#BlogTour | #BookReview: Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson (@kerrywk) @bookouture

two sisters cover.jpg“They told us he had been missing for nearly two days, that he probably drowned. They told us a lie.

Megan was ten years old when her older brother, Zac, went missing among the cliffs, caves and beaches that surround the small seaside town of Whitecliff.

A decade later and a car crash has claimed the lives of her parents.

Megan and her younger sister Chloe return to Whitecliff one summer for the first time since their brother’s disappearance. Megan says it’s to get her parents’ affairs in order. There are boxes to pack, junk to clear, a rundown cottage to sell. But that’s not the real reason.

Megan has come to confront her family’s past after receiving a postcard on the day of her parents’ funeral. It had a photograph of Whitecliff on the front and a single letter on the back.

‘Z’ is all it read.

Z for Zac.

A totally gripping psychological thriller that will have fans of Louise Jensen, Sue Fortin and The Silent Child absolutely hooked.”

Today I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles as it’s my turn on the Two Sisters blog tour.  My partner in crime (or blog tour buddy, if you prefer) is the totally fabulous Claire Knight, guest reviewer extraordinaire over at one of my very favourite crime blogs, CrimeBookJunkie

Anyway, enough of the blogger love.  Let’s move on to what we’re all here for (which is obviously the book love).  I’ve seen author, Kerry Wilkinson’s name mentioned a lot. Wilkinson has penned a number of well received crime novels so he was, of course, on my radar.  But I hadn’t managed to read any of his books due to my blog tour commitments.  How to get round this, I thought to myself…feature on the Two Sisters blog tour, obvious really!

When I first started reading Two Sisters my heart sank.  I immediately disliked the lead character, Megan.  I mean she really got my back up.  I wondered how I was going to fare, having to read about this obnoxious, conniving little madam (I should add that she is 20 years old but felt much younger to me).  But then I met Chloe, her younger sister and I started to forgive Megan a little for being the cow she is.  And then you find more out about the girls upbringing, and although I still didn’t really ‘like’ Megan, I began to understand her more.  What I did like most about Megan is how much she loves and cares for her younger sister.  Surprisingly, Megan and Chloe don’t really know each other that well.  They were sent off to separate boarding schools from a young age but distance failed to break that sisterly bond.  And that was a joy to read.

Two Sisters works so well because of it’s creepy, claustrophobic setting of a small village called Whitecliff on the Cornish coast.  I loved the way the author stranded his cast of characters in this remote location.  I loved the friction between the locals and the well-to-do ‘dumped by their parents’ beach kids.  I loved that there was no mobile signal unless you went to the lightning tree.  It sounds like the core ingredients of a horror movie, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this book as much as I did.  It was brilliantly tense.  Despite loving the setting, I do often wonder (still to this day,  after a couple of weeks have passed) how this book would work set in small town America.  Maybe something for the future, eh Mr Wilkinson? *wink*.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller then I would say this is a must read.  It’s so wonderfully claustrophobic that I had to take breaks along the way to come up for air!  A really engrossing, enjoyable read and I will be making a point of reading Kerry Wilkinson’s books in the future.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson was published in the UK by Bookouture on 23rd June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author2

kerry wilkinson.jpgKerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell (@Sarahlovescrime) @OrendaBooks @annecater

exquisite cover.jpg“Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.”

 

I am thrilled to welcome you today to my stop on the Exquisite blog tour which I share with the very lovely Donna over at Chocolate’n’Waffles.  Exquisite is written by Sarah Stovell and was published by the marvellous Orenda Books on 15th June 2017.

Exquisite is exactly that, exquisite.  There has been a lot of excitement and hype over this book of late and I can tell you now; every compliment and every ounce of praise piled on this book is completely deserved.  I may have mentioned my top ten list of books of 2017 to you before.  I have a number of books that are hanging on the periphery; some that will make it to the list, others that won’t.  And then I have the dead certs.  Exquisite is a dead cert (along with two of its Orenda Books cousins).  Sublime, intense, claustrophobic and totally, totally divine.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up my copy of Exquisite.  I had heard that the story was set around two woman beginning a dangerous affair.  In all honesty, I couldn’t care less about it being two woman (or two men, or a man and a woman; you get the picture).  What made me uncomfortable was that I’m not one for sexy dealings and soggy romance in my books.  If there is any kind of love interest in the stories I read then I ‘tend’ to switch off a little.  I say ‘tend’ because it’s not always the case, just more often than not!  But this book….!  Sarah Stovell has written such a twisted, delicious and gripping story that I forgot I was reading about a love affair.

We meet Bo Luxton, writer and mother to two young daughters.  Bo is married (I can’t say happily as it’s more of a marriage of convenience) and teaches the odd writing course.  There she meets young, outgoing wannabe, Alice at a writers retreat.  A bond is formed, which blooms into a mentor and mentee arrangement, quickly followed by a wonderfully supportive friendship.  Bo and Alice email each other daily and before long, their friendship grows into something else.  Or does it…?

If you buy only one book this week, this month, this year…make it this one.  Sarah Stovell has created a magnificent and perfectly crafted piece of fiction which sucked me in, chewed me up and spat me out.  And I LOVED it.  Regular readers may be aware that I’m not the fastest reader in the blogosphere but this book, I couldn’t put down.  I started reading at 4pm on the Sunday and was finished by 9am on the Monday – I absolutely drank it in and I’m desperate for more.

Would I recommend this book?  If you still need that question answering then you must have skipped to this part of the review without reading the rest!  Yes, I would recommend this book as it’s divine.  It’s the most intoxicating read since…well, I can’t think of anything to compare it to right now.  It’s so darn good that it deserves to win award, after award, after award.  Orenda Books, you’ve done it again!

Five out of five stars (more if I could)

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

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about the author2

sarah stovellSarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) #ThomasMercer @AmazonPub

Edwards_The Lucky Ones (300dpi).jpg“It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.

When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.

A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.

But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.

Happiness…and death.”

I am absolutely delighted to be closing down the blog tour for Mark Edwards’ latest release The Lucky Ones today.  I was over the moon when asked to join this blog tour as I am such a huge fan of this author’s work.  I was a part of the tour for The Devil’s Work last year which I think it’s fair to say I LOVED.  I have also reviewed Follow You Home in the very early days of damppebbles, as well reading The Magpies before blogging was a thing in my life.  If you would like to read my reviews, please click the book titles above.

The Lucky Ones had a lot to live up to, and it did a stellar job.  Another absolutely cracking thriller from the dark and dastardly mind of Mr Edwards (no offence intended, of course!).  Previous books have placed the main focus on the everyday, normal characters and the terrible things which happen to them.  So I was delighted to discover an investigative duo in the form of DI Imogen Evans and DS Emma Stockwell playing a key role in the plot of The Lucky Ones.  And what a team!  I absolutely loved these two and would heartily encourage Mark Edwards to consider a spin-off series featuring this dynamic duo!  I’d read it, lol.

One of the things I admire about Mark Edwards’s writing is that he knows how to create a character.  If you’re a regular follower of the blog then you’ll know, for me, it’s all about the character (and the plot, and the setting….).  I’m not ashamed to say that I fell head over heels for newly single dad, Ben. I felt a real warmth for struggling Ben as he tried to settle back into country life after living with his cheating wife in London for so long.  And their poor son, Ollie having to adjust to life away from his mum and friends.  The characters were very real and I invested completely in them all.

The Lucky Ones reminded me of books with a similar premise where the killer is intent on making their victims happy before they die.  However, that’s where the comparisons end as the killer in The Lucky Ones knows what they are doing is wrong.  There is no warmth there and this is not a mission of mercy, this is a completely deluded psychopath. In my usual amateur detective way I was trying to work out who the killer was but I failed this time around and I’m glad I did as it gave me that, ‘oh wow’ moment which I love.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  I would recommend all of Mark Edwards’s work, even those I haven’t read as they will all be great reads.  Yup, I’m that confident.  If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller and you haven’t read a book by Mark Edwards then you are truly missing out.  A superb talent and one of my very favourite authors.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 15th June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

EDWARDS 7 TS 28

COPYRIGHT TIM STURGESS Author Info courtesy of http://www.markedwardsauthor.com/

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Website |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Serial Killer’s Daughter by Lesley Welsh | @bookouture

serial killers daughter cover.jpg“Suzanne Tyler barely knew her father. But when she’s given a series of secret diaries and eight mysterious photographs of women from his possessions, she knows she won’t be able to rest until she knows the truth about him. 

To Suzanne’s shock, one of the photos is of her friend Sophie, who died ten years ago in an unexplained and devastating fire.

But Don only met Sophie once, on an unsettling visit he paid Suzanne just days before Sophie’s death… So why did he have a picture of her?

Unable to let Sophie’s memory alone, Suzanne begins to dig into her father’s life. What horrors is she about to unearth in his diaries? And who is it that’s out there, watching her every move?

Chilling and utterly page-turning, The Serial Killer’s Daughter is a compelling thriller, perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Rachel Abbott, and Tom Bale.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the The Serial Killer’s Daughter blog tour which I share with the very lovely Shell over at Chelle’s Book Reviews.  The Serial Killer’s Daughter is written by Lesley Welsh and was published by the mighty Bookouture on 14th June 2017.

And what a novel!  You know when you start reading a book but you ‘kind of’ know what to expect…?  Maybe a variation on the theme of judging a book by it’s cover…? (Although I have to say that I love the cover of this one and if anything, it caught my attention and made me want to read it even more.)  I was so totally, completely, absolutely wrong in my assumptions.  This book packs one heck of a punch and I really enjoyed it, a lot more than I initially thought I would.

Don Tyler, Suzanne’s estranged father, is probably one of the most evil, manipulative and sinister characters I have ever met (in a fictional sense of course).  The classic horror/noir novel, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is mentioned within the plot but I was drawing similarities between Don and Patrick Bateman waaay before then.  And if you’ve read American Psycho you may now have some idea why I was so surprised by this book!  The plot does contain some pretty hefty sexual content (which I do like to avoid reading about….normally) but it worked and was key to the storyline.  Without certain aspects then Don, just wouldn’t be….well, Don!  I felt uncomfortable, of course, but that’s what I believe the author was trying to do.  I should add that The Serial Killer’s Daughter is by no means as graphic as American Psycho so don’t let that put you off.  But I did feel there were similarities between the two.

I liked Suzanne.  I liked how normal she was despite being the daughter of a serial killer. But my favourite character was Joan, Suzanne’s mother.  Ex-hippy now happily settled with a nice, normal, stable man but still able to control her ruthless, immoral, psychopathic beast of an ex.  Now that’s girl power, lol!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s dark, edgy and unexpected.  I love a book where the body count is high and it certainly is in this one thanks to Don’s ‘talents’.  All in all, a great read which I heartily recommend to all serial killer thriller fans.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is one novel fans of the serial killer thriller should not miss!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Serial Killer’s Daughter.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Serial Killer’s Daughter by Lesley Welsh was published in the UK by Bookouture on 14th June 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author2

lesley welsh.jpgLesley Welsh sadly passed away in April this year.  Lesley was born in Strawberry Field children’s home and raised on a notorious council estate in Liverpool. Later she moved to London where she studied English and Drama and worked as a freelance writer specialising in alternative lifestyles. Her articles appeared in CosmopolitanMarie ClaireRedBiteTime Out and many others before she established Moondance Media, a magazine publishing company. Her dark and compelling short story Mrs Webster’s Obsession was turned into a film.  Lesley moved to Spain and sadly passed away in April.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen | @OrendaBooks #VargVeum

wolves in the dark cover.jpg“PI Varg Veum fights for his reputation, his freedom and his life, when child pornography is found on his computer and he is arrested and jailed. Worse still, his memory is a blank…

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.

When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material… and who is seeking the ultimate revenge.

When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet.

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Wolves in the Dark blog tour alongside the lovely Caroline over at Bits About Books.  Wolves in the Dark is the latest in this thrilling series which author, Gunnar Staalesen started writing 40 years ago this year.  I read and reviewed Wolves in the Dark‘s predecessor, Where Roses Never Die a year ago (almost to the day) and I absolutely loved it.  It was an easy five-star read for me and I am still recommending it to readers a year later.  If you missed that review click here for a recap.  So imagine how excited I was to hear Orenda Books was about to publish the latest instalment of the Varg Veum series.

And I was not disappointed.  For those new to this series Varg Veum is a fairly recently bereaved Private Investigator who has fallen prey to the temptations of alcohol and lust. He certainly hasn’t been living a clean life of late but is determined to get a hold of himself and get back on track.  Veum is shocked to discover the police knocking on his door in the early hours and even more aghast when he is arrested for sending and receiving child pornography.  All the evidence points to Varg having some incredibly dark and sickening past times but he knows he’s innocent.  Now all he had to do is prove that before he is charged with one of the most heinous crimes of all…

Varg Veum has such appeal for me.  I do like my main protagonists a little battered and bruised around the edges so he ticks the boxes.  I couldn’t, at the start of the novel, see how Veum was going to get himself out of the fix he was in.  After all, how can he prove he’s innocent when all of the evidence says otherwise and he’s locked in a cell!  I thought the author did an excellent job of working around this problem.  The plot flowed well and didn’t feel at all forced.  I enjoyed how many suspects Veum came up with, those looking for the ultimate revenge on our beleagured PI.  As the list grew I became even more intrigued by Veum than I was previously.  He’s certainly not one to tread lightly when on the hunt for a suspect!

I did, however feel a little confused at times as there are so many different threads within the investigation, and quite a few Norwegian names (as you would expect!).  So I ended up re-reading several sections to make sure I knew the characters and how they connected to one another.  Saying that, Staalesen is a master at what he does and, after reading Wolves in the Dark it reminded me exactly how much I want to read all of the other Veum novels (those which have been translated to English, of course!  My Norwegian is still….let’s say rusty, lol).

This is a very dark novel and not one for the faint-hearted.  If you’ve read the blurb you will know that there is mention of child abuse throughout the story but the author manages to steer clear of anything too graphic, most of the time.  There is one scene which I found upsetting, but I can’t see how else this would be dealt with as it’s key to the plot.  The scene in question is brief and referred to only a couple of times in passing throughout the remainder of book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but it’s a hard read in places due to the subject matter.  Don’t let that put you off though as Veum is an addictive character and Staalesen is a master of the thriller.  And aren’t books supposed to make us all feel a little uncomfortable at times?  I, for one, am looking forward to the next instalment and meeting up with Veum once again.  And this is a perfect opportunity to wish a very happy 40th anniversary to Gunnar Staalesen and Varg Veum, long may this excellent series continue.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Wolves in the Dark.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

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Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers.

Author Links: | Orenda Books | Website |

#BlogTour: Vile City by Jennifer Lee Thomson (@jenthom72) @caffeinenights @TAsTPublicity

Vile City Cover“DI Duncan Waddell has big problems. He’s borderline diabetic, his boss thinks he’s in the Army and the paperwork is piling up faster than the underwear at a porn shoot. The last thing he needs is the country’s biggest case to land on his lap.

Three women have gone missing in the city he’s fast coming to despise, victims of the GLASGOW GRABBER as their assailant has been dubbed by local hack and all round pain in the backside, Catriona Hastie.

Shelley Craig is the Grabber’s latest victim, snatched as she and her boyfriend took a shortcut through Glasgow city centre. And she’ll do anything to make it home.

Handling this baffling case is stressful enough without Waddell’s pal DC Stevie Campbell, who’s in a coma after being attacked by a suspect, starting to talk to him. Trouble is, only Waddell can hear him.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Vile City blog tour.  Vile City is the latest release from award-winning crime write, Jennifer Lee Thomson and was publishing by Caffeine Nights Publishing in May 2017.

I do love a dark crime novel and this is probably one of the darkest I’ve read in a while. The themes in this book certainly aren’t for the faint hearted and at times made even me, Mrs Iron Stomach, a little queasy.  DI Duncan Waddell is just perfect in my eyes.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this long-in-the-tooth, ever so slightly bumbling detective and his new overly keen DC, Brian McKeith.  What I didn’t really get, and I think this is just me, is why DC Stevie Campbell is such a big part of the setup.  I mean, the series is titled ‘Detective in a Coma’.  The detective in the coma is DC Stevie Campbell, who until recently was DI Waddell’s right hand man but as the result of a bottling is now comatose in the local hospital.  Had Waddell experienced some brilliant insight whilst sitting with his comatose colleague, or in the moments when Waddell thinks Stevie is conscious, had he shared his thoughts which then led to the case being solved, I could have seen more of a connection.  But Stevie doesn’t offer any brilliant insights and Waddell doesn’t have any case changing ideas whilst sitting with Stevie.  Maybe there is more to come, maybe it’s just me.

There is a lot going on in this book and at times I did lose the thread a little.  There are many steps in the plot and some aspects felt they were there only to move the story along.  For example, Shelley Craig’s kidnap felt the first stepping stone albeit a rather large one.  Once this aspect of the case had been investigated, it wasn’t really mentioned or referred to again.  I don’t want to drop any spoilers here but I’m still not sure what the outcome was with the other two kidnapped woman.  Maybe all will become clear in the second book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I really enjoyed Thomson’s investigative team, led by Waddell and featuring the ever so slightly annoying, McKeith.  I would be quite happy for Waddell to keep sleuthing alongside McKeith rather than bringing a conscious Stevie Campbell to the story, as they make an interesting pair and one I really warmed to (even though they didn’t really warm to each other!).  I also liked how wonderfully Scottish this novel is. Great story but I did feel a little dizzy in places.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review Vile City.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Vile City by Jennifer Lee Thomson was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 11th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

JAuthor Pic J Thomsonennifer Lee Thomson is an award-winning crime writer who has been scribbling away all her life. She also writes non-fiction as Jennifer Thomson and fiction as Jenny Thomson.

This is her first book as Jennifer Lee Thomson in tribute to her late father who passed away after a long battle with cancer. Books 2 and 3 in the series are already written and she’s working on book 4.

Jennifer is an animal rights and human rights advocate and has a rescue dog.

She also writes the Crime File series of books as Jenny Thomson. Book 1, 2 and 3, are out now. They are in order, Hell to Pay, Throwaways and Don’t Come For Me and feature tough rape survivor Nancy Kerr and her ex-Special Forces boyfriend who fight crime together.

In her spare time, she plans how to survive the zombie apocalypse.

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: One to Watch by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) @emmamitchellfpr

One to Watch Cover LARGE EBOOK2“Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.

Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the One to Watch blog tour.  My blog tour buddy today is the very lovely Dee of Novel Deelights, if you haven’t given Dee’s blog a follow yet then I recommend you do as it’s pretty darn awesome.

One to Watch is the third book in the Detective Kay Hunter series, written by author Rachel Amphlett.  Having read the first two books quite recently, I was excited to read this third instalment ASAP.  If you missed my reviews of the first two books, or would just like a reminder then please click here for book one, Scared to Death and here for the second book, Will to Live. I hope regular visitors to the blog will be as impressed as I am that I have managed to read the first three books in this series IN ORDER!  It’s one of those rare, ‘once in a blue moon’ occurrences that requires a little self congratulatory pat on the back. Or is it just me that thinks that, lol!

It was a pleasure to read about DS Kay Hunter and her team once again.  For those new to this series I’m sure I’m not dropping any spoilers if I mention that someone within the force is trying to discredit our Kay.  I was looking forward to seeing whether the author would expand a little more, give us a few more juicy tidbits and oh my, I was so shocked when she did! What a brilliant development and I can’t wait to see where the author takes this sub-plot in book four.  It gave me goosebumps.

Sixteen year old Sophie Whittaker is found dead at her engagement party and shortly after taking a purity pledge.  Until that point everyone was having a jolly good time so when DS Kay Hunter arrives on the scene at the request of her DI, Devon Sharp she’s met with a rowdy, drunken upper class rabble.  After all, Sophie was the daughter of Lady Asquith of Crossways Hall.  DS Hunter and her team are tasked with finding Sophie’s killer but how will they fare when the truth is readily brushed under the carpet because appearances, for Lady Asquith, are EVERYTHING!

I found the main storyline compelling and struggled to work out ‘whodunit’.  There was one small clue which ‘kind of’ gave the game away for me but I wasn’t 100% sure until I had read the very last paragraph.  I felt slightly uncomfortable at times due to the purity pledge taken by Sophie, and that is the one thing DC Carys Miles and I will ever agree on! Despite other reviewers really liking Carys, I’m afraid I just can’t warm to her.  I did however love her anger and frustration at what feels like an outdated promise made by young woman to stay chaste until her wedding day.  The pledge itself really bothered me and got under my skin. Well done Rachel Amphlett, grr.

Anyway, moving swiftly on.  I don’t remember many mentions of Kay Hunter’s DI in previous books.  He features quite heavily in One to Watch and I really liked him.  He comes across as one of the good guys and Kay’s respect for Sharp made me like him even more.  I’m still a fan of DC Ian Barnes (much more than DC Miles, #TeamBarnes) and by the end of the book I liked him even more.  Amphlett has created such a strong cast of characters and even if you don’t like them all, they all work well together.  What more could the reader ask for?

Would I recommend this book?  I would but I would suggest starting with Scared to Death and then Will to Live before moving onto One to Watch.  It’s a great read and I really enjoyed it but it’s going to take a lot to move Will to Live from the top spot, my favourite in this series so far. I read my copy of One to Watch in two short days as it was a hard one to put down.

Four stars out of five.

One to Watch by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK on 6th June 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon purchase links will be posted on publication day | Goodreads |

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AuthorRachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter crime thriller series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014.

An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Body Breaker by Mike Craven (@MWCravenUK) @caffeinenights

13932097_1782579222021581_758646725_o.jpg“Investigating a severed hand found on the 3rd green of a Cumbrian golf course was not how Detective Inspector Avison Fluke had planned to spend his Saturday. So when a secretive unit from London swoop in quoting national security, he’s secretly pleased.

But trouble is never far away. A young woman arrives at his lakeside cabin with a cryptic message: a code known to only a handful of people and it forces Fluke back into the investigation he’s just been barred from.

In a case that will change his life forever, Fluke immerses himself in a world of new age travellers, corrupt cops and domestic extremists. Before long he’s alienated his entire team, made a pact with the devil and been arrested under the terrorism act.

But Fluke is only getting started. A voice has called out to him from beyond the grave and he has no intention of ignoring it.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Body Breaker blog tour which I share with the very lovely Jo over at lifeofcri.me.  Body Breaker is the second novel in the DI Avison Fluke series and was published by Caffeine Nights on 25th May 2017.

I am in love.  It’s that simple.  There are a small number of bloggers whose opinion I completely trust.  They only have to mention an author or their books and I’m signing into Amazon! Mike Craven’s books fall into that category.  I’ve had the first book in the series, Born in a Burial Gown on the TBR for a while now and have been desperate to read it.  So when the opportunity to feature on the Body Breaker blog tour arose, I jumped at the chance.

I absolutely fell in love with DI Avison Fluke.  But it wasn’t just our leading man, it was every member of his team as well.  For me, as an avid crime reader, someone who tends to read a lot of police procedurals, this book really grabbed my attention.  That was partly due to a cracking plot and partly due to probably the best investigative team I’ve had the pleasure of reading about.  Not since Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne have I been this excited and, let’s be honest here, this smitten with a detective.

Something else that was a little different; even though this is the second book in the series (there are 2.5 by the way, two full novels and a novella) I didn’t feel as though I was missing out by not having read the first book.  I find you tend to be left wondering about certain occurrences, things happen and you’re not sure if it relates to something from earlier in the series, almost like you’re always missing…something.   I didn’t feel that at all whilst reading Body Breaker.  It’s the best ‘part of a series standalone’ I’ve read! Saying that, I will be doing all I can to squeeze Born in a Burial Gown into my reading schedule very very soon.

DI Fluke and his second in command, DS Towler are both ex-military.  And despite not serving together, these boys have a strong history together.  As well as the type of friendship where the other would happily die to save his mate.  I loved their relationship as not only was it hilarious in places it brought a warmth to the story.  Each character is unique, each character had their moment to prove their worth to the investigation and I loved it.

What starts out as the discovery of a severed hand on a golf course turns into so much more.  This book took me places I didn’t expect, gave me reading material that was quite different to my normal choices and kept me gripped from the very start to the very end. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough but I also wanted the story to last much longer than its 320 pages!

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would.  I’m excited to have discovered Avison Fluke and his team.  The author is currently working on a new series and I desperately hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of Fluke for a while (although I am very much looking forward to meeting Washington Poe!).  It’s a thrilling, heart pounding novel which gave me much more than I initially expected.  If I can’t convince you, I’ll hand over to (a very intimidating looking) Mike Craven.  I found this YouTube video online and had to share it with you.

Five out of five stars.

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

Body Breaker by Mike Craven was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 25th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Although he was born in Cumbria, Mike Craven grew up in the North East before running away to join the army as soon as he was sixteen. After training as an armourer for two and a half years (that’s an army gunsmith to you and I), he spent the next ten travelling the world having fun. In 1995 he left the army, and after a brief flirtation with close protection and bodyguarding, decided on a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. In 1999 he joined Cumbria Probation Service as a probation officer, working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later, he took the plunge and accepted redundancy to concentrate on writing full-time, and now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

Mike’s first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and was published on 11th June 2015 by Caffeine Nights. Also available is his award winning collection of short stories featuring Fluke and his colleagues from the Cumbrian Force Major Incident Team, Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything. Body Breaker, the hotly anticipated follow up to Born in a Burial Gown, is out on May 25th.

In March 2017, Mike signed a two book contract with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable, for his new series starring the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe, an expert in serial killers and seemingly motiveless crimes. The first Poe book – as yet untitled – will be published in hardback in spring 2018.

Between leaving the army and securing his first publishing deal, Mike found time to keep a pet crocodile, breed snakes, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne, where he tries to leave the house as little as possible. Mike is also one third of Crime Ink-Corporated, a trio of northern writers who take writing out for the community and host events such as England’s first Noir at the Bar.

Mike’s first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. He is a member of both the Crime Writers’ Association and the International Thriller Writers’ Association.

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Lies Within by Jane Isaac (@JaneIsaacAuthor) @Legend_Press

9781785079276.jpeg“Be under no illusions by her kind face and eloquent manner… This woman is guilty of murder.

Grace Daniels is distraught after her daughter’s body is found in a Leicestershire country lane. With her family falling apart and the investigation going nowhere, Grace’s only solace is the re-emergence of Faye, an old friend who seems to understand her loss.

DI Will Jackman delves into the case, until a family tragedy and a figure from his past threaten to derail him.

When the police discover another victim, the spotlight falls on Grace. Can Jackman find the killer, before she is convicted of a crime she didn’t commit?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Lies Within blog tour.  The Lies Within is the third book in the DI Will Jackman series written by Jane Isaac and was published by Legend Press on 2nd May 2017.  I have read the second book in the series, Beneath the Ashes which I really enjoyed.  If you missed my review of the wonderful Beneath the Ashes then please click here.

The opening chapter takes you right to the heart of the story.  You’re immediately thrown into a courtroom scene where Grace Daniels, a mother and wife is on trial for murder.  “Be under no illusions by her kind face and eloquent manner… This woman is guilty of murder”.  My curiosity was immediately piqued.  Grace came across as a normal, everyday person – not a psychopath (not that psychopaths are normally easy to spot, this I have learnt from being an avid crime reader!).

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.  The main body of the book is pre-trial. It beautifully drip feeds the reader, giving them brief glimpses into how a perfectly pleasant, non-threatening mother could be on the stand for murder.  Grace is a woman with secrets.  She chooses to keep certain parts of her life hidden, from her friends and most definitely from her family.  Then one day a possible link to that past rears its hideous head.  Grace’s daughter, Jo is sexually assaulted, her body dumped by the side of the road.  Grace is distraught and begins to shut those she loves out.  On a rare trip outside of the house, a chance encounter with an old school friend proves the lifeline Grace needs.  Despite Grace and Faye being in different years at school, a strong friendship is formed.  Grace confides in Faye, invites her to stay in her home when work is being carried out to the boiler, the pair become inseparable to the detriment of everyone else.

But then a second body is discovered and Grace is the main suspect.  All of the evidence points to Grace being the killer.  Now all she has to do is prove she didn’t do it.

I loved spending time with DI Will Jackman again, and what a case he finds himself in the middle of.  This time he’s investigating cold cases in Leicestershire rather than his hometown of Stratford upon Avon and I really enjoyed that change of scene.  Particularly when Jackman is re-introduced to beautiful Camela Hanson.  There was a significant amount of chemistry between the two of them in Beneath the Ashes so I was pleased to see the sparks still flying in The Lies Within.  For those not familiar with DI Jackman and his circumstances he is a married man but Alice, his wife, was involved in an accident which has left her suffering from Locked-In Syndrome.  I truly love Jackman’s devotion to his wife but I also like the friction Camela Hanson brings to the story.  I guess I feel quite torn when it comes to Will Jackman and his ladies, ha!

The last one-third or so of this book made it for me.  I absolutely loved the courtroom scenes.  Legal thrillers are normally something I shy away from but having read this exciting, thrilling court-based ending it’s something I will definitely rethink.  I felt as though the investigation into Jo’s murder was only the warm-act for this superb final flourish.  Don’t get me wrong here, I really enjoyed the investigation but oh my, that final third.  I was 100% convinced that Grace was innocent….most of the time.  I probably changed my mind every paragraph or so whilst reading!  And I loved that doubt.  I have so much respect for authors anyway, but if they can make me question a character once I’ve made my mind up, then count me as a fan and destined to buy every future release.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  And even though it’s the third book in the series, I believe The Lies Within can be read as a standalone (although why would you when there are fabulous prequels available!).  A thoroughly enjoyable read and I can’t wait for more DI Will Jackman (and I have my fingers crossed that the next book will feature Carmen Hanson too).

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Lies Within by Jane Isaac was published in the UK by Legend Press on 2nd May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

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Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-thriller.com and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014’.

In 2015 Jane embarked on a new series, featuring DI Will Jackman and set in Stratford upon Avon, with Before It’s Too Late. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes, will be published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016 with the 3rd, The Lies Within, to follow on 2nd May 2017.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson (@JoGustawsson) @OrendaBooks

block 46 cover.jpg“Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Block 46 blog tour today.  Block 46 is written by French author Johana Gustawsson and was published in the UK in paperback format on 15th May 2017 by Orenda Books.

This is one of those books which has been receiving a lot of attention from fellow bloggers and reviewers.  And rightly so!  Block 46 had a very different feel to many of the other crime thrillers I’ve read of late.  The  fact the novel is based on true events brings a brand new level of horror and makes the reading experience that little bit more uncomfortable.  Just as it should be when we’re talking about the atrocities committed by the Nazi’s in the Second World War.  You may have read reviews where the fairly graphic violence is highlighted.  Well, yes, it is violent.  But Gustawsson couldn’t have told this story any other way.  To have played certain scenes down would have removed the the impact of Block 46.  This is a book where graphic violence is necessary and sadly, true to the story.

I found Alexis Castells and Emily Roy a very different but fascinating investigative team. Castells is a true crime writer, originally from France but now based in London.  Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police.  I really liked Emily Roy.  She’s precise, straight to the point and the investigation receives 100% of her attention.  There was one point, towards the end of the book, where I realised exactly how much I liked Emily Roy.  It was a real heartwarming moment which I hope the author expands on in the second book (there has to be a back story there, surely!).

Would I recommend this book?  I would, but prepare yourself for what is a very tough read in places.  It’s a dark, unsettling, harrowing novel that will make you stop and think. It certainly had that effect on me.  I loved the twist and would read another novel by Gustawsson in a heartbeat.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Block 46.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th May 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Author bio from orendabooks.co.uk

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |