#BookReview: Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown (@IsabelAshdown) @TrapezeBooks

little sister.jpg“After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home.

Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?”

I’ve been wanting to read Little Sister since its release in eBook earlier this year.  Those clever PR types did a stonking job of ramping up my FOMO* by handing out sampler copies over on NetGalley.  Not the full book, you understand, just a short taster of what you could get if you were lucky enough to receive a copy.  And readers were buzzing!  A large proportion of the bloggers who I completely adore and (obviously) whose opinions I 100% trust, loved this book.  So I was rather pleased to get my mitts on a full, start to finish, prologue to epilogue copy.  Unfortunately, my blog tour reads have taken all of my spare time since then so I haven’t been able to make a start on this highly anticipated novel….until now!  Thankfully, due to the August holiday lull, I have managed to read Little Sister, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I always become a little more excited about a book if, after reading the prologue, I have a case of the chills.  The prologue of Little Sister gave me goosebumps and nearly broke my heart, all in one.

We are introduced to estranged sisters, Emily and Jessica, who meet for the first time in years at their mother’s funeral.  Jessica is the younger sister, sent away several years ago by her family for an unforgivable incident which brought shame upon her strict Catholic family.  Emily has since carved a wonderful home life for herself with a new baby, Daisy, a loving partner, James and a teenage stepdaughter, Chloe on the peaceful Isle of Wight. The reunion between the sisters is a positive one and before long Jess has moved in with Emily’s family as Daisy’s nanny, enabling Emily to return to work.  But on New Year’s Eve, whilst Emily and James are out enjoying themselves, Daisy is taken right from underneath Jess’s nose.  Slowly and surely the family begin to unravel, suspicions run high and secrets are the mainstay of this once-loving family.  Was Emily right to trust Jess?  And will Daisy be found before it’s too late…?

This is one of those novels where you can never be sure who to trust, who is keeping a monumental secret hidden within and exactly where the story will take you.  Pure fictional bliss, in other words!  I immediately disliked Jess and was incredibly wary of her.  I couldn’t understand why this sensible, practical new mum had decided her estranged sister was the right person to be in charge of her young baby.  Purely convinced of the fact by a simple, quick lie from Jessica about being a nanny in Canada whilst  travelling!  But as this twisty story progressed, my allegiance changed.  I began to dislike Emily and warm a lot more to Jessica.  Strange things were happening.  As the author laid out her character’s lives, new ‘clues’ became unearthed, points I hadn’t taken into consideration before suddenly became…well, significant.

The story is told from three POVs; Emily, Jess and a third narrator who shall remain nameless for the sake of this review (and to avoid spoilers).  There are glimpses into the past and the terrible incident which drove Jess away from her family, told from Jessica’s side and also from Emily’s.  These flashbacks give the reader a much clearer understanding of the shaky foundation this sisterly bond was built upon and provides the reader with a greater insight into these two women.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s twisty, emotional and a darn good tale of sisterly love gone ‘off track’.  I loved the uncovering of the secrets, the clues left along the way and the gradual unravelling of one of the key characters.  I enjoyed Ashdown’s writing style but at times was longing for a little more dialogue (but that’s just me!). Intricate, seamless and wonderfully intense.  A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Four out of five stars.

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

*FOMO = Fear of Missing Out

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

 

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Author image and bio (c) isabelashdown.com

Isabel’s writing career was first launched when she won the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition in 2008, with judges Fay Weldon, Michael Ridpath and the late Sir John Mortimer describing her work as ‘magnificent.’  The completed novel, Glasshopper (Myriad Editions), went on to be named among the Best Books of 2009 by both the Observer and the London Evening Standard.  Her latest novel, Little Sister, is out with Trapeze (Orion Publishing) in 2017.

In 2017/18 she will be a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Chichester, where she previously studied as a mature student, gaining a first class BA in English and a masters in Creative Writing with distinction.  Her essay on the subject of voice features in Writing a First Novel by Karen Stevens (Palgrave MacMillan 2014).

Isabel grew up on the south coast and now lives in West Sussex with her carpenter husband, their two children and their dogs Charlie and Leonard.  Together with Leonard the dachshund, she is a proud volunteer for the Pets as Therapy Read2Dogs scheme, an initiative aimed at nurturing confidence in young readers and promoting a lifelong love of books.

Isabel is a member of the Society of Authors.

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Girls in the Water by Victoria Jenkins (@vicwritescrime) @bookouture

The Girls In The Water cover image.jpg“When the body of Lola Evans is found in a local park on a cold winter’s morning, Detective Alex King and her new recruit Chloe Lane are called in to lead the hunt for the killer. 

Days later, a second girl goes missing. It seems the two shared a troubled history, and were members of the same support group. Who is the monster preying on these vulnerable girls? 

As the detectives start to piece together the clues, Chloe realises that she too is in danger – as she uncovers secrets about her own brother’s death which someone will kill to keep hidden. 

Alex and Chloe are soon fighting for their lives, and in a race against time to reach the next victim before it’s too late… 

Chilling and totally compelling with an utterly surprising twist, The Girls in the Water is perfect for fans of Robert Bryndza, Sarah Hilary, and Patricia Gibney.”

I am absolutely delighted to be kicking off the The Girls in the Water blog tour today alongside Marina at licence2read.  The Girls in the Water is author Victoria Jenkins’ debut novel and is published by Bookouture in eBook format TODAY!  Happy book birthday to Victoria and the gorgeous folk at Bookouture.

I was immediately drawn to this book thanks to that stunning cover.  And then I read the blurb and knew it would be a match made in heaven (that’s me and the book, by the way!).  There’s nothing I like more than a gripping police procedural/serial killer thriller but when the two lead female protagonists are feisty, head-strong, kick-ass detectives then I know I’m in for a corker of a read.

As soon as you start reading you are hurled, by the well-constructed prologue, into a harrowing scene of mental child abuse.  Your heart goes out to the unknown boy who is being berated by his mother for something that, whilst distressing, is blown all out of proportion in order to serve the mother’s own needs.  The boy’s attempts to distance himself from the hurt were a tough read and I felt incredibly sad for this unnamed character.  I admired this debut author’s ability to create such a heart-wrenching and intriguing opening to her novel.

Before long you meet DI Alex King and DC Chloe Lane.  I wanted to fall head over heels in love with both characters but I’m afraid it didn’t happen immediately.  It was much more of a slow build over the course of the novel.  I initially warmed more to DC Lane as she felt more spontaneous, more outgoing and a lot more fun to be around than her superior.  However, as the story progressed I felt I had a lot more in common with DI King (plus she’s more my age, obv.!).  She felt like a safe and trusted pair of hands and she shone that little bit brighter for me.

DC Lane becomes quite distracted with an older case at an early stage in the story which creates an interesting discord between Chloe and her senior officers.  It’s clear to see there has been a lot of careful planning in creating the character’s back stories as these all add real value and link seamlessly as you approach the conclusion.  For a debut, this book is incredibly well plotted and the characters felt very credible.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I plan on pre-ordering the next book in the series as soon as it is available. There is one twist in this book that I really didn’t see coming and it knocked me sideways.  As an avid crime reader I will always appreciate the books that can do that!  A brilliant debut and I look forward to reading more from Victoria Jenkins in the near future.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Girls in the Water.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Kim, Noelle and the Bookouture team for asking me to join the blog tour.

The Girls in the Water by Victoria Jenkins was published in the UK by Bookouture on 3rd August 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Book Depository |

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about the author3

Victoria Jenkins Author Pic.jpgVictoria Jenkins lives with her husband in South Wales, where she writes crime fiction and teaches English. The Girls in the Water is her debut novel, the first featuring Detective Inspector Alex King and Detective Constable Chloe Lane. The second book in the series will be published in late 2017.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran (@Christi_Curran) @KillerReads

her deadly secret.jpg“A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…

A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past. 

A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.

Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.

Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.

This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today as it’s my stop on Chris Curran’s Her Deadly Secret blog tour.  I was absolutely delighted when asked to feature on the tour for her latest release as Chris was one of the incredible authors who took part in my #damppebblestakeover last Summer.  (I can’t quite believe that was a year ago!) Back then, Chris wrote a fantastic piece on ‘Amnesia Noir’ which I urge you to read (click here).  Particularly if you are looking for a few book recommendations!

I couldn’t help myself and I HAD to read and review Her Deadly Secret.  We are first introduced to Joe, father of missing school girl, Lily and husband of Hannah. The news doesn’t appear to be good and the sorrow you feel for this one character is immense. But this is only the very tip of the iceberg in what proves to be a multi threaded and intricate tale of secrets and lies.

The story is divided into three POVs.  You have Joe, father of missing daughter Lily. Loretta, who is the Family Liaison Officer (FLO) for Joe and his wife, Hannah.  And finally, Rosie, whose sister Alice was murdered when she and Rosie were just children.  I loved Curran’s multi point narration but couldn’t for the life of me work out how Rosie fitted into the plot.  It’s only as you progress through the book do you discover exactly how detailed and intricate a tale the author is telling.  I confess, I did get a little muddled by the number of characters but once I’d written them all down, I was well away and had no further problems.  More to do with me and my ageing memory than anything else I think!

In a story about terrible things happening to normal people, I couldn’t understand why there was so much emphasis on the FLO, Loretta and her own fractured home life.  It WAS interesting and I enjoyed reading about her but it did feel a little like ‘filler’ in some scenes.  I understand that she was there as part of an ongoing investigation but she did feel a little superfluous at times (as the characters tend to make the big case breaking discoveries more than those that are employed to do it).  She’s a great character but at times I wanted her to step away from the limelight so I could focus more on Joe, Hannah, Rosie and her parents.

Would I recommend this book?  I certainly would.  It’s a tense tale about family secrets and not really knowing those we claim to love.  Great twists, one of which I didn’t see coming and it blew my socks off! I would pick up another book written by Chris Curran in a heartbeat.

Four out of five stars.

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

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran was published in the UK by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 21st July 2017 in eBook format (with the paperback to follow in August 2017) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Foyles | Goodreads |

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about the author3

DSCF1459.JPGChris Curran lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex. Her first two psychological thrillers, Mindsight and Her Turn To Cry, were both Amazon bestsellers.

She also writes short stories one of which was recently shortlisted for the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham award.

Her latest novel, Her Deadly Secret, is published as an ebook on July 21st 2017 and a paperback in August.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Unforgivable by Mike Thomas (@ItDaFiveOh) @BonnierZaffre

Unforgivable.jpg“Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation. 
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside. 
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . . 

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . . 

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman. 

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today as I’m kicking off the Unforgivable blog tour. Unforgivable is the second book in the DC Will MacReady series, is written by author Mike Thomas and will be published by Zaffre on 27th July 2017.  Oh, and it’s a corker of a crime thriller!

I am delighted to have a guest post from Mike Thomas to share with you today.  I also have my four and a half star review (which really does fade in comparison to this MEGA guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Mike…

Why Writing a Crime Novel is Like Prepping a Case File for the CPS

There’s a lot of paperwork in the police force. Endless forms and labels and booklets, most of it designed to collate data or appease the suits in HQ or the Home Office, and a lot of it simply to cover your own arse when, as they say in The Job if trouble begins, ‘the wheel comes off’. It’s tedious in the extreme, but there was one part of the written work that I always found enjoyable: assembling a case file for the Crown Prosecution Service.

What struck me, especially when I began juggling being a copper with writing novels, were the similarities between putting together an air-tight case file for the Crown Prosecution Service (or CPS) and constructing a readable novel. I believe that all those days and weeks and centuries – or so it seemed – spent writing reports and liaising with overworked solicitors and collating evidence and cobbling it all together (to use the technical term) into a presentable, cogent case against the defendant was excellent grounding for creating a book.

The, ahem, evidence for this:

The Build-Up

The Crime – As with a novel, your prosecution case file will begin with an offence that has taken place.  The crime is where it all begins, where the ‘story’ starts. It is the centre point, and everything spins out from this one act, be it a theft from a vehicle or the murder of a spouse during a drunken argument over borrowing a cigarette. The offence, whatever it is, will appear on the front cover of your case file, just as the crime in a fictional novel will appear in the jacket blurb and be alluded to in the strapline beneath the book title. And in the CPS paperwork, the offence will appear on the charge sheet – or MG4 – in all its statute-heavy glory when it is handed to the defendant once they have been formally charged with the matter in the custody suite.

What Do We Believe Happened? – did we mention the jacket blurb? Oh good. Because this is where its equivalent can be found in a CPS case file: towards the front of the paperwork on the ‘MG5 Summary of Evidence’ form. This is where you sell your case, much as you’d try to flog your novel with an oh-so-intriguing handful of paragraphs on the back cover, designed to draw your reader in to the world you’ve created. There’s not as much hyperbole – it can be a very dry affair – but it is essentially the same: you are, as concisely yet – cough – arrestingly as possible, telling the solicitor (your ‘reader’) exactly what you have served up for them. And you hope they bite. You hope they proceed with your case. You hope they enter your world.

Introducing the Characters – your cast list in the case will appear on what the fuzz call the ‘MG9’ form, or the ‘Witness List’. It will start with the major players – the defendant, the IP (or Injured Party) – and continue onwards to include even the smallest bit-part character who may or may not have been at the scene (we don’t know if he’s lying) and is prone to making stuff up just so he can have some attention from the Old Bill so we’ve got to include him anyway or someone will complain. Possibly the guy’s mother. But this is where your ‘thespians’ start to bring your case file to life, with their names and relationships and a hint at what part they are about to play as you read what they have done and what they have to say…

The Investigation

Witness Statements – characters in a crime novel can be open and honest or harbouring myriad secrets; you can never tell which at first, and it is only as the story progresses do you unravel what can often be a complex web of truths, half-truths and downright lies. The same goes for real people in real cases. Witness statements make for absorbing reading. For whatever reason – protecting family and friends, not wanting to get involved, hating the police so deliberately misleading them – human beings can be as helpful or unhelpful as their fictional counterparts. It is down to you, as the investigating officer – the protagonist – to work out what really happened and ‘whodunit’, much as your heroine DI or maverick, heavy drinking (if you must) DS will do in your favourite series of crime novels. People are fascinating, and flawed, and often bloody infuriating, and it is through their statements you will – hopefully – piece together what really happened, and your solicitor counterpart will see it also, and will be able to convince a magistrate or jury that what you have found is the truth.

The Good Evidence – it’s all well and good having three witnesses who can place your defendant at the scene of a street robbery, but a seasoned defence barrister will always muddy the waters so hard forensics is where it’s at. Fingerprints, footprints, blood splatter? Just like your protagonist would, get it if you can. Any CCTV cameras on nearby shops and houses? Your heroine would seize them all, review the video, find the bad guy. Did the defendant grab the IP? Your fictional DI would always remember Locard’s exchange principle and seize the IP’s clothes for examination because he might find the defendant’s DNA all over them, proving he was at the scene of the crime. You, as the SIO (Senior Investigating Officer), will collate the witness statements and write your own to tie everything together but the clincher – the evidence that solves the case, that sells it to your ‘reader’ as authentic and convincing – will be forensics, and as much of it as you can muster.

Your Statement – this should be the icing on the cake. This is where you, the protagonist in this little tale, deftly tie it all together in a professional, objective, authoritative manner: what you saw, what you heard, what the defendant said to you after you arrested and cautioned him. How he behaved, any unsolicited comments he made while under caution that you immediately noted in your pocket notebook. What he said during the recorded suspect interview, and what he disclosed. What he said once you’d formally charged him and handed him the MG4 and a court date and turfed him out of custody with his plastic bag of personal belongings. This is the point where you box it all up so it’s neat and squared away and the file can be sent to the CPS for review. And where you start counting the hours before it comes back to you asking for further investigation…

Proving Your Case and The Resolution

Defendant Interview – this is where you sit in a bright, windowless and well-ventilated room with hi-tech recording equipment and politely interview – sorry, Detective Inspector Gene Hunt fans – your suspect, offering them frequent ‘comfort breaks’ and opportunities to make shit up confer with their solicitor. This, much like the denouement of a novel, is where all the evidence comes together and is put to the defendant, albeit in a less-exciting-than-a-climactic-car-chase kinda way. You question, and question, and question, and show them the CCTV images of them hitting that guy, and the blood splatters on their shirt, and their DNA found under the IP’s fingernail where they tried to push you away, you naughty man. This is the climax, the end, the part where chummy throws his hands in the air and says how he would have got away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids and your dog. Sorry, I meant the police.

Fine-tuning – anyone who’s published a novel will tell you about editing. Editing your first draft. The second, fifth, twelfth. Editing it until you can’t look at it ever again, until the mere mention of the book’s title sends you into a murderous, climb-a-clocktower-with-a-rifle rage. Then sending it off, utterly relieved at it finally being over, only for your publisher to email you with Great! We’ll be back in touch with edits ASAP! It is no different with the CPS. They will want another witness. They will want an old witness re-interviewed. Again. They will want to ‘cut’ a witness who does not help the ‘story’. The forensic evidence needs more forensic evidence. They have misplaced the defendant’s interview recording DVD, can we have another copy by yesterday please? As with a novel, there’s a lot of toing and froing, a lot of haggling and cutting and moving stuff around, some of which can take the better part of a year. There’s a reason novels can take a few years to see the light of day, and that same reason applies to court cases and why they drag on for so long…

In short, what you’re doing with both a CPS case file and a novel is creating a storyline that hopefully sustains reader interest and propels them towards a suitably rewarding climax. But after all your work is done, what does ‘the jury’ decide? Does your case/novel get the defendant convicted in court/get your book onto the bestseller lists? Or does the CPS discontinue the case/does your book sink without trace?

In reality, it doesn’t matter how hard you’ve worked on either, the end result is out of your hands…

Quite possibly my favourite guest post, EVER!  Seriously, how good was that?  I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Mike.  My thanks for such an interesting true crime/crime fiction focused piece!

my review2

I have had the first book in the DC Will MacReady series, Ash and Bones on my TBR since it was published.  I remember thinking at the time how drawn I was to the book, how gritty and real the blurb felt. Unfortunately time has not been on my side and I have (so far) completely failed to read it.  So when I was given the opportunity to read the second book, Unforgivable it was a no-brainer for me.  It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the first in the series, I wanted to be a part of the launch tour.  And oh wow, I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed.

This book opens with a catastrophic bang and I was immediately hooked.  The scenes of chaos, the terror…my heart ached for the families, the normal everyday people caught up in a cataclysmic event.  The author has expertly created an incredibly tense opening to what proves to be a terrifying yet realistic story, one I thoroughly enjoyed.

I’m still unsure exactly how I feel about DC Will MacReady.  I do like him, but there are certain aspects that left me feeling cold.  I loved his determination, his work ethic, his budding relationship with his newborn son and his utter distaste towards his thuggish, wife-beating brother.  What left me feeling was cold was his extra-marital affair with a television journalist and his frostiness towards his wife.  However (and it’s a big however) MacReady has been through some emotionally traumatic times, that’s clear for the reader to see.  But whether these painful incidents permit him to pursue his affair…well, I don’t know.  The author has put MacReady in a marital situation that would test the most devoted of couples.  And it’s an interesting one.  Really, really interesting.

There were several mentions of an event which occurred in the first book.  At certain points, I wish I had been able to read Ash and Bones before Unforgivable so I could find out the intricacies of the previous investigation and exactly how it had played out, as it spills over ever so slightly into Unforgivable.  Saying that, the author has done a great job of ensuring you have just enough of the back story for the book to make perfect sense.  I would say, if anything, I now want to read the first book in the series more than ever!

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  You can tell from early on that the author is ex-police.  There is no messing around in Unforgivable, you’re thrown head first into the melee and it is BRILLIANT!  A terrifying tale of revenge and bitterness expertly narrated by an author who has lived life on the front line.  A must read for crime thriller fans!

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Unforgivable by Mike Thomas was published in the UK by Zaffre on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Goodreads |

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about the author3

mike thomas.jpg

Author image and bio taken from https://mikethomasauthor.co.uk/ with thanks.

His teenage years were spent breakdancing, spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks and just about staying on the right side of the law, until his early twenties when, inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks.

“…inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks…”

While working as a plod in Wales’ capital city of Cardiff, Thomas continued with his childhood passion: writing. As a freelance he produced articles for local newspapers, various websites and national travel magazines, while in 2007 he was one of the winners in the annual Rhys Davies Short Story Competition organised by Literature Wales. After completing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Wales between 2007 and 2009, Thomas published his debut novel, Pocket Notebook, in 2010 with William Heinemann/Penguin Random House.

The author was on the prestigious list of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for that year, while Pocket Notebook was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year and optioned for television by Carnival Films, the producers of Downton Abbey. His second novel, Ugly Bus, was released by Heinemann in 2014 and is currently in development as a six part television series with the BBC. Both novels deal with the uglier side of policing.

“…He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children…”

Thomas left the police in the spring of 2015 and grew his hair and a pathetic attempt at a beard. He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children. Alongside chopping wood, cementing crumbling house walls and trying to find somewhere that sells his beloved Marmite, he continues to write articles and web pieces for a variety of sites and publications, and is contracted to London’s Bonnier Publishing for three new novels, the first of which – Ash and Bones – was released August 2016. The second in the series, Unforgivable, is due for publication in the summer of 2017.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear (@CazziF) @BonnierZaffre

Sweet Little Lies.jpg“WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Sweet Little Lies blog tour.  Sweet Little Lies is written by debut author, Caz Frear and was named the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in conjunction with retailer WHSmith.  To celebrate the release of this engrossing crime thriller not only do I have my four and a half star review, I also have a fantastic guest post (yay! I do love a guest post!) on a subject close to my heart.  Well, sort of anyway!  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Caz…

Do female protagonists in crime fiction always have to have a ‘love interest’?

‘A love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective’s struggle to solve the problem.  The only effective love interest is that which creates a personal hazard for the detective….’

“Casual Notes on the Mystery Novel” (essay, 1949), first published in Raymond Chandler Speaking (1962)

I’ll be honest, I’m with Raymond on this one.  But as nearly seven decades have passed since he first offered his thoughts, I thought, what the hell, maybe it’s time to play devil’s advocate and see if I can make a case for the ‘love interest’ in female-led crime fiction.  After all, women, more than ever, are the primary readers of crime fiction and they also remain the primary readers of romance fiction, so what harm in combining the two, right?  A twisty, disturbing crime thriller and a romance sub-plot all under the same roof.  What more could we ask for, eh?

Er, no. 

Although I’d kind-of-just-about-maybe agree with this if we could at least change the profile of the ‘love interest’ for a start.

In fairness, the injection of a ‘love interest’ isn’t just peculiar to female-led crime fiction.  Morse was always mooning over someone – trying, and usually failing, to seduce some posh lady with his Mark II Jag and mournful eyes. DCI Banks always has a girlfriend – usually they’re significantly younger and significantly hotter than he is, but somehow they’re always completely gaga over the wiry, aging jazz fan.  Even DI Frost, with his prickly manner, even pricklier moustache and decades-old grey coat, is never without an attractive (and usually younger) woman trying to bed him, and more-often-than-not, domesticate him.

But therein lie some crucial differences – the‘love interest’ in female-led crime is almost always…

  • Older, or at least of a similar age – for example, how many 40-something female protagonists have a twenty-something male model-type go completely nuts about them, all on the strength of their charismatic personality? NEVER. HAPPENS (but regularly happens the other way round)
  • Their boss or superior colleague (again, very rarely happens the other way round)
  • More, or at the very least as successful as the female protagonist, in their chosen field.
  • Aesthetically anonymous – much less focus on how gorgeous they are, and when their physical characteristics are described, they quite often aren’t gorgeous at all – our female protagonist simply loves them for their wrinkles/soft paunch/balding head etc, (I’ll say it again, very rarely happens the other way round.)

But in the interests of challenging Raymond Chandler (!) I’ll step down from my soapbox for a minute and share a few thoughts about why it’s sometimes good for our female protagonist to have a ‘love interest.’

  • No woman is an island. Very few are a Billy-no-Mates.  Realistically, everyone has someone they can turn to, and arguably an intimate romantic relationship has more dramatic potential than the ‘chatting-with-a-best-friend-over-a-bottle-of-wine’ scenario, within the context of a crime novel.
  • In a genre where men don’t always get the best press – a lot of crime fiction focuses on male violence against women – a well-characterised male love interest serves as a reminder of the Good Men around.
  • Romantic relationships showcase a character’s vulnerability – you often open up to a lover in ways you don’t with other people.
  • Most women want/need sex from time to time, even if they don’t want steady romance, and therefore if you’re not comfortable creating a female lead who has quite a casual approach to hook-ups, you’re going to have to give her some sort of formal ‘love interest.’ It’s just not realistic for our female protagonist to live like a nun.
  • Sexual tension is fun. It’s interesting.  It’s delightful to write.  The will-they-won’t-they has never lost its appeal and when it simmers just beneath the surface, it can add a new level of tension to a crime novel (I’m thinking here of the brilliant dynamic between Derwent and Kerrigan in Jane Casey’s fantastic series – I actually enjoy this aspect more than the Maeve-and-Rob romance.)

Finally, just to say that despite my earlier talk about not loving the ‘love interest’, there is one in Sweet Little Lies, in the form of dishy Aiden Doyle (I know, I know….hypocrite…)  However, in my defence I will add (with a cryptic smile) that only time will tell how much of a “personal hazard for the detective” Aiden becomes…….

Let’s just say Raymond Chandler wouldn’t judge me too harshly….

Brilliant post, thank you Caz.  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I’m not a fan of slushy mushy romance in my crime thrillers so I found your arguments for a love interest fascinating.  Have I changed my stance?  Not quite, but the rather lovely Aiden Doyle COULD change my mind…. 😉

my review2

Whilst on holiday in Ireland with her family, eight year old Catrina is unwittingly drawn into a missing persons investigation.  Teenager, Maryanne Doyle; loud, brash and very much in your face, goes missing.  Catrina doesn’t know what happened to Maryanne but she is sure of one thing.  Her father lied to the police.  He claimed to not have known the teenager but Catrina vividly remembers Maryanne hitch hiking and her dad picking her up.  After all, Catrina was in the car as well.  Fast forward 18 years and Catrina is now DC Cat Kinsella with the Met’s Murder team.  Called to investigate the brutal murder of Alice Lapaine, the team find nothing but a secretive husband and a lot of dead ends.  Can Cat find out what happened to Maryanne all those years ago, exactly what part her father played in her disappearance AND solve a motiveless murder at the same time…?

So many delicious secrets!  This is a wonderfully intricate tale which I found hard to put down.  I was immediately drawn to the feisty Cat Kinsella.  She absolutely made the book for me and I couldn’t tear myself away from reading about her exploits.  How I loved her dry wit, her gutsy determination and her adorable relationship with Acting DI Luigi Parnell.  I found myself caring about what was going to happen to Cat, whether she would discover the truth and whether it would be the truth she actually wanted to hear.

For me, the characters in a book are one of the most important factors.  I feel Caz Frear deserves high praise for the cast of characters she has created in this novel.  After finishing the book I can still bring to mind certain scenarios, conversations and interactions between her creations.  They all stand tall, each one an individual.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s an excellent debut and I’m excited to see what Caz Frear has in store for us in the future.  It’s a gripping read, full of suspense and intrigue, chock full of lies and deceit from a sometimes dubious cast of characters.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 29th June 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Foyles | Book Depository |

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Caz Frear.jpgAuthor Links: | Twitter |

#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: 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.

#BookReview: A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood (@MichaelHWood) @KillerReads

a room full of killers.jpg“Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison.

When the latest arrival is found brutally murdered, DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, and discover a prison manager falling apart and a sabotaged security system. Neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

The only person Matilda believes is innocent is facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate, and find a murderer in a house full of killers…”

A very happy paperback publication day to A Room Full of Killers author, Michael Wood and the team at Killer Reads.  And congratulations on what is a stunning example of how to write a police procedural.  I’ve read the second book in the DCI Matilda Darke series, Outside Looking In and thoroughly enjoyed it.  This third instalment though is something else altogether.  I absolutely loved it!

The opening scenes are both horrific and heartbreaking.  We’re fleetingly introduced to two children.  We don’t know who they are, how old they are or their circumstances.  All we know is that the older child is suffering from food poisoning and has woken their sibling up after being violently ill.  What follows made my heart ache and my stomach turn.  Such a brilliantly written, attention grabbing opening and way to make sure the reader is giving their absolute undivided attention.

I mentioned in my review of Outside Looking In how much I love DCI Matilda Darke and how wonderfully normal she is in comparison to some other female detectives.  I’m still very much a fan but the shine was taken off a little for me whilst reading A Room Full of Killers.  Matilda is sent to investigate the murder of a high profile teenage killer at a Young Offenders Institute.  But during the investigation she becomes distracted to the point of endangering herself and her team.  I think I invest far too much in my fictional leads as I felt like yelling at my Kindle and telling her to buck her ideas up!  But weirdly, this added to the whole reading experience for me.  (Yeah, I can’t explain it either!)

I spent a long time working out how the prologue fitted with the rest of the story. And then it became perfectly clear and suddenly, the gruesome murder of a teenage killer and the complex ongoing investigation faded into the background a little and I was just as distracted as DCI Darke.  Such a clever novel and full marks to the author for writing such a tense, heart-rending book.

One of the many things I loved about a A Room Full of Killers is that it’s set in Starling House, a young offenders prison.  Meaning the majority of the characters are evil, vindictive killers (the type I love to read about!).  Each of the young men get to tell their story and the reason they have ended up imprisoned.  I loved these chapters.  They’re so well written and despite being relatively short summaries, they tell you everything you need to know about the killers.  Building a clear picture of the evil, sadistic children stuck behind the walls of Starling House.

I loved the mystery element.  I love whodunits and this is a fantastic example of how to plot and build on the suspense.  Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely. I loved this book so I really hope that you get a chance to read it too.  It’s tense, gripping and a completely absorbing read.  I loved the cast of killers and, even though she lost a little of the shine, I still love DCI Matilda Darke.  An excellent book which fans of the police procedural shouldn’t ignore.  I hope we don’t have too long to wait until the fourth book in the series is published!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of A Room Full of Killers.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 18th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author2

michael wood.jpgMichael Wood is a proofreader and former journalist in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first novel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, was released in the autumn of 2015. The follow-up, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, was released in May 2016 in ebook format by Killer Reads at HarperCollins.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (@ali_oliva) @MichaelJBooks

the last one.jpg“She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

TWELVE CONTESTANTS
When Zoo agrees to take part in a new reality TV show, In The Dark, she knows that she will be tested to the limits of her endurance. Beating eleven competitors in a series of survival tasks deep in the forest will be the ultimate challenge before she returns home to start a family.

A GAME WITH NO END
As the contestants are overcome by hunger, injury and psychological breakdown, the mind games to which Zoo is subjected grow dark beyond belief. This isn’t what she signed up for: the deserted towns and gruesome props. Is this a game with no end? alone and disoriented, Zoo must summon all her survival skills – and learn new ones as she goes . . .”

Oh flipping heck!  I absolutely loved this book.  It’s was a bit of a change for me.  Yes, it’s described as a crime thriller but it’s so much more than that.  I would describe this book as multi-genre rather than a crime thriller.  Crime thriller, horror, YA, dystopian, romance, survival….so many genres covered in one unsettling but completely mesmirising book.  Weeks later and I’m still thinking on the themes in this novel.  It did a very good job of scaring the you know what out of me too, bravo Alexandra Oliva.

Zoo wants a monumental challenge before settling down with her husband and starting a family. Well, that’s what she’s telling people anyway!  So when the opportunity to appear on a new reality show arises, Zoo jumps at the chance.  The show is a massive undertaking.  Twelve contestants are thrown together in the wilderness with the barest of survival skills.  The aim, to be the last one standing, to survive in the wilderness the longest.  For those who can’t cope there is a key phrase which when uttered makes a producer appear and whisk them away to civilisation.  But what if something catastrophic were to happen after filming starts.  Something that changes life, as Zoo knows it, for ever…

I adored Zoo.  Her resilience, her attitude, virtually everything about this character really appealed to me.  The only thing I found slightly frustrating was Zoo’s refusal to accept the obvious, but then why should she?  She was only seeing a fraction of the picture I was!

I sat from start to finish on the very edge of my seat.  I had a feeling of impending doom which only worsened the further I progressed through the pages.  I was expecting something in particular to happen, but it didn’t.  Oh my gosh, Oliva knows how to keep you teetering on the edge.  I wasn’t at all disappointed that I couldn’t work out what was going to happen.  As a crime fan I automatically try and work out how the story will end so it’s always good to be proved completely wrong.

I loved the way the media are portrayed in this novel.  They manipulated everything the viewer saw and heard.  They made their favourites look great whilst leaving certain characters looking shameful and totally egocentric.  The complete control these nameless characters had over the other characters was powerful stuff and made me question exactly how much we see in these ‘reality’ shows is actually true and how much is manipulated content.

The ending of this novel broke my heart.  Was I completely satisfied by the conclusion? Well, no.  Probably not but that just left me wanting more.  We all love a happy ending but sometimes no matter how much you want it, you aren’t going to get it.  By the way, Zoo’s real name isn’t Zoo.  The author has labelled each character with a mangled version of their job description.  Zoo works in an animal park with school groups, not necessarily a zoo.  Other characters are called Rancher, Waitress, Air Force…

The chapters alternate between the past and the present.  The past being the start of filming when all of the contestants were working together and learning their new survival skills.  The present chapters feature only Zoo and her fight to survive to the end.  She has no idea how much time has passed, she has no idea where she is.  All she knows is that no matter what is thrown at her, no matter how many mangled props she comes across, she must fight to the end.  No matter how bad her nightmares become.

Would I recommend this book?  Daft question really.  I loved this book and can see it featuring on my top books of 2017 list.  It made me nervous, it confronted my worst fears, it was everything I didn’t expect it to be!  So very well written.  Zoo will stay with me for a long, long time to come.  What an experience!

Five out of five stars.

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

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 29th December 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author2

alexandra oliva.jpg

Author photo and information courtesy of Goodreads.com

Alexandra Oliva grew up in a small town deep in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. A graduate of Yale University, she also earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School University and undertook intensive wilderness survival training while researching The Last One. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their brindled pup, Codex. The Last One is her first novel.

Alexandra can be easily reached via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Watch Me by Angela Clarke (@TheAngelaClarke) @AvonBooksUK @CrimeFix

watch me.jpg“The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.”

Back in February 2016 when damppebbles was still finding it’s feet and I was wondering what I had actually let myself in for by starting a book blog, I reviewed the brilliant Follow Me by author Angela Clarke, the first book in the Social Media Murders series.  If you would like a recap or if you missed it the first time around you can read that review by clicking here.  Please remember I was even more of a novice at this blogging lark than I am now…damppebbles wasn’t even a month old!  Follow Me was a compelling read which I found fabulously dark and brilliantly disturbing.  So earlier this year I was delighted to discover that the second book in the series had been published.

It was so good to be reacquainted with studious detective Nasreen Cudmore and bubbly, in your face Freddie Venton.  Although I must say that I found it hard to recognise Freddie at first.  I hate spoilers and I don’t know whether you’ve read the first book in the series so I’ll be as vague as I can and say that the events at the end of Follow Me changed Freddie and unfortunately not for the better.

In Follow Me I felt Freddie took the limelight, and rightly so.  I really like Freddie’s character as she’s everything I’m not.  In Watch Me it was Nasreen’s turn to steal the show and she does a brilliant job.  This book focuses so much more on the detective’s side of the investigation with Freddie making the occasional contribution.  This really worked for me as I feel I’m much more ‘Nasreen’ than I am ‘Freddie’ (in the same way that I’m much more ‘Monica’ than I am ‘Rachel or Phoebe’).

As in the first book the subject matter was current and handled with great care and respect.  I felt slightly uncomfortable that the victims of the attacks tended to be teenagers but I get the feeling this is what Clarke wants the reader to feel.  I can understand why the author chose to make one of the victims 15 years old as this demonstrates that age is no barrier to this particular crime (in fact, it’s probably more likely to happen to younger teenagers wanting to prove they are all ‘grown up’) but it did make me feel uncomfortable. I applaud the author for having the courage to make her readers squirm.  I, for one, can confirm that this is a book I won’t forget in a while.

I would definitely recommend that you read Follow Me before making a start on Watch Me.  The characters back stories are beautifully laid out in this book and you get to learn everything you need to know about them, apart from what actually happened at the end of the first book.  It’s alluded to throughout but you will be left wondering about the exact details if you haven’t read Follow Me.  Plus I will always recommend that you start with the first book in the series and work your way through.

I loved the conclusion.  It was such a surprise to me and everything I want in my crime thrillers. Great pacing with a fantastic build up, that feeling that you know exactly what’s going on when you haven’t a clue.  Brilliant.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but please make sure you read Follow Me first as otherwise you’ll be left wondering exactly what happened at the end of the first book.  I hold a great deal of affection for Nasreen and Freddie and I can’t wait for more from Angela Clarke.  A great series that all crime fans should make a point of reading.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Watch Me by Angela Clarke was published in the UK by Avon Books on 12th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author2

angela clarke.jpg

Photo and author information taken by Angela Clarke’s website

I’m a Sunday Times Bestselling author, playwright, columnist, screenwriter and public speaker. My debut crime thriller Follow Me was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month January 2016, longlisted for the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger in the Library 2016, and shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Page Turner Award 2016. Watch Me the second instalment in the Social Media Murder Series went straight into the UK paperback chart at number 15 in January 2017. Trust Me the third in the Social Media Series is due out in June 2017.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |