#BlogTour | #BookReview: Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) @bookouture

sleep tight“Close your eyes … Just pray you don’t wake up.

A killer stalks the streets of East London. All over the area, murdered young women are discovered, their bodies posed into a sickening recreation of fairytale princesses.

Detective Ruby Preston is determined to hunt down a disturbed individual who is using the women to realise his dark fantasies. But when body parts are found at the home of her lover, Nathan Crosby, Ruby is torn between her job and her heart.

Convinced that he is being framed, Ruby must catch the killer before Nathan becomes the number one suspect. But as more victims are found, it becomes harder to prove his innocence.

As Ruby starts to close in on the twisted individual, can she stop him before he strikes again? And how well does she really know the man she loves?

A terrifying, addictive serial killer thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, for readers of Angela Marsons, Peter James and Rachel Abbott.”

I am so incredibly happy to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my stop on the Sleep Tight blog tour.  Sleep Tight is the second book in the DS Ruby Preston series and is written by the incredibly talented Caroline Mitchell and published by Bookouture. If you missed it, I was rather fond of the first book in the series, Love You to Death.  So much so that it made it onto my books of 2016 list.  If you click here you can read my five star review of the book which started my obsession with Ruby Preston.

I guess the question is, did the second book in the series live up to my incredibly high, almost unachievable expectations?  I’ve been waiting with bated breath for my next fix of DS Ruby Preston so when I say the pressure was high, it was REALLY high!  And once again, Caroline Mitchell has knocked it out of the park.  It was SO good to be back on the case with Ruby and Co.

Ruby is as strong-willed and kick-ass as she was in the first book.  Her relationship with local crime boss, Nathan is as fully charged as ever but this time Ruby has to clear Nathan’s name as part of an investigation into a serial killer dressing his victims as macabre fairytale princesses.  It’s hard to deny you had something to do with the murders when a box of recently harvested organs is discovered beneath your bed, as Nathan quickly discovers.   Ruby however is convinced of Nathan’s innocence.  Her senior officers are convinced of Nathan’s guilt, so it’s down to our fearless hero to find the real killer and clear her man’s name.  The chemistry between Ruby and Nathan is something which makes this series of books extra special in my opinion.  As I may have mentioned before, I’m not one for slushy stuff in my crime novels but it’s such a big part of these characters stories that it just works.  There was less friction between the couple this time around but that was partly to do with Nathan being in hiding for the majority of the book.

Lenny, Nathan’s rather creepy brother, is back with a bang this time around as well.  I mentioned friction a moment ago and that’s what Lenny brings to the story.  But definitely NOT in the same way as Nathan.  His antagonistic personality, his needling, inappropriate behaviour towards Ruby makes my skin crawl.  He’s so repulsive but it just wouldn’t be the same without him.

We find out fairly early on who the killer is but what we don’t know is, who is pulling their strings.  The killer’s back story is quite shocking and it immediately clarifies why certain things are happening and the reason they’re happening to the people they are.  For me, it just made me fall a little more in love with one of the main characters but I refuse to say which one.  There are plenty more twists and surprises in store, including one that left me gasping like a fish out of water.  Thinking about it now, I still can’t quite believe it happened!

Would I recommend this book?  Of course I would (you’d be a fool not too!) but start with Love You to Death as it sets the scene and it’s bloody fabulous!  A tense, edge of your seat read which I devoured.  I didn’t want it to end!  Oh, and I have such a girl crush on Ruby Preston…but don’t tell anyone. Please Caroline Mitchell, keep writing about Ruby. I’m totally hooked!

Five out of five stars.

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

Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell was published in the UK by Bookouture on 20th April 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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caroline mitchell

A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.  She now writes full time.

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: Will to Live by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) @emmamitchellfpr

Will to Live Cover MEDIUM WEB (1).jpg“Reputation is everything

When a packed commuter train runs over a body on a stretch of track known to locals as ‘Suicide Mile’, it soon transpires that the man was a victim of a calculated murder.

As the investigation evolves and a pattern of murders is uncovered, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter realises the railway’s recent reputation may be the work of a brutal serial killer.

With a backlog of cold cases to investigate and attempting to uncover who is behind a professional vendetta against her, Kay must keep one step ahead of both the killer and her own adversaries.

When a second murder takes place within a week of the first, she realises the killer’s timetable has changed, and she’s running out of time to stop him…

Will to Live is the second book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…

If you like Angela Marsons, Peter James and Robert Bryndza, discover the latest addition to Rachel Amphlett’s new series today.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Will to Live blog tour.  Will to Live is the second book in the DS Kay Hunter series written by author, Rachel Amphlett.  I read and reviewed the first book in the series Scared to Death a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it, so was looking forward to making a start on Will to Live.

And once again, I very much enjoyed DS Kay Hunter’s latest outing.  Maybe more so than the first book.  I felt this novel gave a lot more information about Kay’s past which I was left wondering about previously.  And the other characters seemed to shine through a little more.  In the first book one character in particular, DC Ian Barnes, left me a little cold.  This completely changed whilst reading Will to Live and I became rather fond of Kay’s sarcastic sidekick.

I absolutely loved the killer’s method of disposing of his victims.  What a different and interesting solution, and it fitted beautifully with the rest of the story.  Throughout the book I struggled to tie the different threads together and couldn’t predict which way Amphlett was going to take the story.  And when it came to the big reveal, I was both surprised and shocked at the outcome.  A joy to read.

There are some fairly gory scenes in this book which of course, ticked all the boxes for me but some readers may find them a little hard to stomach.  Don’t let that put you off though as this book is worth it even if you’re not one for blood, guts and gore.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely but make sure you read Scared to Death first.  You could read this as standalone but I think it works better if you start with the first book in the series (same with every other series out there really!).  A really absorbing plot, great characters who are really coming into their own and a series to watch.  I can’t wait to see where Rachel Amphlett takes Kay Hunter and her team next.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

Will to Live by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK by Saxon Publishing on 4th April 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Author.jpg

Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter crime thriller series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014.

An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.

You can keep in touch with Rachel by signing up to her mailing list via her website (http://www.rachelamphlett.com), or via Facebook (http://on.fb.me/TN7rpu) and Twitter: @RachelAmphlett

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett (@BeckettSimon) @TransworldBooks

the restless dead‘Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . . ‘

“Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . . “

I am very excited to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my stop on the The Restless Dead blog tour.  The Restless Dead is the fifth book in the Dr David Hunter series written by well established and popular crime writer, Simon Beckett.  This latest addition to the series was published by Bantam Press in hardcover on 6th April 2017.

And I absolutely flipping loved it!  I’ve been wanting to read a Simon Beckett novel for some time now so when I was asked to be a part of the The Restless Dead blog tour, I couldn’t refuse.  I’ve heard so many good things about Dr David Hunter and I’ve got to tell you, they’re all true!

The first thing that really appealed to me about this book is that it’s about a forensic anthropologist rather than the usual detective or private investigator.  I tend to read a lot of crime novels a year that it’s always refreshing to see things from a different perspective.  And what a fascinating, detailed tale Simon Beckett has written.  The story hooked me in quite early on and I became somewhat mesmerised by the bleak landscape.  This is one of those books where the setting is as much a part of the story as the characters and the plot.  In fact, I’d go as far as saying the setting is one of the main characters.

The recovery of a long dead corpse from an Essex estuary begins a tale woven with intricate secrets and damaging lies.  Dr Hunter is called to assist with the recovery and is grateful for the work following a recent episode which caused embarrassment and damage to his good name.  Why he’s been called, he is yet to discover as he normally meets the victim in the clinical cleanliness of the morgue.  This early rescue mission introduces us to my favourite character in the story; the level-headed, gentle DI Lund.

From there the investigation begins.  Is the body in the estuary that of Leo Villiers? The son of Sir Stephen Villiers who went missing several weeks before?  Sir Stephen says it is but the rate of decomposition doesn’t fit and David Hunter has his doubts.  And what of Emma Derby?  Glamorous, recently married and rumoured to be having an affair with Leo.  Emma went missing before Leo.  Is Leo responsible for Emma’s death?  The recovery of such a damaged corpse raises a lot more questions that it answers.  David fights to be a part of the case but DSC Clarke, SIO has other ideas.  Particularly when he fails to arrive in time for the autopsy.

Sometimes you read a book and everything about it just feels right.  That’s how I felt about The Restless Dead.  I couldn’t put this one down and when I was away from the book I was thinking it through, trying to connect the threads of the story.

There is so much going on but it’s written so beautifully that it’s easy to follow the story from start to finish without feeling lost.  It flows so well, you can tell the author is a master of his craft.  The plot is fascinating and I loved the forensic detail.  I experienced several emotions whilst reading.  What I wasn’t expecting was to burst into tears at one point.  I can’t remember the last book which made me cry.

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, most definitely.  If The Restless Dead doesn’t make it onto my books of 2017 list then I need to give up reading.  Gorgeously atmospheric, brilliantly creepy and some of the best characters I’ve read in a long time.  Chock full of nail biting tension which I lapped up.  This book was everything I want in my crime thrillers.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett was published in the UK by Bantam Press on 6th April 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Author information taken from amazon.co.uk

Simon Beckett worked as a property repairer, taught English in Spain and played percussion with several bands before becoming a novelist and freelance journalist. He writes for most national newspapers and colour supplements, including The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and Observer. He is married and lives in Sheffield.

Author Links: | Website | FacebookTwitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dog Fight by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @SarabandBooks

Dog Fight by [Malone, Michael J]“Kenny O’Neill, a villain with a conscience, returns in a hard-hitting thriller of exploitation, corruption and criminal gangs.

When Kenny’s cousin, Ian, comes to the aid of a fellow ex-squaddie in a heap of trouble, he gets caught up in the vicious underground fight scene, where callous criminals prey on the vulnerable, damaged and homeless.

With Ian in too deep to escape, Kenny has no option other than to infiltrate the gang for the sake of his family.

Kenny is an experienced MMA fighter, as tough as they come, but has he found himself in the one fight he can never win?”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Dog Fight blog tour.  Dog Fight‘s author, Michael J Malone was responsible for my book of 2016.  He created the incredible, emotional psychological thriller A Suitable Lie and since then I’ve been incredibly keen to read his other work.  So when I was asked to join the blog tour for his new release, I jumped at the chance.

**IF YOU HAVE READ PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THIS SERIES PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS SO READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK**  I do everything I can to avoid spoilers in my reviews but having not read this series previously it was rather hard.  It has been pointed out by a lovely person that the following review does unintentionally contain spoilers (thank you lovely person) and instead of rewriting the whole thing I’ve decided to add this warning!  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!  DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU….

Michael J. Malone is known for his crime series featuring DI Ray McBain and Kenny O’Neill.  Having only read A Suitable Lie previously, I was interested to discover that some of Malone’s previous titles feature McBain whilst others mainly feature O’Neill (with the other always appearing alongside).  Dog Fight is Kenny’s story but I was thrilled to find Ray McBain making a cameo role as I’ve heard so many positive things about this character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It’s gritty, raw and I loved how incredibly Scottish it is. Michael J. Malone’s writing is compelling and I was drawn into the dark and murky underground fight scene.  I absolutely loved the characters.  Kenny, and to some degree McBain, are new favourites of mine (McBain didn’t feature as much in the story but I’m determined to read the first DI McBain novel, Blood Tears as soon as possible).  I also really like Kenny’s cousin, Ian who plays a pivotal role in the story.  These guys are ex-military, some of them are down on their luck, living in the gutters but a lot of the characters had real heart and that appealed.  Others didn’t so much, but that also appealed as they were the shady characters lining up fights amongst the wounded and the broken of Glasgow’s streets.

The plot was intense, quite brutal in places and I loved it.  The story really pulls you in, sticks you in a choke hold and doesn’t let go.  It’s not my usual type of crime thriller but it was exactly what I needed.  The right book at the right time.  I would gladly read more gangster-type novels on the back of this (particularly if we’re talking about Kenny O’Neill).

Kenny is a very naughty boy and the relationship between him and DI McBain is very intriguing.  How can a police DI and a local gangster become pals?  Well, there’s only one thing for it.  I’ll have to read all of the other books in the series and find out for myself.  They’re already loaded onto my Kindle so it’s just finding the time to fit them into my reading schedule.  Shouldn’t be too hard, huh?

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Particularly if you’re a fan of police procedurals and fancy seeing things from a slightly different perspective.  I love Michael J. Malone’s writing and I love his characters.  Dog Fight is very different to A Suitable Lie but it was a great read which I really enjoyed.  Mr Malone, it’s official, I’m a fan of your work. Highly recommended.

Four out of five stars.

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

Dog Fight by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Contraband on 6th April 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Michael J. Malone is the author of four crime novels: Blood Tears, which won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers, A Taste for Malice, Beyond the Rage and 2016’s Bad Samaritan. His thriller The Guillotine Choice is the amazing true story of an innocent man’s time in the notorious Devil’s Island penal colony.

Author Links: | Saraband.net | Facebook | Website | Twitter |

 

#BookReview: Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett)

scared to death.jpg“If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”

‘When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.

With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun…’

I have a terrible habit.  It’s not a secret, I’ve mentioned it on the blog before.  But it’s something that I’m determined to break as it causes undue stress and adds to my heightened levels of confusion.  I’m rubbish at starting a series with the first book.  Yup, you read that right, I’m one of THOSE people.  I always end up starting part-way through, normally somewhere between book 2 or 7!  I haven’t always been this way.  I blame the blog.  It used to be a strict rule of mine that if I hadn’t read the beginning of the series there was no way I was going to read later books.  Like I say, I blame the blog.

In a couple of weeks time I am hosting a stop on the Will to Live blog tour.  Will to Live is the second book in the DS Kay Hunter series written by author, Rachel Amphlett.  The first book is called Scared to Death and ladies and gentleman, I am delighted to confirm that I have managed to squeeze it into my reading schedule.  Yes dear reader, I have started a series with the first book!  Yay, go me!

And what a first book!  I featured on the Scared to Death blog tour towards the end of 2016.  If you click here you can read Rachel’s brilliant guest post about the editing process.  At the time I felt I was really missing out as the reviews from fellow bloggers were fantastic.  And in all honesty, I was.  This is a fantastic start to what promises to be an outstanding series.  The book starts with a bang and I was immediately drawn into the story.  Seventeen year old Melanie is missing and her frantic parents, Tony and Yvonne are racing to find her after having dropped the £20k ransom off elsewhere.  They find her…but it’s too late.  What no one realises is what appears to be a kidnapping gone wrong, is a whole lot darker.  And so the hunt for a psychopath begins….

DS Kay Hunter is an appealing character.  She’s not the usual fusty, grumpy, addiction riddled detective I tend to like in my crime novels but that didn’t matter on this occasion.  There is mention of an incident in the past which was thoroughly investigated, and feelings are still running high amongst Kay’s senior management.  You’re given the impression that Kay is totally innocent of any wrongdoing and I hope this will be covered in more detail in future books.  I’m curious about her.  As I said, she isn’t my usual type of detective but I really liked her!

You find out who the killer is quite early on in the story but you’re left wondering who their accomplice is; who is the guy/gal at the top of the tree pulling the strings?  I was drawn in from that fantastic opening until the very end.  A wonderfully intriguing story which is skillfully told.

However, there was one point which caused an issue for me.  One of the investigating team has a strong link to one of the kidnap victims but it is not mentioned until much later in the story.  I found this, for me, upset the flow of the plot somewhat.  Just as the adrenaline is starting to pump, just as the action is picking up, this ‘connection’ is thrown into the mix and it just felt wrong.  I’ve pondered on this since finishing the book but I’m afraid I still can’t fathom the reason for this.  This is a small moan though in what is a fabulous book written by a talented author.

Would I recommend this book?  Oh yes, I would.  I can’t wait to make a start on Will to Live ready for my stop on Sunday 9th April so make sure you join me then.  Rachel Amphlett has created a gutsy female detective who I really like and I can’t wait to read more!

Four out of five stars.

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

Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK by Saxon Publishing on 3rd December 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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rachel-2016-2141Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag in 2017.

An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BookReview: The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore (@JonMooreFiction) @orionbooks

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

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

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

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

Regular visitors to the blog may be familiar with my husband’s Christmas present to me for the past two years.  One book, of his choosing, a month for the rest of the year.  If you would like to see the list (until the start of this year, that is) then please click here.  I’ve managed to read a few of them, but I want to read more!  Which is why I’ve made it one of my #CaseClosed goals for the month – to read at least one of the books my husband has given me.  This month I chose The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore.

The first thing I should say is that when I first started reading this book I couldn’t, for the life of me, work out when it was set.  It has a historical feel to it and I only realised it was set in more modern times when ‘cell phones’ were mentioned (I expect there are several very obvious other indicators before this, but I completely missed them!).  Despite knowing that this is a novel of modern times, you can’t help but question that knowledge at regular intervals throughout the story.  The author has managed to bring the past and the present together in a somewhat beguiling tale.

Caleb Maddox, our lead protagonist, did little for me I’m afraid.  I found his field of study extremely interesting but that was it.  I wanted him to take control of his obsession with the bewitching Emmeline rather than waiting on her beck and call.  His blatant neediness irritated me.  But then, this is a love story as well as being a psychological thriller and regular readers will know by know how I feel about love stories in my books (thanks but no thanks!).  Saying that, the relationship between the two characters was such a big part of the story that I was able to read and enjoy their odd relationship, to a degree.

The majority of the story is the love affair between Caleb and Emmeline.  For me, the book didn’t really start until about three quarters of the way through, and then…WOW!  What a totally unexpected ending.  Brilliantly written, you finally get to the nitty gritty of these characters and they lay themselves bare.  It’s fabulous reading, edgy, dark and full of the shock factor.  Exactly what I want from a psychological thriller.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but be prepared for a slow build.  You watch Caleb Maddox and Emmeline intricately tango around each other for the first three quarters of the novel but then BAM!  The ending hits and it all makes perfect sense.  I wouldn’t hesitate to read another book by this author, they certainly know how to write an intoxicating tale.

Four out of five stars.

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore was published in the UK by Orion Books on 10th March 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Jonathan 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 counselor at a wilderness camp for juvenile delinquents, and a textbook writer.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: After She’s Gone by Maggie James (@mjamesfiction) @TAsTPublicity

After She's Gone BLOG.jpg“Lori Golden’s family have had more than their fair share of troubles. But through it all, Lori and her sister, Jessie, have always supported each other. Then Jessie is killed. And Lori’s world turns upside down.

Devastated, Lori struggles to cope with her loss, and to learn to live in a world without her bright, bubbly sister by her side. Around her, her already fractured family start to fall apart. And, as Lori and her mother try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, secrets long thought buried are coming painfully to light.

Faced with the unthinkable, Lori is forced to ask herself how well she really knows those who are left behind…”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn on the After She’s Gone blog tour.  I have been wanting to read a Maggie James novel for quite some time now, so I was over the moon when I was asked to feature on the After She’s Gone blog tour.

So I guess the most important question is, did I enjoy my first experience of a Maggie James novel?  I most certainly did.  I found Maggie’s writing style very easy to read which meant that I breezed through After She’s Gone in two short days (that’s quick for me).  I found her characters interesting, particularly Lori Golden who I instantly warmed to.  Saying that, at times I did find Lori a little too naive which was frustrating, but then I’m a die-hard crime fan and tend to read the very worst of people which makes me overly suspicious of everyone!  I went through different emotions when it came to Dana Golden, Lori’s mother.  At times I really liked her, felt for her with her ongoing treatment for kidney failure.  At other times I’m afraid I despised the woman.

I found the sections about becoming a living donor very interesting and found this particular sub-plot really held my attention.  So much so that I was able to have a conversation with a lady at my son’s preschool who is considering becoming a living donor for her sister.  The investigation into Jessie’s death was also very compelling reading, but I’m afraid I worked out who the killer was quite early on. This tends to happen to me sometimes but it rarely spoils the story.  It just proves what an ace detective I’m becoming after all this time (ha!).  It certainly didn’t spoil the story for me on this occasion.  The author does a stellar job of trying to wrong foot you and made me question my decision at several turns along the way.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I found After She’s Gone a compelling read and I wouldn’t hesitate to read another book by Maggie James.  In fact, I have added Blackwater Lake to my #terrifyingTBR and I’m looking forward to it.  Interesting plot, strong characters and tons of suspense.

Three and a half out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of After She’s Gone. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

After She’s Gone by Maggie James was published in the UK by Lake Union Publishing on 16th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

 

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

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

#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 |

 

#GuestReview: Splintered by Kelly Miller (@MillerMystery) @BookaholicDee

splintered.jpg“Life turns from barely tolerable to complete hell when Maddy Eastin’s impulsive plan to win back the attention of her absentee father backfires. Word of her scheme spreads through her high school, but when mockery escalates to cyberbullying, Maddy and her failed stunt become headline news. But the worst is yet to come…

A disturbed man is fighting the overwhelming urge to surrender to his true nature—a moral code molded by a sadistic father who taught him that a girl needs proper training to become the perfect subservient woman. As he watches Maddy on the evening news, his already fractured psyche completely splinters. She’s the girl he’s been waiting for.

When Maddy disappears, she’s labeled a runaway even though her mother believes it was foul play. Will the detectives investigating Maddy’s disappearance find her before it’s too late? Or has she already fallen prey to the vicious stranger hunting her?”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today for another of my fantastic guest reviews.  Today I welcome relatively new blogger Dee to damppebbles.  Dee can be found over at Novel Deelights and despite being new to the blogging community she’s already a firm favourite.  If you don’t already then please give Dee a follow.

Dee has very kindly read and reviewed Splintered by Kelly Miller for me.  But before we find how what Dee thought about the book, here’s some more information about Dee:

dee.jpgI have the attention span of a gnat. Or as I like to call it “ooh shiny disease”. Think of me as a magpie who sees some sparkly thing and is off. But put a book in my hands and I’m a completely different person. I’ll be able to concentrate like there’s no tomorrow. Shoot a canon off next to me and chances are I won’t hear it. That’s how much I love reading and how much books mean to me. They calm me, they help me escape reality for a bit. But most of all, they’re now enabling me to meet some wonderful new people in the blogging community. Thank you for the warm welcome and support!

You’re a very welcome addition to our little community Dee.  So without further ado, here’s what Dee thought about Splintered by Kelly Miller:

All actions have consequences.
Fifteen year old Maddie is not only struggling with the harsh teenage hormones but also with the recent divorce of her parents. It’s been five months since she’s heard anything from the father. One morning, Maddie claims someone tried to kidnap her. Is she telling the truth?
Her mother, Lily, isn’t having a good time either. Forced to move house and take on another job after her divorce, she struggles to deal with her own issues as well as her daughter’s.
Then there’s Hank, who had a brutal childhood at the hands of a predator for a father. Hank has been trying to do the right thing while all the while taking care of his brain damaged brother but can he keep it up?
Naturally when Emma sent me her list to choose a book from, I checked out links for descriptions. This one caught my eye as the premise sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the description listed on amazon and Goodreads is almost the entire plot. I kid you not. Which is a shame as I think I would have otherwise enjoyed this one a lot more than I did. As it is, I just kept waiting for something to happen that I didn’t already know was coming and sadly that didn’t start until about 60% into the book.
The chapters switch back and forth between five characters which I felt wasn’t entirely necessary. While they flowed nicely from one to the next, some I thought of as mere fillers that didn’t particularly move the story along. Then when the action finally hit in the last chapters, it was all quite rushed. It left me wondering if maybe the story hadn’t worked better as a drama focusing on the mother/daughter relationship between Maddie and Lily.
As I said, for me, it was slightly ruined by pretty much knowing the entire plot but I think you might enjoy it if you go in blind. Friendly reminder: DO NOT read the book description! I may have been a little disappointed but I still I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads.
Thank you lovely Emma for my copy of this book and for having me on your blog. 🙂
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Thanks for your honest and considered review Dee, and it was a pleasure having you visit!
Splintered by Kelly Miller was published in the UK by Kindle Press on 26th January 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |
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kelly miller.jpegWriting has always been in my blood. Since the age of thirteen when I coauthored a cheesy romance novel in a blue, spiral bound notebook, I knew I wanted to pursue writing as a career. But somewhere along the way, I lost my voice. Sure I could craft a witty email or write marketing copy for other authors, as I did in a previous job, but to write that great American novel seemed just out of reach.

As is often happens, life simply got in the way. I got married, had three children, and adopted a black Labrador. As a stay-at-home mom, I was lucky to get an hour a day to myself. And when I found those few precious minutes, they were spent reading a good book. A voracious reader, I’ve been researching the mystery and suspense genres for more than two decades.

 It was in my search for my own identity after staying at home with the kids that ultimately lead me back to my love of writing. I started my journey towards publication in August 2010. The first draft only took four months to write, but was followed by an enormous amount of time rewriting, and an even longer time searching for a publisher. Determination, perseverance, and God’s blessing made my publishing dream a reality. I signed a contract with Black Rose Writing on May 18, 2012 and my first mystery novel, Dead Like Me, debuted in November 2012. The second instalment in the Detective Kate Springer series, Deadly Fantasies, debuted December 19, 2013. Since that time, the book’s rights have reverted back to me and I’ve gone indie!

 A third mystery novel, “Splintered,” debuted in January 2016. In this story, I introduced my readers to a whole new set of characters. “Splintered” was chosen as a 2015 Kindle Scout winner and the e-book and audio book will be published by Kindle Press.

 As time got tight with starting a part-time job while keeping up with my three kids and husband, I switched over to writing on a smaller scale. I began writing novelettes which will eventually be put into a box set called My Nightmare Series. Each will feature a new psychopath and will revolve around a different color that’s integral to the story. The first is called My Blue Nightmare is only available for FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. Tee second is My Emerald Nightmare and comes out in the Spring of 2017. (Bio taken from Kelly Miller’s website.)

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |