#BookReview: The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds (@Rod_WR) @FaberBooks @1stMondayCrime #CharlieYates #TheDarkInside #20BooksofSummer

the dark inside

“1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.

But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre.”

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!? There I was, merrily reading my way through Rod Reynolds’s brilliant debut The Dark Inside, one of my #20BooksofSummer, when I received an email from the fabulous First Monday team. Turns out Rod Reynolds is moderating the September panel after it’s Summer break. How perfect is that?! It was meant to be. Not only do you get my review of this wonderful book, I can also tell you all about September’s First Monday panel as well, AND I’m another book down in my #20BooksofSummer challenge. Result!

It’s 1946 and journalist Charlie Yates is on a slippery slope to losing his job. His boss doesn’t like him and wants rid. So he sends him to Texarkana on a hopeless mission to investigate and report on a number of murders. Charlie’s not happy, he knows he’s on a fool’s errand. Who in New York, where he’s based, is going to care about a couple of murders in Texarkana? But as he starts to dig deeper into the lives of Texarkana’s hostile residents Charlie realises that, actually, he cares – particularly as the number of victims mounts and someone he knows is suffering. But Charlie is no detective, and he’s hated by his Texarkana colleagues and the local law enforcement departments. With everything against him, will Charlie succeed where others are failing time and time again…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I don’t read a lot of historical crime but this is by far the best I have read for some time. I have a love of Americana in general but particularly crime fiction set in small-town America, so I found The Dark Inside a compelling and engrossing read. Although I should say that I am conflicted here because although the setting had a wonderful, ominous, claustrophobic, small-town feel to it I don’t actually know if Texarkana is small (having never been to that part of the US). With it’s crossing of state lines – partly in Texas, partly in Arkansas – it certainly feels, now that I’m away from the book, a vast and foreboding area.

Charlie Yates is a very appealing character. Despite his flaws, his dogged determination to stop the murders and find out what secrets Texarkana and its tight-lipped community held, put me firmly in his corner. Although he’s not entirely spurred on by a desperate need to fight crime; his motivations come in a more womanly form. Yates manages to surround himself with some dark and devious characters, many of whom I had at some point pinned down as the murderer. However, there was one character I would have put money on being involved. Whether they are or not is for me to know and for you to find out!

Would I recommend this book? I would. This is the first book in the Charlie Yates series and the author’s debut. Which makes this assured mystery with its wonderful setting and cast of despicable characters all the more impressive. I cannot wait to read Black Night Falling now, the next in the series. Devilishly clever, utterly consuming and wonderfully dark. A really terrific piece of historical crime fiction.

Four and a half stars out of five.

Rod Reynolds will be moderating the September First Monday Crime panel on Monday 3rd September 2018. Rod will be appearing alongside Clare Mackintosh, Beth Lewis Lucy Atkins and Vicky Newham. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 3rd September at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

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The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds was published in the UK by Faber Books on 7th April 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio 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 | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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After a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, Rod Reynolds took City University’s two-year MA in crime writing, where he started The Dark Inside, his first Charlie Yates mystery. This was followed by the second book in the series, Black Night Falling, in 2016. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: Rubicon by Ian Patrick (@IPatrick_Author) @fahrenheitpress #RubiconBook

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“Two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights.

Sam Batford is an undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police who will stop at nothing to get his hands on fearsome crime-lord Vincenzo Guardino’s drug supply.

DCI Klara Winter runs a team on the National Crime Agency, she’s also chasing down Guardino, but unlike Sam Batford she’s determined to bring the gangster to justice and get his drugs off the streets.

Set in a time of austerity and police cuts where opportunities for corruption are rife, Rubicon is a tense, dark thriller that is definitely not for the faint hearted.”

You have no idea how long I have wanted to read this book. I saw a couple of stonking reviews for it months ago now (before the recent blog tour) and I knew, as a die-hard fan of the police procedural, as a lover of coppers on the edge, as a book blogger that lives and breathes crime fiction that this book and I were destined to meet. I feel quite sad that it’s taken me this long to read it because it’s an incredible read and I relished every moment of being in Sam Batford’s company.

Rubicon is Ian Patrick’s debut and it’s such an assured read that I had to stop at times and remind myself of that fact. Ian Patrick has experienced life on the beat himself and that experience, that living of ‘the job’ gives the novel a level of authenticity that readers (readers like me, anyway) crave. Rubicon is a fast-paced crime thriller that keeps you turning the pages from start to finish and I was hooked from the explosive opening to the very last word.

Sam Batford is an Undercover Officer walking a very fine line. He’s prepared to do whatever is necessary to get what he wants. But he has a heart too, which I loved. Sam is seconded to work with DCI Klara Winter on the Vincenzo Guardino (or ‘Big H’) case but he has his own ideas and instead of working in harmony with his new DCI, he is determined to do his own thing and leave Winter flailing in his dust. Winter is an unlikable, do-gooder character who seems more out for the glory of arresting notorious local gangster Big H than anything else. She plays by the book though, whereas Sam…..doesn’t so much. The reader is regularly given an insight into Winter’s thought processes thanks to her ‘Sensitive Decision Log’; a clever move on the author’s part as it gives the reader a more candid look into this senior detective’s thoughts and feelings.

Now I’m a fairly slow reader but you can easily lose a day (chances are you read faster than me) to Rubicon. It has a way of completely absorbing you into the story and before you know it, you’ve read half of the book before you’ve even realised. It’s punchy, it’s thrilling and it’s everything I want in a crime thriller. One of the things I liked most about Rubicon is that Sam isn’t your usual copper. I read a lot of detective fiction so it’s good to have a lead who isn’t scared of REALLY breaking the rules (and oh my gosh, those rules get shattered!). Sam Batford is a character I want to see more of, I love the idea of a renegade cop and Sam fits the mould perfectly.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s edgy, absorbing and so deliciously different to other books in the genre. An absolute delight to read and I will be recommending this book to everyone. What a debut!

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

Rubicon by Ian Patrick was published in the UK bu Fahrenheit Press on 21st August 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Fahrenheit Press | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Educated in Nottingham, Ian left school at sixteen. After three years in the Civil Service he moved to London for a career in the Metropolitan Police.

He spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command. A career in policing is a career in writing. Ian has been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes.

Now retired, the need to write didn’t leave and evolved into fiction.

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon Author Page |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

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

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

about the author3

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

What else?

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

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

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about the author3

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

Author Links:Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste (@LucaVeste) @simonschusterUK #TheBoneKeeper

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“What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?

He’ll slice your flesh.
Your bones he’ll keep.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned.

Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper. Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood. But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone.

The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.”

Look at that cover! That stunning cover plus that incredible sounding blurb made The Bone Keeper a must read for me. This is the third book by author Luca Veste that I have read, previously having devoured book one (Dead Gone) and book two (The Dying Place) in his Murphy and Rossi series (unfortunately both were before the blog so I have no reviews to share. I really MUST find some time to read books three, four and five!).

The Bone Keeper, however, is a cracking standalone and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has its creepy moments and I am a huge fan of the crime/horror crossover which I think this book wants to be. But for me, it fell firmly into the crime thriller category. It certainly packs more of a punch than your average police procedural and I know other reviewers have said how nervous it made them feel, how creepy they found the story but I, unfortunately, didn’t experience it in the same way. I’ve obviously become immune after reading so much horror and crime over the years. Dangit!

DC Louise Henderson is an intriguing character who I instantly liked. There’s something there that others may not necessarily warm to but I really liked her. I also liked her DS, Paul Shipley and the bubbling undercurrent of chemistry between the pair of them. As investigative teams go, Henderson and Shipley could be new favourites.

The story starts with a chilling scene in the woods. The entire premise of this book is set on a myth, renowned in the Merseyside area. If you live in Merseyside, you know all about the Bone Keeper from a young age. And that’s all it is, right? A myth? Maybe. Maybe not. Four kids dare each other to play in local woodlands. Only three return. Years later, a bloodied woman is found wandering the streets. She’s been brutally attacked and is muttering the bone keeper song to herself. DC Louise Henderson is on the case. Henderson and her DS, Paul Shipley are sent to interview the victim once she regains consciousness. Shortly afterwards more bodies are discovered in the woods; strange carvings are discovered on the trees nearby that make Henderson and Shipley doubt this is the work of anyone other than the Bone Keeper. But Louise knows there’s more to this investigation. She fears the woods and wants to stay as far away as possible. What secrets are they hiding? What’s keeping her away?

I found Henderson to be quite mysterious. There are things the reader doesn’t know about her. Hints are laid, here and there but I, for one, never really felt I had the measure of the character until the end of the book. There were MANY things to love but a couple that leapt out at me were; the high number of deaths within the pages (Not normal, I know but hey, that’s me!). This book really satisfied my need for a high body count. Something that has been missing from many of my recent reads. Another thing I absolutely loved was that I could never be 100% sure whether it was someONE in the woods, or someTHING (something not quite human). Brilliantly written and although I didn’t get the sense of creepiness others readers have, I was never quite sure who was killing the lost and lonely souls.

Although I enjoyed this book, it really came alive for me towards the end. What an amazing ending and one I didn’t expect. Veste had convinced me the story was going one way only to totally flip it in a different direction. I LOVED the ending of this book. Dark, malevolent and so wonderfully unexpected. It was a joy to read!

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I hope this is isn’t the last we see of Henderson and Shipley. In fact, let’s get this down on paper (or in print!). Luca Veste, I would love to see more of these characters in a future novel. Particularly if they return in a ‘verging on horror’ investigation. When an author creates a character that is a little bit different, a little bit darker than the rest – well, that makes me sit up and take notice. Surprising, different and very compelling. I really enjoyed The Bone Keeper.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 8th March 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

luca veste

Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Scouse heritage, married with two young daughters, and one of nine children. He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi novels and forthcoming standalone The Bone Keeper. His books have been translated and published in the USA, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland.

Part psychological thriller, part police procedural, the Murphy and Rossi novels take place in the city of Liverpool. Taking in both sides of a contrasting city, they explore the changing landscape of Liverpool and “bad” things which can happen within it.

His first standalone novel – The Bone Keeper – will be published in March 2018 and is a slight departure from the series. Part thriller, part horror, it has been described by as like ‘Silence of the Lambs meets Candyman’.

He was the editor of the Spinetingler Award nominated charity anthology ‘Off The Record’, and co-editor of ‘True Brit Grit’, also an anthology of short stories for charity.

He is a former civil servant, actor, singer and guitarist (although he still picks it up now and again). In his acting days, he appeared as a “background artist” – read: extra – on a number of Brookside and Hollyoaks episodes and also once spent three nights in a black leather mini-skirt and high-heels, in front of an ever-dwindling audience in a Liverpool theatre.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |