One GLORIOUS Louise Jensen post (@fab_fiction) @1stMondayCrime @bookouture @TheCrimeVault

Some of you lovely folk may be aware that I am one of the ‘First Monday Crime’ blogger team.  First Monday Crime is a brilliant event held for crime fiction fans on the first Monday of the month in London.  To find out more, visit their website by clicking HERE.  One day I hope to make it along myself so I’ll hopefully see you there 🙄.

When I heard that Louise Jensen is appearing at the event in December, well, I squealed with glee.  You see, I am a MAHOOSIVE fan of Louise’s work.  She is a superb writer and I want other readers to discover her incredible books (my mum thinks I’m on commission, I can assure you I’m not!).  So I came up with the idea of sharing all three of my Louise Jensen reviews in one glorious post.  Three stupendous books, three enthusiastic damppebbles reviews…

the sisterGrace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear that there was a lot she

didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie . . . Or was there?

This is a psychological thriller and a half!  Huge congratulations to the author, Louise Jensen, as this is her debut novel, what an achievement!  No pressure Louise but you’ve set the bar incredibly high for yourself!

Grace and Charlie are childhood best friends.  On her first day at her new school, Grace encounters a classroom bully who is immediately put in his place by the forthright Charlie.  From there builds an unbreakable friendship, BFF together forever.  But, six years after burying their precious memory box, Charlie is dead.  Grace finds it impossible to cope with the grief, pushing everyone away and gradually falling to pieces. In a bid to help her accept Charlie’s death she decides to find Charlie’s wayward father. It’s something Charlie always wanted to do herself and it feels the right thing for Grace to do.  That’s when the mysterious Anna walks into Grace’s life.  Anna claims to be Charlie’s half-sister but before long she has ensconced herself firmly in Grace’s life.  Grace is overjoyed, she finally has a link to Charlie again.  Or does she…?

Wowsers!  This is a stonking, heart-stopping read and I loved it.  I couldn’t put it down (I refused to put it down more like!).  I loved Louise’s style and I wanted to keep reading, no matter what else was happening around me.  The story was so engaging that I became transfixed with Grace’s tale, wanting to discover what strange occurrence was going to happen next.

I didn’t really warm to any of the characters, except for Grace’s grandfather who was just lovely.  Grace was a little too needy for me.  Charlie would probably be my favourite but she’s only present for a small percentage of the novel so I’m not sure she counts.  As for Dan, Grace’s boyfriend, he needs to man up, grr!  Anna is just sinister with a capital S and thinking about her makes me shudder.  I didn’t want to like any of this lot though, that’s part of the appeal of a psychological thriller.  What’s the point in having likeable characters?

The plot moves at an enjoyable pace.  There are twists and turns along the way which keep you on the edge of your seat.  It’s pretty darn perfect, in my opinion.

Would I recommend this book?  Oh yes, without a doubt.  It’s a creepy tale of when good intentions turn bad.  It had my heart racing and I didn’t want to stop reading for anything.  A fabulous debut and I cannot wait to see what Louise Jensen has in store for us next.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Sister by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 24th August 2017 and is available in paperback format.  Previously published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

51ssdz2lgl-_sy346_Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets…

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

Jenna is critically ill and needs heart replacement surgery.  The worst possible news at a time when donor organs are scarce.  Luckily for Jenna, a heart becomes available and the transplant goes well.  But Jenna can’t stop thinking about whose heart now beats inside her chest.  She is desperate to meet with the family and they don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting after she gets in touch.  Against the advice of her therapist, Jenna goes to meet Tom and Amanda.  It’s an uncomfortable start but Jenna feels she owes this couple and refuses to walk away.  Then the dreams start, along with other strange feelings and what appear to be memories…things Jenna herself never experienced. Jenna knows that something isn’t right.  The way she is told Callie, her donor, died doesn’t tally with what she’s seeing in frightening visions.  Jenna decides that Tom and Amanda need closure to stop the hurt they’re suffering, and Jenna is the right person to deliver that closure.  So she starts to investigate; attempting to tie the feelings, the dreams and what little evidence she has together.  But the deeper she digs, the more secrets she uncovers. What really happened to Callie?  And how far is Jenna willing to go to find out…?

First off, I want to say that I find it very hard to believe in some of the theories affecting Jenna in this book.  I seem to have a scientific head on my shoulders and try as I might, sometimes (most times!) I can’t submerge myself in unproven theories.  But I want to put that side of things away for now and comment on other aspects of this novel.  I absolutely ADORE Louise Jensen’s writing.  Jensen has a way of pulling you in, the way her words flow is sublime and that is exactly what she has achieved once again.  She is such a gifted storyteller and one of my very favourite writers.  Full stop.  I had highly anticipated the release of this book after falling head over heels in love with The Sister and I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed, despite the scientific noggin!

I absolutely adored Jenna, the lead protagonist.  That drive and determination for her cause gave me goosebumps at times.  I love a strong, spirited female lead in my books and Jenna fits the bill nicely.  Strangely, that same determination did also annoy me a little.  Particularly when she was pushing away ex-boyfriend, Sam and best mate, Rachel in her bid to give Callie’s parents closure.

As I have come to expect from Louise Jensen’s writing, you never really have a hold on exactly who the bad guy/gal is or his/her reasons for being the bad guy/gal until the reveal.  The Gift is full to the brim of twists and turns.  There was an audible gasp from me at one point; I was so shocked by what I was reading!  Brilliantly crafted twists which send your brain into overdrive as you try and guess what will happen next.  But I bet you can’t…

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would (and grab yourself a copy of ‘The Sister’ whilst you’re at it!).  Sleek, assured writing that pulls the reader into the story from the opening pages until the shocking conclusion.  Superb!

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Gift by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 16th November 2017 and is available in paperback format.  The Gift was originally published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | WaterstonesGoodreads |

And last but by NO MEANS least….

the surrogate coverShe can give you everything you want… But can you trust her?

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents. All they want is a child to love but they are beginning to lose hope. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives them one last chance.

Kat and Lisa were once as close as sisters. The secrets they share mean their trust is for life… Or is it?

Just when the couple’s dream seems within reach, Kat begins to suspect she’s being watched and Nick is telling her lies.

Are the cracks appearing in Kat’s perfect picture of the future all in her head, or should she be scared for the lives of herself and her family?

How far would you go, to protect everything you love?

Dare I say this is Jensen’s best book to date?  Y’know what, I think I dare!  The Surrogate has become my very favourite of Louise Jensen’s books knocking the incredible The Sister from the top spot.  If this one doesn’t end up on my list of top ten books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.

Kat is desperate for a baby.  Unable to have her own child she turns to adoption to fill the baby-sized hole in her heart.  But when it all falls through she is devastated.  After all, she has decorated the nursery for Dewei and is a familiar (rather too well-known) face in Mothercare.  The second attempt to adopt Mai also falls through leaving Kat at her wit’s end.  And then Lisa miraculously appears in her life.  Unsure of her intentions to start with, Kat is wary of her ex-best friend.  The women have a murky past which Kat fears has not been forgotten.  Before long, Lisa is entertaining Kat with tales of how she acted as a surrogate for a friend, how she gave birth to baby Gabrielle and then willingly handed her over.  How she feels more of an aunt towards the baby than the infant’s birth mother.  Kat can see a way out of her predicament, a way in which she can finally have the baby she so craves.  All she has to do is convince husband Nick and make sure she keeps Lisa happy and relaxed, totally stress-free.  But exactly how far is Kat prepared to go for that little bundle of joy…

There are so many surprises in The Surrogate that I became dizzy with joy while reading.  You think you know what’s going on, where the story will lead you but in reality, you know nothing!  Jensen has created a wonderfully intricate web of lies and half-truths with bucketfuls of creeping paranoia.  I loved it! (I may have said that already…)

The thread of malice woven through many of the character’s relationships was sublime.  The reader is frequently given glimpses into Kat’s teenage years at school and her interaction with the younger Lisa.  We also get to see how Nick, Kat’s husband was raised by his parents and how, due to injury and the inability to work, Nick’s father begins to mistreat his son.  Both episodes are unsettling and add so much emotion to the story.  I found myself becoming more and more invested in Kat and Nick, knowing something awful was heading their way but not knowing exactly what.

And WOAH, that ending.  Hugely satisfying, totally unexpected and I can guarantee it will stay me for some time to come.  I had my own ideas of how I wanted the story to end but what Jensen has given the reader blows everything else out of the water.  Absolutely superb!

Would I recommend this book?  Without a shadow of a doubt, I would.  If you are a fan of the psychological thriller then you MUST get yourself a copy of The Surrogate.  Louise Jensen just keeps getting better and better and I am so excited about what she has in store for us in the future.  You’ve set the bar even higher now, Louise.  No pressure!  A superb, twisty read that I wish I could give more than five stars to.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th September 2017 and is available in eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

So there you go, a plethora of Louise Jensen loveliness.  Three cracking books, three reviews.  I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan, Louise!

Louise Jensen will be appearing at December’s First Monday Crime event alongside Chris Whitaker, Susi Holliday and Mel McGrath.  All expertly moderated by Claire McGowan.  The event takes place on Monday 4th December, 6.30pm at City University, College Building, A130.  Click HERE to book your FREE ticket.  Plus, because it’s December and we’re all starting to feel jolly festive, there will be extra fun and frivolities in store!  Check out the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about the author3

Louise Jensen author pic - no creditLouise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.

Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a dog and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.

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

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#BookReview | #Giveaway: All The Wicked Girls by @WhittyAuthor @BonnierZaffre @1stMondayCrime

all the wicked girls“Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .”

Wowsers!  If you’re looking for a deeply emotive, delightfully intense and deliciously dark thriller then congratulations good reader, you have just found it.  There are many books which create a buzz.  Some deserve that hype, others…..don’t so much.  What works for Ant* doesn’t necessarily work for Dec*, you get my point I’m sure.  So I was looking forward to reading All The Wicked Girls but I felt strangely nervous too.  Would I ‘get’ this book like other readers have?  Would I fall under its spell when many popular books leave me feeling cold?  Well, yes, of course I would because this book is pure literary magic.

And to kick December off with a bang, I am giving away a copy of All The Wicked Girls to one lucky UK winner.  But more about that later…

Grace, Alabama is a small God-fearing town where teenage twin sisters Summer and Raine Ryan live.  As sisters go, the two girls couldn’t be more different.  Summer is popular and studious, whereas Raine….isn’t.  The town of Grace borders Briar County which is suffering its own living nightmare.  Young, church-going girls are being snatched by ‘The Bird’.  Town legend claims ‘The Bird’ isn’t entirely human.  All that is known for sure is that the police have so far failed to capture the creature.  Then Summer Ryan goes missing leaving only a note behind, which raises even more questions.  Is Summer ‘The Bird’s latest victim?  And what shocking secrets will Raine unearth as she starts her own investigation into Summer’s disappearance? And most importantly, will she ever find her sister alive?

If you’re a fan of the character-driven novel (like me!) then you must get yourself a copy of All The Wicked Girls.  Whitaker’s characters are exquisite, beautiful things full of heart and soul.  The reader is pulled into their world where fear reigns; fear of God, fear of the church, fear of ‘The Bird’ and fear of themselves.  I fell a little bit in love with two of the characters, Noah and Purv, who battle alongside Raine in the search for the truth.  Raine was also a very intriguing character but she’s a little overshadowed by Noah and Purv, her two sidekicks, who shine from the page.  Supporting these three is a cast of incredibly well-written, fully formed and perfectly individual characters.  Chief Black who struggles with a drug and alcohol problem (as well as his past failures), Samson with his unusual looks and peculiar behaviour, the Ryan brothers who stake out Chief Black’s HQ putting on the pressure with the imminent threat of violence, Pastor Bobby and his wife, Savannah – their marriage falling apart while both drown in their own private grief following the tragic loss of their young son.  Such a strong, wonderfully crafted collection of interesting people that I struggled to put this book down.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  This is an emotionally intense thriller which will appeal to so many readers.  Whitaker’s writing is a beautiful thing and I couldn’t get enough of his strong, striking imagery and his captivating prose.  I want more, please.  And soon.  Dark, emotional, unnerving and engrossing.  Superb stuff!

Five out of five stars.

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

Chris Whitaker will be appearing at December’s First Monday Crime event alongside Louise Jensen, Susi Holliday and Mel McGrath.  All expertly moderated by Claire McGowan.  The event takes place on Monday 4th December, 6.30pm at City University, College Building, A130.  Click HERE to book your FREE ticket.  Plus, because it’s December and we’re all starting to feel jolly festive, there will be extra fun and frivolities in store!  Check out the First Monday Crime website for more information.

Giveaway:
To be in with a chance of winning a BRAND NEW, unread ARC of All The Wicked Girls click on the following Rafflecopter link and follow the instructions.  Open to UK and ROI residents only due to postage costs.  Only one winner will be selected.  They will need to provide their postal address to enable me to send their book.  There are no cash alternatives and the giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday 5th December (GMT).  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker was published in the UK by Zaffre on 24th August 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

*Ant & Dec
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about the author3

chris whitaker.jpgChris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.

Author Links:Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mother by S.E.Lynes (@SELynesAuthor) @bookouture

Mother-Kindle.jpeg“How far would you go for the perfect family?

When Christopher Harris climbs into his family’s dusty attic, he finds a battered old suitcase containing a letter. Inside the letter is a secret; a secret about his mother that changes everything. 

Every mother loves their child. Every child deserves to be loved. But Christopher has grown up so lonely it hurts. 

Finally, Christopher thinks he has a chance at happiness. A happiness he will do anything to protect, whatever the cost…

An unputdownable thriller about the lies we tell and the secrets we keep, Mother will hold you breathless until the very last page and leave you reeling. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Apple Tree Yard.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn, and the final stop, on the Mother blog tour.  Mother is the brand new psychological thriller from one of my favourite authors, S.E. Lynes.  I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Susie’s debut, Valentina.  So much so, I encouraged my own mum who is brand new to the psychological thriller genre to read it.  Needless to say, she loved it!  It also featured highly on my ‘top books of the year’ list in 2016.  If you would like a recap or if you missed it the first time, check out my review of Valentina HERE.

This is S.E. Lynes first release with Bookouture.  It is also one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year.  No pressure, huh?!  I can’t deny, my expectations were high.  I felt nervous, excited and a little apprehensive as I started to read the first page on my Kindle.  The prologue is wonderfully violent and immediately appealed to my darker side.  However, from there the story takes a more sedate turn.  The writing, as I would expect from S.E. Lynes, is excellent.  I just wanted something more to happen.  I’ll lay my cards on the table as I’m one for 100% honesty in reviews, I really struggled with the first half of this book.  Not all psychological thrillers are a thrill-a-minute joyride, I understand that.  I have enjoyed the slow build to a shocking conclusion.  I have enjoyed a particular character’s torment as their impending comeuppance looms with sharp fangs in the shadows.  I just didn’t get that with the first half of Mother.  Something, for me, was missing in that first half.  However, the second half was a different story altogether, I absolutely loved the second half of this book.

The reader is introduced to a young man by the name of Christopher Harris.  Christopher finds out by chance that he is adopted.  Something he has secretly known for many years.  After all, he doesn’t ‘fit’ with his family.  The discovery is made just as departs his Morecambe home for Leeds University.  Turning his back on his parents, Margaret and Jack, and their reserved way of life, he heads out into the big wide world with one mission; to find his birth mother.  Christopher is a restrained chap so follows the correct procedures in his search, an emotionally charged search which leads him to Liverpool and to the arms of Phyllis, the mother he’s always wanted.  Christopher is a new man.  He dresses differently, he behaves differently, his life is finally what he has always wanted it to be.  But when someone threatens his perfect life, Christopher needs to act.  How far will he go to make sure his life remains perfect…?

Christopher doesn’t tell his own story which I thought was an interesting way for the author to tell his tale.  The detective in me spent most of the first half trying to work out who the narrator was and I’m pleased to say I got it right fairly early on (but then convinced myself otherwise as the story progressed!).  I found the relationship between Christopher and his birth mother, Phyllis, a little odd.  Actually, scrap that, it was uncomfortably intense which is why I think I struggled to connect with any of the characters in Mother.  I desperately want to talk about the second half of the book but fear in doing so I’ll be dropping spoilers left, right and centre.  So I’ll just say the last half of the book is deliciously dark and quite surprising.

Would I recommend this book?  I love Lynes’s writing and I would pick up another book by the author in less than a heartbeat.  However, I did find the first half quite slow but I’m so glad I persevered as the last half is really rather wonderful.  Christopher’s story took a little too long to get going for me.  But that’s just me, you may have a totally different experience.  I would recommend this book but with a caveat, that being the first half may not grab you as would hope.  Stick with it, it’s worth it.

Four stars out of five.

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

Mother by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 22nd November 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

MOTHER - Blog tour.jpeg

about the author3

S E Lynes Author Photo.pngAfter graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. 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 with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington. Her first novel, Valentina, published by Blackbird Digital Books, came out in July 2016. Her follow up novel, Mother, is published by Bookouture.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories edited by @medwardsbooks @the_cwa @OrendaBooks

CWA_Cover_Image.jpg“Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour blog tour.  When an email arrived in my inbox headed ‘CWA Anthology blog tour’, well, my heart skipped a beat.  It’s the kind of invitation that this little crime blogger was made for.  I didn’t hesitate in replying with a big, fat ‘YES PLEASE’.  I just had to be a part of this tour.

I am a fan of short story collections and anthologies.  I enjoy the variety, the way the author has to make their point in a significantly reduced number of words and still make it interesting and believable.  I love that anthologies give the reader the opportunity to dip in and out as they choose.  In particular, I love THIS collection of worldly crime stories.  So much so that I would go as far as saying this is the best collection I have read for some time.

When it comes to reviewing an anthology I’m always in two minds.  Do I review each story individually or the book as a whole?  I normally end up reviewing the book rather than the individual works, after all, who wants to read a 2500 word book review?!  I’m going to stick to form and review the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour as a whole.  However, I would like to say that it would be very easy to review each story individually.  In other collections, I have tended to find one or two stories where I wouldn’t know what to say.  That would not be the case with the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour, which is truly a magnificent collection of crime fiction.

Editor and contributor, Martin Edwards, introduces the book to the reader explaining how the participating writers were given the Mystery Tour theme with many interesting and different interpretations.  Then we are thrown head first into the first offering, written by Ann Cleeves and titled ‘The Queen of Mystery’.  I loved this story and thought it was a chilling yet elegant way to start the collection.  It made me want to read more, I wanted to know whether the high standard shown by Cleeves could be backed up by her fellow contributing writers.  And it could, it was.

If I listed every story I enjoyed then I would be basically giving you the contents page!  And I’m sure you don’t need me to do that.  ‘Accounting for Murder’ by Christine Poulson demonstrated a very different way of telling a crime story which I found incredibly interesting.  At points, I wondered how the tale was going to be tied up but it was done well and felt strangely satisfying.  My absolute favourite story in the entire book was written by William Ryan and is titled ‘The Spoils‘.  The tale of a woman wronged and how deadly that can be – absolutely marvellous!

One of the other benefits of reading an anthology, and I find this quite often in the crime genre, is that writers who produce a series tend to include a short story featuring their main character.  I was delighted to meet Ed James’s Detective Scott Cullen for the first time in ‘Travel is Dangerous’, having wanted to read James’s work for some time now.  The same with Vaseem Khan’s Inspector Chopra in ‘Bombay Brigadoon’.  Not only are these short stories very satisfying for existing fans but they work as excellent taster pieces for new readers.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  I could go on for hours telling you about the cleverly crafted tales, about the obvious love and devotion the writers have for their craft.  I could include how much I, personally, appreciate crime writers and want to thank each and every one of them for the hours of enjoyment they give us readers (me!).  I could, but I won’t today because I’ve gone on long enough already!  Maybe I’ll save that for another time.

I love international crime so this was pretty much the perfect read for me.  Chock-full of GREAT stories, written by some remarkably talented people and the perfect Christmas gift for the crime fiction fan in your life.  This is a must-read book.  Don’t miss out!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for asking me to join the tour and providing me with a review copy.

CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th November 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hell to Pay by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) @EmmaMitchellFPR #H2P

Hell to Pay Cover MEDIUM WEB“When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter’s investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiralling out of control, Kay’s determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.

Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

Could Kay’s need for revenge be her undoing, or will she survive to see justice served?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you today to my stop on the Hell To Pay blog tour.  Hell To Pay is the fourth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series written by talented author, Rachel Amphlett and it’s a cracking series for established as well as brand new fans of the crime genre.  I have had the joy of reading the first three books in the series (and in order, and that’s an achievement for me in itself!) so if you missed them the first time around, or would just like a refresher then please click the following titles to read my reviews; #1 Scared To Death#2 Will To Live and #3 One To Watch.

Hell To Pay opens with Detective Hunter being called to a car accident in the dead of night.  What appears to be a fairly easy to explain incident turns a lot darker when the corpse of a young woman is found in the boot of the car.  The driver is unconscious and barely alive.  What Kay doesn’t realise is that she has moved one step closer to the man who has been making her life a misery for some time.  Regular readers of the series will be aware that Kay Hunter has been suffering from issues at home and work since the evidence in a major case she was involved with went missing.  Having been investigated by Professional Standards and miscarrying her daughter as a result, Kay is on a mission to discover who is out to destroy her.  What she discovers defies evil and could well be the death of her…

I love this series and always look forward to reading the next instalment.  I hope Amphlett continues to write about her beleaguered Detective Hunter for some time to come as they’re the sort of books a reader can lose themselves in for hours on end.  The shocking first chapter had me hooked and I was intrigued as to who the mysterious, murderous driver of the car was.  I then realised that the culprit was already in custody meaning a large percentage of the investigation was pretty much wrapped up, so I started to wonder where the author would take the rest of the story.  And that’s where things started to take a much slower pace for me.  I love this series and I will always recommend it to crime fans, but I was wanting something more to happen.  Which is probably one of the strangest things I have ever said as there is so much going on in Hell To Pay, all manner of evil and deviant deeds being carried out.  But weirdly, this time around, it just wasn’t enough to satisfy me as a reader.

The author has successfully managed to introduce her cast of characters to any new readers picking up Hell To Pay as their first Detective Hunter read.  I was thrilled to see the return of Adam, Kay’s rather gorgeous other-half, return to the pages but was disappointed when he headed north of the border for a conference, for the majority of the book.  Adam is such an essential part of Kay’s life and he keeps her grounded.  He was missed.

Would I recommend this book?  I would recommend this series 100%!  The book ends with an explosive and shocking cliffhanger, and I cannot wait to see how the situation plays out in book five.  It’s not my favourite in the series and this time around I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped, but that’s just me.  There are MANY other readers out there who had a very different reading experience to mine.  Make sure you check out Ellen’s review over at Bibliophile Book ClubMeggy’s review over at Chocolate’n’Waffles blog and Amy’s review over at NovelGosssip.  That’s just a small selection of the love for this book, author and series.  I’m just an old grump!

Three and a half stars out of five (rounded up to four stars)

I chose to read and review an eARC of Hell To Pay.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.   My thanks to Emma and the author for asking me to be on the blog tour.

Hell To Pay by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK Saxon Publishing on 16th November 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

AuthorRachel 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.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne @Abigail_Author @BloodhoundBook

Abigail Osborne - The Puppet Master_cover_high res.jpg“Billie is hiding from the world in fear of a man who nearly destroyed her. But a chance meeting with budding journalist, Adam, sparks a relationship that could free her from her life of isolation and fear.

Unbeknown to Billie, Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives he believes she has ruined.

But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him. As an unwanted attraction blossoms between them, Adam comes to realise that all is not as it seems.

Who is really pulling the strings? And are Adam and Billie both being played?

One thing is for sure, The Master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on The Puppet Master blog blitz which I share with six other awesome bloggers.  The Puppet Master is author Abigail Osborne’s debut novel and was published in eBook by Bloodhound Books on 13th November 2017, having previously been self-published last year.

The Puppet Master is a rather twisted love story which I enjoyed but found hard going at times due to the disturbing themes within.  Billie’s tormentor is by far the nastiest piece of work in this book.  I was, however, flooded with emotion at points thanks to Billie’s hideous mother and her negligent treatment of her tween-age daughter.  Regular readers of the blog will know that deeply flawed and negligent parents really get my goat and Billie’s mother is a prime example of the type of character who makes my blood boil.

We first meet grown-up Billie as she lives out her isolated existence in Worcester.  Billie hides.  That’s it.  She hides from everyone, from everything, she hides from life which happens around her and to other people.  A chance encounter in the local bookshop cafe sends her spinning when she unwittingly meets journalist Adam.  Adam shows a keen interest in Billie when others easily ignore her.  Billie struggles to understand why he would want to talk her so she does the only thing she knows how to do in that situation and that’s run.  But Adam appears to be her knight in shining armour.  When she is set upon by a group of teenagers, Adam strides to the rescue (minus one shoe!).  From there, their relationship slowly blossoms.  But both Billie and Adam have secrets.  Billie has a traumatic past which she wants to keep hidden, but Adam has the biggest secret of all….

I was both fascinated and appalled watching Billie and Adam’s relationship grow.  The levels of manipulation within this book are something else altogether!  I wanted desperately to like Billie but found it really hard to do so.  I felt sympathy for her, I wanted her to be safe and free from fear but I couldn’t warm to her in the way I wanted to.  Adam was probably my preferred character in the novel but it is quite normal for me to like the darker characters, the more mysterious personalities, often the bad guys.

The story starts in the present, moves back in time to the late ’90s/early ’00s for part two and returns to the present day for the final section.  Part two, which features the flashback scenes, was hard to read with some disturbing scenes and acts alluded to.  I loved the menace in part three; the simmering danger imposed by one particular character.  I enjoyed the third section purely because the threat was more violent than anything else and that (weirdly) sits better with me than any other threat.  Part three (the conclusion, the reveal) was my favourite part of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I take my hat off to Abigail Osborne as this must have been a really tough book to write.  Plus, it’s her debut which makes it even more astounding as it’s a subject many would steer clear of, even after writing for many, many years.  Osborne is an intriguing new voice in the psychological thriller world and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read an eARC of The Puppet Master.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for asking me to join the tour and for providing me with a review copy.

The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 13th November 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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downloadAbigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree and also met her husband. She is a passionate reader and has an unsustainable collection of books. This obsession with books has led to her creating her own Dewey decimal system and she has been known to issue fines to family and friends if her book is not returned on time. ‘The Puppet Master’ is Abigail’s debut novel and has unleashed a passion for writing. When not writing or reading Abigail is usually playing her violin or hiding from her much too energetic cats. She also works as a Needs Assessor for disabled university students in the West Midlands.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Killing State by Judith O’Reilly (@judithoreilly) #RandomThingsTours

KIlling State Cover Image.png“The bullet in his brain isn’t the problem.

She is.

Michael North is a hero, with a bullet in the brain to prove it. A bullet which has rewired his neural pathways and heightened his sense of intuition. A bullet which is driving him mad.

Working for an extra-governmental agency called The Board, North knows one thing for sure. He is very good at killing very bad guys.

But what happens when a hero is ordered to kill a good woman rather than a bad man? Because it turns out that rising political star, Honor Jones, MP, can’t stop asking the right questions about the wrong people.

He should follow orders. Shouldn’t he?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Killing State blog tour.  Killing State is author Judith O’Reilly’s first foray into the thriller genre having previously written two non-fiction books, Wife In The North and A Year of Doing Good.

Michael North is a war hero, a trained killer and a very intriguing character.  Despite not believing it possible during the opening chapters, I grew to be rather fond of him.  We first meet North as he is stalking his next target through a London park.  Honor Jones is the Tory MP for Mile End and has mere minutes to live.  But the tables are turned when Jones confronts her attacker, immediately questioning North about the whereabouts of her missing friend, Peggy.  North is thrown – he wasn’t comfortable with the kill in the first place – killing a man is easy, killing a woman is asking for something else altogether.  There’s something about Jones and her desperate need to find her friend, something about Jones’s traumatic upbringing which appeals to North’s better side, resulting in a decision that is likely to kill him in the long run.  That’s if the bullet in his brain doesn’t get him first!

Killing State is an action-packed, thrilling read.  I was intrigued by the prologue thinking it was going to be the same old, run-of-the-mill thriller where the dashing hired killer takes out (in a murderous way, of course!) the high flying female MP.  But it’s not.  The story took a twist I wasn’t expecting.  From then on I was transfixed with the relationship between North and Honor Jones.  She didn’t trust him, he didn’t know what to make of her and I loved that simmering chemistry between them!  By refusing to carry out an order from ‘The Board’, a secret government agency orchestrated by Lord Tarn, North signs his own death warrant as well as cementing Jones’s own demise.  The hunt is on.  Will North and Jones manage to find Peggy before The Board hunt them down and destroy them all?

The action in Killing State is full-on, it’s pretty darn intense and the levels of bloodshed are reasonably high (just the way I like my thrillers!).  This is a thoroughly enjoyable cat and mouse style thriller and at times I wasn’t sure which side was the cat and which side was the mouse!

O’Reilly’s cast of characters is something quite special.  Not only did I become quite fond of North, I also really warmed to the sassy, uber-intelligent, 14-year-old IT expert, Fangfang Yu.  As well as gutsy, hard as nails, Stella, and her flighty daughter, Jess.  They all add something noteworthy to this compelling multi-layered tale.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book in the Michael North series.  If you’re a conspiracy fan then you will love Killing State.  Intricate, explosive and action-packed.  What more could a thriller fan want?

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Killing State.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Anne Cater for asking me to feature on the blog tour and for providing me with a review copy.

Killing State by Judith O’Reilly ebook is published by Loughman Press on 6 November 2017. The paperback will be published on 15 March 2018 and will be available to buy from WH Smith Travel and Amazon.

Killing State by Judith O’Reilly was published in the UK by Loughman Press on 6th November 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Judith Author Pic (1).jpgJudith O’Reilly’s claim to fame is that one of her books was a Radio 4 Book of the Week. As far as she’s concerned that’s as good as it gets.

Judith has written three books. Her latest book is called Killing State. It’s a commercial political thriller and her first novel – at least the first one she’s allowed to leave the house without her. She likes to describe it as a Lee Child meets Robert Harris, with a young and very British action hero and compelling and dynamic female characters. She may be the only person who ever thinks that. We’ll have to see.

Judith’s a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News, and a former education correspondent with The Sunday Times where she also covered politics, undercover reporting and general news. She still writes for The Sunday Times.

Her two non-fiction books were called Wife in the North and A Year of Doing Good (both published by Viking Penguin, in 2008 and 2013 respectively). Wife in the North reached number three in the UK bestsellers’ chart and was in the top ten for five weeks. It was also a top ten bestseller in Germany. It sold into ten countries, was serialised by The Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week (has she mentioned that already?), and was based on Judith’s eponymous blog which was named as one of the top 100 blogs in the world by The Sunday Times. Judith’s blog is credited with kicking off the popularity of domestic blogging in the UK. For A Year of Doing Good, she did a good deed a day for a year. It did not make her a better person. She has taught memoir and blogging at Newcastle University and occasionally advises on strategic communications. Most of all though, she writes and drinks a lot of tea. Occasionally, she shakes things up and drinks coffee.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Binding Song by Elodie Harper (@ElodieITV) @MulhollandUK @1stMondayCrime

the binding song“Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…”

I was absolutely delighted to discover that Elodie Harper is one of the authors appearing at November’s ‘First Monday Crime’ event in London on Monday 6th November because it gave me the excuse (absolutely NO excuse needed) to read her debut, The Binding Song.  The Binding Song has been on my radar for some time now.  It was published by Mulholland Books in eBook and hardcover format earlier this year.  The paperback is due to be launched in February 2018 so keep an eye out for that.

As Autumn fades and Winter approaches it’s that time of year when I want to dive into a creepy, gothic thriller and fictitious HMP Halvergate in Norfolk provided the most perfect of settings to do that.  What a beautifully atmospheric and creepy story, one where I never really felt sure I knew exactly what was going on.  Even the sceptic in me believed in ghosts at one point during Harper’s haunting tale.  I felt apprehensive from the very first page and discovered a delightful ominous edge to Harper’s writing which had me hooked.

Dr Janet Palmer is the newly appointed forensic psychologist at the remote Norfolk-based Halvergate prison.  Halvergate is nothing like the prison she worked at before in London but the promotion seemed worth upping sticks for and moving away from her partner, Arun, and their comfortable life together.  Colleagues at the prison are distant and unfriendly, the prisoners are threatening and violent and Janet now feels very much alone.  Janet is made aware of an alarming increase in the number of suicides on D Wing – an occurrence which started under Dr Helkin’s care, and something she is keen to call a halt to.  But on starting work she discovers no one wishes to speak of her predecessor.  And Janet is approaching her caseload blind as all of Helkin’s notes seem to be missing.  She knows nothing about the deviant, sexual predators she faces on a daily basis and one particular prisoner both intrigues and repels her.  And what of the White Visitor, a pale black-eyed woman who is said to visit certain prisoners shortly before they take their own lives.  It’s down to Dr Palmer to uncover Halvergate’s secrets before more prisoners die and before the White Visitor comes to visit Janet…

As the story progresses you discover more about Janet and her tragic past.  The reader is given flashbacks into her teenage years and the heartache she and her family experienced.  At times I wondered why Janet would want to work in the prison service but as the story progressed and I was given more of an insight into her past, it all started to make sense.  Janet’s only friend in Norfolk is the prison chaplain, Steve.  Their relationship was interesting if a little stilted.  The friendship started to blossom only to be nipped in the bud by Janet’s frightening discoveries.  Knowing these two characters were friends but also so very alone created an eerie sense of isolation which sent shivers down my spine.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I’m looking forward to reading more from Elodie Harper in the future.  It’s a surprisingly creepy read with a breath-taking atmospheric feel at its core.  Ominous, tense and chock full of suspense.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of The Binding Song.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Binding Song by Elodie Harper was published in the UK by Mulholland Books on 29th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in February 2018) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Don’t forget to book your FREE place to see Elodie Harper alongside Stuart McBride, Simon Booker and Vaseem Khan with moderator Barry Forshaw on Monday 6th November at 6.30pm in Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket.  To find out more about the November panelists and to read the first chapter of their latest books, click HERE.

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elodie harper.jpgElodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, run by The Guardian and Hodder & Stoughton and judged by Stephen King. She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. She is married with a young son

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) @bookouture

Murder-Game-Kindle (1).jpg“A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead. 

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die… 

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one… 

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Peter James will be hooked by this dark and utterly disturbing thriller, packed with twists until the final page.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to the blog today as I am one of seven blogs kicking off the Murder Game blog blitz.  Make sure you check out these other awesome blogs taking part in day one of the tour; Novel DeelightsMy Chestnut Reading TreeNovel GossipChapter in my LifeI Love Reading and I Dig Books (And Dirt).  And the rest of the blog blitz is shaping up rather nicely, so don’t miss out! 

Murder Game is the third book in the Detective Ruby Preston series written by Caroline Mitchell and published by Bookouture.  I am such a fan of this series and have reviewed both of the previous books on damppebbles in the past (click HERE for my review of book one, Death Note and click HERE for my review of book two, Sleep Tight).  My love for Ruby and her tough guy beau, Nathan is pretty darn strong so there was no way on earth I was going to miss this latest instalment.

The first two books shine so brightly for me because they’re exactly what I enjoy reading; a delusional yet completely different serial killer in each book with a pretty consistent M.O.  The killer knows what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and they’re going to keep on doing it until Ruby and DI Downes catch them.  Perfect!  The reader is introduced to another dark and evil mind in Murder Game but this time there’s a rather sinister twist.  Convicted of six murders, named The Lonely Hearts Killer and stuck behind bars for a few more years, Ruby has the displeasure of meeting Mason Gatley.  It seems their latest offender is basing his crimes on Gatley’s from back in the day (DI Downes was a DC at the time so we’re talking a few years ago!).  I loved the tension Gatley brought to the pages of Murder Game.  What a thoroughly loathsome character but I have to confess to secretly enjoying Ruby’s stand-offs with the vile killer!

What makes this series stand out head and shoulders above others is the relationship between Detective Sergeant Ruby Preston and the love of her life, local gangster, Nathan Crosby.  The chemistry between the two characters really sparks and my reaction to them in the first book really surprised me, especially as romantic relationships don’t really work for me in crime fiction (if I wanted soppy stuff I would read romance – that’s my opinion anyway!).  I felt that chemistry was lacking a little in Murder Game.  It certainly wasn’t as full on or as intense as the first two novels and I missed it.

If I’m honest, I felt the entire Crosby family were a little absent in this latest instalment.  Murder Game focuses more on the investigation rather than the relationships between the characters.  With any other series this would have pleased me no end but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  I wanted more of Nathan’s mother and her inherent dislike of Ruby because she’s a copper.  More of Nathan’s caustic, sadistic brother, Lenny who always lends a vile edge to the story.  I really felt their absence.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  If you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller then you really must read this series because it’s incredibly special and one of my all-time favourites.  I adore Ruby Preston and I adore Mitchell’s writing.

Four out of five stars.

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

Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell was published in the UK by Bookouture on 31st October 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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IMG_6478USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family, parrot and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. 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. Published by Bookouture and Thomas & Mercer, she now writes full time and all her books have become number 1 best sellers in their categories.

Her fast-paced DC Jennifer Knight thrillers carry a hint of the supernatural and are weaved from Caroline’s personal experiences in the police and paranormal.

Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston series is described as “terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers”.

 Caroline also writes psychological thrillers, the most recent, Witness, has been described as “thrilling, tense, exciting, dark and twisted in the best possible way”.

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

#BlogTour #BookReview: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister (@GillianMAuthor) @MichaelJBooks

Anything You Do Say (1).jpg“It’s the end of the night. You’re walking home on your own.

Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Coming fast.

You’re sure it’s him – the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave you alone.

You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor.

Now What?

Call 999
Wait for the police to arrive. For judgement, for justice,whatever that may be. You just hope you husband, family and friends, everyoneyou love, will stand by you.

OR:

Run
Stay silent. You didn’t mean to do it. You were scared, you panicked. And no one saw. No one will ever know. If you leave now. If you keep quiet. Forever.

Which is it to be?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Anything You Do Say blog tour.  Anything You Do Say is the second book written by Gillian McAllister and was published by Michael Joseph Books on 19th October 2017.

I am absolutely ashamed to admit that I haven’t (as yet!) managed to read McAllister’s debut, Everything But The Truth.  It’s another of my TBR that’s been giving me that come-hither look for a while now but thanks to my need to overindulge in blog tours it’s been left, literally ‘stood up’ on my bookshelf!  I promise, after having read the wonderful Anything You Do Say, to make it a top priority!

Anything You Do Say is quite possibly the cleverest suspense thriller I have read.  The author has managed to write two different stories (albeit with the same characters) in the one book!  Two for the price of one; what a bargain us readers are getting.  Following a night out and a frightening confrontation in a bar, Joanna heads home to husband Reuben.  Traipsing the streets of London she is suddenly aware that someone is following her.  A quick glance tells her it’s the man from the bar, the one that…. Joanna starts to panic, she knows he’s followed her so he can finish what he started.  Utterly consumed by fear and panic she lashes out at her attacker and watches as he falls, head first into a shallow puddle at the foot of the steps.  In a moment of misguided self-defence, Joanna has changed her life forever.  Now, the decision she makes will dictate the direction which her life takes.  Call the police and report the incident or run home to Reuben and pretend it never happened.  Which decision will it be…?

The reader is given a fascinating ‘Sliding Doors-esque‘ look into what happens to gentle, indecisive Joanna as she changes her life forever.  The chapters are headed either ‘coverwhere Joanna decides to run away from what she’s done and hide her crime from everyone, even her husband Reuben or ‘reveal‘, where Joanna dials 999 and has to live with the consequences of that decision.  I found it riveting reading, the differences created; the repercussions of her situation and how it affects absolutely everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) else in her life.  Throughout the reveal chapters, I could feel Joanna’s despair emanating from the pages in front of me.  During the cover chapters, I watched as the decision totally devastated a nice, normal middle-class woman bit by agonising bit.

I’m not sure I liked Joanna.  I wanted to, and I really felt for her but I don’t think we got anywhere near the ‘liking’ stage.  I found her a little too dreamy at times and wanted to give her a good shake so she’d wake up and actually face what was happening to her.  Joanna’s husband, Reuben is also quite a frustrating character.  He’s very closed off to everyone around him, apart from his wife who he adores in his own, special way.  I desperately wanted him to notice that Joanna was gradually falling apart during the cover but he was oblivious.  Despite not really liking either of the main characters I was, however, totally invested in their lives and where, whether it be cover or reveal, they were headed.

Beautifully written and heartbreaking in places; my congratulations to McAllister for the amount of intricate research she has put into this novel.  As a reader, it was incredibly obvious to me how much time and effort had gone in to making Joanna and Reuben come alive. 

Would I recommend this book? I would.  I don’t think I’ve read a suspense novel quite like this before.  It takes a little while to get your head around the fact that you are, essentially, reading two different stories about the same characters but it’s well worth it.  In a perfect world, I would have liked a more surprising conclusion but that’s just me and my personal taste!  Nothing more.  A great read with a very interesting plot which pulls you in and keeps you hooked till the end.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Anything You Do Say.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to the author and Jenny at Michael Joseph for asking me to join the blog tour.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister was published in the UK by Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House on 19th October 2017 and is available in eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in January 2018) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Gillian (1).pngGillian McAllister has been writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated with an English degree and lives in Birmingham where she now works as a lawyer. Her debut novel Everything But The Truth was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |