#BookReview: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing #LockEveryDoor #damppebbles

lock every door 2“You’ve been offered a luxury apartment, rent free. The catch: you may not live long enough to enjoy it…

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents. 

These are the only rules for Jules Larson’s new job as apartment sitter for an elusive resident of the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile private buildings and home to the super rich and famous.

Recently heartbroken and practically homeless, Jules accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

Out of place among the extremely wealthy, Jules finds herself pulled toward other apartment sitter Ingrid. But Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her. Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story – but the next day, her new friend has vanished.

And then Jules discovers that Ingrid is not the first temporary resident to go missing…

Welcome to the Bartholomew…You may never leave.”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of Lock Every Door by Riley Sager.  Lock Every Door was published by Ebury Publishing on 25th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats.  I received a free eARC via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I felt anxious about reading Lock Every Door.  Let me give you a little of the backstory.  Riley Sager’s Final Girls is one of the most INCREDIBLE books I have EVER read.  Here’s my review of Final Girls so you can see how much I loved it. I still recommend it to everyone today and it’s one of the few books I would pick up and read again (and again!).  So I was excited to read this author’s second novel (under his nom de plume), Last Time I Lied.  With hindsight, I think my expectations were too high when I started LTIL which led me to be a *little* harsh in my critique of it. I’m sorry Mr Sager.  There are so many readers out there who prefer Last Time I Lied to Final Girls but isn’t that the beauty of reading – it’s subjective.  So knowing I was going to be reading the third novel by this author (which I was excited about, by the way, but also a little anxious), I was keen to separate my feelings about the first two novels from Lock Every Door and read it as though it was written by a brand new author to me (does that make sense?).  Anyway, to cut a long, dwindling story short, I really enjoyed Lock Every Door. But I’m not going to compare it to either of this author’s first two books.

Jules Larsen has landed on her feet after splitting up with her boyfriend and losing her job.  She’s going to be an apartment sitter at an exclusive New York apartment building for 3 months, where the rich and famous spend their days.  Not only will she live the life of luxury, but they are also going to pay her four thousand dollars a month!  It’s a win-win situation.  But there are rules she must stick to; no visitors, don’t talk to or discuss the other residents and no nights away from the apartment.  Jules understandably feels the rules are a little strict but this is an opportunity not to be missed.  Particularly as her favourite book, which she often shared with her missing sister, Heart of a Dreamer, was set at the Bartholomew.  But the Bartholomew is rumoured to have many dark secrets and the longer Jules spends living there, the more concerned she becomes.  And when a friend and fellow apartment sitter goes missing, Jules knows that not everything is as it first seemed…

This a wonderful gothic thriller which sends shivers down the reader’s spine.  Poor Jules.  I really felt for her as she seemed to have the worst luck.  First, you’re dumped, then you lose your job and then you move into the apartment from hell thinking it’s the answer to your prayers. Oh, and there’s a strong chance you won’t survive the ordeal.  I was immediately intrigued by the plot and was trying to plan in my own mind where the story was going to go.  The Batholomew is a character all by itself with it’s creaky barred elevator and the demonic-looking gargoyles on every corner.  The eeriness of the setting really added to an already creepy story and I found myself totally immersed in the author’s tale.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes.  It’s a compelling gothic chiller which I struggled to put down.  I strongly suggest you give this author’s other books a go too (whoops, wasn’t going to mention them!) as they’re worth reading.  I loved the ending which was very satisfying and a lot of fun. I would have been disappointed if this book had finished any other way.  Chilling, dark and hard to put down. Recommended.

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

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Publishing on 25th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesBook Depository  | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

pseudonymRiley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called “The first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King), was published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BookReview: Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay @HQstories #ElevatorPitch #TakeTheStairs #damppebbles

elevator pitch.jpg“It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world – and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment – is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men and women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers . . .

Pulsating with tension, Elevator Pitch is a riveting tale of psychological suspense that is all too plausible . . . and will chill readers to the bone.”

Welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year, Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. Elevator Pitch is published in hardcover, audio and ebook formats today! Happy publication day to Linwood Barclay and the team at HQ. I received a free eARC copy of Elevator Pitch via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I love the idea behind this book. A maniac takes control of Manhattan’s elevators finding clever and inventive ways to kill random strangers. But to what end? Ah well, you’ll just have to read the book and see for yourself. And it’s not just any old city that’s being terrorised either. It’s one of the most vertical cities in the world – New York. The thought that the next elevator (or lift to any Brits reading this, lol!) you took could lead to your terrifying and grisly death immediately grinds a busy, thriving city to a dramatic halt. Or if you look at it from another angle; you live on the 38th floor of a skyscraper and the lifts are taken out of service because of the danger. You’re trapped. Unable to leave your apartment – and if you do, that’s a heck of a lot of stairs to tackle to get home again. Are you fit enough? Will your heart take the climb? What if you have children? Such a wonderful premise for a book and, as it’s a Linwood Barclay novel, it’s very well written too.

The reader is introduced to reporter Barbara Matheson who is so beautifully flawed that I was immediately on her side. She is opposed to the current Mayor, Richard Headley, and fights to prove that he’s corrupt and no good for the City via her Manhattan Today column. We also get to spend a good deal of time with the Mayor and discover that despite his poor reputation, he does have a softer side. That is until he opens his mouth and belittles his poor son, Glover. Then you have the discovery of a fingerless body on the High Line (I had to Google the High Line to find out what it was) and Detectives Bourque and Delgado are sent to investigate. And finally, Eugene Clement and his wife are on an anniversary break to New York. Except Eugene is the leader of a pressure group called The Flyovers; is this trip business or pleasure? These different threads run alongside each other for a large proportion of the book. They were all interesting and I was, of course, looking out for how the different threads fitted together. But I would have liked the story to move along a little faster than it did.

There are red herrings galore and the author has done a wonderful job of duping his readers into thinking they know where the story is going when in truth, we really don’t. There are some beautifully written twists at the end of the book which gave me goosebumps. Elevator Pitch is a well written slow burn of a novel until you get to the last few chapters when things really HOT up! There are things about this novel which I will remember for a long time to come. But is it wrong to have wanted more elevator tragedies? A little more blood spilt? Probably, but you must be used to me by now, dear reader 😂🤣.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I love the premise and it’s well written. I’ve been incredibly nervous using a lift ever since I read Elevator Pitch. A totally feasible, panic-inducing and very enjoyable read. Recommended.

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

Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay was published in the UK by HQ on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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linwood barlcay.jpgLinwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the phenomenal number-one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Every Linwood Barclay book is a masterclass in characterisation, plot and the killer twist, and with sales of over 7 million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world and he can count Stephen King, Shari Lapena and Peter James among his many fans.

Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, and Linwood wrote the screenplay for the film based on his bestselling novel Never Saw It Coming. He is currently working with eOne to turn the Promise Falls trilogy into a series. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he’s lived there ever since. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Neetha. They have two grown children. Visit Linwood Barclay at www.linwoodbarclay.com or find him on Twitter at @linwood_barclay.

#BookReview: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson @BloomsburyRaven #NeverHaveIEver #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (7/15)

never have I ever

“It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t.

But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.

Roux promises she will go away – if Amy plays by her rules.

But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. Never Have I Ever was published on 8th August 2019 by Raven Books and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats. I chose Never Have I Ever as my seventh #15BooksofSummer challenge read and received a free eARC of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

It’s not often I read a ‘teaser’ or sample of a book. I prefer to read the entire thing from start to finish, at my own (some would say, very slow) pace. So when a teaser of Never Have I Ever appeared on NetGalley I planned to walk on by. But that didn’t actually happen. I found myself drawn to this book so I broke the habit of a lifetime and downloaded the first chapter. Looking for something to kill an hour one day in between moving the kids from one after school activity to another, I started to read my short snippet of Never Have I Ever. I was instantly drawn into the world of these women with the interloper in their midst. The exotic Roux who usurped the mumsy book club leader, Charlotte, and made herself very much at home in Amy’s basement having recently moved into the local rental. Roux instantly ruffles a number of feathers, flatters a number of the more timid women and makes her mark on the group. But as the alcohol flows some of their most closely guarded secrets are revealed, all for the momentary thrill of shocking their peers. A game of ‘never have I ever’ takes a more sinister twist and Amy is left wondering exactly what mysterious Roux knows about her past. And that’s where the first chapter ended (!) and I was left hankering after the rest of the story. Thankfully my NetGalley request was approved shortly after that so I didn’t have to wait *too* long for the rest of Roux and Amy’s story!

And what a story it is! This is a wonderful multi-layered book and I was completely drawn in to the lives of the characters. I loved Amy and her sass. I desperately wanted her to succeed in her plan to win the game and keep her dark past hidden from her family and maintain the life she had built for herself. But I also adored Roux who is darkness and wickedness personified. Good..ish versus evil. The battle is well and truly ON in Never Have I Ever and I savoured every last minute of it. This is an engrossing book with a brilliant plot but the characters are everything. If you don’t feel invested in Amy’s plight by the end of the book then I’m afraid you’ve done it all wrong.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes! But brace yourself for the unexpected. I don’t want to say anything else about the plot as I already feel I’ve said too much. However, the ending is perfect. I couldn’t work out how the author was going to finish this Battle Royale between these two brilliant adversaries but Jackson does it with absolute aplomb. One of the most fascinating psychological suspense novels I have read in a long time. Amy and Roux have made themselves at home in my memory and I don’t think they’ll be moving out anytime soon.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Never Have I Ever. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson was published in the UK by Raven Books on 8th August 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links (they’re starred*) which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk* | amazon.com | Waterstones* | BookDepository* | Goodreads |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

joshilyn jackson.jpg

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson’s newest book, Never Have I Ever, will launch in July of 2019. You can check out her previous eight novels and other work here. Joshilyn’s books have been translated into a dozen languages, have won SIBA’s Novel of the Year award, have three times been #1 Book Sense Pick, have twice won Georgia Author of the Year awards, have three times been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and have been a finalist for the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.

A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of both her own novels and the books of other writers; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, won three Earphones awards, made the 2012 Audible All-Star list for highest listener ranks/reviews, and garnered three Listen Up awards from Publisher’s Weekly.

She serves on the board of Reforming Arts, a nonprofit that runs education-in-prison and reentry programs. Reforming Arts fosters the development of critical and creative thinking skills, encouraging students to build livable lives both during and post-incarceration. Through this organization, Joshilyn has taught creative writing, composition, and literature inside Georgia’s maximum security facility for women.

Joshilyn learned to scuba-dive in order to write Never Have I Ever, and now she and her husband Scott are both avid divers. They live in Decatur, Georgia with their two kids, two entitled cats, and a modestly-sized dog.

Author photo and biog © https://www.joshilynjackson.com/

#BookReview: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner @BoroughPress #MissingPresumed #damppebbles

missing presumed.jpg

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. Missing, Presumed was published by The Borough Press in 2016. I received a free eARC of this book via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

Erin Kelly describes this book as beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more. Missing, Presumed feels quite different to other books in the genre. Steiner presents a pretty bleak story but with such style and eloquence that you can’t help but be captivated. This is a slow burn police procedural with a less than perfect detective set in a wintery Cambridgeshire. There was a heck of a lot of buzz about this book when it was first published so I knew I just had to read a copy and find out more. I’m very glad I did.

DS Manon Bradshaw made this book shine for me. On the verge of hitting the big ‘four-oh’ Manon is determined to find a husband (I’m sure a committed partner would be enough in all honesty, lol!). She’s fed up with her life and feeling so lonely, so turns to internet dating to find Mister Right. Only finding Mister Very Wrong, Mister Oh No and Mister You Must Be Joking! Falling asleep every night to the crackle and hiss of her ‘borrowed’ police scanner. When Edith Hind is reported missing Manon is one of the first to hear the report over her scanner, and it’s only around the corner so she gets dressed and heads out into the chilly night. What she finds is a scene that causes some concern; the coats in the hallway are disturbed, the front door is open, Edith’s phone and keys have been left behind and there are a few ominous looking blood spots in the kitchen. An investigation to find missing Edith is launched led by Manon’s Major Incident Team but they’re aware time is running out. When it’s revealed the missing woman is the daughter of Lord Ian Hind, physician to the Queen and is good friends with the Home Secretary, the team know the case is going to be big news. Can Manon and the team find the missing woman before it’s too late…?

The book is written from multiple viewpoints which include Edith’s mother, Miriam, Manon and a wonderful colleague of Manon’s, DC Davy Walker. I loved Davy – what a nice young chap! Manon’s DI, Harriet Harper, is also a great character I loved the relationship between the two of them. I didn’t like any of the Hinds who all come across as pompous, self-serving, self-entitled fools. Even the devastated Miriam failed to stir any sympathy within me. The other character I loved was Fly, a young boy who, having lost his brother, is taken under Manon’s wing. Their relationship absolutely blossoms and it’s a joy to watch.

The investigation was slow going and at times I would have liked things to happen a little quicker. The reveal was quite a shocker but I relished it. It was very satisfying and I wouldn’t have wanted the book to end any other way with hindsight.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It’s beautifully written and a wonderful character driven novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by Susie Steiner. An intriguing mystery with a wonderfully flawed lead character who I hope to see a lot more of in the future.

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

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner was published in the UK by The Borough Press on 25th August 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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susie steiner.jpg

Susie grew up in north London, studied English at university and trained as a journalist. She worked in newspapers for 20 years, 11 of them on staff at The Guardian. Her first novel, Homecoming, was published by Faber & Faber to critical acclaim in 2013. Her second, Missing, Presumed was a Sunday Times bestseller which introduced detective Manon Bradshaw. It was a Richard & Judy book club pick and has sold 250,000 copies to date in the UK. Missing, Presumed was selected as one of the Guardian’s, Wall Street Journal’s and NPR’s standout books of 2016. It was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year 2017. Persons Unknown, the sequel to Missing, Presumed, is her third novel – also a Richard & Judy book club pick and also long-listed for the Theakstons. The third in the Manon trilogy is called Loss of Life and is due out in May 2020. Susie has written extensively about losing her eyesight to Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is registered fully blind and lives in London with her husband and two children.

Author image and biog © http://www.susiesteiner.co.uk/

Author Images: | Website | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry @canongatebooks #TheWayofAllFlesh #damppebbles

the way of all flesh“Edinburgh, 1847. Will Raven is a medical student, apprenticing for the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson. Sarah Fisher is Simpson’s housemaid, and has all of Raven’s intelligence but none of his privileges.

As bodies begin to appear across the Old Town, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld. And if either of them are to make it out alive, they will have to work together to find out who’s responsible for the gruesome deaths.”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of The Way of All Flesh.  The Way of All Flesh was written by Ambrose Parry (also known as Christopher Brookmyre and Dr Marisa Haetzman) and was published by Cannongate Books in paperback format on 30th April 2019.  I received a free eARC of this book from NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

What an absolutely wonderful historical mystery this is!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t read enough historical fiction.  I loved the setting (a dank and foggy Edinburgh in the 1840s), I loved the characters and I loved how wonderfully descriptive the writing is.  I was completely immersed in the story and I relished every single moment of it.

Medical student, Will Raven, acquires an apprenticeship with the renowned obstetrician, Dr James Young Simpson.  He is certain a life of riches awaits him and hopes his association with the esteemed Professor will ensure a line of wealthy patients queue up outside his door seeking his services in return for great financial remuneration.  Arriving at 52 Queen Street in a bloody and battered state Raven soon realises that not everything is as he first hoped and is aghast when the good Doctor is called to a less-than-salubrious abode and waves off payment.  Raven was sure he would be treating wealthy ladies from the New Town and living the high-life on the doctor’s coattails.

When the doctor and Raven witness a young woman’s contorted body being pulled from the docks Raven is reminded of his friend, Evie and how her body was discovered in a similar horrifying state.  Could the deaths be connected?  And what could cause the bodies to contort in such a way?  Raven enlists the help of Sarah Fisher, the doctor’s housemaid and together they try to solve the mystery before more young woman lose their lives in such a horrific manner…

There’s so much to this book.  Yes, the mystery element plays a part but there’s so much more to it than that.  The characters are just wonderful.  I loved both Will and Sarah.  Will is a little priggish at times but he can be forgiven as his heart is in the right place, no matter how it initially seems.  I adore Sarah and I loved how ahead of her time she is.  Wanting to break down those gender and class divides – it’s clear to the reader that she does not want to settle for her lot and her intelligence and thirst for knowledge is an inspiration (unfortunately it just doesn’t *quite* fit into 1840s Edinburgh life).  Brilliant characters and I am thrilled to hear they will return in a second book.

Dr Simpson’s quest to ease the pain and trauma of childbirth for his patients by discovering a new anaesthetic, therefore replacing ether, was a fascinating sub-plot which I thoroughly enjoyed.  There are some scenes in the book which are a little on the gory and upsetting side but these tend to relate to medical procedures and just the way situations were dealt with in the 1840s.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes, and I’m very much looking forward to the second book in the series which is out this Summer.  I loved how wonderfully atmospheric the writing is.  I loved the characters and can’t wait to see how they develop in future books.  A great historical read and one I heartily recommend.

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

The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry was published in the UK by Canongate Books on 30th April 2019 and is available in hardcover (which is beautiful, by the way), paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

ambrose parry.jpgAmbrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The couple are married and live in Scotland. Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this series, which begun with The Way of All Flesh, is based. The Art of Dying is the second book in the series.

Author Links:Twitter |

 

#BookReview: Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft #HerLastTomorrow #damppebbles

her last tomorrow.jpg“Could you murder your wife to save your daughter?

Nick and Tasha are a couple held together by their five-year-old daughter. Until one ordinary morning, when Ellie vanishes amid the chaos of the school run.

When Nick receives a ransom note, his world is turned upside down.

It tells him he can have his daughter back, but first he must murder his wife.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to another NetGalley review.  Today I’m putting Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft under the spotlight.  Her Last Tomorrow was published in paperback, audio and eBook formats most recently in June 2018 and I received a free eARC copy via NetGalley.  This has in no way influenced my review.

Her Last Tomorrow is the first book I’ve read by Adam Croft and I enjoyed it.  After all, how could you resist that tagline, huh? ‘Could you murder your wife to save your daughter?’ I absolutely flipping love it! Imagine being put in that situation, imagine being made to choose between your partner and your child.  That’s exactly what happens to Nick when, in his care, his 5-year-old daughter, Ellie, is taken.  Snatched in broad daylight from the car whilst he dashes back into the house for something.  Nick is assured she is safe and well and he can have her back.  Providing he kills his wife, Tasha…

Tasha is a pretty unlikable character but that doesn’t justify how easily Nick (who I liked to start with) comes to the decision that he is actually going to go through with the kidnapper’s demands.  He is going to kill his wife to ensure the safe return of his daughter.  But then he starts to plot and plan Tasha’s downfall only to realise it’s not going to be as easy as he originally thought.  The police detective investigating Ellie’s kidnapping is also suspicious of Nick.  Why has he been seen hanging around a notorious local pub patronised by local thugs when his young daughter is missing.  Meanwhile, Tasha’s world gradually falls apart and instead of the hard-nosed businesswoman, we start to see a much more emotional and human side to her.  I still didn’t like her though.

In fact, I don’t think I liked any of the characters in this book but that’s never really an issue for me.  I’m not a reader who has to have a bond with a character to enjoy a novel.  This, even for me (Mrs Slow-Reader), was a fairly quick read.  I will say, however, that I found the plot and the writing a little simplistic at times.  But it is what it is; a very commercial, entertaining read which has sold a shedload of copies and will continue to do so because it’s good.  If a little far fetched in places (hey, it’s fiction!).

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would if you’re looking for a quick and easy, uncomplicated read to while away a few hours.  I found it fascinating to see how my opinion of the characters changed as the story moved on.  I just wish the story and the characters had a little more oomph to them.  Overall I enjoyed Her Last Tomorrow and found it a short but entertaining read.

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

Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft was published in the UK on 14th June 2018 in paperback, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

adam croft.pngWith more than 1.5 million books sold to date, Adam Croft is one of the most successful independently published authors in the world, and one of the biggest selling authors of the past few years.

His 2015 worldwide bestseller Her Last Tomorrow sold more than 200,000 copies across all platforms and became one of the bestselling books of the year, reaching the top 10 in the overall Amazon Kindle chart and peaking at number 12 in the combined paperback fiction and non-fiction chart.

His Knight & Culverhouse crime thriller series has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide, with his Kempston Hardwick mystery books being adapted as audio plays starring some of the biggest names in British TV.

In 2016, the Knight & Culverhouse Box Set reached storewide number 1 in Canada, knocking J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child off the top spot only weeks after Her Last Tomorrow was also number 1 in Canada. The new edition of Her Last Tomorrow also reached storewide number 1 in Australia over Christmas 2016.

During the summer of 2016, two of Adam’s books hit the USA Today bestseller list only weeks apart, making them two of the most-purchased books in the United States over the summer.

In February 2017, Only The Truth became a worldwide bestseller, reaching storewide number 1at both Amazon US and Amazon UK, making it the bestselling book in the world at that moment in time. The same day, Amazon’s overall Author Rankings placed Adam as the most widely read author in the world, with J.K. Rowling in second place.

In January 2018, Adam’s bestselling book to date, Tell Me I’m Wrong became a worldwide bestseller and has since gone on to sell more than 250,000 copies.

Adam has been featured on BBC television, BBC Radio 4BBC Radio 5 Live, the BBC World ServiceThe GuardianThe Huffington PostThe Bookseller and a number of other news and media outlets.

In March 2018, Adam was conferred as an Honorary Doctor of Arts, the highest academic qualification in the UK, by the University of Bedfordshire in recognition of his achievements.

Adam presents the regular crime fiction podcast Partners in Crime with fellow bestselling author Robert Daws.

Author biog and image © https://www.adamcroft.net/

Author Links:TwitterWebsiteFacebook | Instagram |

 

 

 

#BookReview: The Women by S.E. Lynes @bookouture #TheWomen #damppebbles

the women

The night she moves in with Peter, she’s so happy, so exhilarated, so in love. Later, she will remember a much smaller feeling, a tiny one percent in her gut. And she will remember pushing that feeling aside…

Samantha Frayn doesn’t know why Peter Bridges picks her – a nobody with bitten fingernails and a troubled childhood behind her – but she falls quickly. He’s older, charming, likes fine wine and French films, and his beautiful home has real art on its walls.

Peter transforms Samantha’s life in an instant. He sees the better version of herself – the one she’s always wanted to be. It’s only normal that there’s a little friction, when she moves in, over domestic matters like where things are kept, or the proper times to eat, sleep and shower. She’s lucky to be with someone who can help her find a new job, move on from childish friends, and speak with greater sophistication.

But as Samantha notices, more and more, Peter’s temper, she starts to wonder if there might be consequences to breaking the rules of the world he has so quickly built around her.

And then she receives an anonymous note that makes her ask: is she the first woman to feel trapped by Peter? Is she being paranoid, manipulated, or could she be in danger?

You can tell the truth about your life, but someone needs to be listening. Someone needs to trust you. And someone needs to save you from the man you thought you loved.”

Oh I love S.E. Lynes’ writing. Bit of a fangirl moment for you! I’ve read nearly every book she’s written (bar one which is on my #15BooksofSummer list) and you can always guarantee it’s going to be brilliant and hard to put down. The Women is Susie’s latest book and was published by Bookouture on 22nd May. I received a free eARC of The Women but that has in no way influenced my review.

First thing I want to say about this book is I love the cover! If I weren’t already a huge S.E. Lynes fan then there’s a good chance I would be picking up The Women based purely on that brilliant blurb and the stunning cover. The book opens with Samantha and Peter (plus their baby, Emily) on their honeymoon in Rome. The opening is wonderfully tense and sets the scene perfectly. I was intrigued by what had gone before and I couldn’t wait to discover this couple’s story. And what a story it is.

The reader is then flung back in time to when Peter and Samantha first met. Professor Peter Bridges makes Samantha feel as though she’s the only woman in the world at a boring University party. He treats her with respect, listens intently to every word she says and makes her the centre of his universe. Samantha rapidly falls head over heels in love with Peter. He’s a class above the men (boys!) she usually meets with his expensive red wine, limitless supplies of cash, his elegant and sophisticated home and his sporty vintage midnight-blue Porsche. Before long Peter has suggested Samantha moves in with him, which she does leaving BBF and housemate, Marcia, on her own. Life is good for Samantha. Or is it?

What a great story this is with possibly one of the most unpleasant characters I have ever met in a novel. Peter is such a cliche and so utterly repulsive. Lynes has done an excellent job in making him so abhorrent – gah! He made my skin crawl, I was frequently cringing with how revolting he was. I was so desperate for sweet, trusting Samantha to see the light. To realise she was better than the life she was settling for, that not everything was how it seemed – not even to her – and for her to remove baby Emily from her obnoxious father’s influence.

It’s very difficult to say anything about this book without spoiling it for new readers. I will say, however, that the ending of this book was perfect. Had it ended any differently then I think I would have been disappointed. But Lynes has told her story with sensitivity (maybe not when it comes to Peter) and with wonderful little surprises along the way which made me despise ‘Peter the idiot’ even more.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. S.E. Lynes is a great writer and I urge you to read absolutely everything she has written (particularly Valentina). This is a beautifully written book with bucketloads of emotion. S.E. Lynes is a skilled and accomplished writer whose books I will return to again and again and again. Recommended.

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

The Women by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 22nd May 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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S E Lynes Author Photo

S E Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT and THE PROPOSAL.

After graduating from Leeds University, Susie lived in London before moving to Aberdeen where she worked as a producer at the BBC before moving with her husband, Paul, and two young children to Rome.

In Rome, she began to write, snatching time where she could. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University.

She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing. She has also published two children’s books in Italy.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd @PenguinUKBooks #TheInnocentWife #damppebbles

the innocent wife.jpg“You’re in love with a man on Death Row in Florida, convicted of a brutal murder twenty years ago.

You’re convinced he didn’t do it, and you’re determined to prove it. You’re part of a mass online campaign that picks holes in the case, uncovers evidence of police incompetence, and agitates for this miscarriage of justice to be overturned.

Now you’re married to him, and he’s a free man, his conviction thrown out. You have the rest of your lives to spend together.

You’re overjoyed. After all, he’s innocent.

Isn’t he?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd.  This book had a real buzz about it when it was first published in December 2017 (yes it has been on my NetGalley shelf for a while, yes I am a terrible book blogger who reads at a snail’s pace!).  I received a free eARC copy of The Innocent Wife which has in no way influenced my review.

I keep seeing mixed reviews for this book and I just don’t get it.  I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me – reading is subjective.  I totally get that.  I’ll say this though, if you’re anything like me you will love this book.  It has everything I want in a novel.  I loved the small town American feel of it, I loved how the author has used the nation’s love of true crime to give it a more authentic edge, I loved the plot and I loved the characters.  This is turning into an epic year of reading for me; nearly every book I pick up just blows me away!  And that includes The Innocent Wife.

Notorious convicted killer, Dennis Danson, comes to Sam’s attention when questions begin to be raised over the evidence and trial used to convict him and send him to death row.  An online group start petitioning for his release claiming the Red River Police got the wrong man.  Sam does what any normal (!) 30-something would do in this situation and starts corresponding with Dennis.  Before long a strong bond is formed between them and Dennis sends a visiting order.  Sam drops everything, packs her bags and flies off to Altoona Prison to meet Dennis in person, hoping he’s everything his letters lead her to believe he is.  After an awkward start, the couple relax into each others company and before long Sam has extended her visa to allow her to visit Dennis on a regular basis.  Then he’s released and everything changes.  Sam is married to a man she hardly knows.  And what’s more, what she was once certain of, she’s not anymore…

Character, character, character.  I flipping love a bunch of fascinating people!  I really felt for Sam.  I could feel her loneliness, her need to be loved and adored which emanated from the page.  I also found her a little frustrating at times because I wanted her to stop being so drippy and ‘woman-up’ a bit.  That didn’t stop me from wanting to read Sam’s story though.  She intrigued me.  I also loved the mysterious Dennis, although I doubt very much I was supposed to!  There was something quite dark and dangerous about him and that appealed. Other characters were great too such as the true crime documentary filmmaker, Carrie, who welcomes Sam to the US with open arms and then becomes her guardian angel.  She just knows Dennis is innocent and will do everything in her power to prove it.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  It’s a delicious slow burn of a read and I loved it!  I was absolutely fascinated to see where the story was going to go and I wasn’t at all disappointed.  Gripping, unnerving and it ticked so many boxes for me.  I would not hesitate to pick up another book by Amy Lloyd.  In fact, I can’t wait to read more from this author! Highly recommended.

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

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd was published in the UK by Arrow Publishing on 4th October 2018 in paperback, hardcover, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

amy lloyd.jpgAmy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. In 2016 she won the Daily Mail Bestseller Competition for her debut novel The Innocent Wife which, when it was published, became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Amy lives in Cardiff with her partner, who is also a published novelist.

Author Links:TwitterFacebook |

 

#BookReview: The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore @orionbooks #TheDarkRoom #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (5/15)

the dark room.jpgThey thought they’d buried their secrets 
Homicide inspector Gavin Cain is standing by a grave when he gets the call. Cain knows there’s something terrible in the coffin they’re about to exhume. He and his team have received a dying man’s confession and it has led them here.

But death doesn’t guarantee silence
Cain is summoned by Mayor Castelli, who has been sent sinister photographs of a woman that he claims he doesn’t know and a note threatening that worse are on their way.

And now light will be shone on a very dark place…
As Cain tries to identify the woman in the pictures, and looks into the mayor’s past, he finds himself being drawn towards a situation as horrifying and as full of secrets as the grave itself.”

Welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted today to be sharing my review of The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore which I have selected as one of my #15BooksofSummer challenge reads.  The Dark Room was published by Orion Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats. I received an eARC of The Dark Room but this has in no way influenced my review.

I read Jonathan Moore’s The Poison Artist back in 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was whilst sharing that review that a fellow book blogger, someone whose opinion I really respect, suggested I give The Dark Room a go.  Unfortunately, due to being the slowest of readers and having a burgeoning NetGalley TBR, I have only recently gotten around to it.  The Dark Room felt a little different to The Poison Artist in tone but is still a very enjoyable read.

Inspector Gavin Cain of the San Francisco Police Department is about to get some answers as he stands by the recently exhumed grave of a thirty-year-old corpse.  That is until his Lieutenant calls and orders him to the Mayor’s Office – she’s sending a chopper and there’s no time to waste.  Cain arrives, is introduced to Mayor Castelli and takes what seems like an instant dislike to the man.  The Mayor confides that he has received a number of potentially incriminating photographs in the post along with a threatening note.  These are the first four snaps.  There are another eight to come.  The note suggests that maybe the Mayor would like to commit suicide before the photographs fall into the wrong hands and he is exposed.  Castelli claims to not know who the woman is and wants Cain to discover her identity.  But the Mayor is hiding something and the further back into the Mayor’s past Cain digs, the more secrets he uncovers…

This is a slow burn, noirish thriller set in San Francisco.  The slow drip of information as you watch the case unfold and as Cain joins the dots makes it an enjoyable read.  Helped along by the wonderful setting and the fascinating characters.  And, having read this author before, I can safely say he likes to throw the odd shock twist into the story to give his readers a bit of a start.  Cain is an interesting chap and one I would happily read more of if this were a series (it’s not, it’s a standalone).  He’s a very experienced SFPD Inspector and takes no bull (not even from the Mayor or his Lieutenant).  I don’t feel the reader really gets to know him though.  You learn so much more about his partner, piano teacher Lucy, than you do about him.  Maybe he’s meant to be more of an enigma – after all, there’s only so far you can go with a character when they feature in only one book.  Other characters in the book are well drawn, particularly the Mayor’s daughter, Alexa, who drove me crazy.

The ending absolutely fitted the story and it was the right way for the author to go but I was left feeling a little disappointed.  I think that says more about me than the writing though.  I wanted something a little more showy, more of a BANG than what we’re given.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes.  It’s an absorbing police procedural which pulls you in from start to finish – you just HAVE to know how this one is going to end.  If you’re a fan of a slower paced crime read with a cast of intriguing characters then absolutely, you will enjoy this book.  Recommended.

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

The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore was published in the UK by Orion Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepository | Goodreads |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

jonathan-moore.jpgJonathan Moore is a Bram Stoker Award nominated author of five novels. His third novel, THE POISON ARTIST, was a selection of the BBC Radio 2 Book Club. His novels have been translated into seven languages.

Before graduating from law school in New Orleans, he lived in Taiwan for three years, guided whitewater raft trips on the Rio Grande, and worked as an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. He has also been an English teacher, a bar owner, a counsellor at a wilderness camp for juvenile delinquents, and a textbook writer.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |

 

 

#BookReview: Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada #MurderInTheCrookedHouse #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (4/15)

murder in the crooked house“By the author of The Tokyo Zodiac Murders – a fiendish Japanese locked room mystery

The Crooked House sits on a snowbound cliff at the remote northern tip of Japan. A curious place to build a house, but even more curious is the house itself – a maze of sloping floors and strange staircases, full of bloodcurdling masks and uncanny dolls. When a guest is found murdered in seemingly impossible circumstances, the police are called. But they are unable to solve the puzzle, and more bizarre deaths follow.

Enter Kiyoshi Mitarai, the renowned sleuth. Surely if anyone can crack these cryptic murders it is him. But you have all the clues too – can you solve the mystery of the murders in The Crooked House first?”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada.  Murder in the Crooked House was written by Soji Shimada and published in Japanese in 1982.  It has since been updated and this translation by Louise Heal Kawai into English was published earlier this year by Pushkin Vertigo.  I received a free eARC of Murder in the Crooked House but this has in no way influenced my review.

I have a bit of a thing for Japanese crime fiction.  There are two standout novels which I always recommend to people.  One of these is The Tokyo Zodiac Murders which is also by Soji Shimada (and also published in English by Pushkin Vertigo).  I LOVED The Tokyo Zodiac Murders which was also Shimada’s debut.  So you can imagine my excitement when I saw Murder in the Crooked House, another locked room mystery, was available on NetGalley.  This was a must-read for me.  So much so, I added it to my #15BooksofSummer list to make sure I got it read sooner rather than later.

I wanted so desperately to love this novel as much as The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.  I certainly enjoyed parts of it and it bears a number of similarities to Shimada’s debut.  But it didn’t captivate me like the first book did.  Once again, you, the reader, are invited to solve the crime.  The clues are all there.  But can you solve the mystery and most importantly HOW the crimes were committed before the somewhat inefficient local detectives do.

I have to confess that towards the last half to a third, I started to lose interest a little and began skim reading sections.  These sections mostly seemed to be the local detectives discussing ANOTHER way the murders ‘could’ have been committed or ANOTHER possible MO they had dreamt up for the house-bound group of suspects.  The story then switches when a familiar detective is brought in to stop the dilly-dallying and make some arrests, Kiyoshi Mitarai from The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.  What I found surprisingly hard at this point was switching from third person to first person.  The entire book is told in third person up until this point.  I struggled to get my head around the change.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of a complex mystery and like to play the part of the detective and you have time on your hands then yes, absolutely, I recommend this book to you.  I’m putting a lot of how I feel about this book down to bad timing.  I should have put it to one side and come back to it at another time when there was less going on in my life.  My love for The Tokyo Zodiac Murders remains strong.  If you are looking for a Japanese mystery to read then I completely and utterly recommend you read The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Murder in the Crooked House.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada (trans. Louise Heal Kawai) was published in the UK by Pushkin Vertigo on 31st January 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesGoodreads |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

soji shimadaBorn in 1948 in Hiroshima prefecture, Soji Shimada has been dubbed the ‘God of Mystery’ by international audiences. A novelist, essayist and short-story writer, he made his literary debut in 1981 with The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, which was shortlisted for the Edogawa Rampo Prize. Blending classical detective fiction with grisly violence and elements of the occult, he has gone on to publish several highly acclaimed series of mystery fiction. He is the author of 100+ works in total. In 2009 Shimada received the prestigious Japan Mystery Literature Award in recognition of his life’s work.