#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 |

two sisters blog tour.jpg

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 |

serial killers daughter blogtour.jpg

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 |

 

#BookReview: The Quiet Man by James Carol (@JamesCarolBooks) @FaberBooks

the quiet man.jpg“In Vancouver, the wife of a millionaire is dead following an explosion in her own home.

Everyone thinks her husband is responsible, but former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter isn’t so sure. The method is too perfect; the lack of mistakes, uncanny. He’s seen a series of carefully orchestrated murders – once a year, on exactly the same day, a woman dies in a situation just like this one.

That date is fast approaching and Winter knows another victim has been selected. Can he identify the quiet man before he strikes again?”

First of all I would like to wish James Carol and the folk at Faber & Faber a very happy publication day.  The Quiet Man is released into the wild today and I can guarantee this is one that you don’t want to miss!

The Quiet Man features one of my very favourite lead protagonists in the form of ex-FBI profiler Jefferson Winter.  This is the fourth book in the series and I heartily recommend you check out the first three books if you haven’t already done so as they are superb.  No really, they are THAT good!

On one hand, I want to shout about the Jefferson Winter series from the rooftops. But on the other, I want to keep these books just for me.  I don’t want to share!  Weird as that sounds, coming from a self confessed bookaholic who always wants to spread the book love.  I discovered the first in the series several years ago when it was first published and I felt as though I had found something REALLY special.  Something just for me.  But then I heard others speak of James Carol’s books and I felt a little…disappointed.  I wanted to have a strop and shout, ‘but they’re my books’ which of course I didn’t (because they’re not!).  Great news for the author, not so good for me and my beloved stash of Jefferson Winter novels. These amazing thrillers weren’t just my secret discovery anymore.  Many other readers out there felt exactly the same about them as I did…(Obviously, with hindsight, I see the books popularity as something  positive as it has resulted in a brand new book and that, my bookish friends is a very, very good thing!  I also feel quite proud that I saw a good thing early on and I’m now able to introduce new readers to the wonder of Winter and James Carol’s brilliant writing.)

Anyway, enough of my author/series stalking (I could give a few of my fellow bloggers a run for their money as they are well known and fairly vocal about their author stalking. But fear not Mr Carol. I am mostly harmless!).  Let’s crack on with my review…

So, what did I think of the fourth book in the series?  Well they just keep getting better and better.  James Carol is one of my very favourite authors and this latest release proves that (ha! Like proof was ACTUALLY needed!).  For those new to this series, Jefferson Winter can be an acquired taste.  He’s an ex-FBI profiler who didn’t quite ‘fit’ so has gone out to catch the bad guys on his own.  Normally as a consultant, called in as and when needed by local police forces to get to the bottom of a particularly tricky case. Jefferson hunts the killers that no one else can catch.  It helps that he himself is the son of a serial killer, maybe giving him a small insight into the minds of the most evil men and women out there.  And he’s smart.  Really, really intelligent.

This time he is called to Vancouver to assist ex-police officer, Laura Anderton find a once-a-year killer.  Always striking on 5th August and making one of his victims live, whilst the other dies.  I was a little concerned to discover that Winter was hunting someone who killed only once a year.  I was worried the story would lack the action and fast-pace of past novels but I shouldn’t have fretted.  This book is chock full of action from start to finish.  Winter and Laura Anderton immediately build a strong working relationship, sharing ideas and bouncing old and new theories around.  I found the process incredibly fascinating; that examining of the minutiae in the hunt for a sadistic killer.

I was hooked from page one and found it very difficult to put this book down.  The author can do no wrong in my eyes and I can’t wait for future instalments.  It’s a gripping read, full of tension and suspense.  If you’re a thriller fan and haven’t read any of this series before then you are truly missing out.  The Quiet Man can be read as a standalone but why would you do that when you can read the first three books in the series as well?! It just doesn’t make sense!

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, yes I would.  Now stop me if I’ve mentioned this before but not only should you purchase The Quiet Man but you should also pop all of the other books in your basket at the same time!  Oh, and there are novellas too.  Don’t forget the novellas!  This is my ‘go to’ series, centering around one of my all time favourite characters.  I will buy any thriller written by James Carol without reading the blurb.  I am THAT confident that I will love it.  Don’t miss out thriller fans, buy this book!

Five out of five stars.

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

The Quiet Man by James Carol was published in the UK by Faber Books on 4th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author2

81yvufujgtl-_sy200_James Carol was born in Scotland in 1969, where he spent his early years. He moved to England in the eighties and has lived there ever since. At various times he has worked as a guitarist, sound engineer, guitar tutor, journalist, and a horse riding instructor.

The character of Jefferson Winter came about because he wanted to write a series of books that gave him as much freedom as possible. He figured that the more interesting he kept things for himself, the more interesting it would be for the reader.

Although the novels are written as a series, James approaches each book as a stand-alone. Each story is set in a different location, and has a different cast of characters. The beauty of this approach is that the novels can be read out of order.

When he’s not writing, James spends his time training horses and riders. An accomplished guitarist, he relaxes by writing and recording music. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Lie to Me by Jess Ryder (@jessryderauthor) @bookouture

lie to me cover.jpgHow can you tell the truth… if all you’ve ever known is a lie?

Three minutes. That’s all it takes for Meredith’s entire world to fall apart when she watches the videotape of her four-year-old self with Becca, the mother who abandoned her.

Meredith can’t believe what her eyes have seen. Yet what if her memory has locked away the painful reality of her childhood? Can there be any truth in the strange and dangerous story her mother forced her to tell on camera? 

The search for answers leads Meredith to Darkwater Pool, the scene of the murder of a young woman, Cara, over 30 years ago. What could possibly be the link between her mother and the victim?

To find the truth Meredith must search through a past that is not her own. The problem is, she’s not the only one looking…

A dark, compulsive psychological thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Louise Jensen.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Lie to Me blog tour which I share with the lovely Rae over at Rae Reads.  Lie to Me is written by Jess Ryder and was published by the fabulous Bookouture on 19th April 2017.

The blurb of this book grabbed my attention straight away and that tagline, how can you tell the truth if all you’ve ever known is a lie…I just love it!  I was excited to make a start on this intriguing psychological thriller.  And the verdict? I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Meredith, the main character in the book is instantly likeable.  You join her as she sorts through the contents of her father’s attic where she makes an unexpected discovery.  A videotape with her name written on it in her mother’s handwriting.  Against her father’s advice she enthusiastically watches the tape hoping for answers about her estranged mother, Becca.  But what she gets is a whole lot more twisted and life will never be the same again for Meredith.

I flew through the pages of this book.  It grabbed my attention and kept pulling me back, time and time again.  So much so that I finished it in two short days (that’s quick for me). The author’s writing style was very much to my taste and I wouldn’t hesitate to read another book by Jess Ryder.

Each chapter is told from one of three points of view; you have Meredith the lead character, Cara before her death in the mid-1980s and Jay, the man accused but found innocent of Cara’s murder.  Cara is also a very likeable character and I felt a little sad knowing that all the future held for her was a terrifying death.  The chapters told from Jay’s point of view make it very clear that he is man living on the edge and doing everything he can to escape his past.

You discover that the only reason Jay was found innocent of Cara’s murder was because of Becca’s testimony which confused the court and led to Jay being released.  The impact had by Becca’s testimony on the case instantly drags Meredith into a cold case investigation, alongside her detective ex-boyfriend Eliot.  Eliot’s only focus is his career and he refuses to share certain findings with Meredith.  Which only frustrates Meri and makes her even more determined to work out who killed Cara all those years ago.  Surely it wasn’t her own mother, only to be driven mad by the guilt?

For me, the story of Meredith’s quest, her desire to find out what happened to her mother and the slightly odd bunch of characters she meets along the way made this book for me.  All of the characters add something to the story, and the character of Isobel will stay with me for a long time to come.  There are shocks and surprises along the way, none of which I saw coming so full marks to the author.

A tale of family secrets, lies and betrayal which I found hard to put down.  In all honestly I preferred the main body of the book to the ending but it’s still a great read which I would recommend to fans of the genre without hesitation.  I’m looking forward to reading more from Jess Ryder.

Four out of five stars.

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

Lie to Me by Jess Ryder was published in the UK by Bookouture on 19th April 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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jess ryder.jpgJess Ryder is the pseudonym of Jan Page, author, screenwriter, playwright and award-winning television producer.  After many years working in children’s media, she has recently embarked on a life of crime.  Writing, that is.   So she’s very excited about the publication of her debut thriller Lie to Me.  Her other big love is making pots.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney (@trisha460) @bookouture

the missing ones cover.jpg“The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror. 

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how? 

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal. 

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger? 

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice. 

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Missing Ones blog tour.  The Missing Ones is the debut novel from Patricia Gibney and features kick-ass Detective Inspector Lottie Parker.  The lovely Susan over at Books From Dusk till Dawn is also featuring on the blog tour today, so make sure you pop over and give her a follow (if you don’t already that is!).

DI Lottie Parker is thrown into the middle of an investigation and begins to flounder from the very start.  Her two victims are very obviously connected somehow, but what that connection is is beyond Lottie and her team.  Lottie is struggling with her own life having recently lost her husband and being the sole carer to her three teenage children.  Regular disagreements with her interfering, overbearing mother don’t help the situation.  But Lottie knows she needs to find justice for the victims and throws herself head first into the investigation.  Before long her attention is drawn to St Angela’s children’s home where, in the 70’s and 80’s evil roamed the corridors.  Run by the Catholic Church, St Angela’s holds terrifying secrets that someone doesn’t want shared.  How far are they, and most importantly, how far is Lottie prepared to go?  Far enough to put her own children into mortal danger…?

This is a chilling read.  The subject matter is hard going at times but handled incredibly well by the author.  The sections where you’re reading about the children of St Angela’s are pretty intense but well written, creating an air of unease and uncomfortable expectation.

I loved the setting.  I have read a number of outstanding Irish crime thrillers this year and this one stands strong alongside them.  It’s an incredibly atmospheric read and you feel as though you are there, traipsing through the snow with Lottie and her team.

DI Lottie Parker is in an intriguing character and one I would like to read more of.  I felt I could sympathise with her situation but her parenting skills really irked me at times. She’s doing the best she can with the situation she’s in but I felt she neglected her children a lot of the time in favour of the job.  Now, I don’t claim to be super-mum but c’mon Lottie…they’re your kids!  Saying that, the story-line would have faltered quite early on without her questionable parenting, so I can understand why it was necessary for her to be so work focused.

Lottie’s relationship with DS Boyd is an interesting one.  They’re colleagues and sparring partners, yes.  But there’s something else there too.  They do have a brief personal past together and I wonder if this is something we will see built upon in future books.  There’s definitely friction there along with a rather large dollop of chemistry.

I found the plot compelling and whenever I had to put the book down, I wanted to get straight back to the story.  There is a lot of action (which can only be a good thing), with twists and turns along the way to wrong foot you.  I’m afraid I was able to tell ‘whodunit’ quite early on in the story but this didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, particularly if you’re a fan of dark crime fiction or have a penchant (like me!) for Irish crime.  It’s a good solid start to what promises to be a cracking new series and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Four out of five stars.

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

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney was published in the UK by Bookouture on 16th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Patricia yearned to be a writer after reading Enid Blyton and Carolyn Keene and even wanted to be Nancy Drew when grew up. She has now grown up (she thinks) but the closest she’s come to Nancy Drew is writing crime!

In 2009, after her husband died, she retired from her job and started writing seriously. Fascinated by people and their quirky characteristics, she always carries a notebook to scribble down observations.

Patricia also loves to paint in watercolour and lives in the Irish midlands with her children.

Author Links: Website | Twitter |

 

#BookReview: The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici @arrowpublishing

book of mirrors cover.jpg“How would you piece together a murder?

Do you trust other people’s memories?
Do you trust your own?
Should you?

Princeton, 1987: renowned psychologist Professor Joseph Weider is brutally murdered.

New York, twenty-five years later: literary agent Peter Katz receives a manuscript. Or is it a confession?

Today: unearth the secrets of The Book of Mirrors and discover why your memory is the most dangerous weapon of all.”

I’m not entirely sure what is going on at the moment.  I’m a little confused as all of a sudden I seem to have the time to read non-blog tour books.  It’s a wonderful thing, and I hope it lasts…this must be what other bloggers feel like!

Literary agent Peter Katz receives a well written, thoughtful submission which piques his interest.  It’s about a murder, but it’s not just any old fictional tale.  It’s about a real life, high profile crime which took place 25 years ago.  As is customary in the world of publishing, Peter only has the first few pages of the manuscript.  But he knows he needs to read more.  Who killed Professor Joseph Weider? Is this the author confessing?  Or a complete work of fiction?

I loved the idea of this book.  Any book that’s, well…about books tends to grab my attention.  The story is divided into three parts and the story is told by three narrators; the literary agent, the investigative journalist and the retired cop.  Events take a turn for the worse when the manuscript Peter Katz is so desperate to find goes missing.  But he needs to know who killed Professor Weider.  Yes, his interest is professional but if he’s honest it goes much deeper than that now.

I enjoyed reading The Book of Mirrors but I’m afraid it didn’t have the wow factor for me.  At times, I wondered whether I had accidentally picked up a psychology textbook by mistake.  It was a fascinating read but not a very exciting one.  I really enjoyed the first part narrated by literary agent, Peter Katz.  I’m afraid I was stating to lose interest when the investigative journalist stepped up to the plate and by the time I had reached the third part narrated by the retired cop, I was completely lost.

Before I conclude this review I have to say something about Laura Baines.  For me she was the character that outshone every one else.  Laura is one of the characters who makes a regular appearance throughout the story.  And each and every time she does make an appearance she is a completely different person.  I loved that.  I loved grown-up, career driven Laura.  She made me shudder at one point with her icy attitude.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but it’s a slow burn of a novel.  The beginning is great, I found the end satisfying but it lost it’s way somewhere in the middle.

Three and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Book of Mirrors.  Many thanks to Arrow Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici was published in the UK by Arrow Publishing on 26th January 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in September 2017 | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Eugen-Ovidiu-Chirovici-e1483098164844-512x326.jpgInspired by false memories from his childhood and written in the author’s second language, remarkably The Book of Mirrors nearly wasn’t published at all.

Having been rejected in the US, E. O. Chirovici took the novel to a small UK publisher who advised him to try just one more time to get it to a wider readership. He did, and The Book of Mirrors was immediately signed by a literary agent, sparking a UK auction and world-wide rights sales.

E. O. Chirovici now lives in Brussels with his wife. He has had a prestigious and varied career in the Romanian media and has also published novels and short stories in his native language. The Book of Mirrors is his first novel in English and is being published in January.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward (@sarahrward1) @FaberBooks

a deadly thaw cover.jpgAutumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.

Spring 2016
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.

Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . .

A Deadly Thaw confirms Sarah Ward’s place as one of the most exciting new crime writers.”

I’m extremely excited to welcome you to my stop on the A Deadly Thaw paperback blog tour.  A Deadly Thaw is written by the very talented Sarah Ward and is book two in the DC Childs series. Having been released in eBook format last year it is now also available in lovely paperback as well (published 2nd February 2017).  And what better way to celebrate than with a blog tour packed full of some of my very favourite book bloggers!

It’s 2004 and Lena Fisher is a murderer.  After welcoming her husband home and spending some hot, sweaty time in their bed together, Lena suffocates her husband with a pillow.  She’s eventually arrested, stands trial and ends up in prison for 10+ years.  Fast forward to 2016 where Lena is a free woman once again.  She returns to her childhood home; Providence Villa – a large, crumbling, Victorian estate.  Her parents are long dead but she has her estranged sister, Kat for company.  Lena isn’t surprised when DC Connie Childs and DS Palmer turn up on her doorstep, after all she is a convicted felon.  What she isn’t expecting is for them to inform her that her husband’s body has discovered in a disused morgue.  That he is very recently deceased with a gaping chest wound and that they know the man Lena killed in 2004 wasn’t her husband.  Will DC Childs and DS Palmer be able to uncover the complicated truth?  When Lena goes on the run, Kat struggles to understand what is happening and exactly who her sister is.  Kat’s muddle is not helped when a teenage boy, who claims to be a friend of Lena’s, starts leaving cryptic clues for Kat.  Who will be the first to solve a mystery that dates back many years.  And is Kat’s life in danger?  Is she the only one….?

A Deadly Thaw is an excellent example of how to write a gripping, multilayered, character focussed crime thriller.  It’s full of secrets, family tension and bucket loads of suspense.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be making a point of downloading the first in the series, In Bitter Chill to my Kindle immediately after finishing  writing this review.

Author Sarah Ward has been on my radar for a while now.  I remember seeing the reviews for A Deadly Thaw back in the Summer and being intrigued.  And who wouldn’t be drawn in by that brilliant blurb.  Some authors you read because…well, just because really.  Other authors you read because you know deep down, that their words, their story and you will be a brilliant fit.  That’s exactly how I felt about A Deadly Thaw.  

I don’t know where to begin with DC Connie Childs.  You can probably guess that I absolutely loved her.  Yes, there are two male detectives who work alongside Connie.  Yes, they are also brilliantly written, essential characters.  But, for me, they faded into the background.  She’s the first character in a while that I’ve found to be relatable.  OK, so the fawning over DS Palmer I probably could have done without but it gave an incredibly strong character a necessary weak spot (which probably made me feel for her just a little bit more).  I loved the get up and go attitude, I loved the fire in her belly when it came to the treatment of the victims, I even loved her naivety – something which would drive me quite loopy in other characters.  Although DI Sadler led the investigation, I felt at times that there wouldn’t BE an investigation if it wasn’t for Connie.  She’s definitely high on my favourite character list and I can’t wait to see where Sarah Ward takes her in future.

I found the setting to be suitably creepy and loved the eerie feel of Sarah Ward’s Derbyshire (I’m terrible at geography and have to admit to consulting a map of England to discover where Derbyshire is.  Yes, I am British.  Yes, I live and have always lived in England/UK/GB.  Yes, I feel suitably ashamed!)  Whitby also features heavily in the book and that also needed investigation as to its location (rubbish at geography!).  Ward paints such a vivid picture of these grey, dank places that I can’t help but want to go and see them for myself.  Bampton, Derbyshire felt like a living, breathing character.  Strangely mesmirising.

The plot has many different strands to it and at times it is hard to see how they will tie together.  But tie together they do in an explosive, nail-biting conclusion.  At times, I found myself getting quite upset by the stories unfolding in front of me.  I experienced anger as well, at the injustice and poor treatment of the victims.  It’s quite a shocking and unsettling read, but oh so good!

Would I recommend this book?  Of course I would!  But prepare yourself for a lot more than you expect.  Sarah Ward knows how to tell a brilliant story and I can’t wait to read more from her.  Dark, creepy and highly addictive (and I may be a little bit in love with DC Connie Childs).

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of A Deadly Thaw.  Many thanks to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 2nd February 2017 and is availble in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Faber & Faber |

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

I’m the author of two crime novels In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw which are set in the Derbyshire Peak District where I live. They are published in the UK by Faber and Faber and by Minotaur Books in the US.

In addition to this blog, I have reviewed at the Los Angeles Review of Books, crimesquad.com and Eurocrime. Articles and short stories have appeared in the Sunday Express magazine, Traveller and other publications. I’m one of the judges for The Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel and I particularly love reading translated crime fiction.

Author Links: Blog | Twitter | Facebook |