#BookReview: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse @TransworldBooks #TheSanatorium #damppebbles

EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse. The Sanatorium is published in the UK today (that’s Thursday 18th February 2021) by Bantam Press and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of The Sanatorium but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Sanatorium was impossible to resist! That intriguing title, the striking, atmospheric cover, the enticing blurb. It screamed my name so I had to read it. This is the second book I’ve read set in the Alps in the space of a month but it gave me a whole different set of chills.

Detective Elin Warner and her boyfriend are staying at an isolated boutique hotel in the Swiss Alps. The hotel itself has an unnerving history, having started its life as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. Her estranged brother has surprisingly invited Elin to his engagement party. He’s marrying a childhood friend of hers, the glamorous Laure. Elin is happy to leave the UK for a while as, following her last case, something happened which made her doubt her future in the police force. But on arrival, nervous Elin is instantly put on edge even more by the imposing setting. The pressing snow storm doesn’t help her feel any safer. The relationship between Elin and her brother, Isaac, is tense and a missed dinner invitation causes more upset. But the following morning, Isaac reports Laure missing. The snow storm and the risk of avalanches cuts off all access to the hotel as the search for Laure continues. They’re on their own. Elin needs to step up and take control of the situation. Which, despite feeling hesitant, she feels ready to do. Until they discover the body…

Poor Elin. From the start of The Sanatorium she’s on the edge and that doesn’t really change very much as the story progresses. She’s a troubled woman who carries the tragic death of her brother at the age of 8 in her heart and her mind. The real reason for her decision to reconnect with her estranged other brother becomes very clear to the reader. She wants the truth and the only person who can give it to her is Isaac. Her grief has moulded and shaped her into the woman she is today. Elin is an interesting character who at times I really liked and admired, at other times I wanted to sit her down and ask her what the fluff she was doing!

The mystery aspect of The Sanatorium was interesting and it kept me turning the pages. I think the time has come to admit that perhaps I’ve read too many crime books as I could guess a couple of plot points which, disappointingly, turned out to be accurate. There weren’t any big surprises for me in this novel but that’s my own personal experience and I wouldn’t let that put you off.

I adored the setting. I love isolated, claustrophobic settings in novels and this one is done particularly well. The snowy mountains feel as though they’re pressing in on the hotel and the unpredictability of the avalanches was really wonderful. Picturing the icy scenes in my mind gave me goosebumps! Marvellous stuff.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend The Sanatorium to anyone who enjoys a locked-room mystery with a bit of an icy twist. The plot moves at a steady pace and keeps the reader turning the pages. There was something about the ending which didn’t quite work for me. I can’t really go into any detail as I would be revealing too much and that wouldn’t be fair but I did enjoy reading The Sanatorium and I would gladly read more from this author. It’s a chilling, atmospheric mystery which I was happy to lose myself in. Recommended.

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

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse was published in the UK by Bantam Press on Thursday 18th February 2021 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | the damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel. Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes.

#BookReview: The Last by Hanna Jameson #TheLast #damppebbles

the last“THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT HAS ENDED

You and nineteen other survivors hole up in an isolated Swiss hotel.

You wait, you survive.

Then you find the body.

One of your number has blood on their hands.

The race is on to find the killer…BEFORE THE KILLER FINDS YOU.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Last by Hanna Jameson with you. The Last was published by Penguin Books on 1st August 2019 and is available in all formats. I received a free ARC of The Last but that has in no way influenced my review.

I do love me a post-apocalyptic thriller! But I know what I like and conversely, what I don’t like. I read a book earlier this year which claimed to be a dystopian thriller. It was a whole lot of thriller and not a lot of dystopian. I wanted to find out how the characters coped with their ‘new normal’. I wanted to see conflict, fear and adjustment to the setting and the new ways of life. So I was a little apprehensive starting The Last. Would this book be much of the same? I’m delighted to confirm that The Last is far superior to the book I read earlier this year as Jameson puts her characters, their experience and their adjustment to the new ways, front and centre.

Historian Jon Keller is at a conference in a Swiss hotel when the bombs hit. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare come terrifyingly true. The nuclear bombs wipe out large proportions of the US, where Jon calls home, along with a large proportion of Europe. Thankfully Switzerland seems largely unaffected but who knows what kind of state the world is outside the hotel doors. The original number staying at the hotel has dwindled leaving twenty guests to come to terms with what has happened to them and forge a new life within the walls of L’Hotel Sixième. Roles have been redefined, the work is tough and everyone has to adjust to the new way of living. While investigating a problem with the water supply, Jon discovers a body in the water tank. The stark truth of the matter becomes worryingly clear. Within this small community, where they’ve come to depend on each other so much, one of them is a killer….

Now I know I referred to The Last as a post-apocalyptic thriller earlier in this review but it’s not really a thriller. It’s a well-written, slow build character study of people put in the worst scenario imaginable. The reader gets to watch as they struggle to survive, let alone cope with their new world from the comfort of their armchair. But, it’s a little too close to the knuckle in some respects and feels plausibly real. The mystery aspect of the story isn’t really the main crux of the book either but it’s an interesting storyline which gives Jon something to obsess over. And obsess over it he does. The mystery into who killed the girl almost completely consumes him.

I found Jameson’s characters really interesting to read about. Although I struggled to like any of them. But I’m not sure that’s necessarily what the author wants her readers to feel anyway. They’re all individuals coping the best way they can. Yes, they’re selfish, suspicious and on edge but that just added to my enjoyment of the book. The claustrophobic feel of the situation was absolutely marvellous and I thoroughly enjoyed the group’s plight (turns out I’m a horrible person taking enjoyment in others misfortune, good job they’re fictional characters really!).

The ending of this book threw me a little. I was expecting something big and bold but I didn’t get it. I felt the ending let the book down a little. The reader travels so far with these characters, you get to know them even if you don’t like them, and then…well – I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil the book for other readers but I was a little disappointed.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you like your novels character-driven then absolutely, The Last is a book you should read. I enjoyed the post-apocalyptic elements. I wanted them to go out exploring what was left of Switzerland and they did exactly that, with trepidation and caution. Some of their encounters were nail-biting and I loved the unease and tension in these sections away from the hotel. As I said previously, there was just enough of this strange new world to satisfy me. All in all, an intriguing premise that hooked me from the start. Recommended.

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

The Last by Hanna Jameson was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 1st August 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback, 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Hanna Jameson’s fourth novel, part murder mystery and part post-apocalyptic thriller – THE LAST – is out now with Viking in the UK and Simon & Schuster-Atria Books in the US. The Last is the story of an American academic searching for the truth about a girl who has been murdered in his Swiss hotel in the aftermath of a nuclear war that has destroyed most of the Western world.

Jameson had written the first draft of her debut, award-nominated novel – SOMETHING YOU ARE – at just seventeen. Something You Are and two further novels in the series – GIRL SEVEN and ROAD KILL – are available now in the UK, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.

She lives in London currently, working on screenwriting projects. She likes whiskey, history, and emotionally taxing TV shows.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten @0neMoreChapter_ @BOTBSPublicity #DeadPerfect #damppebbles

51usteb-7l._sy346_“A murdered woman…

When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer.  The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else.  Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.

A determined detective…

Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger.  Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls? 

Can Maggie find the depraved killer?  Or will Kate become his next living doll?”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Dead Perfect, which is the third book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series written by Noelle Holten. Dead Perfect was published in digital format on 16th October 2020 with the paperback to follow in December. I received a free eARC of Dead Perfect but that has in no way influenced my review.

After being left dangling on a pulse-pounding cliffhanger at the end of Dead Wrong, the second book in this series, I couldn’t wait to make a start on this third instalment. DC Maggie Jamieson is back with a bang and hunting down another deranged killer who, best not to mention this to anyone, I actually ended up feeling a little sorry for in the end. I’m sure that’s just me though. A brilliantly written, despicable character who normal readers will despise.

A murdered woman is found in a local park, her eyes and mouth sewn shut. DC Maggie Jamieson and Acting DS Nathan Wright are called to the scene to investigate.  Maggie is nervous though. Reports of the deceased sound just like her friend (and secret crush) Dr Kate Moloney. Kate has been receiving odd gifts and messages from an unknown source. Has her stalker taken the next terrifying step? There’s no denying the dead woman looks a lot like Kate. Her face, her hair, her clothes…it’s like a mirror image. Maggie instinctively knows that Dr Moloney is in grave danger. Can she find the killer before it’s too late…?

Dead Perfect is another great addition to the DC Maggie Jamieson series. What puts this book head and shoulders above other police procedurals is the author’s knowledge of the probation service. Holten’s experience shines through and, as a regular reader of crime fiction, it’s really interesting and enjoyable to have a different perspective on things. I’m hoping these insights will continue as there was a great sub-plot with probation officer, Lucy Sherwood, who featured heavily in the first book, Dead Inside, setting up a refuge for domestic abuse survivors.

What I really enjoyed (yes, I’m strange) is the widening gap between Acting DS Nathan Wright and Maggie. At the start of the series they were equals. Now, Nathan is the boss and he’s putting Maggie firmly in her place. There’s palpable tension there, things are changing, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops. I really missed DI Abigail Rutherford who I had a bit of a soft spot for in the last book. Although she was there, she wasn’t very involved in the storyline but I expect that’s because DS Wright has stepped up to the mark and taken lead of the team (which I assume is how real life policing works).

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Dead Perfect is a pacey story with a cast of great characters who I’m really warming to. I was able to spot ‘whodunnit’ from fairly early on but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book. I’m looking forward to seeing how several of the relationships develop in the next book, particularly between Maggie and reporter Julie Noble. I think reading this book as a standalone wouldn’t cause too many issues but why not treat yourself and pick up all three! Recommended.

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

Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 16th October 2020 and is available in digital format – with the paperback to follow in December (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.ukWaterstones | Book Depository | Foyles | Goodreads |

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noelle holtenNoelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.

#BookReview: The Domino Killer by Neil White @BooksSphere #TheDominoKiller #damppebbles

the domino killer“When a man is found beaten to death in a local Manchester park, Detective Constable Sam Parker is one of the investigating officers. Sam swiftly identifies the victim, but what at first looks like an open and shut case quickly starts to unravel when he realises that the victim’s fingerprints were found on a knife at another crime scene, a month earlier.

Meanwhile, Sam’s brother, Joe – a criminal defence lawyer in the city – comes face to face with a man whose very presence sends shockwaves through his life. Joe must confront the demons of his past as he struggles to come to terms with the darkness that this man represents.

Before long, Joe and Sam are in way over their heads, both sucked into a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to change their lives for ever…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Domino Killer by Neil White. The Domino Killer is the third book in the Joe & Sam Parker Series and was published on 1st December 2016 by Sphere Books. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Domino Killer but that has in no way influenced my review.

I have read a number of books by this author but this is the first one in his Joe & Sam Parker series. I didn’t struggle at all coming into the series at book three as the main plotline revolves around events in the brother’s past so it worked really well as a recap. And yes, I probably should have mentioned before, Joe and Sam (I’m so sorry, I really want to call them Sam and Mark for no other reason than perhaps I watch too much children’s TV!) are brothers. Joe is a defence lawyer and Sam is a detective constable.

When a man is savagely attacked in a Manchester park, DC Sam Parker is part of the team investigating the victim’s death. The attack was frenzied and bloody and the police have a race against time to find the killer. But then the victim’s fingerprint is found in the most unexpected place and it throws the team a pretty big curveball. Joe meanwhile has been called to the police station as he has been requested by a new client on a burglary charge. What awaits him is the shock of his life. A face he never expected to see again, but the reason he became a defence lawyer in the first place. Before long the brothers are hunting down a psychopathic serial killer who will stop at nothing to see his plan come to fruition, no matter what (or who) the cost…

I enjoyed this gritty police/legal thriller set in Manchester. The plot was detailed and intricate, and because of the two lead characters and two perspectives, I felt as though I was getting two stories for the price of one. It’s a really interesting concept to have two brothers in opposing careers and it really added something to the book for me. I expect I will pick up the first two books in this series in the not too distant future.

The chapters focussing on the police investigation with Sam Parker were definitely my favourite parts of the book. I think I preferred Sam’s character to Joe’s who seemed a little self-centred at times. The supporting cast were also very strong and I particularly liked Sam’s police partner, Charlotte Turner, and Joe’s paralegal and an ex-detective herself, Gina.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I found The Domino Killer a slower paced read but it’s certainly compelling and I was keen to find out where the killer was heading with his master plan. There’s a wonderful twist towards the end of the story which I really enjoyed and didn’t see coming at all. I did get a little confused at times with the number of character names and how they related to other characters in the book, but that’s probably just me. A really interesting crime novel with two intriguing characters. Recommended.

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

The Domino Killer by Neil White was published in the UK by Sphere Books on 1st December 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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neil whiteNeil White was born and brought up around South Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but studied for a law degree in his twenties, then started writing in 1994. He is now a lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night. He lives with his wife and three children in Preston.

#BookReview: The Search Party by Simon Lelic @VikingBooksUK #TheSearchParty #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the search party

“Sixteen-year-old Sadie Saunders is missing.

Five friends set out into the woods to find her.

But they’re not just friends…

THEY’RE SUSPECTS.

You see, this was never a search party.

It’s a witch hunt.

And not everyone will make it home alive…

THE CHALK MAN meets THE HUNTING PARTY in this gripping story; witness four suspects as, alongside DI Fleet, you attempt to discover the truth about what happened to Sadie…

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my nineteenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Search Party by Simon Lelic. The Search Party is published by Viking Books today (that’s 20th August 2020) and is available in hardcover, digital and audio formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Search Party but that has in no way influenced my review.

So I admit it, ‘The Chalk Man meets The Hunting Party…’ line sold this book to me before I had fully taken on what the book was about. Two of my very favourite books, the publisher was telling me, had conceived a book baby and it was The Search Party with its fantastically striking cover. I was sold and oh boy, I was excited to make a start.

Sadie Saunders is missing. Her friends, keen to be involved in the search for Sadie, want to help. But they’re told they’re too young. They’re told to stay at home and wait for news. So they decide to pack a few non-essential items (phone chargers for example 🤦) and head out to the woods for a few nights to look for Sadie. But they all have secrets. Things they’re keeping from one another. And one of the teenagers, Mason, is a little hot-headed. He’s Sadie’s boyfriend and he suspects one of the friends has something to do with Sadie going missing…

The book opens with a bang which immediately grabs your attention, puts you on the wrong foot and makes you start to ask questions. We’re then introduced to the absolutely brilliant DI Robin Fleet who was one of my very favourite things about this book. Fleet is in charge of putting the pieces together and working out not only what has happened to Sadie Saunders, but who is responsible for this latest tragedy. I loved Fleet. He’s flawed but not too flawed. Just a good, honest copper who struggles with the politics of policing and the restrictions put upon him by his current superior officer. I hope to see more of him in future books.

What’s interesting about this book is the way the author has presented the viewpoints of the teenagers who went into the woods that fateful day. It’s clear from the get-go that they’re recounting what happened to a police officer, but you only ever hear from the teenagers. The accounts are presented as monologues allowing each character to have their say and their moment in the spotlight. There’s every chance this approach is used in most of the books I read but this time, it felt different and new.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Search Party is an intricate, slow-burn mystery full of suspense which I found entertaining from start to finish. I should say that before reading this book, I had very recently finished another novel featuring a cast of moody teenagers which perhaps took the edge off of the book for me a little. However, the chapters focusing on the investigation with DI Fleet as their star, I really enjoyed. More Fleet please! Recommended.

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

The Search Party by Simon Lelic was published by Viking Books on 20th August 2020 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Simon Lelic credit Justine StoddartSimon Lelic was born in 1976 and has worked as a journalist in the UK and currently runs his own business in Brighton, England, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

#BookReview: The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters @BooksSphere #TheKillerYouKnow #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the killer you know“I’ll murder three people. And you’ll know it was me . . .

Summer 1997. When Will jokes about becoming a serial killer, his friends just laugh it off. But Adeline can’t help but feel there’s something darker lurking behind his words.

Winter 2015: Years later, Adeline returns to Blythe for a reunion of the old gang – except Will doesn’t show up. Reminiscing about old times, they look up the details of his supposed murder spree. But the mood soon changes when they discover two recent deaths that match.

As the group attempts to track Will down, they realise that he is playing a sinister game that harks back to one they used to play as kids. Only this time there are lives at stake . . .”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my eighteenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters. The Killer You Know was published by Sphere Books on 2nd May 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Killer You Know but that has in no way influenced my review.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. A group of teenage friends gather one night as the end of Summer approaches. One of them, Will, is considered to be the odd kid in the group. So when he makes an off-the-cuff comment about being a serial killer when he’s older, the others are shocked and a little unnerved by his bold statement. When Will fails to turn up to a group reunion many years later, it leaves his friends wondering, could he have carried out the unthinkable? When the friends check the very precise details he gave about the killings, they find reports of a suicide that matches…and then a second death. One report could be classed as a coincidence, but two deaths…? No, there’s no question about it, there’s something suspicious going on. Now all they have to do is find Will, and see for themselves. Particularly as Will threatened a third death, much closer to home…

Set in the late 90s and the present day, this book delivered shedloads of fantastic nostalgia. Now, I admit, I’m a little older than the characters in this book but the 90s were my decade. I loved the trips back in time where the bands of the day were discussed alongside the group’s obsession with movies. Wonderful stuff!

The characters all stood tall each adding something to the story. Their personalities were all very different but when you live in a small village, you’re thrown together with people you perhaps wouldn’t necessarily choose as friends yourself. That added a very interesting group dynamic to the book. They all had their own very defined roles which weren’t necessarily accepted by some members but rather pushed upon them – expected maybe. Leading to tension, rivalry and an undercurrent of bad feeling. It was interesting to watch a group of teenagers who, like many teenagers, think they’re wise beyond their years, deal with some very adult emotions.

Despite my appreciation of the 90s vibe in The Killer You Know, I did prefer the sections set in the present day when the group are trying to track Will down. The mystery of Will’s disappearance, the bubbling undercurrent of not really knowing who to trust anymore and the sense of foreboding made parts of the book a fairly tense read. The author takes time to set the scene, taking the reader back to 1997 and painting a very vivid, thorough picture.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of slow-burn, suspenseful mysteries then you may enjoy The Killer You Know. I felt it could have been a little shorter as I found my attention drifting at times and I wanted something to hook me back in. I was able to guess where the story was going to go, which may not have helped my meandering attention. I also struggled a little with the writing style and had to re-read large sections to grasp what was happening and check I hadn’t missed a key plot point – but that could have just been me having a bad day. A really interesting concept and I would happily read more by this author.

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

The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters was published in the UK by Sphere Books on 2nd May 2019 and is available in paperback, 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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S R Masters studied Philosophy at Girton College, Cambridge. He is a regular contributor to UK short fiction anthology series The Fiction Desk, having won their Writer’s Award for his short story Just Kids. His story Desert Walk was included in Penguin Random House USA’s Press Start to Play collection, published last year, and he continues to have short fiction published in a variety of magazines.

When not writing, Simon works in public health in Oxford, where he lives with his wife, Helen.

The Killer You Know is his first novel.

#BookReview: Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough @HarperCollinsUK #DeadToHer #damppebbles

dead to her“Something old

Marcie’s affair with Jason Maddox catapulted her into the world of the elite. Old money, old ties, old secrets. Marcie may have married into this world – but she’ll never be part of it.

Something new

Then Jason’s boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London. Young, attractive, reckless – nobody can take their eyes off Keisha. Including Marcie’s husband.

Something you can never, ever undo…

Some people would kill for the life Marcie has – what will she do to keep it?”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough. Dead To Her is due to be published in hardcover a week from today (that’s 6th August 2020) with the paperback set to follow next year (the digital version has been available since June). I received a free ARC of Dead To Her but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’m a slow reader. I tend to read advance review copies a month at the most before the book is published. And in all honesty, thinking that far ahead can be a struggle at times! In reality, it’s maybe a week or two before the book is published. With Dead To Her, however, I read it at the end of July last year. There were two reasons for this. 1) It’s a Sarah Pinborough novel and 2) I promised my copy to a fabulous friend after I’d finished it (long story, best I don’t bore you). Anyhoo, I digress. I was keen to read this book anyway, but having spent some time last July with one of Sarah Pinborough’s biggest fans, her enthusiasm completely rubbed off on me and I was even more desperate to read Dead To Her. And what a memorable book!

After a rocky start in life, Marcie has managed to leave her past behind and move into the Savannah elite. Granted, she had to have an affair with successful businessman Jason Maddox and usurp his ex-wife to do it, but it was a price she was prepared to pay. After all, she adores her husband (and the life that comes with his success). They’re rich, popular in the set and going places but she’ll never truly ‘belong’. When Jason’s boss brings a new wife home from England, all eyes – including Jason’s – turn to Keisha. She’s younger, more beautiful, spontaneous and fun – everything Marcie used to be before age played its hand. It’s hard not to notice the chemistry between Keisha and Jason. Is Marcie about to lose everything she has worked so hard for? How far will she, and others, go to keep their secrets…

I’ve read Sarah Pinborough’s Cross Her Heart which absolutely broke me. But this…! This is something completely different. Very, very, ‘totally unexpected’ different. This is sexy, this is scary and this is 100% full on. It made me blush at points but I was delighted to see that the author had given things a bit of a shake-up and made her story instantly memorable. I can’t really say too much about the characters as I’m concerned that because of the way the story is set out, I’ll stupidly give something away I shouldn’t. So all I’ll say is that Marcie is a great character and one I really liked. Other characters were pretty repulsive including William Radford IV whose treatment of his new wife, Keisha reminded me of how others would treat a worthless possession. I really felt for Keisha throughout the book as she’s such a fragile soul.

This is a slow burn psychological suspense novel with an intriguing and beguiling plot. It’s so different to everything else I’ve read, that I perhaps struggled with it a little more than other readers will. The steaminess of the novel didn’t help in that respect but I can see many readers absolutely loving the different angle Pinborough has taken with Dead To Her. I’m afraid I could see the ending coming from a mile off which meant I finished the book on a ‘hmmm’ instead of a ‘wow’. But I enjoyed the story the author told me.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re into character-driven suspense novels but with a full-on, sexy plot to back it all up, then you should enjoy Dead To Her. It’s a little bit crazy but entertaining. A very memorable read and I can’t wait to see what Pinborough has in store for us next. Recommended.

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

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 6th August 2020 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links* are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk*| Waterstones* | Book Depository* | Goodreads |

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sarah pinborough

Sarah Pinborough is the number one Sunday Times Bestselling and New York Times Bestselling author of the psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes (Jan, 2017). During her career she has published more than 20 novels and several novellas, and has written for the BBC. Her recent novels include the dystopian love story, The Death House, and a teenage thriller, 13 Minutes which has been bought by Netflix with Josh Schwartz adapting.

Behind Her Eyes has sold to nearly twenty territories so far and was sold at auction to the US in a significant deal to Flatiron, Macmillan. There are discussions on going with several movies studios about the film adaptation.

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

#BookReview: The Guesthouse by Abbie Frost @fictionpubteam #TheGuesthouse #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the guest house“Seven guests. One Killer. A holiday to remember…

A dark and addictive psychological thriller about seven strangers who find themselves cut off from civilization in a remote guesthouse in Ireland…

Not all the guests will survive their stay…

You use an app, called Cloud BNB, to book a room online. And on a cold and windy afternoon, you arrive at The Guesthouse, a dramatic old building on a remote stretch of hillside in Ireland. 

You are expecting a relaxing break, but you find something very different. Something unimaginable. Because a killer has lured you and six other guests here and now you can’t escape. 

One thing’s for certain: not all of you will come back from this holiday alive…”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog. Today I am delighted to be sharing my tenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Guesthouse by Abbie Frost. The Guesthouse was published by HarperCollins in January 2020 and is available to purchase in all formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Guesthouse but that has in no way influenced my review.

When I first saw the cover of this book and read the blurb, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. I was keen before, but then I discovered that it’s actually written by an already established crime author but because it’s a little different to her other books, it’s been written under a pen name. Everything about this book sang to me. I’m a real sucker for the secluded, eerie setting, a group of people who know very little about one another, only for them to start dying in suspicious circumstances – one by one. Who is the killer? How much do you trust these strangers? Does one of them hold your life in their hands…?

Hannah is in mourning after the sudden death of her partner, Ben. The fact he discovered, shortly before he died, that Hannah had cheated on him, led friends and family to blame Hannah for his death. She needs to get away from Ben’s friends and have some time to grieve, so she decides to go ahead with a week-long trip to The Guesthouse in Fallon, Ireland, she had booked with Ben a few weeks before his accident. Not only does she feel she deserves a break but she has her own personal reasons for visiting the area. On arrival in Ireland, her relaxing holiday doesn’t get off to the best start. She meets the other guests staying in the house. Some she warms to, others she doesn’t. Hannah can’t fully relax though. She hears a child crying in the night and there are other strange things about the house. Dated rooms with holes in the floor and peeling wallpaper, a creepy gardener who refuses to talk to the guests, areas of the house are completely closed off behind padlocked doors. Nothing really seems to fit with the exclusive holiday destination she read about online. Plus the other guests, aren’t all they first appear to be…

The Guesthouse is a well-written psychological suspense novel which opens with a bang. The prologue throws the reader straight in to the (near) end of the story and I was immediately intrigued to know what had gone before. How had Hannah ended up in this terrifying situation? Who – or what – was chasing her? I was gripped and on the edge of my seat. The reader is then whisked back in time to 6 days before the events of that fateful night to watch from afar as Hannah makes her way to Fallon. She drinks too much, has little regard for her own personal safety and seems to have pretty much given up on life. I should have sympathised with her, but I didn’t. I couldn’t warm to Hannah at all, I’m sorry to say.

The other guests staying at the accommodation were all well-written characters. I was curious to find out what their stories were and how everything was going to tie together. Rosa, the mother of the small family staying at The Guesthouse, made my blood boil. She was so utterly frustrating, totally infuriating and I loved her! Her husband, Liam, made my skin crawl. I do love it when a character provokes a strong reaction in me!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Guesthouse is a creepy psychological suspense novel which was very entertaining. It’s a smidge far-fetched, a couple of the plot points felt a little *too* convenient but hey, it’s fiction and if you can’t be a little creative in fiction, when can you be? Normally not warming to a lead character isn’t an issue for me but this time, I felt it hampered things a little. I really wanted to feel more for Hannah, but I couldn’t. I still enjoyed the book though and would pick up another by this author (under either name 😂) in a heartbeat.

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

The Guesthouse by Abbie Frost was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 9th January 2020 and is available in paperback, 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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abbie frostAbbie Frost (the pen name of author Chris Curran) was born in London but now lives in St Leonards-on-Sea near Hastings, on the south coast of England, in a house groaning with books.

She left school at 16 to work in the local library – her dream job then and now – and spent an idyllic few months reading her way around the shelves. Reluctantly returning to full-time education, she gained her degree from Sussex University.

Since then, she has worked as an actress, script writer, copy editor and teacher, all the time looking forward to the day when she would see her own books gracing those library shelves.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Safe House by Jo Jakeman @HarvillSecker #SafeHouse #damppebbles

SH_7.jpg“NOT EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE . . .

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She calls herself Charlie, but it’s a name she’s only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. Because Charlie has a secret.

Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn’t a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed. This sacrifice cost her everything.

And now she has a chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she’s really paid the price for what she did.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Safe House blog tour. Safe House is the second book from Jo Jakeman and it’s published in hardcover and ebook formats today! The happiest of publication days to Jo and the team at Harvill Secker. I received a free eARC of Safe House but that has in no way influenced my review.

Charlie Miller is a woman with a lot to hide. What’s the best thing to do when you’ve made a number of terrible mistakes and want to forget your past? When you walk down the street of the town which you’ve lived your entire life in and people spit at you? You obviously up sticks and move to a different part of the country! Charlie Miller moves her meagre belongings to Penderrion in Cornwall and starts afresh. But Charlie Miller is a brand new creation. A new identity to help ex-convict Steffi Finn fit in. Steffi has just been released from HMP Hillstone for providing a false alibi for her partner, Lee Fisher. But that’s in the past. No one knows who Charlie really is. Or do they….?

I enjoyed this slow-burn psychological suspense novel. I found Charlie, despite her faults, easy to like and the setting, the beautiful and dramatic Cornish coastline, played as much a part in the story as the characters themselves. With Jakeman’s vivid descriptions I could picture myself stood on the cliffs overlooking the turbulent waves.

There’s a wonderful sense of impending danger and unease throughout the novel which comes from three angles. The lawyer husband of Jenn who seems to recognise Charlie on first sight, the unknown narrator who appears a handful of times throughout the novel and from Ben Jarvis who seems hellbent on trying to track Charlie down. For what purpose the reader is left wondering.

Would I recommend this book? If you like a lighter, edging on women’s fiction thriller, then yes – this is a book for you. Charlie’s neighbours were great characters and I enjoyed the community spirit they embodied – particularly Aubrey who was my favourite character in the book (and had very little community spirit about him but he was fond of Charlie and I think we all know or have known an Aubrey). An entertaining read to while away an Autumnal afternoon.

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

Safe House by Jo Jakeman was published by Harvill Secker on 31st October 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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JO JAKEMAN was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Safe House is her second novel and Sticks and Stones was her debut thriller.

#BookReview: The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek (trans. by Jamie Lee Searle) #TheNightwalker #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (6/15)

the nightwalker“As a young man, Leon Nader suffered from insomnia. As a nightwalker, he even turned to violence during his nocturnal excursions and had psychiatric treatment for his condition. Eventually, he was convinced he had been cured – but one day, years later, Leon’s wife disappears from their flat under mysterious circumstances. Could it be that his illness has broken out again?

In order to find out how he behaves in his sleep, Leon fits a movement activated camera to his forehead – and when he looks at the video the next morning he makes a discovery that bursts the borders of his imagination. His nocturnal personality goes through a door that is totally unknown to him and descends into the darkness….”

Hello book fans. Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek – translated by Jamie Lee Searle, the sixth book in my #15BooksofSummer challenge.  The Nightwalker was published by Sphere on 28th July 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook formats.  If you’ve been following my blog for some time and you have a very VERY good memory you may remember my husband’s brilliant Christmas gift to me several years ago.  The Nightwalker was one of the books he chose.

My husband knows me well (thankfully!) and is aware of my love of translated crime fiction, particularly German and Japanese novels.  Sebastian Fitzek is my favourite German author and I have read a number of his translated books (and all before damppebbles.com existed!).  This was quite different though.  It was plodding along at an enjoyable pace without the usual twists and turns I was used to in a Fitzek novel. And then things kinda took an odd turn. I say ‘kinda’, there’s no bones about it, it definitely went off on a tangent I never expected.  I have to confess I was a little lost at points.  But the confusion was sort of fun.  It’s a very clever book and I would love to know how the author managed to construct such a twisty tale – where the ideas came from and how he managed to plot it just so.  I feel the need to draw similarities to Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter in some respects.

Leon is a fascinating character with a long, disturbing history of sleepwalking.  One particular event sent alarm bells ringing for me.  We’ve all heard of the tales (possibly myths) of sleepwalkers committing murder in their sleep.  That’s not quite what happened to Leon but it wasn’t far off.  But he’s had extensive treatment for the condition and his life has improved.  That is until the morning he wakes and his wife has left him.  Fearing his old habits are back with a vengeance Leon straps a motion-activated camera to his head and records his nightly meanderings.  Watching the video back the next morning blows his mind.  Sleeping Leon finds a hidden door, descends a ladder and enters an unknown world.

I’m not going to say anything else about the plot.  All I will do is advise you to pick up a copy of this somewhat mind-blowing book and read it for yourself.  There are many things I’m still trying to get my head around in this novel but I found it immensely interesting that the author has taken something we all do, but know so little about and written this wonderfully odd thriller about it.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But I will suggest picking up other Sebastian Fitzek novels before this one as it felt quite different to his other books and I’m still not 100% sure how I fully feel about it (I finished reading the book in mid-June and I’m writing this review on 31st July!).  I felt a little giddy reading The Nightwalker but ‘good’ giddy.  ‘Something a bit different and verging on out of my comfort zone’ giddy.  Interesting. Very, very interesting.

The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek was published in the UK by Sphere on 28th July 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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Sebastian Fitzek was born in Berlin in 1971. After going to law school and being promoted to LL.D., he decided against a juridical profession for a creative occupation in the media. After the traineeship at a private radio station, he switched to the competition as head of entertainment and became chief editor, later on, thereafter becoming an independent executive consultant and format developer for numerous media companies in Europe. He lives in Berlin and is currently working in the programme management of a major capital radio station.

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