#CaseClosed: February 2017 #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Flipping heck, did anyone see where February went?  I know it’s a short month but that was taking the mickey a little!  Happy March everyone.  I’m already feeling the pressure with my monthly Case Closed posts. Started hyperventilating when I realised that I won’t have space in the damppebbles schedule until the 4th March (surely that’s too late for a summary post, isn’t it?).

I had hoped to find time to write this post yesterday and I was going to say how Spring is very obviously on it’s way here in the UK as the sun was shining and there was a feeling of change in the air.  But I ran out of time, so here I sit today staring out at the dull, grey cloud-filled sky waiting for the next downpour to hit and hoping it won’t be at school pickup time!  Oh, and I have the heating on again today as it’s freezing.  Good ol’ blighty, eh?

So what happened at damppebbles HQ in February?  Well, not a lot if I’m honest.  I read the grant total of SIX books (yes, you read that correctly…six books).  Now, I’m not a fast reader but even for me that’s appalling!  My reading mojo may be making a quick break for the door which is a bit of a shame seeing as I have a diary full of blog tours this month.

Last month I took part in 10 fantastic blog tours:

Of these five were reviews:
A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward | No Safe Home by Tara Lyons | City of Good Death by Chris Lloyd | Blink by K.L. Slater | Cursed by Thomas Enger |

And five were guest posts, extracts etc.:
Death Games by Chris Simms (extract) | The Watcher by Netta Newbound (guest post) | Sealskin by Su Bristow (guest post) | Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard (guest post) | The Follower by Koethi Zan (character spotlight) |

I also (amazingly, when you note how few books I read last month) managed to squeeze in a couple of non-blog tour reviews too!   Here they are:


Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson | Kill The Next One by Federico Axat | The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel | The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici |

There was one more book which I haven’t mentioned above as I didn’t feel I could review it positively and therefore didn’t want to include in on the blog (it’s also to blame for my not reading very much this month as it took me two weeks from start to finish!).  I have reviewed it on Goodreads though.

And of course, how could I forget the post that gave my husband a big head.  My the gift that keeps on giving post where you lovely lot said lovely things about my lovely husband and his cracking taste in books.  This is his choice for March:

The Investigation by [Lee, Jung-myung]

Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Beyond the prison walls the war rages; inside a man is found brutally murdered.

Yuichi Watanabe, a young guard with a passion for reading, is ordered to investigate. The victim, Sugiyama – also a guard – was feared and despised throughout the prison and inquiries have barely begun when a powerful inmate confesses. But Watanabe is unconvinced; and as he interrogates both the suspect and Yun Dong-ju, a talented Korean poet, he begins to realise that the fearsome guard was not all he appeared to be . . .

As Watanabe unravels Sugiyama’s final months, he begins to discover what is really going on inside this dark and violent institution, which few inmates survive: a man who will stop at nothing to dig his way to freedom; a governor whose greed knows no limits; a little girl whose kite finds her an unlikely friend. And Yun Dong-ju – the poet whose works hold such beauty they can break the hardest of hearts.

As the war moves towards its devastating close and bombs rain down upon the prison, Watanabe realises that he must find a way to protect Yun Dong-ju, no matter what it takes. This decision will lead the young guard back to the investigation – where he will discover a devastating truth . . .

At once a captivating mystery and an epic lament for lost freedom and humanity in the darkest of times, The Investigation – inspired by a true story – is a sweeping, gripping tale perfect for fans of The Shadow of the Wind.


Has anyone read it?  He’s running out of choice with regards to Japanese crime fiction (I’m sure there are thousands but they’ve not been translated!) so he’s moved onto Korean crime fiction.

Speaking of which (in a roundabout way), I’m currently looking for guest reviewers and bloggers to help reduce my #terrifyingTBR. If you or someone you know would be interested in reading one of my books and then writing a cracking review, then please be in touch (Facebook, Twitter or email).

To encourage me to read the books at the bottom of the #terrifyingTBR I’ve decided to set myself a number of monthly goals.  Goal no.1: The first one is to read at least nine books a month, otherwise all other goals fail before I’ve even started.  Goal no. 2: Each month I will read the one book which has been on my NetGalley shelf the longest (or the two books if I don’t have many blog tours (ha!)).  Goal no. 3: I will endeavour to read at least one of the books my husband has given me over the last year and a bit.  Goal no. 4: There was a goal no. 4 but I’ve deleted it and banished it from my mind (it was ‘no more books’, if you’re wondering!!).

So there we have it.  Goodbye February 2017, it was brief…and a bit cold.  Hello March, please be warmer and bring me lots of time to read (and some cracking books too…yah boo sucks to you, Goal no. 4!).

The gift that keeps on giving… #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger @cobaltdinosaur

Following on from my #CaseClosed round-up post yesterday evening and totally embarrassing my husband by announcing to the blogosphere and across social media that his Christmas present to me for the past two years has been a book a month (of his choosing), I have decided to embarrass him further! Hurrah!  I’m going to bow to public pressure (thanks FictionFan and everywhere and nowhere) and reveal the books he has purchased so far.  Now, I’m not sure in what order they were given to me but I’ve tried to put them in some sort of order.  You’ll also see why I have vowed to make sure I read more of them.

1930509_32027183827_8924_n.jpgAnyway, this is Ryan, my very gorgeous husband.  I thought it might help to see a photo of him as you all make your judgement on the books he’s bought me.  He can’t be cross with me as I’m also in the photo (and it’s a few years old so we’re both looking young and carefree!)


Anyhoo, on with the books…

This is the book Ryan gave me at Christmas 2015 along with a little note explaining that I was to receive a book a month for one year (but I enjoyed receiving my books so much that I asked for the same Christmas gift again this year…poor Ryan!).  Here’s the blurb:

loney.jpgIf it had another name, I never knew, but the locals called it the Loney – that strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time with Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest.

It was impossible to truly know the place. It changed with each influx and retreat, and the neap tides would reveal the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents. No one ever went near the water. No one apart from us, that is.

I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn’t stay hidden for ever, no matter how much I wanted it to. No matter how hard I tried to forget . . .

I read this one (and it was the first book I reviewed on damppebbles!) and gave it four stars.  Click here to read my review (and laugh at my first attempt!)


Next up came Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez.

syndrome e.jpgLucie Henebelle, single mother and beleaguered detective, has just about enough on her plate when she receives a panicked phone call from an ex-lover who has developed a rare disorder after watching an obscure film from the 1950s. With help from the brooding Inspector Franck Sharko, who is exploring the movie’s connection to five unearthed corpses at a construction site, Lucie begins to strip away the layers of what may be the most disturbing film ever made. With more lives on the line, Sharko and Lucie struggle to solve this terrifying mystery before it’s too late. In a high-stakes, adrenaline-fueled hunt that jumps from France to Canada, Egypt to Rwanda, and beyond, this astonishing page-turner, with cinematic echoes from The Manchurian Candidate and the Bourne series, will keep you guessing until the very end.

I read this one too and loved it.  I’m not sure I would mark a book down from a five to a four star read based purely on the characters indulging in romantic liaison nowadays.  It should probably have been a five star read.  Here’s my review.


Dust and Desire by Conrad Williams was another book I managed to read before interest in the blog picked up and I started to read only blog tour books feature on blog tours.

518pjzuij8l-_sx326_bo1204203200_.jpgPI Joel Sorrell is approached by the mysterious Kara Geenan, who is desperate to find her missing brother. Joel takes on the case but almost immediately, an attempt his made on his life. The body count increases. And then Kara vanishes too… as those close to Joel are sucked into his nightmare, he realizes he must track down the killer if he is to halt a grisly masterplan – even if it means sacrificing his own life.

Absolutely brilliant book and a big five stars from me.  I loved it so much that it appeared in my #TBConFB 20/20 list and my top reads of 2016.


Now we’re getting to the books that have sat, neglected on my book shelf for the past year. Starting with this one, Hidden by Emma Kavanagh.

HE’S WATCHING512ewY-V4NL._SY346_.jpg
A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman – before it’s too late.

To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety – both for her, and her young niece who’s been recently admitted. She’s heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks…


Another sadly unread book, The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore.

510gJcx7qqL.jpgDr Caleb Maddox is an expert on pain. A leading San Francisco toxicologist, he is mapping the chemical traces that show how much agony a human body can endure. But now a different kind of pain is distracting him from his life’s work – the violent break-up of his relationship with his artist girlfriend, Bridget.

Seeking solace in a secluded bar, he meets a beautiful woman who shares an absinthe with him, then disappears into the night. Instantly obsessed, he starts trawling the hidden byways of the city to try and find her. And when he does, she insists on a bizarre set of rules before he can meet her alone.

But even as he tries to lose himself in Emmeline’s darkly erotic world, Caleb finds himself inexorably drawn back to the study of pain and death. For weeks the police have been fishing corpses out of the bay, with no clue as to how they died, and Caleb’s old friend, medical examiner Henry Newcomb, asks him to decipher the chemical puzzles left in the bloated remains. Soon Caleb discovers evidence of an unspeakable horror connecting all the victims, suggesting that the city is prey to a deranged killer.

And then he discovers that one of the dead men was last seen at the same bar the night he met Emmeline. Suddenly Caleb is plunged into a nightmare where love, madness and murder are clasped in a lethal embrace – and untangling the truth could be the last thing he wants to do.


Ah ha, a book I have read!  I have a bit of a penchant for translated crime, particularly Japanese and German translated crime (you may notice this a little more further down this post).  I was on the brink of buying this book myself when hubby beat me to it.

51qghc5xadl-_sx322_bo1204203200_.jpgJapan, 1936. An old eccentric artist living with seven women has been found dead – in a room locked from the inside. His diaries reveal alchemy, astrology and a complicated plan to kill all seven women. Shortly afterwards, the plan is carried out: the women are found dismembered and buried across rural Japan.By 1979, these Tokyo Zodiac Murders have been obsessing a nation for decades, but not one of them has been solved. A mystery-obsessed illustrator and a talented astrologer set off around the country – and you follow, carrying the enigma of the Zodiac murderer through madness, missed leads and magic tricks. You have all the clues, but can you solve the mystery before they do?

Absolutely loved it! Incredibly clever, a book where you are always looking for clues.  It was a five star read for me and again, featured on all of my top read lists of the year.


Inspector Imanishi Investigates by Seicho Matsumoto is another book waiting patiently for me on the TBR.

51jx+2hf4VL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgIn the wee hours of a 1960s Tokyo morning, a dead body is found under the rails of a train, and the victim’s face is so badly damaged that police have a hard time figuring out the victim’s identity. Only two clues surface: an old man, overheard talking in a distinctive accent to a young man, and the word “kameda.” Inspector Imanishi leaves his beloved bonsai and his haiku and goes off to investigate—and runs up against a blank wall. Months pass in fruitless questioning, in following up leads, until the case is closed, unsolved.

But Imanishi is dissatisfied, and a series of coincidences lead him back to the case. Why did a young woman scatter pieces of white paper out of the window of a train? Why did a bar girl leave for home right after Imanishi spoke to her? Why did an actor, on the verge of telling Imanishi something important, drop dead of a heart attack? What can a group of nouveau young artists possibly have to do with the murder of a quiet and “saintly” provincial old ex-policemen? Inspector Imanishi investigates.


And here’s another that’s still to be read…oh dear.  A Perfect Crime by A Yi.

51+8AXyMTsL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOn a normal day in provincial China, a teenager goes about his regular business, but he’s also planning the brutal murder of his only friend. He lures her over, strangles her, stuffs her body into the washing machine and flees town, whereupon a perilous game of cat-and-mouse begins.

A shocking investigation into the despair that traps the rural poor as well as a technically brilliant excursion into the claustrophobic realm of classic horror and suspense, A Perfect Crime is a thrilling and stylish novel about a motiveless murder that echoes Kafka’s absurdism, Camus’ nihilism and Dostoyevsky’s depravity. With exceptional tonal control, A Yi steadily reveals the psychological backstory that enables us to make sense of the story’s dramatic violence and provides chillingly apt insights into a country on the cusp of enormous social, political and economic change.


Sebastian Fitzek is my very favourite German author.  I absolutely love his books so I’m surprised that I haven’t found the time to read this one yet!

41ZMU7ABMBL._SY346_.jpgAs a young man, Leon Nader suffered from insomnia. As a nightwalker, he even turned to violence during his nocturnal excursions and had psychiatric treatment for his condition. Eventually, he was convinced he had been cured – but one day, years later, Leon’s wife disappears from their flat under mysterious circumstances. Could it be that his illness has broken out again?

In order to find out how he behaves in his sleep, Leon fits a movement activated camera to his forehead – and when he looks at the video the next morning he makes a discovery that bursts the borders of his imagination. His nocturnal personality goes through a door that is totally unknown to him and descends into the darkness….


I hope you’re starting to see why reading these books from my husband is one of my new year resolutions.  There are some great books just sat on my bookcase, collecting dust. Including this one, The Hollow Men by Rob McCarthy.

51c-YYYe89L.jpgDr Harry Kent: former Army medic, hospital registrar, police surgeon, drug addict and defender of anyone the world would rather brush aside. His critics say he has a weakness for lost causes.

There are some problems Harry can’t solve. His guilt, his lack of sleep, his fractured relationships.

But when he sits down across from a sick teenager, he knows what to do – even if that teenager is armed.

When the negotiations go wrong and the boy is rushed to hospital, Harry soon realises the danger is not over. Someone wants his patient dead, someone who has access to medical records, someone who will stop at nothing to hide the truth.

Harry knows he can’t save everyone. But he won’t stop trying…


Another that needs to be read soon, The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter.

61oYvlbcjjL._SY346_.jpgCalcutta 1837. Young officer William Avery is tasked by his employers-the East India Company-with tracking down disgraced poet and spy Xavier Mountstuart, lost in the jungles of central India. Accompanied by the dissolute and mysterious Jeremiah Blake, Avery is sure the mission is doomed.

When their search leads them into Kali-worshipping Thug territory, the pair are soon fighting for their lives, but impelled to solve the horrifying mystery behind their mission. With death and danger on every side, is it too late for them to save themselves?


Ho hum….here’s another on the TBR, All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford.

51SrMxeF2eL._SY346_.jpgA fresh start. A new home.
A time to make friends. A chance to hide from her past.
University life offers all these things to Pen.
But her secrets define her. And they may yet kill her…

‘The best book I’ve read this year’ Fiona Barton, bestselling author of The Widow
‘Dark, compelling and deep. This is a fantastic debut’ Alex Lake, bestselling author of After Anna


I had been about to buy this one for myself but once again my very clever hubby beat me to it!  Squeals of delight rang forth from damppebbles HQ.  But I haven’t read it…yet.

51-zrXWKeRL._SY346_.jpgThe year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that
he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.

Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.


Murderabilia by Craig Robertson was my second book in December and doesn’t really fit in with the rest at all.  One of the rules we have is that I can’t have mentioned the book to Ryan (a very clever way to stop from talking about books altogether maybe…?).  He had found it, he had chosen it and was about to press the ‘buy’ button on amazon when I opened my big mouth and said how excited I was to read Murderabilia and how desperate I was for a copy.  Which kind of made it null and void.  So he bought me the book anyway and gave it to me as a ‘normal’ Christmas present (and I see it as my first book of the new year).  I HAD to include it.

51V08R7Z9+L._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe first commuter train of the morning slowly rumbles away from platform seven of Queen St station. Everyone on board is sleepy, avoiding eye contact, reluctant to admit the day has begun. And then, as the train emerges from a tunnel, the screaming starts. Hanging from the bridge ahead of them is a body. Placed neatly on the ground below him are the victim’s clothes. Why?

Detective Narey is assigned the case and then just as quickly taken off it again. Winter, now a journalist, must pursue the case for her. The line of questioning centres around the victim’s clothes – why leave them in full view? And what did the killer not leave, and where might it appear again?

Everyone has a hobby. Some people collect death. To find this evil, Narey must go on to the dark web, and into immense danger …


We’ve made it 2017!  My first book of 2017 was The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel which I have read but haven’t reviewed yet.

513zKetA2sL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgA whole family has been murdered with a pickaxe. They were old Danner the farmer, an overbearing patriarch, his put-upon devoutly religious wife, and their daughter Barbara Spangler, whose husband Vincenz left her after fathering her daughter, Marianne. Also murdered was the Danners’ new maidservant, Marie, who was regarded as slightly simple. Despite the brutal nature of the killings and the small village where it has taken place, the police have no leads. Officially the crime is unsolved. And then a former resident returns home…The Murder Farm is an unconventional detective story. The author interweaves testament from the villagers, an oblique view of the murderer, occasional third-person narrative pieces and passages of pious devotion. The narrator leaves the village unaware of the truth, only the reader is able to reach the shattering conclusion.


Which brings us to my newest book which I received only yesterday (so can be forgiven for not reading yet!)  Black Water Lilies by Michael Bussi.

519I+twqqpL._SY346_.jpgThis is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens at Giverny, where Monet did his famous paintings. In Jérôme’s pocket is a postcard of Monet’s Water Lilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday.

Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval’s corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious Black Water Lilies, a rumoured masterpiece by Monet that has never been found…

So what do you think?  Shall I keep him? (of course I’m going to keep him ;)).  I think my husband knows my reading tastes rather well.  The books I have read have all been four or five stars and I know that there are some corkers in the list above.  Have you read any of the books mentioned?  Does your partner do something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

A huge thank you to my gorgeous hubby, Ryan for all of the hard work and time you put into finding these brilliant books for me.  I know that you never take the easy option and always search long and hard for something a little bit different to everything else.  Thank you my lovely man (and I’m sorry for making you do it all again this year…and next year….and the year after that…and so on).

Case Closed: January 2017 #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger

It’s a new year, yay!  And with a new year comes the C word (…change of course…!).  I’ve given the blog a mini makeover, I’ve celebrated my first year as a blogger and removed the ‘newbie’ tag that has protected me somewhat for the past 12 months and, wait for it…I’ve decided to introduce a monthly summary post!  Those of you that have been around for a little while now (thanks for sticking with me guys) may have a vague, foggy memory of a damppebbles summary post before.  It lasted the grand total of one month.  I hope to improve upon that this time and maybe stretch it to two, possibly three months…ha!

Anyhoo, this is a monthly recap post and not an attempt to become Mystic Emma.  We’ll see how it goes (just don’t hold your breath!).

It’s been a little quiet on the blog this month but that’s because I have been frantically reading for some cracking blog tours, scheduled for January and February.  My month (my year!) started with probably one of my proudest moments as a blogger; having a stop on a Simon Kernick blog tour, cue the fangirl moment!  I’ve taken part in a number of absolutely brilliant blog tours during January and count myself as one very lucky little blogger:

Of these, six were reviews (here are the links):
The Bone Field by Simon Kernick | Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent | The River at Night by Erica Ferencik | Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb | Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie | The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley

And four were guest posts or extracts:
Rupture by Ragnar Jonasson | Games People Play by Owen Mullen | The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell | Uncoiled Lies by Liz Mistry |

I also had my first blogiversary post which had such a phenomenal response. A staggering number of views and so many best wishes which I am eternally grateful for, thank you! Congratulations to my giveaway winner…Hemmie Martin (sorry for the delay in getting your prizes to you Hemmie, they will be with you soon).

And so I begin my second year of book blogging, hooray!

I have a couple of (rather late) new years blog resolutions which I would like to share with you so that I may try that little bit harder to stick to them.  For my Christmas present in 2015, and 2016, my husband very kindly offered to buy me a book a month.  There are rules though.  Rule number one is that I must not have mentioned or asked for the book he buys (impossible!).  Rule two is that he chooses the book, I have absolutely no say whatsoever (eek!) and rule three is that I must read the book (well, duh).  Well, duh indeed as I have completely failed to read the majority of books he purchased for me last year.  So my first resolution of the year is to make sure I read the books he buys.  My second resolution is to read more of the books I WANT to read, rather than the books I feel I have to read.  Simple, huh?  We’ll see.

And finally, I would like to remind all published crime writers that I am more than happy to host guest posts on the blog (I do love a guest post!).  I’m not a fast reader so there are spaces on the blog which need to be filled.  Why not fill them with your wonderful, inspiring, interesting words.

Thanks for January 2017 lovely booky people.  Let’s make February even better 😉