#BookReview: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager @DuttonBooks #TheHouseAcrosstheLake #damppebbles

“Be careful what you watch for . . .

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye—and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces.

Packed with sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy plot twists, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake is the ultimate escapist read . . . no lake house required.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The House Across the Lake by the master, Riley Sager. The House Across the Lake will be published by Dutton Books next week (that’s Tuesday 21st June 2022) in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow at a later date. I chose to read a free eARC of The House Across the Lake but that has in no way influenced my review.

Riley Sager is without doubt one of my favourite authors. Time and time again Sager delivers hit after hit, starting with the superb Final Girls in 2017. Every single book has been brilliantly entertaining and utterly compelling. I know because I’ve read them all! Getting hold of the latest Riley Sager novel is the absolute highlight of my year. So when the opportunity presented itself to read The House Across the Lake, I, of course, jumped at the chance!

Grief stricken actor Casey Fletcher needs time away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and the intrusion of the paparazzi, to mourn the death of her husband. Her mother suggests time at the family lake house in Vermont, which Casey reluctantly agrees to. Whilst enjoying a drink on the porch she notices her new neighbours, Tom and Katherine Royce, across the lake in their glass fronted house. Aided by a pair of high-spec binoculars Casey is able to get up close and personal in the Royce’s lives, watching from afar, becoming more and more obsessed with the couple. Then Katherine disappears without a trace, and things just don’t add up for Casey. She suspects Tom has something to do with the ex-supermodel’s disappearance – she just can’t prove it. What Casey doesn’t realise is that there is more to Katherine’s disappearance than meets the eye…

The House Across the Lake is another superb novel from the great Riley Sager. Utterly compelling from the moment the reader meets Casey, totally absorbing from start to finish and near impossible to put down (I grrr in your face adulting!). I tore through this book in a couple of short sittings keen to know where Sager was going to take this twisty tale. And oh my goodness, the twists the author throws at the reader are beautifully executed, they took my breath away at times! Perfectly placed, taking the reader by the hand, then BOOM! Delivered with Sager’s trademark finesse.

Casey is the most perfect unreliable narrator I have met in a LONG time. She likes a drink (she’s definitely an alcoholic!) but she firmly believes she is NOT an alcoholic (she’s an alcoholic!) and is always looking for her next tipple. I did find the numerous references to needing a drink a little wearing at times but I completely understand why the author mentioned her craving so often. It makes her believable. Casey would never call herself an addict but the reader knows the cold hard truth.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The House Across the Lake is a delicious slow burn mystery with a glorious unreliable narrator which I found thoroughly entertaining. The characters are all very well-written and helped move the story along nicely. Despite its beauty in the Summer months, the setting has an eeriness to it, a creepy edge, which gave me the shivers. The plot, as I’ve come to expect from this author, is very compelling and hooks the reader in from early on. I really enjoyed how Sager has used the movie Rear Window as his inspiration for this book but given it a modern twist and dialled up the tension ten-fold! All in all another superb book from a must read author. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The House Across the Lake. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager was published by Dutton Books on 21st June 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. The UK version of The House Across the Lake will be published by Hodder & Stoughton on 7th July 2022. I have included purchase links for both here but please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you: | amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Riley Sager

Riley Sager is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently SURVIVE THE NIGHT and HOME BEFORE DARK. His first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel and has been published in more than thirty countries. His latest novel, THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE, will be published in June.

A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favourite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

WWW Wednesday | 15th June 2022 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #booktwt #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez
Lore Rivera was married to two men at once, until on a baking hot day in 1986, one of them found out and shot the other.

That’s the story the world knows.

It’s not the story that fascinates Cassie Bowman.

Determined to know more about the mysterious Lore, true-crime writer Cassie is surprised to find Lore is willing to talk.

But as the two women get closer, Cassie finds herself confessing her own darkest secrets.

And the shocking truth behind the murder all those years ago . . .


What did you recently finish reading?

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi
A group of friends return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they first stumbled on as teenagers in this mesmerising odyssey of terror.

An atmospheric, haunting page-turner from the bestselling author of Come with Me

For nearly two decades, Jamie Warren has been running from darkness. He’s haunted by a traumatic childhood and the guilt at having disappeared from his disabled brother’s life. But then a series of unusual events reunites him with his estranged brother and their childhood friends, and none of them can deny the sense of fate that has seemingly drawn them back together.

Nor can they deny the memories of that summer, so long ago – the strange magic taught to them by an even stranger man, and the terrible act that has followed them all into adulthood. In the light of new danger, they must confront their past by facing their futures, and hunting down a man who may very well be a monster.

Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza
Detective Erika Foster is on a late-night walk near her new house in Blackheath when she stumbles upon the brutal murder of Vicky Clarke, a true-crime podcaster.

Erika is assigned to the case and discovers that Vicky had been working on a new podcast episode about a sexual predator who preys on young female students around South London, staking out his victims in their halls of residence before breaking in at the dead of night. When Erika discovers that Vicky’s notes and sound recordings were stolen from her flat at the time of her murder, it leads her to believe that Vicky was close to unmasking the attacker, and she was killed to guarantee her silence.

The case takes on a disturbing twist when the body of a young Bulgarian student doctor is discovered in the same building, and this makes Erika question everything she thought she knew about Vicky. With very little evidence, the clock is ticking to find the killer before he strikes again.


What do you think you’ll read next?

No Country for Girls by Emma Styles
Charlie and Nao are strangers from different sides of the tracks. They should never have met, but one devastating incident binds them together forever.

A man is dead and now they are unwilling accomplices in his murder there’s only one thing to do: hit the road in the victim’s twin cab ute, with a bag of stolen gold stashed under the passenger seat.

Suddenly outlaws, Nao and Charlie must make their way across Australia’s remote outback using only their wits to survive. They’ll do whatever it takes to evade capture and escape with their lives . . .

Thelma & Louise for a new generation, No Country for Girls is a gritty, twisty road-trip thriller that follows two young women on the run across the harsh, unforgiving landscape of Australia.

#BookReview: The Box by Dan Malakin @ViperBooks #TheBox #damppebbles

“To save your child you must open The Box…

Ed Truman’s family is falling apart. His daughter Ally is being targeted by an alt-right incel organisation, Men Together. His house is being picketed, former clients are accusing him of sexual assault, his son won’t speak to him. And then Ally disappears.

Frantic, Ed suspects that Men Together have abducted her. But before he can go to the police, his DNA is found on the body of a young woman. Suddenly he’s the subject of a nationwide manhunt, led by the tenacious DCI Jackie Rose. Ed finds himself on the run with Ally’s friend, Phoenix, who claims to know where Ally is. But what is the truth? Is Ed a violent sexual predator? Or is he the victim of a ruthless conspiracy? The answers are in The Box. But not everyone who goes in, comes out alive…

From the bestselling author of The Regret, this heart-pounding thriller is perfect for readers of Harlan Coben, Mark Billingham and M.W. Craven.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Box by Dan Malakin. The Box will be published by Viper Books later this week (on Thursday 16th June 2022) in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow at a later date. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Box but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

Ed Truman’s family is falling apart and his life is unravelling.  His sixteen year old daughter, Ally, publicly provoked the leader of a powerful alt-right misogynistic men’s group, Men Together, and in retaliation all of Ally’s personal details, including her bank account and passwords, have been published on their website. Ed, a successful lawyer, fights back the only way he knows how – by requesting an injunction to have the website taken down. Now a group of protestors are picketing outside Ed’s house in an attempt to sully the lawyer’s good name. But their tactics go way beyond a few leaflets to the neighbours. Before long Ally is missing and Ed knows in his gut that Men Together are responsible. When Ed’s DNA is found on the body of a murdered woman he takes flight. Hunted by both the police and Men Together, can Ed find Ally in time and save her from The Box…?

This high octane thriller is a thoroughly gripping read which held my attention from the first word to the final page. This is the first book I’ve read by this author but I can absolutely guarantee it won’t be the last.

Malakin really knows how to write excellent characters who evoke a reaction in the reader. There are three absolutely standout characters for me in this book. The first being Ed Truman who is a pretty normal guy. A family man but in all honesty does he really devote enough of his time and attention to his wife, daughter and son? No, not really. He’s made mistakes and he continues to make them. At times I liked Ed, at others I wanted to shake my head at him and give him my disappointed look! The next character that definitely deserves a mention is DCI Jackie Rose who is the kick-ass, ‘don’t care much for the rules’ detective tasked with hunting Ed down for the murder of the young woman. Oh my gosh! I loved her. She’s a bit obnoxious, totally driven and very hot headed. Sure, there are rules but they can be broken as and when needed! Alongside her new ‘by the book’ DS, clashing heads along the way, they lead the search for Ed. The final character I need to mention, who made me so cross I nearly threw the book across the room, is Benedict Silver. Right-hand man to the head honcho of Men Together, this arrogant, chauvinistic, misogynistic psychopath made my blood boil at frequent points throughout the book and I loved it! I’m a strong believer that books should make you feel ‘something’, evoke an emotion of some sort and Silver did just that. I loved the scenes featuring both DCI Rose and Silver. Both strong characters, staring each other down, waiting to see which of the two would break eye contact first. Marvellous!

The plot is paced well with lots of thrills and spills along the way. Before picking this book up I expected the titular ‘Box’ to drive the characters forward towards an end goal but no one other than Phoenix, a girl Ed goes on the run with, knows anything about it! She has the footage to prove what’s been going on. Now all she needs is for the nation to believe her. ‘The Box’ is key to the storyline and plays a pivotal part but I was surprised to discover it wasn’t the driving force. Ed’s sole motivation is evading the police long enough to rescue his daughter. No matter how you look at it though, what ‘the box’ definitely is, without a shadow of a doubt, is darn right horrific. The stuff nightmares are made of. But gosh, it felt uncomfortably believable. What a terrifying thought!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Box is a chilling, edge of your seat modern day thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The writing is punchy with short chapters which pull the reader into the story, keeping them hooked until the final heart breaking reveal. There are some big surprises along the way but I had my suspicions as to how things were going to pan out, which were confirmed. However, what I didn’t see coming was the events of the epilogue which felt right and just to me and, following everything that had come before, a perfect way to end this thrilling novel. Malakin has delivered a powerful, high concept thriller which deserves to fly off the shelves and I look forward to reading more of his work soon. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Box. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Box by Dan Malakin was published in the UK by Viper Books on 16th June 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow at a later date (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Dan MalakinDan Malakin has twice been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and his debut novel, The Regret, was a Kindle bestseller. When not writing thrillers, Dan works as a data security consultant, teaching corporations how to protect themselves from hackers. He lives in North London with his wife and daughter.

His new novel, an action thriller called The Box, will be released by Viper Books in June 2022.

#BookReview: The Botanist by M.W. Craven @TheCrimeVault @LittleBrownUK #TheBotanist #TeamPoe #TeamTilly #damppebbles

“This is going to be the longest week of Washington Poe’s life…

Detective Sergeant Washington Poe can count on one hand the number of friends he has. And he’d still have his thumb left. There’s the guilelessly innocent civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw of course. Insanely brilliant, she’s a bit of a social hand grenade. He’s known his beleaguered boss, Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn for years as he has his nearest neighbour, full-time shepherd/part-time dog sitter, Victoria.

And then there’s Estelle Doyle. Dark and dangerous and sexy as hell. It’s true the caustic pathologist has never walked down the sunny side of the street, but has she gone too far this time? Shot twice in the head, her father’s murder appears to be an open and shut case. Estelle has firearms discharge residue on her hands, and, in a house surrounded by fresh snow, hers are the only footprints. Since her arrest she’s only said three words: ‘Tell Washington Poe.’

Meanwhile, a poisoner called the Botanist is sending the nation’s most reviled people poems and pressed flowers. Twisted and ingenious, he seems to be able to walk through walls and, despite the advance notice given to his victims, and regardless of the security measures taken, he is able to kill with impunity.

Poe hates locked room mysteries and now he has two to solve. To unravel them he’s going to have to draw on every resource he has: Tilly Bradshaw, an organised crime boss, even an alcoholic ex-journalist. Because if he doesn’t, the bodies are going to keep piling up . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Botanist by M.W. Craven. The Botanist is the fifth book in the excellent Washington Poe series and was published by Constable last week (on Thursday 2nd June 2022) in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later in the year. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Botanist but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh my goodness, it’s my absolute favourite time of the year! You may think that’s because it’s FINALLY summer (although there’s been little evidence of that so far!) but it’s not that. You may think it’s because I’m a secret royalist, patiently counting down the days to Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee (yes, I know it was last week 😜). It’s not that either. You may think I’m champing at the bit, waiting for Wimbledon to start. As if 😂 It’s my favourite time of the year because of one thing and one thing alone. Historically, June is when the latest Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw adventure by master crime writer M.W. Craven is published! It’s THE highlight of my reading year, without question. If you’re a fan of intelligently written, utterly compelling detective fiction and you haven’t discovered this series yet, then we need to have serious words! The Botanist has arrived people. What are you waiting for? You need this book in your life!

Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is having one helluva week, juggling two highly sensitive, intricate cases. His pathologist friend, Estelle Doyle, has been arrested for the brutal murder of her father which Poe firmly believes she did not commit. Poe is also hunting a highly organised serial killer the press has dubbed the Botanist, who is causing chaos by taking out the country’s most hated individuals with flair, a poem, a pressed flower and an almighty pat on the back from the British public. The notice the killer gives his victims should be more than enough warning for the intended target to lock themselves away in a reinforced room, surrounded by the most elite of security forces. But no, absolutely nothing will stop the Botanist from dispatching their target. Usually in the most painful and horrific way possible. Can Poe and super intelligent analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, manage to solve the two most taxing cases of their careers before it’s too late…?

As I mentioned before, this is the fifth book in the series and WHAT a series it is! Time and time again the author delivers, raising the bar with each new book. Every single release has been a hit for me. Every single new book is something new, something different, something that grabs my attention from the start and doesn’t let go until I’ve turned the final page. The ideas are fresh, the characters are evolving magnificently, the plots are fascinating. I am officially hooked and M.W. Craven can do no wrong in my eyes!

But enough of the series, what about this latest instalment? The Botanist is an utterly absorbing, highly addictive read which I ADORED. Every single book has been superb but this latest addition, and Black Summer (book #2), are my two favourites so far. You can absolutely read The Botanist as a standalone but it’s worth picking up all of the previous books as well. Otherwise you miss out on the early awkward days of Poe and Tilly’s friendship (actually, it has a few awkward moments now but they’ve become more attuned to each other…sort of!) and a plethora of absolutely fascinating, gripping cases. I love the pairing of Poe and socially awkward but highly intelligent civilian analyst, Tilly. They make a formidable team, ably encouraged and supported, no matter what crazy idea they come up with, by DI Stephanie Flynn. Craven’s trademark humour is pinpoint sharp, perfectly pitched and made me laugh out loud at several points. I SO enjoy the relationship between Poe and Tilly (and of course DI Stephanie Flynn). Their interactions, their friendship makes me smile. It’s a joy to read!

I liked the push and pull of this story with Poe and Tilly dashing off up north to look into things in more detail for Estelle. Only to have the boss call them back to London after the Botanist strikes again. Unlike Poe I am a huge fan of locked room mysteries which is perhaps why The Botanist appealed to me so much. Not one mystery for my favourite crime fighting duo to solve, but two!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Botanist is a superb addition to an outstanding series which I believe every crime fiction fan needs on their bookshelf. Tense, gripping, clever, hugely compelling, truly divine characterisation, beautifully paced and darn well perfect in every respect. What more could you want? Tilly and Poe are the ultimate crime fighting duo, you won’t find another pairing like these two and I love that! The Botanist is without a doubt a sure-fire five-star winner for me and will definitely be featuring in my favourite books of the year list. Quite near the top, I think 😉. The Botanist, along with the other books in the series, is a must read. Incredibly well-written and head and shoulders above others in the same genre. Highly, highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Botanist. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Botanist by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 2nd June 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Image

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

#BookReview: WAKE by Shelley Burr @HodderBooks #WAKEBook #damppebbles

EVERYBODY THINKS THEY KNOW MINA McCREERY.
EVERYONE HAS A THEORY ON WHAT HAPPENED TO HER SISTER.
NOW IT’S TIME TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH…

Mina McCreery’s sister Evelyn disappeared nineteen years ago. Her life has been defined by the intense public interest in the case. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, she lives alone on her family’s destocked sheep farm.

When Lane, a private investigator, approaches her with an offer to reinvestigate the case, she rejects him. The attention has had nothing but negative consequences for her and her family, and never brought them closer to an answer.

Lane wins her trust when his unconventional methods show promise, but he has his own motivations for wanting to solve the case, and his obsession with the answer will ultimately risk both their lives.

Superbly written, taut and compassionate, Wake looks at what can happen when people’s private tragedies become public property, and the ripples of trauma that follow violent crimes. Wake won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2019.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of WAKE by Shelley Burr. WAKE is published today (that’s Thursday 9th June 2022) by Hodder & Stoughton and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow at a later date. I chose to read and review a free eARC of WAKE but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am the biggest fan of Australian crime fiction and prioritise Aussie writers before everything else on my TBR at the moment. So it goes without saying that I was immediately drawn to WAKE when it first landed on my radar. It has the CWA’s seal of approval winning the debut dagger back in 2019 and rightly so. I adored this book. So much so that I’m going to put my neck on the line here and say, as things stand (at the time of writing this review we’re halfway through May), this is my book of the year.

Nineteen years ago Mina McCreery’s sister, Evelyn, was taken from the family home never to be seen again. Australia’s most famous abduction case remains unsolved to this day but, of course, everyone has an opinion about Evelyn’s fate. Which is why Mina prefers to live a secluded life, away from prying eyes and the opinions of others. Following the success of a previous case private investigator Lane Holland turns up in the small town of Nannine offering to look into Evelyn’s disappearance. But Mina isn’t interested, not initially anyway. The hunt for her sister only caused her family more pain and sadness. But Lane gradually manages to convince Mina to accept his help. But what Mina doesn’t know is that Lane has his own reasons for wanting to know what happened to Evie McCreery that fateful night nineteen years ago…

Oh. My. Word! I loved this book. Atmospheric, packed full of mystery and brimming with suspense. It’s an absolutely glorious debut which consumed my days and had me blurry eyed in the morning after staying up far too late to finish it! I was well and truly gripped by this compelling piece of well-written crime fiction and I savoured every single second I spent in Mina McCreery’s company. What a character! I was highly suspicious of her but I loved her standoffishness. As with all newsworthy unsolved crimes, everyone has an opinion. And many are not afraid to voice it! Particularly if that’s with the safety of anonymity, hidden behind a keyboard. Mina is suspect number one according to many true crime fanatics and her aloofness only goes to prove their point. The investigation into Evelyn’s disappearance damaged the McCreery family beyond repair, forcing them into the spotlight. Something the girls’ mother blatantly used to keep Evie at the forefront of Australia’s minds. But Mina’s reluctance to participate in her mother’s media sideshow only fanned the flames. Does Mina know more than she’s letting on? And what exactly is Private Investigator Lane Holland’s interest in the family? Why, following countless rebukes from Mina, won’t he pack up and leave town?

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. WAKE is an absolute corker of a novel which I immersed myself in completely. It consumed my thoughts whilst reading it and I still, weeks later, think about it more than any other book I’ve read recently. Absolutely, categorically, my favourite book of the year so far. This is the type of crime fiction I want to read. WAKE is such a compelling, intriguing mystery with superb characters and a vividly drawn, remote setting. I lived and breathed this book alongside Mina and Lane, gripped by the mystery of what happened to Evie McCreery. Every single little thing worked. Beautifully tense, truly unforgettable and the ultimate page turner. A magnificent debut and I’m excited to see what the author has in store for us next. Gosh, I really loved this book! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of WAKE. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

WAKE by Shelley Burr was published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 9th June 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Shelly Outdoor Shots_JUL2021 (2 of 42)_edited.jpgWAKE won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2019 and was previously shortlisted for both the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award and the Bath Novel Award.

Shelley works in environment policy in Canberra and is studying agriculture at the University of New England. She is an alumni of ACT Writers Hardcopy program and a Varuna fellow.

WWW Wednesday | 8th June 2022 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi
A group of friends return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they first stumbled on as teenagers in this mesmerising odyssey of terror.

An atmospheric, haunting page-turner from the bestselling author of Come with Me

For nearly two decades, Jamie Warren has been running from darkness. He’s haunted by a traumatic childhood and the guilt at having disappeared from his disabled brother’s life. But then a series of unusual events reunites him with his estranged brother and their childhood friends, and none of them can deny the sense of fate that has seemingly drawn them back together.

Nor can they deny the memories of that summer, so long ago – the strange magic taught to them by an even stranger man, and the terrible act that has followed them all into adulthood. In the light of new danger, they must confront their past by facing their futures, and hunting down a man who may very well be a monster.


What did you recently finish reading?

The Trial by S.R. Masters
Would you sign up to a medical trial if you didn’t know the possible side effects?

18-40? PAID CLINICAL TRIAL IN THE CANARY ISLANDS – UP TO £20,000 TAX FREE

It seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. An all-inclusive luxury trip abroad, all you need to do is take a pill every day and keep a diary.

Except you don’t know anything about the drug or what its side effects might be.

The headaches start, a dull ache at first. Every day worse than the last.

Then a body is found.

Everyone is a suspect. Anyone could be a killer. Even you . . .

2022’s biggest summer thriller, for fans of Alex Michaelides, T. M. Logan and JP Delaney


What do you think you’ll read next?

Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza
Detective Erika Foster is on a late-night walk near her new house in Blackheath when she stumbles upon the brutal murder of Vicky Clarke, a true-crime podcaster.

Erika is assigned to the case and discovers that Vicky had been working on a new podcast episode about a sexual predator who preys on young female students around South London, staking out his victims in their halls of residence before breaking in at the dead of night. When Erika discovers that Vicky’s notes and sound recordings were stolen from her flat at the time of her murder, it leads her to believe that Vicky was close to unmasking the attacker, and she was killed to guarantee her silence.

The case takes on a disturbing twist when the body of a young Bulgarian student doctor is discovered in the same building, and this makes Erika question everything she thought she knew about Vicky. With very little evidence, the clock is ticking to find the killer before he strikes again.

WWW Wednesday | 1st June 2022 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
A nostalgic and subversive trip rife with sly nods to H. P. Lovecraft and pop culture, in the vein of It and Stranger Things

A nostalgic celebration of horror, friendship and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn.

In 1977 the Blyton Summer Detective Club unmasked the elusive Sleepy Lake monster—another low-life fortune hunter who would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

By 1990 the former detectives are haunted by strange, half-remembered events that cannot be explained by a guy in a mask. Andy, the once-intrepid tomboy now wanted in two states, wants answers. To find them she will need Kerri, the former kid genius now drinking her ghosts away in New York with Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the club. They will also have to get Nate, the horror nerd currently residing in an asylum. Luckily Nate has not lost contact with Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star who was once their leader… which is remarkable, considering Peter has been dead for years.

The time has come to get the team back together and find out what actually happened all those years ago. It’s their only chance to end the nightmares and, perhaps, save the world.


What did you recently finish reading?

Sun Damage by Sabine Durrant
The heat is intense.
The secrets are stifling.
She just needs to escape . . .

Nine guests arrive at a remote villa in the south of France.

They know each other well. Or think they do.

But at least one of them has plenty to hide – and nowhere to run.

Under the relentless sun, loyalties will be tested, secrets revealed, and tensions pushed to the point of no return.

The sensational new novel from the universally acclaimed Sabine Durrant – destined to be the thriller of summer 2022.

The Botanist (Washington Poe #5) by M.W. Craven
Detective Sergeant Washington Poe can count on one hand the number of friends he has. And he’d still have his thumb left. There’s the insanely brilliant, guilelessly innocent civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw of course. He’s known his beleaguered boss, Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn for years as he has his nearest neighbour, full-time shepherd/part-time dog sitter, Victoria.

And then there’s Estelle Doyle. It’s true the caustic pathologist has never walked down the sunny side of the street but this time has she gone too far? Shot twice in the head, her father’s murder appears to be an open and shut case. Estelle has firearms discharge residue on her hands, and, in a house surrounded by fresh snow, hers are the only footprints going in. Since her arrest she’s only said three words: ‘Tell Washington Poe.’

Meanwhile, a poisoner the press have dubbed the Botanist is sending high profile celebrities poems and pressed flowers. The killer seems to be able to walk through walls and, despite the advance notice he gives his victims, and regardless of the security measures the police take, he seems to be able to kill with impunity.

For a man who hates locked room mysteries, this is going to be the longest week of Washington Poe’s life . . .


What do you think you’ll read next?

The Trial by S.R. Masters
Would you sign up to a medical trial if you didn’t know the possible side effects?

18-40? PAID CLINICAL TRIAL IN THE CANARY ISLANDS – UP TO £20,000 TAX FREE

It seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. An all-inclusive luxury trip abroad, all you need to do is take a pill every day and keep a diary.

Except you don’t know anything about the drug or what its side effects might be.

The headaches start, a dull ache at first. Every day worse than the last.

Then a body is found.

Everyone is a suspect. Anyone could be a killer. Even you . . .

2022’s biggest summer thriller, for fans of Alex Michaelides, T. M. Logan and JP Delaney

#BookReview: One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke @HarperCollinsUK #OneoftheGirls #damppebbles

“ONE IS A LIAR.
ONE IS A STRANGER.
ONE IS A CHEATER.
WHO IS A KILLER?
We were dying for a holiday . . .

The six of us arrived on that beautiful Greek island dreaming of sun-drenched beaches and blood orange sunsets, ready to lose ourselves in the wild freedom of a weekend away with friends.
On the first night we swam under a blanket of stars.
On the second night the games began on our clifftop terrace.
On the third night the idyll cracked, secrets and lies whispering on the breeze.
And by the final night there was a body on the rocks below . . .
Who would kill for it?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke. One of the Girls is published by HarperCollins today (that’s Thursday 26th May 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read and review a free eARC of One of the Girls but that has in no way influenced my review.

I thoroughly enjoyed Clarke’s previous thriller, The Castaways, last year. I found it very compelling with great characters and I loved the ending. So much so, I can still remember it clearly now. So when I saw the author was about to publish a new book I leapt at the chance to read it. And it’s now safe to say Clarke is firmly on my ‘must read author list’ because I LOVED One of the Girls.

Lexi is getting married! And to celebrate, her best friend, Bella, has convinced her a hen party would be brilliant idea. They and four of Lexi’s friends are heading to the Greek island of Aegos for four nights and some much needed time away from ‘real life’. But when the women arrive, it’s clear the cracks are already starting to show. Everyone has secrets. This group of six woman have more than most. And by the end of their exotic getaway, someone will be dead and someone will be a killer…

I flew through this book, completely absorbed and soaking up the Greek sun with this disparate group of women. I can’t express how much I loved everything about it. The characters are all so different but they work so well together. An odd group of women brought together to celebrate Lexi, but you can feel the tensions simmering under the surface and you can’t help but ask yourself ‘what is actually going on here?’. That intrigue, that sense that there was so much more to come, really hooked me into the story.

Lexi is a sweetheart and it’s clear to the reader why these women have travelled for hours to celebrate her forthcoming nuptials. Bella, her maid of honour and self-appointed best friend, is such a character! Obnoxious and brassy, I really liked her but I think I’ll be in the minority on that one. She’s spoilt and demanding, utterly frustrating at times. But I thought she was written so well. She elicits an emotional response from the reader and I appreciated that. The other women, who I won’t go into detail about here otherwise this review will be as long as the book (!), are fantastic creations. All individual personalities, all with their own totally believable backstory, all with their own heartaches and simmering resentments.

The plot is paced beautifully and I was in the story from the moment I picked the book up to the moment I put the book down. This is one of those novels I enjoyed so much that I was sad when it was over (although, in truth, I did race to the conclusion keen to find out how things would end so it was my own darn fault really!). There are many twists and turns along the way, some I was able to see coming, others knocked me for six and I loved that moment of shock the author delivered.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved One of the Girls and I’ll probably re-read it in the future as I’m keen to return to Aegos and be reunited with this fascinating, eclectic group of women and their complicated friendships. The setting was exquisite (yes, I’m desperate for a holiday!), the plot was so well drawn and thought out but the characters absolutely did it for me. They felt like real people and I was watching an edge-of-your seat TV drama play out before me. Clarke is such a talented writer and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next. A hugely compulsive read featuring divine characters and their bubbling resentments which I couldn’t get enough of. Totally addictive. I loved it! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of One of the Girls. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 26th May 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Lucy Clarke

Lucy Clarke is the bestselling author of six psychological thrillers – THE SEA SISTERS, A SINGLE BREATH, THE BLUE/NO ESCAPE, LAST SEEN, YOU LET ME IN and THE CASTAWAYS. Her debut novel was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, and her books have been sold in over 20 territories.

Lucy is a passionate traveller, beach hut dweller, and fresh air enthusiast. She’s married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two young children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories.

WWW Wednesday | 25th May 2022 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Botanist (Washington Poe #5) by M.W. Craven
Detective Sergeant Washington Poe can count on one hand the number of friends he has. And he’d still have his thumb left. There’s the insanely brilliant, guilelessly innocent civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw of course. He’s known his beleaguered boss, Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn for years as he has his nearest neighbour, full-time shepherd/part-time dog sitter, Victoria.

And then there’s Estelle Doyle. It’s true the caustic pathologist has never walked down the sunny side of the street but this time has she gone too far? Shot twice in the head, her father’s murder appears to be an open and shut case. Estelle has firearms discharge residue on her hands, and, in a house surrounded by fresh snow, hers are the only footprints going in. Since her arrest she’s only said three words: ‘Tell Washington Poe.’

Meanwhile, a poisoner the press have dubbed the Botanist is sending high profile celebrities poems and pressed flowers. The killer seems to be able to walk through walls and, despite the advance notice he gives his victims, and regardless of the security measures the police take, he seems to be able to kill with impunity.

For a man who hates locked room mysteries, this is going to be the longest week of Washington Poe’s life . .


What did you recently finish reading?

The Lost Children (DCI Matilda Darke #9) by Michael Wood
Matilda Darke is back…

APRIL 2020: LOCKDOWN

DI Brady has been tracing victims of systemic abuse at a local children’s home after a high-profile accusation pitched it into the spotlight – a case that couldn’t be more personal.

As Matilda and her team piece together the disturbing picture of the history of the home, it soon becomes clear that this is much bigger than they ever suspected.

But nothing prepares them for what they uncover next…

The Lost Children is an utterly gripping crime thriller weaving a breakneck tale of a vast network of secrets and lies, a relentless detective determined to sabotage it, and a murder that shatters two decades of silence.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Sun Damage by Sabine Durrant
The heat is intense.
The secrets are stifling.
She just needs to escape . . .

Nine guests arrive at a remote villa in the south of France.

They know each other well. Or think they do.

But at least one of them has plenty to hide – and nowhere to run.

Under the relentless sun, loyalties will be tested, secrets revealed, and tensions pushed to the point of no return.

The sensational new novel from the universally acclaimed Sabine Durrant – destined to be the thriller of summer 2022.

20 Books of Summer Challenge #20booksofsummer22 #amreading #amreviewing #damppebbles #bookblogger #BookTwitter

Hello bookish pals and welcome to damppebbles.

After a mini hiatus last year, and on the back of my somewhat shocking success in 2020, I’m excited to be joining Cathy’s #20BooksofSummer challenge again this year (check out Cathy’s BRILLIANT blog at 746 Books)!

Now, you may say that in 2020 we were in the middle of a lockdown and therefore finding the time to read was perhaps a little easier. You may also say that we’re now NOT in a lockdown, life seems to be returning to some sort of semblance of normality and the time period we’re talking about covers a whole six weeks where two young children (my children) will expect me to entertain them during their waking hours. You may say that and yes, you would be very sensible to point that out! Using a pinch of common sense I should, in theory, drop the target from twenty books to say, perhaps, fifteen? That would be sensible, right? I laugh in your face ‘sensible’. I’m going for the big TWO OH again this year, which I’m sure to regret.

Our lovely host as always is the fabulous Cathy. If you would like to take part yourself then you’re very welcome to join in – the more, the merrier. More information about #20BooksofSummer can be found HERE where you can also sign up yourself if you fancy it. Cathy is very relaxed about the rules, which is lucky for me. I think I may need a spot of leniency this year 😰. You can choose to read 10, 15 or 20 books during the challenge which starts on 1st June and runs until 1st September. Want to change your choices part way through? That’s fine. Want to drop from 20 to 10 books. Also fine. Check out Cathy’s sign up post for all the information you need.

Selecting my twenty books this year was tough. Seventy-five percent of my choices in 2020 came from my NetGalley shelf which made a hefty dent in my TBR and increased my NG percentage a heck of a lot. This year, the three books I still have to read on my NetGalley shelf are all included in my list. The rest is made up of review copies from publishers – past and present – and my own books. I’ve also made sure that I’ve included three books from my ’12 books in 12 months’ challenge, otherwise I’m going to fall even further behind with that one. I think it’s a cracking list and I’d be interested to hear what you think!

The Trial by S.R. Masters (One More Chapter)
Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi (Titan Books)
A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor (Penguin Michael Joseph)
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox (Penguin Books)
Follow Me to the Edge by Tariq Ashkanani (Thomas & Mercer)

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs (Thomas & Mercer)
The Watchers by A.M. Shine (Aries)
Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi (Penguin Books)
Black Widows by Cate Quinn (Orion)
Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Zaffre)

No Country for Girls by Emma Styles (Sphere)
The It Girl by Ruth Ware (Simon & Schuster)
The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh (Sphere)
Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas (Penguin Books)
The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Orion)

The Collective by Alison Gaylin (Orion)
Hunting Evil by Chris Carter (Simon & Schuster)
The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson (HQ)
Until the Debt is Paid by Alexander Hartung translated by Steve Anderson (Amazon Crossing)
Damage by Caitlin Wahrer (Penguin Books)

What a good looking bunch they are, even if I do say so myself! Have you read any of them? Any you’re really looking forward to reading? Are you taking part in the challenge this year? I’d love to see your books so please feel free to leave a link to your challenge post in the comments!

If you would like to join in then there’s still plenty of time as we don’t kick off until 1st June. Go on, give it a try. How hard can it be, right…? 😉

20-books