and Fox ticked all the boxes for me.  I was glad to see Sharp hadn’t taken the route other authors seem to feel is necessary and given her feisty lead an equally tough male partner of the romantic sense.  I expect that may have been the case in previous novels as a relationship with her intended target, Sean Meyer, is referred to on several occasions.  It all feels very much like ancient history though and Fox is a realist, knowing to leave the past in the past.  Plus Sean’s traumatic accident and head injury mean he’ll never be the same man again.

The plot was fast-paced with some wonderfully choreographed gunfights.  I could easily picture the action in my mind and was drawn into the dangerous world of close protection.  There are several well-written characters who really stood out for me.  Particularly Fox’s newbie sidekick, Luisa Dawson, their loyal escort and driver, Moe and the mysterious Aubrey Hamilton.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to Charlie Fox and Sharp’s writing.  I don’t read enough of this type of crime fiction, tending to stick to my serial killer thrillers and police procedurals – what a mistake!  I will be making of point of adding more of the Charlie Fox series to my TBR in the future.  Thrilling, fast paced and well written.  What more could you want!

Four out of five stars.

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

Fox Hunter by Zoë Sharp was published in the UK by Zace Ltd on 12th September 2017 and is available in print, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

ZoeSharp-copyrightNickLockett2015

Zoë Sharp was born in Nottinghamshire, but spent most of her formative years living on a catamaran on the northwest coast of England. After a promising start at a private girls’ school, she opted out of mainstream education at the age of twelve in favour of correspondence courses at home.

Zoë went through a variety of jobs in her teenage years. In 1988, on the strength of one accepted article and a fascination with cars, she gave up her regular job to become a freelance motoring writer. She quickly picked up on the photography side of things and her photo-journalism took her as far afield as the United States and Japan, as well as Europe, Ireland and the UK. She is now a full-time fiction author and creator of the Charlie Fox series of crime thrillers.

Zoë wrote her first novel when she was fifteen, but success came in 2001 with the publication of KILLER INSTINCT − the first book to feature her ex-Special Forces heroine, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox. The character evolved after Zoë received death-threat letters in the course of her photo-journalism work.

Later Charlie Fox novels − FIRST DROP and FOURTH DAY − were finalists for the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel. The Charlie Fox series has also been optioned for TV.

As well as the Charlie Fox novels, Zoë’s short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines, and have been shortlisted for the Short Story Dagger by the UK Crime Writers’ Association. Her other writing has been nominated for the coveted Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, the Anthony Award presented by the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, the Macavity Award, and the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers’ Association.

A keen library supporter and public speaker, Zoë blogs regularly on her Blog page. She also witters on Twitter (@AuthorZoeSharp) and fools about on Facebook (ZoeSharpAuthor). She was formerly a long-term contributor to the acclaimed Murderati blog—alas, now defunct. She’s a regular blogger at MURDER IS EVERYWHERE and also has a presence on goodreads.

Zoë lives in the English Lake District. Her hobbies are sailing, fast cars (and faster motorbikes), target shooting, travel, films, music and reading just about anything she can get her hands on

Author bio © http://www.zoesharp.com/meetsharp.htm
Author image © Nick Lockett

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#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite (@BCopperthwait) @Bookouture

Her-Last-Secret-Kindle.jpg“There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse. 

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant. 

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.”

A very warm welcome to the first day of the Her Last Secret blog blitz which I share with, well, some pretty awesome bloggers.  If you haven’t checked out any of the following then I heartily recommend you do so as they are all absolutely brilliant at this blogging lark; Compulsive ReadersChelle’s Book ReviewsBibliophile Book ClubMy Chestnut Reading Tree and CrimeBookJunkie.  The rest of the blitz also looks to be shaping up nicely with some of my very favourite book blogs taking part, so make sure you catch as many stops as possible!

I was thrilled to hear Barbara Copperthwaite was on the verge of releasing her second book with the mighty Bookouture.  I’m not shy in admitting that I am a huge fan of Copperthwaite’s work; check out my review of Flowers for the Dead and The Darkest Lies if proof is needed!  The bar was set, the standard required was pretty darn high and, Copperthwaite smashed it.

I’m not an overly emotional reader.  I don’t cry at books.  In fact, the last book to make me cry was….let’s see…..oh yes!  The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite.  What I didn’t expect was for the same thing to happen again.  I like my books full of blood, guts and as much gore as you can cram in.  People die in the books I read, bad things happen to good people and it rarely (read: never) sets me off in floods of tears.  But Copperthwaite’s writing somehow manages to do something to me that others fail to do.  Once again, I was reduced to a pile of mush as I turned the final page, blubbering my eyes out for one character in particular (OK, maybe two).  Which is strange, seeing as the reader starts at the end of the story.  What Copperthwaite manages to do through the pages of her book is make you fall in love with her characters just a little bit.  I felt completely invested in the Thomas family.  Then the ending happened and WOW!  Just…..WOW!

As a fan of the character-driven novel, I was in my element reading Her Last Secret.  I felt disgust and loathing for husband Benjamin who needs to remove his head from his own bottom and start focussing on his family.  My heart ached for teenager Ruby who was crying (nay, screaming!) for attention from her parents but was sinking further and further away from them.  Young Amber (or Mouse as she’s nicknamed) was beautiful from start to finish and really shone from the pages.  It takes real talent to write a convincing eight-year-old voice but the author has excelled.  And then there’s Dominque; totally flawed, damaged by her past and failing her teenage daughter but oh my gosh, I loved her.

The opening chapter throws the reader straight into the action.  The police are called to a residential street in the early hours of Christmas morning.  Chief Inspector Ogundele doesn’t know what awaits him inside the house, all he knows is that gunshots have been fired.  From there the chapters countdown to Christmas day, giving the reader an insight into the ‘not so perfect’ Thomas family and how they have arrived at such a horrific predicament on what should be one of the happiest days of the year.  Brilliantly executed by the author.  In my view, Copperthwaite’s best novel yet!

Would I recommend this book?  Of course, without a shadow of a doubt!  You’d be a fool to miss out on this one.  Thrilling and heartbreaking in equal measure.  Superb storytelling, compulsive and impossible to put down.  I was hooked and you will be too!

(A very easy) Five out of five stars.

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

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite was published in the UK by Bookouture on 13th October 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

barbara copperthwaiteWhat people say about Barbara’s books:
“Will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed… Original, gripping, with a deep psychological impact,” Sunday Mirror
“Enthralling, tense and moving,” Real People magazine
“Totally gripping, and scarily believable,” Bella magazine

Barbara is the author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Both have been Amazon best sellers. She is also the author of THE DARKEST LIES, and her latest book HER LAST SECRET is out on 13 October.

Much of her success is thanks to her twenty-odd years’ experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She’s interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That’s why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.

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

#BlogTour | #Giveaway: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (@atticalocke) @serpentstail

bluebird, bluebird.jpg“Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead.

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it’s stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.”

A very warm welcome to my stop on the Bluebird, Bluebird blog tour.  Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke is published today so a very happy book birthday to the author and publisher, Serpent’s Tail.

To celebrate the release of this exciting new thriller I have one copy of Bluebird, Bluebird to giveaway.  All you need to do is follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter link below:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

The small print:  The winner will need to provide their name and address – the prize will be sent directly from the publisher.  There is no cash alternative.  Competition open to UK residents only I’m afraid.  The winner’s name will be chosen at random on Sunday 1st October 2017 and notified immediately.  Good luck everyone!

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke was published in the UK by Serpent’s Tail on 28th September 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

attica locke

Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times

Attica Locke’s Pleasantville was the 2016 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. It was also long-listed for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction, and made numerous “Best of 2015” lists. Her first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her second book, The Cutting Season, is a national bestseller and the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. A former fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab, Locke has worked as a screenwriter as well. Most recently, she was a writer and producer on the Fox drama, Empire. She serves on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

Author image and biography via http://www.atticalocke.com/about/

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture

The-Surrogate-Kindle.jpeg“‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’ 

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream. 

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets. 

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye. 

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family… 

From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister and The Gift, this is an unputdownable psychological thriller which asks how far we will go to create our perfect family.”

Yay!  The day has finally arrived when I can talk to you about Louise Jensen’s latest release, The Surrogate.  A very warm and squishy welcome to my stop on The Surrogate blog blitz which I share with two book blogging beauties, Emma at Emma the Little Book Worm and Meggy over at Chocolate’n’Waffles.

The Surrogate is Louise Jensen’s third novel and is published by Bookouture today.  A very happy book birthday to all, I just know this one is going to fly!  I am a huge fan of Jensen’s work; you can read my review of her debut, The Sister by clicking HERE and her second novel, The Gift by clicking HERE.  And I absolutely flipping ADORED The Surrogate!

Dare I say this is Jensen’s best book to date?  Y’know what, I think I dare!  The Surrogate has become my very favourite of Louise Jensen’s books knocking the incredible The Sister from the top spot.  If this one doesn’t end up on my list of top ten books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.

Kat is desperate for a baby.  Unable to have her own child she turns to adoption to fill the baby-sized hole in her heart.  But when it all falls through she is devastated.  After all, she has decorated the nursery for Dewei and is a familiar (rather too well-known) face in Mothercare.  The second attempt to adopt Mai also falls through leaving Kat at her wit’s end.  And then Lisa miraculously appears in her life.  Unsure of her intentions to start with, Kat is wary of her ex-best friend.  The women have a murky past which Kat fears has not been forgotten.  Before long, Lisa is entertaining Kat with tales of how she acted as a surrogate for a friend, how she gave birth to baby Gabrielle and then willingly handed her over.  How she feels more of an aunt towards the baby than the infant’s birth mother.  Kat can see a way out of her predicament, a way in which she can finally have the baby she so craves.  All she has to do is convince husband Nick and make sure she keeps Lisa happy and relaxed, totally stress-free.  But exactly how far is Kat prepared to go for that little bundle of joy…

There are so many surprises in The Surrogate that I became dizzy with joy while reading.  You think you know what’s going on, where the story will lead you but in reality, you know nothing!  Jensen has created a wonderfully intricate web of lies and half-truths with bucketfuls of creeping paranoia.  I loved it! (I may have said that already…)

The thread of malice woven through many of the character’s relationships was sublime.  The reader is frequently given glimpses into Kat’s teenage years at school and her interaction with the younger Lisa.  We also get to see how Nick, Kat’s husband was raised by his parents and how, due to injury and the inability to work, Nick’s father begins to mistreat his son.  Both episodes are unsettling and add so much emotion to the story.  I found myself becoming more and more invested in Kat and Nick, knowing something awful was heading their way but not knowing exactly what.

And WOAH, that ending.  Hugely satisfying, totally unexpected and I can guarantee it will stay me for some time to come.  I had my own ideas of how I wanted the story to end but what Jensen has given the reader blows everything else out of the water.  Absolutely superb!

Would I recommend this book?  Without a shadow of a doubt, I would.  If you are a fan of the psychological thriller then you MUST get yourself a copy of The Surrogate.  Louise Jensen just keeps getting better and better and I am so excited about what she has in store for us in the future.  You’ve set the bar even higher now, Louise.  No pressure!  A superb, twisty read that I wish I could give more than five stars to.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th September 2017 and is available in eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Louise Jensen author pic - no credit.jpegLouise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.

Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a dog and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Blog | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: House of Spines by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @OrendaBooks

House of Spines front.jpeg“A terrifying psychological thriller cum Gothic mystery, as a young man with mental health issues inherits an isolate mansion, where all is not as it seems…

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror… the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the House of Spines blog tour.  House of Spines is written by Michael J. Malone and was published by Orenda Books on 15th September 2017.  I adored (okay, adored may be a bit of an understatement!) Malone’s first Orenda release, the incredible A Suitable Lie.  It totally took my breath away and remains, nearly a year after reading it, at the very top of my favourite books of all time list!  If you missed my review the first time around or would like a quick reminder of exactly how much I loved A Suitable Lie then please click here.

So, I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but House of Spines had an awful lot to live up to. What needs to be clarified at this point is that, to me, these two books written by the same author, published by the mighty Orenda are completely different works.  I don’t think they can be compared and to be honest, I don’t want to.  House of Spines was a very different reading experience for me.

Ranald McGhie was a likeable lead.  He exudes an air of hopelessness which appealed, as well as his love of the written word (who doesn’t love books?!).  I also enjoyed the relationships he had with the women in his life; ex-wife Martie and elderly neighbour, Donna.  Ranald cannot believe his luck when he is left the imposing Newton Hall by his late Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick.  Having never met his uncle it takes Ranald time to come to terms with the idea.  Not only has he inherited a house but also two staff, a housekeeper and her husband who tends the garden.  It’s like a dream come true.  That is until strange things to start to happen…

I loved the creepiness of Malone’s writing.  He really knows how to make his reader feel uneasy which I think is a great skill.  The prose was so wonderfully poetic in places that I became entranced and totally engrossed in Ran’s story.  The one thing I will say is that I do feel that a rather large dollop of artistic licence has been used in the creation of this novel.  But that’s okay, right? After all, if you can’t bend the rules a little in fiction, then when can you?  I’m a stickler for accuracy and ‘real life’ in my crime reads but this is a psychological thriller, so…..

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you haven’t picked up a Michael J. Malone book before then you MUST.  If you’re after a read that is a little different to most everything else then House of Spines may be the one for you.  It’s a dark and eerie read which had me on the edge of my seat.  It has however left me with a couple of unanswered questions.  A re-read may be in order!

Four out of five stars.

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

House of Spines by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Michael Malone Photo.jpg

Author bio (c) orendabooks.co.uk

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

 

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Race to the Kill by Helen Cadbury @AllisonandBusby

race to the kill.jpg“It is the middle of a long night shift for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her.

She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee.

The investigation which points to the neighbouring greyhound stadium finds Denton caught up in a world of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse, and one in which his private life becomes increasingly entwined.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Race to the Kill blog tour.  Race to the Kill is the third book in the PC Sean Denton series and was written by Helen Cadbury.  I was deeply saddened to hear of Helen Cadbury’s passing earlier this year. Helen first came to my attention in several of the bookish Facebook groups we were both members of.  The thing that stood out most to me was how valued and respected she was, and how much other members (readers, writers, publishers etc) cared for Helen.  I am honoured to be a part of this memorial blog tour for such a talented and well-thought of author.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first meeting with the incredibly likeable PC Sean Denton. What I loved most was that he was just a normal bobby on the beat, along with his partner PC ‘Gav’ Wentworth.  Not a Detective Inspector, not even a Detective Constable – just a fresh-faced Police Constable.  Being an avid police procedural fan I don’t normally tend to dip below the level of Detective Constable in my reads, so Sean being a normal PC was refreshing for me.

Most of the action in Race to the Kill takes place at what was once Chasebridge High School, and the newly renovated Greyhound Stadium next door.  Cadbury’s characters shine from the pages; the suspicious Sarah who resides in a caravan in the grounds of the dog stadium.  The brothers, Tommy and Joe who live in the caravan next door and sort out ‘any problems’ for their aunt and uncle, who own the track.  And Melissa, Tommy and Joe’s young sister – old before her time.  DC Tina Smales and DS Ivan Knowles also deserve a mention as I found both very memorable and well-written.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I read it as a standalone and it worked well for me.  Saying that I have downloaded and am looking forward to reading the first two books in the series.  The plot was interesting, twisty and had my full attention from start to finish.  If you love your crime dramas character driven then I heartily suggest you pick up a copy of Race to the Kill as it’s chock full of interesting, well-written people doing some pretty dark stuff.  What more could you want?

Four out of five stars.

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

Race to the Kill by Helen Cadbury was published in the UK by Allison & Busby on 21st September 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats (with the paperback to follow next year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

helen cadbury.jpgHelen Cadbury was a York based writer whose debut novel, To Catch a Rabbit, was joint winner of the Northern Crime Award.

Helen was born in the Midlands and brought up in Birmingham and Oldham, Lancashire.

Helen died in June 2017.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith @GrahamSmith1972 @Bloodhoundbook

TheKindredKillers1.1 .jpg“Jake Boulder’s help is requested by his best friend, Alfonse, when his cousin is crucified and burned alive along with his wife and children.

As Boulder tries to track the heinous killer, a young woman is abducted. Soon her body is discovered and Boulder realises both murders have something unusual in common. 

With virtually no leads for Boulder to follow, he strives to find a way to get a clue as to the killer’s identity. But is he hunting for one killer or more?

After a young couple are snatched in the middle of the night the case takes a brutal turn. When the FBI is invited to help with the case, Boulder finds himself warned off the investigation.

When gruesome, and incendiary, footage from a mobile phone is sent to all the major US News outlets and the pressure to find those responsible for the crimes mounts. But with the authorities against him can Boulder catch the killer before it’s too late?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on The Kindred Killers blog tour which I share with my #blogbestie, the lovely Joanne at My Chestnut Reading Tree.  If you haven’t visited My Chestnut Reading Tree before, then do.  Joanne is such a lovely person and her blog is one of my very favourites, plus she LOVES books.  What more could you ask for?

The Kindred Killers is the second book in the explosive and thrilling Jake Boulder series and is written by author, Graham Smith.  I thoroughly enjoyed Watching the Bodies, the first book in this brilliant series so was looking forward to making a start on The Kindred Killers.  You can read my review of book one by clicking here.

There’s *something* about this series.  Something the author has managed to capture which keeps the reader coming back for more.  I, for one, love it and will always make a special effort to keep up with Boulder’s adventures.  For me, it may be that the books are so wonderfully American.  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for American crime.  Or, it may just be that they are cracking crime stories about a hard as nails part-time crime fighter in the shape of Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

This time Jake’s best friend and occasional employer, Alfonse is in need of Boulder’s investigative skills.  Alfonse and Jake make a formidable team with Jake’s ability to sniff out a lead and Alfonse’s high-tech hacking talent.  Alfonse’s cousin, Darryl and his family have gone missing.  Boulder knows instantly that this was not a voluntary retreat as there are signs of a struggle.  The incompetent Lieutenant Farrage and his hapless bunch of detectives have dismissed the scene and intend to do as little as possible.  Thankfully, Boulder is on the case.  But when Chief Watson calls Boulder to Ashley National Forest, Boulder quickly becomes aware that time has run out for Darryl and his young family. Reeling from his recent run in with a twisted serial killer, it looks like Boulder will have to stare evil in the face once again.  Four burning crosses suspended from a tree, four smouldering corpses nailed to them…

I do like a little bit of blood and gore in my reads and Smith has excelled himself with a number of brutal murder scenes in this latest instalment.  Maybe that’s the reason I enjoy these books so much!  Smith is quite prepared to break down boundaries and kill off his victims with some stomach-churning methods.  Would other authors be prepared to be as graphic?  I’m not sure….and I flipping love it!  I don’t want to put any squeamish readers off though.  If you’ve ever watched GoT or Breaking Bad then I’m sure you’ve seen worse scenes played out on your television screen!

I was glad to see the incredibly irritating Lieutenant Farrage playing a very small role in proceedings; being replaced by the more competent, more likeable Chief Watson.  I would be very happy to see the end of Farrage for good and a lot more of Watson in future books.  The other character I would like to see a lot more of is Boulder’s mother. She added a wonderful dose of humour to the first book which I was hoping to see again, but she only made one or two very brief appearances – mostly nagging her son!

The conclusion of this book blew me away!  One of the smaller, yet fairly regular characters in the books plays a rather shocking role.  I had never really warmed to this character while reading the first book, or this second novel.  In fact, I thought them to be quite insubstantial.  There are, however, several paragraphs in the build up to the explosive finale which made me completely change my mind about them.  I went from thinking ‘pah’ to thinking ‘woah’ (that’s the word I actually wrote in my notes, WOAH!).

Would I recommend this book? Yes, without doubt.  It’s fast paced, thrilling and you can’t help but like Boulder.  So good, so unexpected, Smith knows how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Kindred Killers and heartily recommend this book (this series, really!).  If you enjoy the odd serial killer thriller then you must, MUST make sure you get a copy.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Kindred Killers.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Sarah Hardy and Graham Smith for asking me to feature on the blog tour.

The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 12th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Graham Smith Author Pic.jpgA time served joiner Graham has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 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 and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and now two books in the crime series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

Author Links: | Facebook | Website | Twitter | Amazon UK |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward (@sarahrward1) @FaberBooks #APatientFury

a patient fury.jpg“When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.

But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the A Patient Fury blog tour.  A Patient Fury in the third book in the DC Connie Childs series and is absolutely flipping amazing.  I LOVE this series.  I reviewed the second book, A Deadly Thaw earlier this year and gave it an easy five out of five stars.  If you missed that review or would like a reminder then please click here.

This meant, of course, that the third instalment had a lot to live up to.  And oh my gosh, I am absolutely thrilled to confirm that it managed to blow my socks off!  What a brilliant book!  The first thing you should know is that DC Connie Childs is fast becoming one of my favourite fictional detectives.  She’s so wonderfully driven, so beautifully intense and so very flawed.  I can’t help but be drawn to this headstrong, feisty woman and her very human faults.

The opening chapter is brilliantly written and there was no way on this earth anyone was going to prise A Patient Fury from my hands.  I was hooked and I couldn’t stop myself from becoming totally engrossed in the story.  It was a joy to return to Bampton in Derbyshire (if you’ve read my previous review I can confirm that I now know exactly where Derbyshire is, doh!).  Being reunited with DI Francis Sadler once again was a wonderful thing.  I felt DI Sadler played a much bigger part in the story this time around and I found out a lot more about him.  His relationship with DC Childs can be a little fraught at times but that friction makes for excellent reading.  On the one hand, he’s her superior, on the other he’s a father figure keeping an eye on the fiery young detective.  Brilliant!

Ward has, quite rightly so, moved one of her older characters on to pastures new leaving space for a new detective.  I think I can understand why the author has decided to do this as it did feel as though the character had had their time.  I was, however, a little sad to see them go and hope they make a cameo in future novels.  In the meantine, I look forward to seeing where Ward takes the relationship between Connie and the new(-ish) recruit in the future.  I can see fireworks ahead…

The plot was full of twists, turns and intrigue.  I enjoyed the flashback sequences and grew to despise the character of George, the rude and obnoxious son of the victim.  All of the characters at some point felt as though they had a lot to hide which absolutely made this book for me.  I couldn’t have, or rather wouldn’t have put money on the culprit despite all of the signs pointing in one definite direction.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  It can be read as a stand alone so don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two books in the series (although if you get the chance, then do!).  I love DC Connie Childs.  I particularly like her when she’s breaking the rules and undertaking an investigation in her own time, which she *may* end up doing in A Patient Fury.  Honestly, my favourite crime series out there at the moment and I urge you to get yourself a copy of A Patient Fury.  You won’t regret it.  Sheer brilliance.

Five out of five stars.

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

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 7th September 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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Author photo and bio taken from https://crimepieces.com/

Crime fiction is in my blood. From Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five to Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew, I was reading the genre at an early age. In my teens it was Agatha Christie followed by Ruth Rendell and PD James. Later influences include Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Minette Walters. Then I discovered Scandinavian crime writers.

I’m the author of two crime novels In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw which are set in the Derbyshire Peak District where I live. A Patient Fury is coming in September.

I post my book reviews here on Crimepieces and have also reviewed at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Crime Timecrimesquad.com and Eurocrime. Articles and short stories have appeared in the Sunday Express magazine, Metro, Big Issue, Traveller and other publications. I’m one of the judges for The Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel and I particularly love reading translated crime fiction.

In addition to writing and reviewing I also teach crime fiction workshops, moderate book events and give talks on Nordic Noir, Golden Age Crime and other aspects of the crime novels. I can be contacted about any of these areas via my contact page.

I’m represented by Kirsty McLachlan at DGA.

Author Links: | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Scorn by Paul Hoffman (@PaulGHoff) #RedOpera @ed_pr

SCORN_FINAL.jpeg“After an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider goes horribly wrong, depressed scientist Aaron Gall wakes up to discover his mind and body have undergone an astonishing transformation. Now bursting with the joys of life, he is inspired to undertake a radical new therapy: to talk to the priests who brutalised him and his school friends, point out the intellectual dishonesty and inhumanity of their religious beliefs – and then eat them.

Aaron enjoys the process so much (as well as taunting the police and MI5) he decides to extend his murderous conversations to include the Archbishop of Westminster, recently converted Catholic Tony Blair, the Queen of England – and, finally, the Pope himself. But a Catholic Church that has given the world the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Papal Infallibility hasn’t survived for two thousand years without a reason. Aaron is in for the greatest shock in the history of mankind.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn and sadly the last stop, on the Scorn blog tour.  Scorn is written by author Paul Hoffman and was published by Red Opera on 7th September 2017.

To celebrate the release of this dark yet rather fun sounding novel I have an extract to share with you.  So sit back, relax and take a read…

CHAPTER  CONFESSION

It was one o’clock in the morning and Father Thomas Lloyd was eating sardines on toast in the vast and gloomy kitchen of the rectory of St Edmunds Church in Abingdon, a place not a hundred yards from the Victorian building in which Aaron had received the worst beating of his life from Mother Mary Frances and a mere thirty yards from where the sadistic old bitch was buried. Burial in the otherwise full cemetery was a privilege accorded only to people with a special reputation for holiness.

As he was about to begin his meal, one which he realised at some guilty deep level he was not as thankful for as he ought to have been, there was a hard rap at the door. Although it was unusual for there to be such a late caller, it was not unknown for someone to fetch him to a deathbed or a tormented soul to come looking for the peace of mind only God could grant. Still, he was no fool and was wary. He walked out of the cavernous kitchen and switched on the light in the barely less sepulchral cavern of the hall.

“Who is it?” he called out, ill at ease.

“Is that you, Father Lloyd?”

Who else would it be in the rectory of the church at this time of night?” was what he wanted to say. Immediately he accused himself of the sin of the lack of charity. “Yes. Yes it is.” To make amends he opened the door immediately. The man on the stoop was not an alarming sight – five nine perhaps, and thin.

“Come in out of the rain.” He ushered the man inside and gestured him through the hall into the kitchen. The abundance of mahogany gave an unpleasant brown quality to the light. “Let me take your coat.”

Draping the man’s coat on the hat-stand, he turned to get a better look at his visitor. Many years of ministering to the soul distressed made him alert to the despairing and the desperate. His visitor did not seem to be either. The man looked at the uneaten plate of toast and sardines.

“I’m sorry. Please finish your meal.”

Father Lloyd was tempted but not for long. He would offer this sacrifice up to God, aware of course that God would realise it was not all that much of a renunciation.

“No. I’ve rather gone off the idea.” He gestured for the man to sit. “Tell me your name and what I can do for you,” he said softly.

“I’d like to make a confession.”

“I see.” A pause and a sigh. “Well, there’s no doubt you’ve come to the right place, Mr..,?”

“Gall. Aaron Gall.”

“Are you from around here, Aaron?”

“I used to be a long time ago.”

“Is that so indeed? I’ve been away and back a fair few times but I’ve spent near half my life as a priest in St Edmunds. You must have been here during my away years.”

“No,” said Aaron. “You taught me, my class, religious instruction when I was a boy.”

The priest looked worried. It didn’t look good or feel right to forget a parishioner.

“Help me. I’m an old man and my memory isn’t what it was.”

“The old primary school, just before it moved.”

“My God, that’s a fair few years.”

“I was seven or so the last time I saw you. It wouldn’t be reasonable to remember me.”

“I was only here a few months the first time, waiting to go to Birmingham.”

There was a silence – an odd one, uncomfortable for the priest. “So, what brings you out tonight?” he said at last.

“You remember Mother Mary Frances. She’s buried in the churchyard here.”

“So they told me.”

“They?”

“The Sisters of Mercy.”

Another pause.

“So. This isn’t a visit on the sudden then.”

“No.”

“What is it you want, my son?”

Aaron smiled quietly and spoke softly.

“I’m not your son, old man, and this isn’t a visit.”

Scorn by Paul Hoffman is published 7th September by Red Opera, £7.99 in paperback

So, what do you think?  The plot of this book really intrigues me and despite it being a little different to my usual reads it’s definitely going on the wish list.  I hope your interest has been piqued too!

Scorn by Paul Hoffman was published in the UK by Red Opera on 7th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Paul Hoffman is a bestselling author whose work has been translated into thirty languages. He spent his early working life as a Boardman in a betting shop, a teacher in a girl’s school, and a film censor with special responsibility for pornography, before becoming a screenwriter and novelist. Paul Hoffman’s first novel, The Wisdom of Crocodiles, predicted the attacks of 9/11 and set out in detail how and why the financial system would crash early in the new millennium. His second novel, The Golden Age of Censorship, is a black comedy satirising both the world of the film censor and the visionary megalomania of New Labour.

He came to international recognition with The Left Hand of God trilogy – a sly attempt to write about war and politics in a way that stole from both contemporary and historical worlds in a way that caused heated debate on the way to becoming a top ten Sunday Times Bestseller.

His new novel, Scorn, is his most controversial yet. Drawing from his own experiences in a hideous Catholic boarding school in Oxford, Hoffman has fashioned a contemporary black comedy that truly defies any attempt at classification – comic, tragic, a love story; with songs, illustrations, two highly unusual policemen known as The Butchers of Basra, a central character unlike any other, as well as cameos from Tony Blair, the Queen, and the a final confrontation with  the Holy Father himself resulting in the most astonishing twist in the history of fiction.

Probably the last English novelist to be born by the light of a paraffin lamp, Paul Hoffman spent much of his childhood on airfields all around the world watching his father – a pioneer of sports parachuting – jumping out of aeroplanes. He witnessed his first death at the age of six when one of his father’s friends was killed in an attempt to discover how near the ground he could open his parachute. After a long and brutal battle with the nuns and priest who were charged with saving his soul and which left him at sixteen without any formal qualifications he was offered a place to read English at New College, Oxford when no other university would interview him. He is probably the only Oxford graduate in history to have failed all his O-Levels. On his first night at New College a fellow undergraduate was heard to comment: ‘My God – the kind of people we’re letting in these days’.

The Wisdom of Crocodiles took thirteen years to write and went into its third imprint within six weeks of publication. Jude Law starred in the motion picture of the same name based on one part of the novel.

Scorn is his sixth novel. His next book, The White Devil, will be published by Penguin in 2018

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The House by Simon Lelic (@Simon_Lelic) @VikingBooksUK

The House.jpg“Whose story do YOU believe?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door.

 

AND NOW THE POLICE ARE WATCHING THEM.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn to host The House blog tour.  The House is written by Simon Lelic and will be published by Viking Books in paperback on 3rd November 2017.  If you can’t wait until then, the eBook version is available now so make sure you grab yourself a copy.

That gorgeously eerie cover set a pretty high standard with regards to my expectations of this book.  I was hoping for something creepy, something chilling and I certainly got it. For me, however, a lot of the chill left the story as I began to learn more about the central characters.  I was smitten with the first part.  Strange events have happened and you’re never really sure what the cause was, who was affected and what exactly is going on.  I found myself feeling a little disappointed when the reason for the odd goings on was revealed.

However, it was at this point that The House took an about-turn for me.  I cast aside my need for a creepy story and instead focused on the book I held in my hands.  This was a brilliantly written, intricate and twisty tale of families gone wrong, seriously flipping wrong.  Here was one of the most sinister, devious and generally most horrible characters I have ever met (in a literary sense) screaming at me from the pages for my attention.  Now I like my characters dark.  That’s no secret.  Only yesterday, in another review, I confessed to liking the bad guy in the book more than any of the other ‘relatable’ lead characters.  But this character….WOAH!  If you like your reads dark then The House should be top of your wish list.

This book ticked so many boxes for me.  I managed to get a good dose of creepiness, I loved the way Jack and Syd, a couple very much in love at the start and our lead characters, began drifting apart as their lives were put under unexplainable pressure. The bad guy was so brilliantly horrible that I’ll remember him for a long time to come.  I absolutely loved the twist, so clever!  As soon as I start reading a book I attempt to try and work out where the story is heading, what the twist will be…I can’t help it, it’s a compulsion!  But this, this I NEVER saw coming and I absolutely loved it.  Have I mentioned that it’s very clever…?? lol.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s deliciously dark, imposing and totally engrossing.  Simon Lelic was a new author to me until I picked up my copy of The House.  I will be making a point of searching out his future thriller releases.  I really enjoyed The House but suggest you don’t just think of it as a creepy read as that is only a fraction of what this book is about.  It has a lot more to offer readers.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The House by Simon Lelic was published in the UK by Viking Books on 17th August 2017 in eBook format and will be available in paperback format on 3rd November 2017 | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

I was born in Brighton in 1976 and, after a decade or so living in London and trying to convince myself that the tube was fine, really, because it gave me a chance to read, my wife and I moved back to Brighton with our three young children. That Barnaby, Joseph and Anja’s grandparents happened to live close enough by to be able to offer their babysitting services was, of course, entirely coincidental.

As well as writing, I run an import/export business. I say this, when people ask, with a wink but I fool no one: I am more Del Trotter than Howard Marks. My hobbies (when I have time for them) include reading (for which I make time, because I can just about get away with claiming this is also work), golf, tennis, snowboarding and karate. My weekends belong to my family (or so my wife tells me), as does my heart.

I studied history at the University of Exeter. After graduating I was qualified, I discovered . . . to do an MA. After that I figured I had better learn something useful, so took a post-grad course in journalism. I know, I know: so much for learning something useful. After working freelance and then in business-to-business publishing, I now write novels. Not useful either, necessarily, but fun and, in its own way, important.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |