#BookReview: All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson (@PeterSwanson3) @FaberBooks #AllTheBeautifulLies

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“On the eve of his college graduation, Harry is called home by his step-mother Alice, to their house on the Maine coast, following the unexpected death of his father.

But who really is Alice, his father’s much younger second wife? In a brilliant split narrative, Peter Swanson teases out the stories and damage that lie in her past. And as her story entwines with Harry’s in the present, things grow increasingly dark and threatening – will Harry be able to see any of it clearly through his own confused feelings?”

I am a huge (HUGE!) Peter Swanson fan. The Kind Worth Killing is one of my all-time favourite books and I ALWAYS recommend it to people (have you read it? You haven’t? You really should!). So, understandably, I always look forward to the next release from Mr Swanson. I didn’t have the blog when I read The Kind Worth Killing so I, unfortunately, don’t have a review to share with you (it would be an awful lot of fangirling!). I do, however, have a review of Swanson’s last book Her Every Fear which despite reading over a year ago now, I can still remember with pinpoint accuracy.

Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to hear the next Peter Swanson novel, All The Beautiful Lies, was due for imminent release. I HAD to read it, and soon! Unfortunately, because I’m an idiot, publication day passed me by but I picked up my copy and made a start as soon as I realised my epic mistake. And I have to say, it’s quite a different read from Swanson’s other books. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why that is but have so far failed. I enjoyed it, but maybe not as much as The Kind Worth Killing or Her Every Fear. It’s a little darker maybe, but that would encourage me if anything. I’m really not the best person to ask on these things but I wonder if it was a departure from the usual commercial fiction I’m used to reading and that’s what felt unfamiliar about the book.

Please don’t get the wrong idea here, I did thoroughly enjoy All The Beautiful Lies. I think I was thrown a little by the very different tone from an author whose writing I have come to know well. The story was a lot more about the intense and somewhat uncomfortable relationships between the characters. And the setting, the blustery Maine coastline, was almost a character in its own right. I’m not saying these are elements not normally included in a Peter Swanson novel. What I AM saying is that it/they felt strangely different in All The Beautiful Lies. But nothing ever stays the same and if you’re a writer churning out the same old thing, time and time again, then you’re not going to last very long in a competitive, inventive industry such as publishing.

Hmmm, yes! I liked it. It got under my skin but in a different way to the author’s other books.

Harry is called back to Maine days before he is due to graduate from college. Alice, his stepmother bears terrible news. Harry’s father has died suddenly; a freak accident whilst he was out on his evening stroll along the clifftop path. Harry is devastated by his father’s death and rushes to Alice’s side. He’s always tried to have a normal relationship with his stepmother but that can difficult when she’s only 13 years older than him and Harry can’t help but find her attractive. Alice needs Harry around her; to cook for, to clean for and to run Harry’s father’s rare book shop. But Harry doesn’t want to be a replacement for Bill. He’s a young man and despite having no clue what he wants from his life, he knows it’s not Kennewick, Maine. Unbeknownst to Harry, Kennewick is full of secrets and it’s frightening how far some people will go to keep it that way.

Alice is probably my favourite character in the book. Personally, I’m not one for your ‘run of the mill’ types and she certainly couldn’t be described that way. I looked forward to the sections where I would discover more about her past and get a glimpse into what made Alice the woman she became. There was also a delicious sense of dread hanging over these chapters which I thought was perfectly written. I felt nervous, but at times couldn’t explain why.

Harry also gets to tell his side of the story which I was a little less interested in. I neither liked nor disliked Harry. Yes, he was key to the plot but Alice was the far superior character in my eyes. Drippy, somewhat naive characters will never get my vote though.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s different to what I have come to expect from the author but I liked it. Has it surpassed The Kind Worth Killing in my eyes? Well, no. That’s going to be quite a mammoth feat to achieve (not saying it’s not possible though!). I found this book interesting, a little uncomfortable in places and very intense. It’s not going to be for everyone but it could be for you, so give it a go. Oh, and the ‘fountain of youth’ references throughout the book were fan-flipping-tastic!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read an ARC of All The Beautiful Lies. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 5th April 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, All the Beautiful Lies. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

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#BookReview: Our House by Louise Candlish (@louise_candlish) @simonschusterUK #OurHouse #DomesticSuspense

9781471168031 (3)“FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.”

I was kindly invited to take part in the blog tour for Our House by Jess at Simon & Schuster, and if you were around over the weekend you would have seen a brilliant guest post on the blog written by the author, Louise Candlish.  When Jess approached me about the tour, I didn’t think I would be able to fit a review in.  But, in the end, I just couldn’t help myself!  (And I know I promised you that review on Monday but I’m afraid life got in the way a little, as it does to all of us sometimes.)

I did, however, finish reading Our House over the weekend and I’m still feeling a number of the unsettling emotions it has left me with.  Now don’t get me wrong, this is a GREAT book but flipping heck, it made me really quite uncomfortable at times.  It’s a strange one (a good strange one).  I struggled to put it down but at the same time, I didn’t want to pick it again once I had put it down.  Isn’t that a weird thing to say?!  I knew things were only going to get worse for the Lawson family and whilst I was seriously intrigued by their situation, at points, I wasn’t sure I wanted to witness them.  It was like I wanted to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible.  Gosh, I hope I’m making some sort of sense here.  It felt a little like slowing down to gawp as you pass a road traffic accident, a little ghoulish…

Fi returns home after a romantic break with her new man to find a young couple moving into their family home.  There is no mistake about it; the funds have been transferred and the names on the deeds have been changed.  Fi’s beloved family home is no longer hers.  But this is the first she’s heard about it.  Fi would never even consider selling their house; it was meant to be passed down to her boys.  It was their inheritance.  To complicate matters Fi’s estranged husband, Bram is missing.  He’s not picking up his phone.  No one has seen hide nor hair of him.  What’s going on?  How could this happen?  Are Fi and Bram the victims of some complex property fraud, or is the source of the crime much closer to home than anyone imagines…

The way Candlish has told the story is exceptional.  We meet Fi as she discovers the horrible truth, her home is no longer her own.  The reader watches from the shadows as she argues and debates with the new owners, urging them to understand what a terrible mistake this must all be.  But it has to be true, the paperwork says so, as does the missing two million pounds.  Which takes us to ‘The Victim‘, a Podcast that “tells the true story of a crime directly in the words of the victim. ‘The Victim’ is not an investigation, but a privileged insight into an innocent person’s suffering.”  [taken from Louise Candlish’s website].  These sections are where we get to see the real Fi; her naivety, her good nature, her gullibility and her strong love and devotion to her two sons.  The reader also gets to hear Bram’s side of the story which doesn’t make for a pleasant read.  Bram is an idiot.  He’s probably King Idiot actually!  I wanted to thump him at times and, truth be told, I also wanted to give him a big cuddle and tell him it would be alright in the end (that really isn’t a spoiler by the way!).  Bram’s devotion to his boys, if nothing else, melted my heart.  The dawning realisation of what was happening to him and what the repercussions of that was tough going at times.

Before I turn this into the longest review I have ever written, I want to talk briefly about the end of this book.  I was warned about a big twist and it really is quite devastating as books go.  It wasn’t a WOW moment for me though, I found myself inhaling sharply and then slumping in a heap.  If at any point in the book, you feel any kind of fondness or warmth for the characters, I expect you may feel the same.  Several days later and I’m still turning over the story of Fi and Bram in my mind.  I wish it had ended differently for them, but the ending was perfect.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s quite different to many other domestic suspense novels I have read over the years.  It’s a triumphant step up for a genre that I often feel can be quite samey.  Full of emotion, probably more than I could handle at times, and totally devastating in places.  With characters that leap off the page at you and with situations you could easily find yourself in, Our House is a must read.

Four out of five stars.

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

Our House by Louise Candlish was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Louise CandlishLouise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Swimming Pool (2016) and The Sudden Departure of the Frasers (2015), Her new novel Our House, will be published in April 2018 by Simon & Schuster in the UK and in August 2018 by Berkley in the US.

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers has been optioned for TV by Hartswood Films.

Besides books, the things Louise likes best are: coffee; TV (so much TV, too much, probably); cats and dogs; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; soup; Vanity Fair magazine; ‘Book at Bedtime’; lasagne; heavy metal; ‘The Archers’; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar).

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Facebook | Instagram |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (@JoGustawsson) trans. Maxim Jakubowski @OrendaBooks #Keeper #FrenchNoir #RoyandCastells

KEEPER COVER COVER AW.jpeg“Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. 

London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before. 

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? 

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Keeper blog tour which I share with the wonderful The Book Review Cafe.  Keeper is the second book in the Roy & Castells series written by Johana Gustawsson and is published in paperback by Orenda Books later this month (nothing to stop you from grabbing a copy of the eBook now though!).

I read the first book in the series, Block 46 last year.  I really liked it, many others absolutely loved it and it made regular appearances on the ‘top books of 2017’ lists.  Rightly so.  Knowing this added to the pre-read build up for me.  I was excited, expectant and a little apprehensive.

For those new to Gustawsson’s books, they are set in the present day (if you can call 2015 present!) but with a historical twist to them.  The story’s tentacles reach back in time to real-life crimes.  The reader gets to see how the evil of the past affects and manipulates the evil of the present.  It’s a highly original concept, one that I haven’t found elsewhere and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I bow down to those that are able to write convincing fiction, but I grovel on the floor before those that include a fair amount of accurate historical fact (I assume it’s accurate by the way, I am certainly no historian!).  In Block 46 we had the despicable and abhorrent treatment prisoners of war were subjected to by the detestable Nazi’s.  In Keeper, we are plunged into the world of the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.  Now I’m no Ripperologist but Jack the Ripper has always fascinated me.  I’ve read a few books on the subject, some fact and some fiction.  As far as the fictional ones go, this is by far the best.

I adored this book.  Plain and simple.  If Keeper doesn’t make it to my top three books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.  Regular visitors to the blog will be fully aware that I like my crime thrillers a little more on the dark side.  Keeper is one heck of a dark read.  Picture the scene, there I was merrily reading away thinking to myself, ‘yup, it’s another good one – probably four stars at the moment but we’ll see how things go’.  Then all of a sudden Gustawsson stepped things up a notch (or two).  My jaw hit the table and I was utterly smitten with the author’s story.  One of those, ‘WOAH’ moments that I absolutely live for.

Keeper will take you places you never expected.  It’s exactly the kind of novel I want to read and it’s going to stay with me for a very, very long time.  My love for Emily Roy has grown.  She’s such a likeable oddball character.  She does have competition for my affections though as I also really liked intern, Aliénor Lindbergh.  Such an interesting character and I hope we see more of her in the future.  The dynamic between the two characters really worked for me.

I also love the international flavour of Gustawsson’s books.  The reader gets taken on a whirlwind journey from London to Falkenberg in Sweden, and back again.  The characters also bring a welcome international flair to proceedings.  For example, at one point Alexis Castells is having a dreaded ‘meet the parents’ moment (her parents are meeting her partner).  They don’t all speak the same language so some are conversing in English, others in Swedish, her parents are chatting in French and there’s a bit of Spanish thrown in for good measure too.  One of my favourite scenes in the book.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  Strong characters, astonishing twists and really quite perfect.  There’s not a single thing I can think of that I didn’t like, and that’s saying something!  Totally gratifying, deliciously dark and WHAT a thrill-ride.  Yeah, I loved this one.  You really should read Keeper.

Five out of five stars.

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

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (trans. Maxim Jakubowski) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 28th April 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please be aware the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Johana PhotoBorn in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BookReview: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (@stu_turton) @BloomsburyRaven @BloomsburyBooks #SevenDeathsofEvelynHardcastle #SevenDeaths @1stMondayCrime

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‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

Oh.My.Gosh! How to review this delightfully odd, somewhat insane and utterly beguiling piece of crime fiction…? *Pondering. I’m pondering here people, give me time to ponder*. Erm…..

Well, it was a wonderful read and you should definitely purchase a copy. Thank you for your time, and goodnight!

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Okay, maybe not the most extensive book review you may read today but that’s pretty much all you need to know; that’s my ‘take home’ message’ for Seven Deaths. It is utterly mesmerising as a novel and I do have to wonder exactly how Stuart Turton’s brain works. No, let’s not go there.

Aiden Bishop is in his own living hell. He’s trapped in Blackheath, a dilapidated manor house owned by the Hardcastle family. Every night he falls asleep and wakes the next day in a brand new body. Every day is exactly the same for Aiden; the day Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered at 11pm by the reflecting pool. He’s inhabiting ‘hosts’, strangers to him who have come to Blackheath for a rather macabre party. Aiden knows something isn’t quite right, he battles on a daily basis with his hosts. Their personalities sometimes pushing Bishop to the back, resulting in moments where he is not in control. Aiden is tasked by the Plague Doctor to solve the murder. He must report to the masked man at 11pm, tell him who killed Evelyn and he will finally be free. Will Aiden be able to solve the murder or will he be banished to a life of repetition. The same people, the same day, the same horrific murder, never able to remember who he is and, most importantly, what he’s left behind…

Honestly, I’m a little flummoxed about where to start. At no point whilst reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle did I ever, truly, feel like I knew what was going on. This is an incredibly clever piece of fiction which I imagine took a significant amount of time to write. I think it was my friend Joanne at My Chestnut Reading Tree who I first saw compare this book to Quantum Leap. I just want to jump to my feet here and now nodding enthusiastically at you, giving you a look that says ‘YES! Flipping YES!’. This book reminded me so much of Quantum Leap. Quantum Leap plus Groundhog Day with a hefty dose of the classic murder mystery. Time hopping, body leaping and I’m going to have to say it again, OH.MY.GOSH, what a mystery! If you’re a fan of historical crime, if you’re a fan of the mystery novel then you must experience this book. It’s so different, so deliciously complex, so….well, GENIUS! And in a mere 500+ pages as well.

I am fully aware that this is a very different type of review from me today but that’s because The Seven Deaths is unlike anything I have read before. This is such a brilliant tale, so intricate and devilish that I have to recommend it highly. Not only do we have the very likeable Aiden Bishop leaping from day to day and body to body we also have the evil Footman, lurking around every corner ready to slash Aiden’s throat (or rather, his host’s throat) as soon as look at him. I loved the tension the Footman brought to the story; he was also the bringer of gore (and I do love a bit of gore in my books!) which made him a firm favourite in my eyes.

Would I recommend this book? I would. Oh flipping heck, the pressure you have placed upon yourself Mr Turton with that tricky second novel. I think many of your readers will be waiting with baited breath to see what you pull out of the hat next time. What a bar you have set. What an incredible debut. Bravo!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Stuart Turton will be appearing at the April First Monday Crime on Monday 9th March 2018. Stuart will be appearing alongside John Connolly, Rachel Abbott, Leigh Russell and moderator Barry Forshaw, one of the UK’s leading experts on crime fiction and film. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 9th April at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

My thanks to Beth over at the fantastic Bibliobeth. My copy of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was part of the prize package I won to celebrate her fifth blogiversary. If you haven’t done so already then please check Beth’s blog out – I love it!

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was published in the UK by Raven Books | Bloomsbury Books on 8th February 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Stuart is the author of a high-concept crime novel and lives in London with his amazing wife, and drinks lots of tea.

What else?

When he left university he went travelling for three months and stayed away for five years. Every time his parents asked when he’d be back he told them next week, and meant it.

Stuart is not to be trusted. In the nicest possible way.

He’s got a degree in English and Philosophy, which makes him excellent at arguing and terrible at choosing degrees. Having trained for no particular career, he has dabbled in most of them. He stocked shelves in a Darwin bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, worked for a technology magazine in London, wrote travel articles in Dubai, and now he’s a freelance journalist. None of this was planned, he just kept getting lost on his way to other places.

He likes a chat. He likes books. He likes people who write books and people who read books. He doesn’t know how to write a biography, so should probably stop before we start talking about his dreams or something. It was lovely to meet you, though.

Author Links: | Twitter |

Author image and bio © http://www.dhhliteraryagency.com/stuart-turton.html

#BlogTour | #BookReview: My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland (@crimethrillgirl) @TrapezeBooks @orion_crime #MyLittleEye

my little eye.jpg“KISS THE GIRLS
A young woman is found dead in her bedroom surrounded by rose petals – the latest victim of ‘The Lover’. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no closer to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out.

AND MAKE THEM DIE…
As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in their own hands – to catch the killer before the police. Hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group.

As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realise they’re being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think, and he has his next victim – Clementine – firmly in his sights.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the My Little Eye blog tour which I share with one of my favourite book blogs, Bibliophile Book Club.  My Little Eye is the first book in the Starke and Bell series written by Stephanie Marland.  Sshhh, don’t tell anyone but Stephanie Marland is actually a pen name for another favourite of mine (that’s author AND blogger), Steph Broadribb!  Steph writes the breathtakingly good Lori Anderson series, published by Orenda Books.  Writing as Stephanie Marland her latest series, featuring Clementine Starke and Dominic Bell, is published by the fabulous folk at Trapeze Books.  Of all the books in all the world, this one was pretty much at the top of my MUST READ list.

I’ve been SO excited about getting around to reading My Little Eye, and I really enjoyed it.  Knowing that this author (in her other guise) writes one of my very favourite crime series, I was looking forward to seeing how she would write these new characters, the more ‘local’ setting (for us Brits!) and exactly how different it would be to her very distinct Lori Anderson series.  And it was just that; very very different.  Great different.  You can’t really compare the two but they’re both as equally marvellous as each other.

We meet Clementine Starke, a PhD student in psychology, specifically human-computer interaction.  Yeah, I scratched my head at that too.  Basically, Clementine likes to study how we present ourselves online; the lies we tell, the *cough* truths we omit.  The reader soon discovers that Clementine Starke has other dark secrets as well which Marland manages to adeptly tease us with as the story progresses.  Starke is part of a London-based forum of true crime addicts.  True crime addicts who believe the police are incompetent, corrupt and generally inept.  True crime addicts who are out to solve a murder, to beat the police in cracking the case.  And oh boy, what a case they have chosen to crack!  The Lover is London’s latest serial killer.  When a second victim is found, Starke’s group closes rank and start their own investigation.  DI Dominic Bell is the lead detective tasked with apprehending The Lover.  Bell is struggling with his own demons though, including an Internal Affairs investigation into his last case.  Can Bell piece the clues together before it’s too late and The Lover takes another victim?  How far will Starke go before she realises she’s in too deep…?

I absolutely loved Starke and I loved Bell.  I’m fascinated to see where Marland is going to take the second book as, although it sounds from the blurb like Bell and Starke are a team, they really aren’t and only come to meet towards the end of the book.  He is a senior police officer, she is a PhD student who prefers to spend time inside her flat in her own company.

I did see where the plot was heading but I didn’t really care as I was enjoying the book so much.  I love a serial killer thriller (more than any other crime thriller, really) and it was great to have what felt like a modern-day amateur sleuth take on the big guys, the serial killers.  The addition of a competent but distracted detective worked an absolute treat for me and I’m really excited to read the next instalment in this series for that reason.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  It’s a twisty, modern day take on a serial killer thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Fast-paced and addictive, I’m left wanting more.  They’re an unlikely duo but oh my gosh, they work.  I just hope they don’t do something daft like fall in love…*shudder*

And for the record, Radiohead aren’t ‘old’.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland was published in the UK by Trapeze Books | Orion Publishing on 5th April 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

stephanie marland.jpgStephanie Marland has worked in the University sector for over ten years and published research on how people interact and learn together in virtual environments online. She’s an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and an avid reader of all things crime fiction, blogging about books at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com. Steph also writes the Lori Anderson action thriller series (as Steph Broadribb) for Orenda Books, the first book Deep Down Dead is out now.

Author Links:Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: No Comment by Graham Smith (@GrahamSmith1972) @caffeinenights @rararesources #NoComment

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When a single mother, Julie Simon, is found in her kitchen with a stab wound to her stomach, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the case.

Under the supervision of DI Campbell and with advice from his former DI, Harry Evans, DC Amir Bhaki fights to discover who assaulted an innocent woman and left her with life-threatening injuries.

Nothing is as it first appears and when the team looks into Julie’s life they uncover a hidden sex-life that may just hold the key to the identity of her attacker.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the No Comment blog blitz which I share with some pretty fabulous bloggers. No Comment is the latest DI Harry Evans novella, written by Graham Smith and published yesterday (that’s Thursday 22nd March 2018) by Caffeine Nights.

I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a previous DI Harry Evans novella, Matching the Evidence plus the latest full-length novel in the series, I Know Your Secret. More recently Smith has been focussing on his Jake Boulder series (which I also love) so I was delighted to hear Harry and the team were to make a very welcome, long-awaited return.

Smith has managed to pack one heck of an almighty punch into this latest Major Crimes Team novella. It was so good to be reacquainted with the Cumbrian MCT again. The memories of these well developed and fascinating characters came flooding back. And for the record, I still don’t like DC Lauren Phillips! I was, however, feeling slightly more positive towards the dastardly DI Campbell this time around. So who knows, my feelings for Lauren may change with time…ha! (I’m due to read the next full-length novel in the series, titled When the Waters Recede, soon. By the end, I expect I’ll be back to loathing Campbell again. He’s that kind of character!).

One of the things I love about this series is the way that every member of the team is an individual and they have something unique to add to the story. Smith seems to effortlessly spotlight one character in particular per novel/novella giving you an insight into what makes them tick. This time the story focusses on DC Amir Bhaki and his gut feeling about the violent scene he encounters in Julie Simon’s kitchen.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s probably best to read the previous novellas and full-length novels before you get to No Comment though. The MCT carries a lot of history and there are things which may not make immediate sense otherwise. In my usual wannabe amateur detective way, I was trying to work out whodunit and why-they-dunit but I completely failed. The twist is quite unexpected and will leave you with a gaping jaw. It did me, anyway! Smith is such a talented writer and I cannot wait to read more from him. Roll on When the Waters Recede!

Four stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of No Comment. The above review is my own unbiased opinion. My thanks to Graham Smith for asking me to feature on the blog tour.

No Comment by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook format (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Graham Smith Author Pic

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BookReview: Hangman by Daniel Cole (@Daniel_P_Cole) @TrapezeBooks @orion_crime @Lauren_BooksPR

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“A detective with no one to trust
A killer with nothing to lose

18 months after the ‘Ragdoll’ murders, a body is found hanging from Brooklyn Bridge, the word ‘BAIT’ carved into the chest.

In London a copycat killer strikes, branded with the word ‘PUPPET’, forcing DCI Emily Baxter into an uneasy partnership with the detectives on the case, Special Agents Rouche and Curtis.

Each time they trace a suspect, the killer is one step ahead. With the body count rising on both sides of the Atlantic, can they learn to trust each other and identify who is holding the strings before it is too late?”

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Daniel Cole’s debut crime thriller, Ragdoll. I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the inventive ways Cole came up with to kill off a number of the characters. It’s no secret that I like my crime thrillers edging on horror with lots of bodies and lots of blood, so Ragdoll held a lot of appeal for me. The second book in the Ragdoll series, Hangman immediately became a must-read. I just had to see what the author was going to do with his characters next…

And the answer is, he completely ignored his lead protagonist and focussed solely on a supporting member of his cast. Not what you would expect, right? I’ve seen Hangman mentioned in places as Detective Fawkes #2. It really isn’t though. Fawkes hardly features in this novel and I absolutely flipping LOVED it! My one bugbear with Ragdoll was that I felt very little for either Fawkes or his sidekick, Emily Baxter. If anything, Baxter irritated me with her fawning over Fawkes and her (ugh) neediness. Having read Hangman from cover to cover I have completely changed my mind about her. I love the new ‘slightly more damaged than she was before’ Emily Baxter. Her sarcastic manner, her bossiness, her ‘don’t actually give a damn!’ attitude and her secretiveness. I really like this new Baxter and hope she doesn’t change back to her old, puppy dog ways in book three when Fawkes *may* return.

Baxter isn’t the only character I loved in Hangman. I’ve already mentioned that Fawkes isn’t really present. However, Baxter is instructed to work alongside the FBI and CIA as her current investigation spans continents and has links to the famous Ragdoll case she ‘heroically’ solved. Curtis (the FBI agent) and in particular Rouche (the CIA operative) really brought something to the story. We get to see Baxter’s newfound barriers crumble a little as she warms to Rouche. I’m not sure there is any point in the story where she trusts him but I really enjoyed the relationship between the two.

I have to say, I found the story a little far-fetched in some places but in all honesty, I didn’t actually give a hoot as I was utterly captivated by the characters and what was going to happen next. Daniel Cole had my full attention from start to finish and to me, that is more important than a little artistic licence. I also loved the humour Cole has written into the pages of Hangman. This is the first book in a long time that I found myself quietly chuckling along to.

Would I recommend this book? Totally. I loved it. I preferred it to Ragdoll. I loved seeing things from Baxter’s perspective and I hope the *possible* return of Fawkes in book three doesn’t reduce her character to what it was in book one. I would be devastated. So utterly gripping I couldn’t put this book down. I described the need to keep turning the pages of Ragdoll as similar to catnip. Well, the author has done it again but this is super strength catnip! A perfect read for me.

Five out of five stars.

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

Hangman by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 22nd March 2018 and is available hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

daniel cole

Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer, and most recently for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Ragdoll is his first novel. He lives in Bournemouth, England.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: Call to Arms by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) #CalltoArms #DetectiveKayHunter

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“Loyalty has a price.

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country’s most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation. DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.

Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…

Call to Arms is a gripping police procedural, and the fifth in the Detective Kay Hunter series:

1. SCARED TO DEATH
2. WILL TO LIVE
3. ONE TO WATCH
4. HELL TO PAY
5. CALL TO ARMS

A page-turning murder mystery for fans of Peter Robinson, David Baldacci and Harlen Coben.”

Call to Arms is the fifth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series written by author, Rachel Amphlett. I LOVE this series and always make a point of keeping up to date with the latest release (one of the few I actually manage as well!). You can check out my reviews of the first four books by clicking on the following titles; #1 Scared to Death, #2 Will to Live, #3 One to Watch and #4 Hell to Pay.

I was delighted to have the latest Kay Hunter novel in my mitts. And before long, the events of the previous novel came crashing back into my mind. (IF YOU HAVENT READ THE FOURTH BOOK IN THE SERIES, MISS THE NEXT BIT OUT!). The near-deadly tousle on the beach, the shocking conclusion where Hunter was suddenly promoted to DI as her friend and current DI, Devon Sharp, was forcibly removed from her hospital room. But despite being fully aware of all of that, having Kay’s colleagues refer to her as DI Hunter still came as a bit of surprise to me!

(SKIP TO HERE!) At the start of Call to Arms Kay Hunter is on light duties having only recently returned to work. She’s bored, not helped by a recent promotion and a large increase in the amount of paperwork she has to complete. Hunter realises the only way to get back to the action of ‘real police work’ is to get her friend and colleague, Devon Sharp reinstated as DI of the team. It helps a great deal if you’ve read Hell to Pay, the fourth book in the series before reading Call to Arms. I’ve always said each and every book in the Kay Hunter series can be read as a standalone. Not this one, this is the exception. It would help enormously if you’ve read Hell to Pay first. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Kay decides to reinvestigate a cold case in her own time which, if she can prove wasn’t properly investigated in the first place, may help clear Devon Sharp’s name whilst digging a fellow senior colleague deeper into the hole he has already made for himself – part of the draw maybe?! The investigation is into the death of an Army Private who skidded out of control and to his death on his motorcycle one dark and dismal night. Kay is connected to the case in other ways; the soldier who died was Devon Sharp’s godson. This time it’s personal and Hunter will stop at nothing to make sure the truth is discovered. No matter what the outcome.

So here’s the thing. I enjoyed Hell to Pay but not as much as I expected to (which is really weird as the despicable characters in the story and the evil deeds that were happening before my eyes are very much the kind of thing that I love to read about. Weird right?). However, I was thrilled to fully submerge myself in this latest brilliant instalment, Call to Arms. I REALLY enjoyed it and it reminded me exactly why I love Amphlett’s writing and, in particular, Kay Hunter as much as I do.

I loved that the plot headed off at an unexpected tangent and the more we discovered about the deceased, the darker the tale became. I devoured this book in a few short hours which is unheard of for me. I didn’t want to put it down.

One of my issues with Hell to Pay was the lack of Adam, Kay’s other half in the story. Again, it’s quite strange because I’m not a reader who cares much for romance in my stories. However, I love the relationship between Kay and Adam. I love how utterly normal they are. I was glad to see Adam playing more of a part in Call to Arms. He even managed to bring me to tears at one point! (And don’t forget to check out the brilliant guest post I hosted earlier this week – it’s all about the lovely Adam!).

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely but make sure you grab copies of the first four books in the series as well. I promise it’ll be worth it. My favourite in the series is still Will to Live but Call to Arms is a very welcome addition to a much-loved series. I hope Amphlett continues to write this series for many years to come. I am so fond of the characters and ALWAYS look forward to finding out what is going to happen next.

Four out of five stars.

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

Call to Arms by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK on 11th March 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

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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.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

Calling all crime fiction loving #BookBloggers! damppebbles teams up with the awesome @fahrenheitpress #BlogTours #Noir #Crime #BlogBlitz #HotPunkPublisher

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I have some exciting news to share with you all today. The awesome independent crime fiction publishing house, Fahrenheit Press, and I have joined forces! I am going to be organising and running blog tours and blitzes for them starting with FIVE superb titles that you won’t want to miss!

I’m looking for the very best book bloggers with a bit of a thing for crime fiction and noir to join my database and become part of something special. Review copies will predominantly be eBooks but the odd paperback may be available from time to time. I’ll be sending an email out to everyone on my list in the coming weeks so make sure you’re signed up and watching that inbox (not too closely, you need to eat and sleep!).

If you’re in, then please complete the form below and I will be in touch soon:

If you would like to find out more about Fahrenheit Press then have a look at their website, particularly their ABOUT PAGE which tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

Fahrenheit Press is determined to change the way indie publishing is carried out and make 2018 their year. They’ve recently started two new imprints; Fahrenheit Editions which will be publishing beautiful hardback copies of some of their most popular titles and Fahrenheit 13, a collection of the very best in hard-boiled noir and experimental crime fiction. As a crime fiction fan, it’s incredibly exciting to see what Fahrenheit Press have in store for us readers.

I’m so excited, I hope you are too and you’ll want to join me and be a Fahrenheit reviewer. Don’t forget to fill in the form above!

 

Fahrenheit Press Images © http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/

#BookReview: The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne | @bookouture #TheBabysitter

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“You trust her with your family. Would you trust her with your life?

Mark and Melissa Cain are thrilled to have found Jade, a babysitter who is brilliant with their young children. Having seen her own house burn to the ground, Jade needs them as much as they need her. Moving Jade into the family home can only be a good thing, can’t it?

As Mark works long hours as a police officer and Melissa struggles with running a business, the family become ever more reliant on their babysitter, who is only too happy to help. And as Melissa begins to slip into depression, it’s Jade who is left picking up the pieces.

But Mark soon notices things aren’t quite as they seem. Things at home feel wrong, and as Mark begins to investigate their seemingly perfect sitter, what he discovers shocks him to his core. He’s met Jade before. And now he suspects he might know what she wants …

Mark is in a race against time to protect his family. But what will he find as he goes back to his family home?

If you loved reading The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Sister, you’ll love the suspense of The Babysitter. This unputdownable read will have you turning the pages until way after dark.”

The Babysitter is the first Bookouture release from Sheryl Browne, having previously published her work with ChocLit. Having met Sheryl a couple of years ago (she’s such a darling), I was keen to read her latest book. I also took part in the blog blitz for The Babysitter when it was first released by hosting an extract. You can read that post by clicking HERE.

First up, I can see this book being huge. It’s a well-written psychological thriller with an antagonist you will love to hate. Mark and Melissa Cain are likeable enough characters if maybe a touch too nice (or maybe clueless) at times. Everything that follows all comes down to personal taste. And to prove that point I will link to a number of very positive reviews, written by my blogger peers, at the end of this review. I wanted to love this book. Really, I did. I certainly didn’t hate it, but I struggled to find any love for it either. I feel like I’m heading towards a reading slump at the moment and the only type of fiction that grabs my attention, that gets any kind of real interest from me is on the darker side. For me, The Babysitter is the total opposite of dark fiction (although there was one scene with a pig, which I can safely say was my favourite part!).

I did thoroughly enjoy the prologue which, if you read the extract I featured on publication day, you will see hints at some fairly dark themes. I think I wanted more of that and less of the happy little middle-class family. Aspects of Jade’s character I really liked; her malevolence, her deviousness and her anger. But other characters were just too nice, too naive and too accepting for my tastes. And I certainly wouldn’t want DI Mark Cain involved in any investigation I was part of! This story is not all sweetness and light, by the way. I feel that’s how I’m making it sound but it really isn’t. One of the characters is fairly evil in their intentions and disgustingly manipulative. I’m afraid it just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted a lot more.

Would I recommend this book? I’m not sure. If, like me, you prefer to read darker tales then no, this book isn’t for you. But if you enjoy psychological thrillers then don’t let me put you off – I would hate for that to happen. I read the book from start to finish despite not being fully invested. And in all honesty, I would pick up another book written by Sheryl Browne without a moment’s doubt.

What other reviewers are saying about The Babysitter: Jen Med’s Book Reviews | Chelle’s Book Reviews | Novel Gossip | Sweet Little Book Blog |

The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne was published in the UK by Bookouture on 8th March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

sheryl browne

Sheryl Browne brings you powerful psychological thrillers and contemporary fiction. Sheryl’s latest psychological thriller THE BABYSITTER – the first of a three-book deal – comes to you from fabulous BOOKOUTURE. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and previously writing for award winning Choc Lit, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

So why does Sheryl write in two genres? Quoting E. L. Doctorow, Sheryl says: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights…” This she thinks sums up a writer’s journey, you never quite know where you are going until you get there. You might start with an outline, but a strong character will always divert from the plot. If Sheryl’s not sure where a character is going, she simply has to trust him to show her the way. Plus, according to one reviewer, she also has a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |