#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mother by S.E.Lynes (@SELynesAuthor) @bookouture

Mother-Kindle.jpeg“How far would you go for the perfect family?

When Christopher Harris climbs into his family’s dusty attic, he finds a battered old suitcase containing a letter. Inside the letter is a secret; a secret about his mother that changes everything. 

Every mother loves their child. Every child deserves to be loved. But Christopher has grown up so lonely it hurts. 

Finally, Christopher thinks he has a chance at happiness. A happiness he will do anything to protect, whatever the cost…

An unputdownable thriller about the lies we tell and the secrets we keep, Mother will hold you breathless until the very last page and leave you reeling. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Apple Tree Yard.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn, and the final stop, on the Mother blog tour.  Mother is the brand new psychological thriller from one of my favourite authors, S.E. Lynes.  I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Susie’s debut, Valentina.  So much so, I encouraged my own mum who is brand new to the psychological thriller genre to read it.  Needless to say, she loved it!  It also featured highly on my ‘top books of the year’ list in 2016.  If you would like a recap or if you missed it the first time, check out my review of Valentina HERE.

This is S.E. Lynes first release with Bookouture.  It is also one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year.  No pressure, huh?!  I can’t deny, my expectations were high.  I felt nervous, excited and a little apprehensive as I started to read the first page on my Kindle.  The prologue is wonderfully violent and immediately appealed to my darker side.  However, from there the story takes a more sedate turn.  The writing, as I would expect from S.E. Lynes, is excellent.  I just wanted something more to happen.  I’ll lay my cards on the table as I’m one for 100% honesty in reviews, I really struggled with the first half of this book.  Not all psychological thrillers are a thrill-a-minute joyride, I understand that.  I have enjoyed the slow build to a shocking conclusion.  I have enjoyed a particular character’s torment as their impending comeuppance looms with sharp fangs in the shadows.  I just didn’t get that with the first half of Mother.  Something, for me, was missing in that first half.  However, the second half was a different story altogether, I absolutely loved the second half of this book.

The reader is introduced to a young man by the name of Christopher Harris.  Christopher finds out by chance that he is adopted.  Something he has secretly known for many years.  After all, he doesn’t ‘fit’ with his family.  The discovery is made just as departs his Morecambe home for Leeds University.  Turning his back on his parents, Margaret and Jack, and their reserved way of life, he heads out into the big wide world with one mission; to find his birth mother.  Christopher is a restrained chap so follows the correct procedures in his search, an emotionally charged search which leads him to Liverpool and to the arms of Phyllis, the mother he’s always wanted.  Christopher is a new man.  He dresses differently, he behaves differently, his life is finally what he has always wanted it to be.  But when someone threatens his perfect life, Christopher needs to act.  How far will he go to make sure his life remains perfect…?

Christopher doesn’t tell his own story which I thought was an interesting way for the author to tell his tale.  The detective in me spent most of the first half trying to work out who the narrator was and I’m pleased to say I got it right fairly early on (but then convinced myself otherwise as the story progressed!).  I found the relationship between Christopher and his birth mother, Phyllis, a little odd.  Actually, scrap that, it was uncomfortably intense which is why I think I struggled to connect with any of the characters in Mother.  I desperately want to talk about the second half of the book but fear in doing so I’ll be dropping spoilers left, right and centre.  So I’ll just say the last half of the book is deliciously dark and quite surprising.

Would I recommend this book?  I love Lynes’s writing and I would pick up another book by the author in less than a heartbeat.  However, I did find the first half quite slow but I’m so glad I persevered as the last half is really rather wonderful.  Christopher’s story took a little too long to get going for me.  But that’s just me, you may have a totally different experience.  I would recommend this book but with a caveat, that being the first half may not grab you as would hope.  Stick with it, it’s worth it.

Four stars out of five.

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

Mother by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 22nd November 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

S E Lynes Author Photo.pngAfter graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington. Her first novel, Valentina, published by Blackbird Digital Books, came out in July 2016. Her follow up novel, Mother, is published by Bookouture.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook |

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#BlogTour: We Have Lost The Chihuahuas by @QuiteFunnyGuy @WeHaveLostBooks | @emmamitchellfpr

WHLTChihuahuas_cover_small (2).jpg“London, 2046. The British Republic has a new First Lady. She’s Californian, ‘in-your-face, for sure’ and she’s got big plans for a Buckingham Palace refurb. When her three Chihuahuas go missing, one man is determined to avoid getting dragged into it all. His name is Pond. Howie Pond – presidential spokesperson, retired secret agent and cat lover.

Meanwhile, Howie’s wife Britt is handed her first assignment as a National Security and Intelligence Service rookie – to solve the mystery of the missing canine trio.

Will Howie manage to slope off to the pub before he can be roped into help? Will Britt unmask the dognapper and grab the glory? Find out, in the latest, crazy comedy-thriller from dog-loving British author Paul Mathews.”

I am delighted to be kicking off the We Have Lost the Chihuahuas blog tour alongside the fabulous Rae Reads and Bits About Books.  We Have Lost the Chihuahuas is book four in author Paul Mathew’s comedy thriller series ‘We Have Lost..’ and is published on 28th November 2017.

Today, I have an extract from the book to whet your appetite. So without further ado, grab a cuppa and have a read…

When it came to household pets, Howie had always been more of a cat-type of guy than a dog lover. And, as he stood shivering in the cold January air of London’s St James’ Park, watching a Chihuahua sinking his teeth into his chief press officer’s right ankle, he was pretty sure his views on the subject wouldn’t be changing any time soon.

‘Argh! Get off me, you four-legged eejit!’ screamed Conor O’Brean, yanking the dog’s lead so hard, it lifted off the ground and flew a metre in the air before rejoining terra firma.

Rather than risk his own ankles, Howie decided to beat a strategic retreat in the way that battlefield generals often did when things weren’t quite going to plan. He had full confidence in the Irishman under his command. Howie would allow Conor to regain control of the situation without a superior officer such as himself – who had no experience of hand-to-hand Chihuahua combat – getting in the way of the human-canine skirmish.

Once Howie was safely out of the line of fire, he noticed the other two dogs had also retreated. This clearly wasn’t the first time they’d seen their pack mate in full battle-mode.

‘Behave yourself, Donnie!’ yelled Conor, as he started to become entangled in the dogs’ leads.

The angry animal snarled with a ferocity that sent every bird within a fifty-metre radius fleeing for the treetops.

Conor upped the volume. ‘I mean it! Stop this nonsense or I’ll tell your mammy you’ve been a bad boy.’

Donnie stopped snarling and cocked an ear, as if daring Conor to repeat the threat.

‘I’m serious! I’ll tell your mammy and your pappy, too. And he’s the president, remember. You don’t want to get the wrong side of him, do you now? Or he’ll have you sent back to America.’

Donnie lowered his head slowly, flopped his tail between his legs in apparent surrender, and slunk up to Conor.

‘There’s a good little fella.’ Conor glanced at Howie. ‘I knew a bit of old-fashioned Irish diplomacy would make him see sense.’

Howie noticed the other two Chihuahuas were still keeping their distance, so he followed their example.

Conor reached down and patted the defeated dog on the head. ‘Peace has been restored to the fair land of Westminster. Hostilities have officially ceased. The battle of St James’ Park has been fought – and won – and shall never be forgotten by those who risked their lives so that three dogs could stretch their legs and empty their tanks.’

Howie made a mock salute. ‘We will never forget your sacrifice, Private O’Brean. I’ll be recommending you for a President’s gallantry award.’

Conor stared into Donnie’s chocolate-brown eyes. ‘We, who were once enemies … are now brothers in arms.’

Without warning, Donnie launched a counter attack and bit Conor’s right thumb, making him scream so loudly Howie had to pretend for half a minute they didn’t know each other.

The angry mutt then charged towards Conor’s left ankle. But the Irishman managed to block the advance with the sole of his boot. Amid all the conflict, the other two Chihuahuas sat shivering on the edge of the path watching their canine comrade – possibly also trying to pretend they didn’t know him.

‘Donnie, sit!’ shouted Howie from the safety of the grass verge – which was now doubling as an impromptu war room.

The dog froze – as if stunned that another human would be stupid enough to enter the fray. Once it got over the shock, it locked a wide-eyed stare onto Howie and raised its top lip to display an impressive arsenal of jagged yellow teeth. This dog was clearly a combat veteran.

We Have Lost the Chihuahuas by Paul Mathews will be published in the UK on Tuesday 28th November 2017 and will be available in eBook format.  If you would like to pre-order this fun-filled furry caper then please click HERE (amazon.co.uk link).

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41lkaQvyNGL._SY200_.jpgPaul Mathews is a quite funny British guy who’s managed to escape his day job and is currently on the run as a comedy novelist. His sharp, satirical – often surreal – sense of humour draws on 20 years as a British Government press officer, during which time he encountered politicians, senior civil servants, HR managers, and lots of other people who really sucked at their jobs.

His popular ‘We Have Lost’ comedy-thriller series set in 2040s London, starring beleaguered presidential spokesman and wannabe secret agent Howie Pond, currently comprises four titles with more on the way. Paul has read all the books at least ten times and highly recommends them.

Make him happy by signing up for his ‘Very Funny Newsletter’ here: www.quitefunnyguy.com/newsletter. If you don’t want to sign up for it, stay calm and do nothing.

Paul also owns a cat, Lulu, who works as his assistant. All fan mail to her, please.

Author Links:Twitter |Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories edited by @medwardsbooks @the_cwa @OrendaBooks

CWA_Cover_Image.jpg“Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour blog tour.  When an email arrived in my inbox headed ‘CWA Anthology blog tour’, well, my heart skipped a beat.  It’s the kind of invitation that this little crime blogger was made for.  I didn’t hesitate in replying with a big, fat ‘YES PLEASE’.  I just had to be a part of this tour.

I am a fan of short story collections and anthologies.  I enjoy the variety, the way the author has to make their point in a significantly reduced number of words and still make it interesting and believable.  I love that anthologies give the reader the opportunity to dip in and out as they choose.  In particular, I love THIS collection of worldly crime stories.  So much so that I would go as far as saying this is the best collection I have read for some time.

When it comes to reviewing an anthology I’m always in two minds.  Do I review each story individually or the book as a whole?  I normally end up reviewing the book rather than the individual works, after all, who wants to read a 2500 word book review?!  I’m going to stick to form and review the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour as a whole.  However, I would like to say that it would be very easy to review each story individually.  In other collections, I have tended to find one or two stories where I wouldn’t know what to say.  That would not be the case with the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour, which is truly a magnificent collection of crime fiction.

Editor and contributor, Martin Edwards, introduces the book to the reader explaining how the participating writers were given the Mystery Tour theme with many interesting and different interpretations.  Then we are thrown head first into the first offering, written by Ann Cleeves and titled ‘The Queen of Mystery’.  I loved this story and thought it was a chilling yet elegant way to start the collection.  It made me want to read more, I wanted to know whether the high standard shown by Cleeves could be backed up by her fellow contributing writers.  And it could, it was.

If I listed every story I enjoyed then I would be basically giving you the contents page!  And I’m sure you don’t need me to do that.  ‘Accounting for Murder’ by Christine Poulson demonstrated a very different way of telling a crime story which I found incredibly interesting.  At points, I wondered how the tale was going to be tied up but it was done well and felt strangely satisfying.  My absolute favourite story in the entire book was written by William Ryan and is titled ‘The Spoils‘.  The tale of a woman wronged and how deadly that can be – absolutely marvellous!

One of the other benefits of reading an anthology, and I find this quite often in the crime genre, is that writers who produce a series tend to include a short story featuring their main character.  I was delighted to meet Ed James’s Detective Scott Cullen for the first time in ‘Travel is Dangerous’, having wanted to read James’s work for some time now.  The same with Vaseem Khan’s Inspector Chopra in ‘Bombay Brigadoon’.  Not only are these short stories very satisfying for existing fans but they work as excellent taster pieces for new readers.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  I could go on for hours telling you about the cleverly crafted tales, about the obvious love and devotion the writers have for their craft.  I could include how much I, personally, appreciate crime writers and want to thank each and every one of them for the hours of enjoyment they give us readers (me!).  I could, but I won’t today because I’ve gone on long enough already!  Maybe I’ll save that for another time.

I love international crime so this was pretty much the perfect read for me.  Chock-full of GREAT stories, written by some remarkably talented people and the perfect Christmas gift for the crime fiction fan in your life.  This is a must-read book.  Don’t miss out!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for asking me to join the tour and providing me with a review copy.

CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th November 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hell to Pay by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) @EmmaMitchellFPR #H2P

Hell to Pay Cover MEDIUM WEB“When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter’s investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiralling out of control, Kay’s determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.

Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

Could Kay’s need for revenge be her undoing, or will she survive to see justice served?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you today to my stop on the Hell To Pay blog tour.  Hell To Pay is the fourth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series written by talented author, Rachel Amphlett and it’s a cracking series for established as well as brand new fans of the crime genre.  I have had the joy of reading the first three books in the series (and in order, and that’s an achievement for me in itself!) so if you missed them the first time around, or would just like a refresher then please click the following titles to read my reviews; #1 Scared To Death#2 Will To Live and #3 One To Watch.

Hell To Pay opens with Detective Hunter being called to a car accident in the dead of night.  What appears to be a fairly easy to explain incident turns a lot darker when the corpse of a young woman is found in the boot of the car.  The driver is unconscious and barely alive.  What Kay doesn’t realise is that she has moved one step closer to the man who has been making her life a misery for some time.  Regular readers of the series will be aware that Kay Hunter has been suffering from issues at home and work since the evidence in a major case she was involved with went missing.  Having been investigated by Professional Standards and miscarrying her daughter as a result, Kay is on a mission to discover who is out to destroy her.  What she discovers defies evil and could well be the death of her…

I love this series and always look forward to reading the next instalment.  I hope Amphlett continues to write about her beleaguered Detective Hunter for some time to come as they’re the sort of books a reader can lose themselves in for hours on end.  The shocking first chapter had me hooked and I was intrigued as to who the mysterious, murderous driver of the car was.  I then realised that the culprit was already in custody meaning a large percentage of the investigation was pretty much wrapped up, so I started to wonder where the author would take the rest of the story.  And that’s where things started to take a much slower pace for me.  I love this series and I will always recommend it to crime fans, but I was wanting something more to happen.  Which is probably one of the strangest things I have ever said as there is so much going on in Hell To Pay, all manner of evil and deviant deeds being carried out.  But weirdly, this time around, it just wasn’t enough to satisfy me as a reader.

The author has successfully managed to introduce her cast of characters to any new readers picking up Hell To Pay as their first Detective Hunter read.  I was thrilled to see the return of Adam, Kay’s rather gorgeous other-half, return to the pages but was disappointed when he headed north of the border for a conference, for the majority of the book.  Adam is such an essential part of Kay’s life and he keeps her grounded.  He was missed.

Would I recommend this book?  I would recommend this series 100%!  The book ends with an explosive and shocking cliffhanger, and I cannot wait to see how the situation plays out in book five.  It’s not my favourite in the series and this time around I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped, but that’s just me.  There are MANY other readers out there who had a very different reading experience to mine.  Make sure you check out Ellen’s review over at Bibliophile Book ClubMeggy’s review over at Chocolate’n’Waffles blog and Amy’s review over at NovelGosssip.  That’s just a small selection of the love for this book, author and series.  I’m just an old grump!

Three and a half stars out of five (rounded up to four stars)

I chose to read and review an eARC of Hell To Pay.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.   My thanks to Emma and the author for asking me to be on the blog tour.

Hell To Pay by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK Saxon Publishing on 16th November 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | 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 |

 

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne @Abigail_Author @BloodhoundBook

Abigail Osborne - The Puppet Master_cover_high res.jpg“Billie is hiding from the world in fear of a man who nearly destroyed her. But a chance meeting with budding journalist, Adam, sparks a relationship that could free her from her life of isolation and fear.

Unbeknown to Billie, Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives he believes she has ruined.

But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him. As an unwanted attraction blossoms between them, Adam comes to realise that all is not as it seems.

Who is really pulling the strings? And are Adam and Billie both being played?

One thing is for sure, The Master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on The Puppet Master blog blitz which I share with six other awesome bloggers.  The Puppet Master is author Abigail Osborne’s debut novel and was published in eBook by Bloodhound Books on 13th November 2017, having previously been self-published last year.

The Puppet Master is a rather twisted love story which I enjoyed but found hard going at times due to the disturbing themes within.  Billie’s tormentor is by far the nastiest piece of work in this book.  I was, however, flooded with emotion at points thanks to Billie’s hideous mother and her negligent treatment of her tween-age daughter.  Regular readers of the blog will know that deeply flawed and negligent parents really get my goat and Billie’s mother is a prime example of the type of character who makes my blood boil.

We first meet grown-up Billie as she lives out her isolated existence in Worcester.  Billie hides.  That’s it.  She hides from everyone, from everything, she hides from life which happens around her and to other people.  A chance encounter in the local bookshop cafe sends her spinning when she unwittingly meets journalist Adam.  Adam shows a keen interest in Billie when others easily ignore her.  Billie struggles to understand why he would want to talk her so she does the only thing she knows how to do in that situation and that’s run.  But Adam appears to be her knight in shining armour.  When she is set upon by a group of teenagers, Adam strides to the rescue (minus one shoe!).  From there, their relationship slowly blossoms.  But both Billie and Adam have secrets.  Billie has a traumatic past which she wants to keep hidden, but Adam has the biggest secret of all….

I was both fascinated and appalled watching Billie and Adam’s relationship grow.  The levels of manipulation within this book are something else altogether!  I wanted desperately to like Billie but found it really hard to do so.  I felt sympathy for her, I wanted her to be safe and free from fear but I couldn’t warm to her in the way I wanted to.  Adam was probably my preferred character in the novel but it is quite normal for me to like the darker characters, the more mysterious personalities, often the bad guys.

The story starts in the present, moves back in time to the late ’90s/early ’00s for part two and returns to the present day for the final section.  Part two, which features the flashback scenes, was hard to read with some disturbing scenes and acts alluded to.  I loved the menace in part three; the simmering danger imposed by one particular character.  I enjoyed the third section purely because the threat was more violent than anything else and that (weirdly) sits better with me than any other threat.  Part three (the conclusion, the reveal) was my favourite part of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I take my hat off to Abigail Osborne as this must have been a really tough book to write.  Plus, it’s her debut which makes it even more astounding as it’s a subject many would steer clear of, even after writing for many, many years.  Osborne is an intriguing new voice in the psychological thriller world and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read an eARC of The Puppet Master.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for asking me to join the tour and for providing me with a review copy.

The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 13th November 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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downloadAbigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree and also met her husband. She is a passionate reader and has an unsustainable collection of books. This obsession with books has led to her creating her own Dewey decimal system and she has been known to issue fines to family and friends if her book is not returned on time. ‘The Puppet Master’ is Abigail’s debut novel and has unleashed a passion for writing. When not writing or reading Abigail is usually playing her violin or hiding from her much too energetic cats. She also works as a Needs Assessor for disabled university students in the West Midlands.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Killing State by Judith O’Reilly (@judithoreilly) #RandomThingsTours

KIlling State Cover Image.png“The bullet in his brain isn’t the problem.

She is.

Michael North is a hero, with a bullet in the brain to prove it. A bullet which has rewired his neural pathways and heightened his sense of intuition. A bullet which is driving him mad.

Working for an extra-governmental agency called The Board, North knows one thing for sure. He is very good at killing very bad guys.

But what happens when a hero is ordered to kill a good woman rather than a bad man? Because it turns out that rising political star, Honor Jones, MP, can’t stop asking the right questions about the wrong people.

He should follow orders. Shouldn’t he?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Killing State blog tour.  Killing State is author Judith O’Reilly’s first foray into the thriller genre having previously written two non-fiction books, Wife In The North and A Year of Doing Good.

Michael North is a war hero, a trained killer and a very intriguing character.  Despite not believing it possible during the opening chapters, I grew to be rather fond of him.  We first meet North as he is stalking his next target through a London park.  Honor Jones is the Tory MP for Mile End and has mere minutes to live.  But the tables are turned when Jones confronts her attacker, immediately questioning North about the whereabouts of her missing friend, Peggy.  North is thrown – he wasn’t comfortable with the kill in the first place – killing a man is easy, killing a woman is asking for something else altogether.  There’s something about Jones and her desperate need to find her friend, something about Jones’s traumatic upbringing which appeals to North’s better side, resulting in a decision that is likely to kill him in the long run.  That’s if the bullet in his brain doesn’t get him first!

Killing State is an action-packed, thrilling read.  I was intrigued by the prologue thinking it was going to be the same old, run-of-the-mill thriller where the dashing hired killer takes out (in a murderous way, of course!) the high flying female MP.  But it’s not.  The story took a twist I wasn’t expecting.  From then on I was transfixed with the relationship between North and Honor Jones.  She didn’t trust him, he didn’t know what to make of her and I loved that simmering chemistry between them!  By refusing to carry out an order from ‘The Board’, a secret government agency orchestrated by Lord Tarn, North signs his own death warrant as well as cementing Jones’s own demise.  The hunt is on.  Will North and Jones manage to find Peggy before The Board hunt them down and destroy them all?

The action in Killing State is full-on, it’s pretty darn intense and the levels of bloodshed are reasonably high (just the way I like my thrillers!).  This is a thoroughly enjoyable cat and mouse style thriller and at times I wasn’t sure which side was the cat and which side was the mouse!

O’Reilly’s cast of characters is something quite special.  Not only did I become quite fond of North, I also really warmed to the sassy, uber-intelligent, 14-year-old IT expert, Fangfang Yu.  As well as gutsy, hard as nails, Stella, and her flighty daughter, Jess.  They all add something noteworthy to this compelling multi-layered tale.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book in the Michael North series.  If you’re a conspiracy fan then you will love Killing State.  Intricate, explosive and action-packed.  What more could a thriller fan want?

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Killing State.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Anne Cater for asking me to feature on the blog tour and for providing me with a review copy.

Killing State by Judith O’Reilly ebook is published by Loughman Press on 6 November 2017. The paperback will be published on 15 March 2018 and will be available to buy from WH Smith Travel and Amazon.

Killing State by Judith O’Reilly was published in the UK by Loughman Press on 6th November 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Judith Author Pic (1).jpgJudith O’Reilly’s claim to fame is that one of her books was a Radio 4 Book of the Week. As far as she’s concerned that’s as good as it gets.

Judith has written three books. Her latest book is called Killing State. It’s a commercial political thriller and her first novel – at least the first one she’s allowed to leave the house without her. She likes to describe it as a Lee Child meets Robert Harris, with a young and very British action hero and compelling and dynamic female characters. She may be the only person who ever thinks that. We’ll have to see.

Judith’s a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News, and a former education correspondent with The Sunday Times where she also covered politics, undercover reporting and general news. She still writes for The Sunday Times.

Her two non-fiction books were called Wife in the North and A Year of Doing Good (both published by Viking Penguin, in 2008 and 2013 respectively). Wife in the North reached number three in the UK bestsellers’ chart and was in the top ten for five weeks. It was also a top ten bestseller in Germany. It sold into ten countries, was serialised by The Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week (has she mentioned that already?), and was based on Judith’s eponymous blog which was named as one of the top 100 blogs in the world by The Sunday Times. Judith’s blog is credited with kicking off the popularity of domestic blogging in the UK. For A Year of Doing Good, she did a good deed a day for a year. It did not make her a better person. She has taught memoir and blogging at Newcastle University and occasionally advises on strategic communications. Most of all though, she writes and drinks a lot of tea. Occasionally, she shakes things up and drinks coffee.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) @bookouture

Murder-Game-Kindle (1).jpg“A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead. 

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die… 

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one… 

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Peter James will be hooked by this dark and utterly disturbing thriller, packed with twists until the final page.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to the blog today as I am one of seven blogs kicking off the Murder Game blog blitz.  Make sure you check out these other awesome blogs taking part in day one of the tour; Novel DeelightsMy Chestnut Reading TreeNovel GossipChapter in my LifeI Love Reading and I Dig Books (And Dirt).  And the rest of the blog blitz is shaping up rather nicely, so don’t miss out! 

Murder Game is the third book in the Detective Ruby Preston series written by Caroline Mitchell and published by Bookouture.  I am such a fan of this series and have reviewed both of the previous books on damppebbles in the past (click HERE for my review of book one, Death Note and click HERE for my review of book two, Sleep Tight).  My love for Ruby and her tough guy beau, Nathan is pretty darn strong so there was no way on earth I was going to miss this latest instalment.

The first two books shine so brightly for me because they’re exactly what I enjoy reading; a delusional yet completely different serial killer in each book with a pretty consistent M.O.  The killer knows what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and they’re going to keep on doing it until Ruby and DI Downes catch them.  Perfect!  The reader is introduced to another dark and evil mind in Murder Game but this time there’s a rather sinister twist.  Convicted of six murders, named The Lonely Hearts Killer and stuck behind bars for a few more years, Ruby has the displeasure of meeting Mason Gatley.  It seems their latest offender is basing his crimes on Gatley’s from back in the day (DI Downes was a DC at the time so we’re talking a few years ago!).  I loved the tension Gatley brought to the pages of Murder Game.  What a thoroughly loathsome character but I have to confess to secretly enjoying Ruby’s stand-offs with the vile killer!

What makes this series stand out head and shoulders above others is the relationship between Detective Sergeant Ruby Preston and the love of her life, local gangster, Nathan Crosby.  The chemistry between the two characters really sparks and my reaction to them in the first book really surprised me, especially as romantic relationships don’t really work for me in crime fiction (if I wanted soppy stuff I would read romance – that’s my opinion anyway!).  I felt that chemistry was lacking a little in Murder Game.  It certainly wasn’t as full on or as intense as the first two novels and I missed it.

If I’m honest, I felt the entire Crosby family were a little absent in this latest instalment.  Murder Game focuses more on the investigation rather than the relationships between the characters.  With any other series this would have pleased me no end but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  I wanted more of Nathan’s mother and her inherent dislike of Ruby because she’s a copper.  More of Nathan’s caustic, sadistic brother, Lenny who always lends a vile edge to the story.  I really felt their absence.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  If you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller then you really must read this series because it’s incredibly special and one of my all-time favourites.  I adore Ruby Preston and I adore Mitchell’s writing.

Four out of five stars.

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

Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell was published in the UK by Bookouture on 31st October 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

IMG_6478USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family, parrot and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. Published by Bookouture and Thomas & Mercer, she now writes full time and all her books have become number 1 best sellers in their categories.

Her fast-paced DC Jennifer Knight thrillers carry a hint of the supernatural and are weaved from Caroline’s personal experiences in the police and paranormal.

Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston series is described as “terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers”.

 Caroline also writes psychological thrillers, the most recent, Witness, has been described as “thrilling, tense, exciting, dark and twisted in the best possible way”.

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

#BlogTour #BookReview: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister (@GillianMAuthor) @MichaelJBooks

Anything You Do Say (1).jpg“It’s the end of the night. You’re walking home on your own.

Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Coming fast.

You’re sure it’s him – the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave you alone.

You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor.

Now What?

Call 999
Wait for the police to arrive. For judgement, for justice,whatever that may be. You just hope you husband, family and friends, everyoneyou love, will stand by you.

OR:

Run
Stay silent. You didn’t mean to do it. You were scared, you panicked. And no one saw. No one will ever know. If you leave now. If you keep quiet. Forever.

Which is it to be?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Anything You Do Say blog tour.  Anything You Do Say is the second book written by Gillian McAllister and was published by Michael Joseph Books on 19th October 2017.

I am absolutely ashamed to admit that I haven’t (as yet!) managed to read McAllister’s debut, Everything But The Truth.  It’s another of my TBR that’s been giving me that come-hither look for a while now but thanks to my need to overindulge in blog tours it’s been left, literally ‘stood up’ on my bookshelf!  I promise, after having read the wonderful Anything You Do Say, to make it a top priority!

Anything You Do Say is quite possibly the cleverest suspense thriller I have read.  The author has managed to write two different stories (albeit with the same characters) in the one book!  Two for the price of one; what a bargain us readers are getting.  Following a night out and a frightening confrontation in a bar, Joanna heads home to husband Reuben.  Traipsing the streets of London she is suddenly aware that someone is following her.  A quick glance tells her it’s the man from the bar, the one that…. Joanna starts to panic, she knows he’s followed her so he can finish what he started.  Utterly consumed by fear and panic she lashes out at her attacker and watches as he falls, head first into a shallow puddle at the foot of the steps.  In a moment of misguided self-defence, Joanna has changed her life forever.  Now, the decision she makes will dictate the direction which her life takes.  Call the police and report the incident or run home to Reuben and pretend it never happened.  Which decision will it be…?

The reader is given a fascinating ‘Sliding Doors-esque‘ look into what happens to gentle, indecisive Joanna as she changes her life forever.  The chapters are headed either ‘coverwhere Joanna decides to run away from what she’s done and hide her crime from everyone, even her husband Reuben or ‘reveal‘, where Joanna dials 999 and has to live with the consequences of that decision.  I found it riveting reading, the differences created; the repercussions of her situation and how it affects absolutely everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) else in her life.  Throughout the reveal chapters, I could feel Joanna’s despair emanating from the pages in front of me.  During the cover chapters, I watched as the decision totally devastated a nice, normal middle-class woman bit by agonising bit.

I’m not sure I liked Joanna.  I wanted to, and I really felt for her but I don’t think we got anywhere near the ‘liking’ stage.  I found her a little too dreamy at times and wanted to give her a good shake so she’d wake up and actually face what was happening to her.  Joanna’s husband, Reuben is also quite a frustrating character.  He’s very closed off to everyone around him, apart from his wife who he adores in his own, special way.  I desperately wanted him to notice that Joanna was gradually falling apart during the cover but he was oblivious.  Despite not really liking either of the main characters I was, however, totally invested in their lives and where, whether it be cover or reveal, they were headed.

Beautifully written and heartbreaking in places; my congratulations to McAllister for the amount of intricate research she has put into this novel.  As a reader, it was incredibly obvious to me how much time and effort had gone in to making Joanna and Reuben come alive. 

Would I recommend this book? I would.  I don’t think I’ve read a suspense novel quite like this before.  It takes a little while to get your head around the fact that you are, essentially, reading two different stories about the same characters but it’s well worth it.  In a perfect world, I would have liked a more surprising conclusion but that’s just me and my personal taste!  Nothing more.  A great read with a very interesting plot which pulls you in and keeps you hooked till the end.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Anything You Do Say.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to the author and Jenny at Michael Joseph for asking me to join the blog tour.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister was published in the UK by Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House on 19th October 2017 and is available in eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in January 2018) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Gillian (1).pngGillian McAllister has been writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated with an English degree and lives in Birmingham where she now works as a lawyer. Her debut novel Everything But The Truth was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#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

#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 |