#BookReview: Perfect Bones by A.J. Waines #PerfectBones #SamanthaWillerby

perfect bones.jpg“Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside you?

When art student, Aiden Blake, witnesses a gruesome attack on a London towpath, the police need him to identify the assailant without delay. But there’s a problem: refusing to leave his canal boat and traumatised by the shock, Aiden is rendered mute by the horror of the event and can’t speak to anyone.

In a desperate bid to gain vital information before Aiden’s memories fade, The Met call in Clinical Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr Samantha Willerby, giving her only seven days to get a result. When Aiden finally starts to communicate through his art, however, the images he produces are not what anyone expects and before Sam can make sense of them, another murder takes place.

With her professional skills stretched to the limit and the clock ticking, Sam strives to track down a killer who is as clever as she is – someone who always manages to stay one step ahead.”

I am a huge fan of A.J. Waines’ writing and her Dr Samantha Willerby series is one I return to again and again.  When I heard book three, Perfect Bones, was on it’s way to us readers I knew I had to read it.  I received a free eARC copy of this book from the publisher which has in no way influenced my review.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Waines’ Samantha Willerby series then you need to change that and soon.  Perfect Bones is the third book in the series and you can read my reviews of book one, Inside the Whispers, and book two, Lost in the Lake, by clicking the links.  I couldn’t wait to be reacquainted with Clinical Psychologist, Samantha, and her sister, Miranda.

Samantha and Miranda are due to leave for the airport for a much-needed holiday and some much-needed sisterly bonding when Samantha is contacted by the Met to help on an unusual case.  A young woman cycling along a towpath has been very nearly decapitated and is fighting for her life.  There was one witness to the attack, a young artist named Aiden Blake.  Aiden is so traumatised by what he saw he has become mute.  Can Samantha use her knowledge and therapies to help Aiden converse with the police and find the cold-hearted killer? Or is Samantha putting herself at risk and living with a killer….?

I love Samantha.  She’s such a well-rounded character and she absolutely shines from the page. Waines’ own experience as a psychotherapist adds another layer of interest to her Willerby books and Perfect Bones is a great example of this.  And what a subject she has chosen for Perfect Bones!  How can Aiden help the investigation when he is unable to talk? Samantha’s struggles and frustration in trying to understand what Aiden is telling her (through his art) was a total page-turner for me.  The added pressure from her police colleagues to get an answer before the end of the week makes Perfect Bones a tense read.

Perfect Bones is another meticulously planned slow-burn of a book and it’s a great addition to this wonderful series.  The fast-paced ending and final reveal were brilliant (particularly as this was a book where I wasn’t able to guess ‘whodunit’).

Would I recommend this book? I would but I suggest you read the first two books in the series first.  Samantha has a rather complicated relationship with her sister, Miranda, and I think going straight into book three means you miss out on much of their backstory.  The author does give new readers a good idea of what’s gone before but they are great books and worth the investment.  A fascinating book with lots of lovely suspense and a mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed trying to solve.  I can’t wait for book 4!

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

Perfect Bones by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 8th November 2018 and is available in paperback 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.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

WainesAJ6 (1)AJ Waines is a number one bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train.

Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author now writes psychological thrillers and murder mysteries full-time, with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada (audio books). In January 2019, she signed a new UK two-book deal with Bloodhound Books.

AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and been ranked a Top 10 UK Author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

The author lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. More on AJ’s psychology background here.

Author Links:WebsiteFacebookTwitter |

Author bio © https://sites.google.com/a/awaines.co.uk/aj-waines-crime-fiction-writer/

#BookReview: Inside the Whispers by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines) @Bloodhoundbook #InsideTheWhispers

A.J. Waines - Inside the Whispers_cover_high res.jpg“The most dangerous place is inside your own head…

Dr Samantha Willerby, a specialist in Post Traumatic Stress, has never seen anything like this before. Following a fire on the London Underground, three survivors seek her help but although unmistakably traumatised, their stories don’t match the facts. Are they ‘faking it’? Sam’s confusion turns to horror when one by one, instead of recovering, they are driven to suicide.

When her lover, Conrad, begins to suffer the same terrifying flashbacks, Sam is desperate to find out what’s causing them. As a mysterious and chilling conspiracy begins to unravel the nightmares begin for Sam…”

Happy Monday book lovers!  I am delighted to be able to reshare my review of the outstanding Inside The Whispers, book one in the Samantha Willerby Mystery series, by A.J. Waines with you today.  Inside The Whispers has been republished by Bloodhound Books today so it had to be done – particularly as this book was one of my favourite reads of 2016.

Now for a short disclaimer; you may or not be aware that I recently started working for the brilliant Bloodhound Books as their Publicity and Social Media Manager.  I read and reviewed Inside The Whispers back in 2016 and nothing about my review (apart from the cover and the first couple of lines) has changed.  You can see the original by clicking HERE.  

Here are my thoughts from October 2016…

Hospital based clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willberby is starting to feel alarmed.  Sam helps patients after they suffer trauma, talking through their experiences and helping them learn to cope with what has happened to them.  Three of her patients suddenly recall a traumatic  escape from an underground fire, but that was not the reason they were initially referred to Sam.  Being the consummate professional she does all she can to help them come to terms with the harrowing events, but things aren’t adding up.  Samantha takes it upon herself to do a little investigating in her spare time, only to confirm her suspicions.  No matter what her patients say, they couldn’t have been in the tube fire.  Then, one by one, her three tube patients commit suicide.  What could Sam have done differently?  Full of remorse, she starts to notice similar signs in her boyfriend.  Then he starts to recount memories from a tube station fire which Sam knows he didn’t experience. Can Dr Willberby work out what is going on before her boyfriend becomes the next victim…?

Before I say anything else, I have to shout from the rooftops that I loved this book! Now, I’m no expert in clinical psychology (or any psychology for that matter!) but if the theories in this book are real then crikey, that’s seriously scary stuff.  If they are not real, then I am more than happy to suspend my belief and you should do the same.  An absolutely brilliant read!

Dr Samantha Willerby is now one of my favourite fictional characters.  And how refreshing to have a clinical psychologist as the lead character.  The budding new relationship between Samantha and her sister, Miranda was wonderful to read. Although having not seen each other for many years things start out quite strained and I did feel a little uncomfortable at times.  Miranda is also a brilliant, well written character who I hope will make a return in any Dr Willerby sequels.  There were several other brilliant characters featured who I either loved, or loved to hate!

The plot was twisty and it grabbed my attention with both hands.  When I was busy doing other things (like feeding my children) I was thinking about this book.  I didn’t want to put it down, it was so good.  I’m fascinated by psychology so this book was a real treat for me.  It was my first A.J. Waines read but it certainly won’t be my last.

Five out of five stars.

Many thanks to A.J. Waines for providing me with a copy of Inside the Whispers in exchange for an honest review.

Inside the Whispers by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 15th October 2018 and is available to purchase for a mere 99p/99¢ for a very limited time from Amazon.

about-the-author3

WainesAJ6 (1)AJ Waines is a number one bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada (audio books).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and has been ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Find her books here and visit her website and blog, or join her on Twitter, Facebook or on her Newsletter.

Her next thriller, Lost in the Lake, will be re-released by Bloodhound Books on 24 October 2018.

Authors Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#damppebblestakeover with Tony J. Forder (@TonyJForder) | #GuestPost: Series versus Standalone #DIBliss @Bloodhoundbook

if fear wins

“When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate.

The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.

Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?

Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to the return of #damppebblestakeover, whoop! Now if you’re fairly new (sort of new…ish) to my blog then you won’t know what in the foggiest I’m talking about, so let me explain.

#damppebblestakeover is a series I first ran back in 2016 where I invited authors (of any genre) to make use of my blog for a little bit of free promotion. After all, it’s all about the #booklove, right? It was such a fantastic success and I had meant to resuscitate it last Summer but, y’know, plans don’t always go to plan! If you fancy catching up on the posts from 2016 then click HERE. But now it’s back (from outer space…. ;)) and better than ever. My plan is to not restrict it to the Summer months but continue for the long haul and I’m only inviting the criminal kind to post this time around (I’m a crime blogger, I LOVE crime fiction).

Starting us off on the right foot is Bloodhound Books author, Tony J Forder. You will be able to find out a little more about Tony later on along with information about his books and links to purchase should you wish. So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Tony…

SERIES VERSUS STANDALONE

When I wrote Bad to the Bone it was not with the intention of writing a series. It actually came about as a result of a failed novel, called Burnout. The manuscript featured a lead character by the name of DI Jimmy Bliss, who worked closely with his more than able DC, Penny Chandler. I completed the book, and it’s fair to say that it had some good features and some scenes I liked, but overall it did nothing for me when I read it back. Neither did I think that I could improve it with months of editing or rewrites. In some ways I think I treated the process as part of a learning curve. However, by then the idea for a new story had come to me, and with it being another crime novel set in Peterborough where I live, it seemed to fit the same two main characters perfectly.

Even when it was done and I was pleased with the result, I never imagined writing a follow-up. It was only when Bloodhound Books signed me up for a two book deal, which was for Bad to the Bone and an as yet unwritten sequel, that I had to start thinking hard about how I might accomplish that. The first choice I had to make was whether to suggest to Bloodhound that I rewrite the book and bring it up to date (Bad to the Bone is set in 2005). If I didn’t, then I would have issues with the sequel. On the other hand, there was a lot of dating in the book, and I was a bit fearful that I might overlook something obvious during the edit process. Equally, now that I knew a second book would have to be written, I had to decide whether or not to make changes to Bad the Bone so that certain aspects of the story were not tied up or expanded upon in that first book. Believe me, a lot of hard thinking went into those months following the signing of my first publishing contract.

Ultimately, I decided to keep Bad to the Bone rooted in 2005, but set its sequel in the year I was writing it – 2017. Explaining away the 12 year gap was not the only issue I had to contend with, however. Because even people in their forties and fifties develop as time passes, so I had to reach inside the characters and get a feel for how a dozen years might have impacted on them. After finding solutions for everything, I then had to confront something entirely new: I now had to anticipate a third book in the series, and perhaps more. The decisions this time, then, were what to include and what to leave for the next one, also which snippets I might feed into the second book in preparation for a third.

So there are clearly some difficulties in writing a series that you simply don’t get with stand-alone books. Something you have to keep in mind if you intend continuing with a series is finding ways to keep things fresh. Currently, the way I address that problem is to ensure the storylines are very different each time. Of course, relationships will be carried over from book to book, and no matter what the case, certain procedures will inevitably have to be repeated, such as briefings and the decision-making processes that occur in any murder investigation. You also have to find a way to refer to previous cases, so as to provide a baseline for new readers. At its core, the Bliss series is a police procedural, but the intention is to add layers of plot complexity, and hopefully more than the odd thrill. I regard them as procedurals with an edge. Finding new ways to provide that edge is part of the attraction.

The other side of the coin is that you get to develop your characters and their chemistry with colleagues, friends and family. You have time to delve into their back stories, the canvas already sketched out for you by the time you come to write the next book in the series. Of course, you do have to keep a wary eye out for continuity, and that can be time-consuming. I do have a character profile that I can dip into, but you have to take care. However, the character is there for you and fully-formed when you come to write their next adventure, and that does make life a little easier, as you are not having to create them from scratch.

In addition to my DI Bliss series, I have two stand-alone novels. At least, that’s how they were written. Degrees of Darkness is a dark, psychological chiller featuring a serial-killer. It predates Bad to the Bone in terms of when I wrote its original version, and it was the first novel I completed that I was happy with. It was only ever going to be a one-off, and although many readers have said they would like to read more books featuring the main character – and I have subsequently considered developing a suitable storyline – I suspect Degrees will remain a stand-alone.

Scream Blue Murder is a different proposition. For two-thirds of the book it was written as a one-off, but as I approached that final third I realised how much I had enjoyed writing the main characters, and how much I had appreciated the freedom the very different style of writing gave me. I realised that I was considering carrying on with these adventures, and knew immediately where I would set the next one, and the idea for the sequel came shortly afterwards. Since the release of Scream Blue Murder I have dipped in and out of its follow-up, and I am thrilled to say that my publishers recently accepted the completed manuscript and a contract signed. Cold Winter Sun will be released in November 2018.

The different mind-set when writing a stand-alone book is an interesting one. For a start, you have to tie up absolutely every loose end. You also have to include as much back story as possible to make your characters three-dimensional and interesting, whilst keeping the pace of the story flowing, the interest of the reader focussed. It’s a different approach entirely, and a challenge in its own right. I wouldn’t say it’s preferable to writing a series, but it does stretch you as an author, and I certainly want to write more.

With a stand-alone book you tell an entire story using around 100,000 words. The main character arc has to be complete, and the wrap-up must deal with every plot strand you have thrown out there. On the other hand, I think of the crime series as an on-going story, where you focus on solving each case within those same 100,000 words, yet each book rolls into the next, allowing you to reveal more about your characters with each subsequent release. It’s like a gradual drip-feed of information as opposed to a mass transfusion. It provides the author with a great deal more freedom, but in exchange for that you have to also look both backwards and forwards to ensure the elongated arc is consistent.

Now that I actually have a series on the go, writing outside of it provides a release of sorts. There are no expectations beyond that book. You tell your story and you get the hell out of there, hoping you have successfully wrapped it all up in a pretty bow and created a package your readers will be happy with. But it must also please you, the author, because once it is out there it’s out there for a long time and you will be judged by it. For me, the best thing about writing a new stand-alone book is creating my characters, getting inside their skins and trying to develop them along with the storyline. In the case of Scream Blue Murder, those characters wormed their way inside my head so much that I simply found it impossible to resist the allure of writing them a brand new adventure. Perhaps that is because I am driven to characters more than storyline. When I read, a brilliant character can bring me through an unexceptional story, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Nothing pleases me more than when people make positive comments about my characters, and the real trick is getting the balance between character and story just right.

The next book after Bliss #4 will definitely be another stand-alone, as the story outline is sketched out and the first few scenes already written. It’s another crime thriller, but a very different one for me. I’m certainly going to have to up my game to take on this new main character, that’s for sure. I’m very much looking forward to taking up the challenge once again.

As for whether there are more DI Bliss books to come after the one I am currently writing, well, given the situations he confronts throughout the entire story, the answer really depends on whether he and/or his career survives this latest outing. I know the answers, of course, but I think I will keep them to myself for a little while longer.

Thanks so much, Tony. Such an interesting piece, and it’s always good to see the workings of a crime writer’s mind. I think us crime fiction fans are so used to books being part of a series that we tend to expect a sequel (or is that just me…..? lol). What do you think, dear reader? What do you prefer? Series or standalone? Let me know in the comments.

If Fear Wins by Tony J Forder was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 29th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

If you’re a published crime writer and you would like to feature on #damppebblestakeover then drop me an email: damppebbles@gmail.com.

about the author3

Bloodhound-Author-Meet-89.jpg

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first three books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, and If Fear Wins will be joined by a fouth in the series in 2019.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Tony subsequently wrote a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun will be published in November 2018.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Bloodhound Books |

#BookReview: Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines) @Bloodhoundbook #DontYouDare

don't you dare.jpg

“What if your daughter becomes your enemy?

When barmaid, Rachel, discovers her soon-to-be-married daughter, Beth, pinned down by a stranger in the pub cellar, Rachel lashes out in panic and the intruder ends up dead. In desperation, Rachel convinces Beth they should cover up the crime and go ahead with the planned wedding in one month’s time.

Rachel, however, has her own reasons for not involving the police.

Hiding their dreadful secret is harder than they both imagined and as the big day approaches and the lies multiply, Beth becomes a liability. Rachel looks on in dismay at the hen party when, after too many drinks, Beth declares she’s about to make a special announcement. But before Beth can say a word she disappears…

When two people share a chilling secret can both hold their nerve?”

I am a HUGE fan of A.J. Waines’ independently published series about clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby. Huge, I tell you! If you missed them the first time then here are my reviews of Inside the Whispers (book #1) and the more recent Lost in the Lake (book #2). So I was thrilled for A.J. (or Alison) when I heard she had secured a two-book deal with the independent crime fiction publisher, Bloodhound Books. The first book in that deal, Don’t You Dare, was published in the UK yesterday so a very happy (belated) book birthday to Alison and the team at Bloodhound Books!

Don’t You Dare has an eye-opening and really rather shocking first chapter which draws the reader into the story immediately. From then on in, I was hooked. We meet Rachel, mother to Beth who had her daughter at the tender age of 15. Beth is now in her early twenties and aspires to be an actor. But when Rachel walks into the pub where she works and finds her daughter being brutally attacked in the cellar, her instincts take over and she does everything (and anything) to protect her child. Including accidentally killing a man. Accidents happen though. After all, her daughter was being viciously attacked. Rachel lashed out to save Beth, she pushed the attacker, he fell and hit his head. Anyone would have done the same thing to save their child, right? Wrong, because Rachel convinces Beth that they need to lie about the accident and hide the body. And there the thread starts to unravel, destroying the most precious of relationships; the destruction of a mother and daughter…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m ashamed to admit that I became quite addicted to watching things spiral out of control for Rachel and Beth. At times, I had the same feeling as watching a tense drama on the television (peeking out from behind my hands). I wanted to find out what was going to happen but at the same time, it was tough to watch the devastation one terribly bad decision could wreak on such a strong bond.

I struggled to like Beth. As a twenty-something young woman, she felt quite childish and selfish. It was all about her and her career but I guess many of us acted that way at that age. (To be honest, my early twenties seem so long ago it’s hard to remember!) Did I like Rachel? I’m not sure. I did at the start of the book but I think my feelings changed for her as the story progressed. Rachel makes some pretty crazy decisions throughout the story and I can *kind of* understand her reasoning for doing some of the things she does (not hiding a body though, I really can’t understand that! 😱).

There’s very little downtime for the reader in Don’t You Dare. The plot moves at an addictive pace and keeps the reader hooked, waiting for the next bombshell to hit or the suspense to mount even more. The ending was totally unexpected and did leave me a little baffled. I didn’t see it coming (and being me, I was looking for clues). I’m sitting here, writing this review asking myself, ‘Really?!’. But I do appear to be the only early reader who has commented on this so I’m putting it down to being ‘just me’!

Would I recommend this book? I would. Told in the voices of both Rachel and Beth, Don’t You Dare is a very readable, hard to put down psychological thriller. Full of devastating secrets, the reader watches from afar as lives shatter and relationships crumble. I REALLY enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next book (be it a standalone psychological thriller or the next Dr Sam book) from the pen of A.J. Waines.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Don’t You Dare. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 8th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

WainesAJ6 (1)

AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

Authors Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Pressure by Betsy Reavley (@BetsyReavley) @BloodhoundBook #Pressure

Betsy Reavley - Pressure_cover_high res.jpg“When the submarine departed, none of the ten people on board knew it would turn into a nightmare.

Trapped on the sunken vessel on the bottom of the ocean and unable to escape, one of them is discovered dead. The tension escalates as the survivors realise there is a murderer among them, who is preparing to strike again and again…

With mounting desperation, people begin to turn on each other. While they struggle to identify who is responsible, each must contend with their own past, the claustrophobia and the secrets they are hiding. 

But who is who?  And which of them will be next to die? 

Below the surface, the pressure is building and time is running out…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Pressure blog blitz.  Pressure is the latest release from author and entrepreneur, Betsy Reavley.  I absolutely fell in love with the magnificent The Optician’s Wife, one of Reavley’s earlier releases which, if you haven’t read yet then you really should get yourself a copy!  My love for The Optician’s Wife always makes Betsy Reavley’s books something to look forward to for me.  Pressure is published today so a very happy book birthday to Betsy and the team at Bloodhound Books.

I found Pressure to be lots of fun; lots of blood-soaked, terrifying, ‘impending sense of doom’ fun.  My absolute favourite type!  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I am a sucker for crime/horror crossover books (I flipping LOVE them!).  And although this isn’t really a horror novel I had that feeling while reading, that fear in the pit of my stomach, that uncertainty and that glorious unease a good horror book can give to its reader.  What you may not know about me is that I am a terrible claustrophobic; I can’t even play ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ at my children’s birthday parties as having my eyes covered makes me panic.  If like me you tend to suffer from an intense fear of confined spaces then Pressure should probably come with a health warning.  It’s about a submarine.  Not only is it about a submarine, it’s about a submarine which fails and sinks to the ocean floor with ten people onboard.  And one of them is a murderer, slowly killing the others off, one by one.

I loved the setup of this book.  I’m a huge fan of stories where the characters are trapped, with little to no chance of escape and one sadistic soul is offing them in disturbing and unique ways.  Parts of Pressure reminded me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None with a cast of devilish characters hiding their dastardly secrets from the rest of the world.  I spent my time reading Pressure and ATTWN not being sure who the murder was.  Reavley has done a masterful job of throwing in some very convincing red herrings along the way and boy, did I fall for them!

Each chapter is either told from a child’s perspective, told in real-time as the bodies mount on the submarine or, is one of the characters giving a brief snapshot into their background, a fleeting glimpse into their past and often the wrongs they have committed.  The chapters narrated by the child are hard-hitting and difficult to read at times.  The unknown narrator tells a tale of extreme abuse, of a mother’s hatred for their child and of a life lived very much alone.  As the child grows into a young adult the reader gets to see how this horrific abuse has contributed towards and helped cause unending damage to this young mind (nature or nurture, I’m not sure).

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It was a compelling read and just the sort of book I love to lose myself in.  Being really rather grisly in places just added to the enjoyment for me.  As I progressed towards the end I was starting to feel a sense of disappointment, I believed I had guessed what was going to happen next and it wasn’t what I would have chosen.  But I was wrong, and the ending couldn’t have been better.

Four stars out of five.

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

Pressure by Betsy Reavley was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 4th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

4th May_BookstormerBooks Of All KindsBits About BooksChelle's Book ReviewsDamppebblesCheekypee Reads And ReviewsKeeper Of Pages.jpg

about the author3

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Author of  The Quiet Ones, The Optician’s Wife, Frailty, Carrion, Beneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.

As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Past Echoes by Graham Smith (@GrahamSmith1972) @Bloodhoundbook #PastEchoes

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“Jake Boulder is back and he’s tasked with tracking down a man due to inherit a small fortune. Not only that, he must also reveal the secret which forced a young woman to flee New York some forty years ago. The evidence he needs is hidden in a safety deposit box and while Boulder has the key, the only clue he has for box’s location is a series of numbers etched onto the key and a mysterious list of names.

Boulder has his work cut out since he must also locate his estranged father, Cameron MacDonald, so that Cameron can donate bone marrow to Boulder’s half-brother John.

In a game of cat and mouse, he must solve the case and find the two men without alerting those who control New York’s underworld.

Can Boulder survive against both the mafia and a professional hitman, in what is his toughest case yet?”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Past Echoes blog blitz. Past Echoes is the third book in the Jake Boulder series, is written by Graham Smith and was published by Bloodhound Books on 1st February 2018. I am such a fan of this series. If you want an entertaining, action-packed read then pick up a Jake Boulder thriller. Just to prove my point, here are my reviews of book one Watching the Bodies and book two The Kindred Killers.

I was eagerly anticipating book three in the series, particularly as The Kindred Killers finished on such an explosive note. And oh boy, I was not disappointed. In my opinion, this is by far the best Jake Boulder book in the series so far. I was completely entranced from start to finish. The main plot point in Past Echoes reveals a more emotional side to this lean, mean, fighting machine. And, in a strange way, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Boulder’s softer side. Although it didn’t last very long and he was back to planning revenge missions and beating the ‘you know what’ out of people in no time!

Past Echoes starts by referring back to the events of The Kindred Killers. I asked myself whether this would hinder a new reader to the series, diving straight in with book three. It always helps when you start at the beginning of a series but I am well known for accidentally (sometimes on purpose *snigger*) starting part way through. My advice is, and will always be, start at the beginning. Watch the characters grow, find out their backstory. Don’t MISS anything. But, saying that, Past Echoes ‘could’ be read as a standalone but only because Smith does an excellent job of filling in the gaps for new readers. Although I can guarantee, if this is the first Jake Boulder book you pick up, you WILL want to read the first two in the series as well. Guaranteed!

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the way the author sets up the story so you think it’s going to go in one particular direction. He then completely wrong-foots you so you’re suddenly on this unexpected, intense and utterly thrilling rollercoaster ride of terror and reading delight. I loved it.

Before I sign off I would like to mention one more thing. The inclusion of Cameron MacDonald, Boulder’s estranged father. A stroke of genius on the author’s part because if you didn’t love Boulder before, once you’ve met his @r5e of a father, you won’t be able to stop yourself from feeling a little for him. Cameron is the lowest of the low. He plays a key role in Past Echoes but I hope this is the last we see of him for some time. I always enjoy it when an author includes a character for us readers to hate. In this case, Cameron fits the bill perfectly. The tension, the unpleasantness MacDonald brings. Oooh, he’s a nasty piece of work…

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. Plus book one, plus book two. Buy the set, they’re superbly gripping with a lead character you can’t help but love. Easily Smith’s best Jake Boulder novel! I couldn’t tell whether Boulder was going to live, or die in a blaze of burning bullets and that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Raw, evocative and deliciously intense. I loved it!

Five out of five stars.

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

Past Echoes by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 1st February 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Graham Smith Author Pic

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

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

2018 will be a busy year for Graham as he has the third Jake Boulder being published and a Harry Evans novel and novella.

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

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

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #Author @CarmenRadtke1 writing as Caron Albright @bombshellpub #AMatterofLoveandDeath

I am thrilled to welcome Carmen Radtke, who also writes as Caron Albright, to damppebbles today.  Carmen is here to recommend three MUST READS, three books published in 2017 which you just cannot miss.  Today is also a very special day for Carmen in the guise of Caron Albright, her women’s literature pen name, as her new book, A Matter of Love and Death is published by Bombshell Books – happy book birthday!

If you haven’t stumbled upon one of my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 posts before then let me explain.  #R3COMM3ND3D2017 is where I invite book bloggers and authors to shout about three books published this year.  That’s the only rule, the books chosen must have been published in 2017.

So without further ado, here are Carmen’s choices:

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Dandy Gilver & A Most Misleading Habit by Catriona McPherson (Dandy Gilver Murder Mystery Series #11)
1920/1930s mystery series set in Scotland, full of wit, humour and clever plots.

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The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters & Joan Hess (Amelia Peabody #20)
The last book by the late Grand Master. She never disappointed, and Amelia Peabody, Egyptologist and sleuth, is pure delight.

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The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
It’s funny, witty, romantic, plus he wrote The Rosie Project.

***

Thank you so much for joining me today, Carmen and for your three recommendations.

If Carmen has piqued your interest or if you would like to find out more about the books she recommends then please see the following amazon.co.uk links:

Dandy Gilver and a Most Misleading Habit by Catriona McPherson | The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters & Joan Hess | The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion |

About Carmen writing as Caron Albright:
Caron Albright fell in love with books as soon as she could read and never grew out of it. With one foot firmly planted in Fictionland ever since, she is moving from one adventure to the next (strictly on the paper of course). She also writes mysteries under real name Carmen Radtke.

About A Matter of Life and Death by Caron Albright:
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Adelaide, 1931. Telephone switchboard operator Frances’ life is difficult as sole provider for her mother and adopted uncle. But it’s thrown into turmoil when she overhears a suspicious conversation on the phone, planning a murder.

If a life is at risk, she should tell the police; but that would mean breaking her confidentiality clause and would cost her the job. And practical Frances, not prone to flights of fancy, soon begins to doubt the evidence of her own ears – it was a very bad line, after all…

She decides to put it behind her, a task helped by the arrival of their new lodger, Phil. Phil takes her to a night club, where she meets charming but slightly dangerous club owner Jack. Jack’s no angel – prohibition is in force, and what’s a nightclub without champagne? But he’s a good man, and when Frances’ earlier fears resurface she knows that he’s the person to confide in.

Frances and Jack’s hunt for the truth puts them in grave danger, and soon enough Frances will learn that some things are a matter of love and death…

Carmen’s Social Media Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Book Bloggers and Authors, if you would like to take part in #R3COMM3ND3D2017 then please complete the form below (I have had a fantastic response and will be closing the form at the end of this week so if you would like to take part, make sure you send your details before Sunday evening!):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four out of five stars.

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

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

BLOG BLITZ (3)

about the author3

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

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #Extract: The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury (@MTilburyAuthor) @BloodhoundBook

the abattoir of dreams.jpg“The past is never far away. Michael Tate has not had an easy life. With his father in prison, and his mother dead, Michael was sent to Woodside Children’s Home. Now an adult, Michael wakes up in hospital from a coma suffering from amnesia and paralysis. Confused and terrified, he is charged with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Becky. He also learns he attempted to end his own life. Detective Inspector John Carver is determined that Michael is sent to prison. With no way of defending himself, Michael is left in his hospital bed awaiting transfer to remand. But then strange things begin to happen and his childhood comes back to haunt him. Can Michael ever escape the past? Will he ever discover the truth about Becky’s murder? And why is DI Carver so eager to make him suffer? The Abattoir of Dreams is a bitter sweet story of murder, innocence and abuse.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Abattoir of Dreams blog tour.  Author Mark Tilbury is one of those writers whose work I have been incredibly keen to read since I started blogging over a year ago.  A number of fellow bloggers whose opinions I trust are huge Mark Tilbury fans which I think says an awful lot, don’t you?  And I plan to start with The Abattoir of Dreams as it’s receiving absolutely brilliant, rave reviews.

To celebrate it’s recent release I have an extract to share with you today.  So without further ado, make yourself comfy and read on…

Chapter One
Nurse Emily Dixon fussed with my bedsheet and fixed me with a smile that seemed more professional than friendly. ‘There’s someone here to see you, Michael.’
‘Who?’
‘Detective Inspector Carver. Thames Valley police.’
‘Has he found my memory?’
‘I think it’s more serious than that.’ She left, replaced by a tall, slim man in a charcoal suit.
‘Hello, Mr. Tate.’
There was something about his lopsided grin I didn’t like. Half-sincere, perhaps? ‘Hello.’
‘I see they’ve given you your own room.’
Wasn’t I the lucky one.
He sat on a chair next to the bed. ‘Do you know why I’m here?’
‘No.’ I wiped sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. There was a fan on top of a five-drawer unit by the window; its blades didn’t so much as spin but lurch, like a buckled wheel.
Next to the unit, a wheelchair, my only mode of transport in this brave, new, paralysed world. If anyone ever bothered to hoist me out of the bed, that was.
‘Look at me when I’m speaking to you, Michael. Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?’
This sudden change of tone sent a shiver through my body. I didn’t have a clue whether my mother had taught me anything; I didn’t even remember her. I looked into his pale blue eyes; they seemed to glisten in the afternoon sunlight pouring through a small window behind the bed.
‘That’s better,’ he crooned. ‘You can tell a lot from a man’s eyes.’
The room didn’t seem to have enough air. I wanted to run to the window. Dive through it. Put an end to this eternal nightmare of paralysis and amnesia.
‘You look better than the last time I last saw you.’
‘Last time?’
‘I’ve been to see you three times, Michael. First time, you had tubes sticking out of everywhere.  Second time, you were still in a coma. Not very chatty.’ He grinned, seemingly pleased with his own lame joke. ‘But, today, hey presto, the wanderer returns.’
‘Why are you here?’
He ignored my question. ‘Funny things, comas; neither dead nor alive. Strange sort of limbo.’
‘If you say so.’
‘Have you remembered anything yet? Doctor claims you’re suffering from amnesia.’
‘I don’t remember a thing.’ The truth.
‘If I was to be cynical, Michael, I might think your memory loss was a tad convenient. But, just for the record, let me help you with the events of Monday, June twenty-first; the night you walked to the top of Evenlode flats and tried your hand at flying. A witness said you came home from work at nine-fifteen. She remembered you because you always dragged your work bag up the metal handrail and pissed her off.’
‘Work?’
‘The George Hotel in Feelham. You were a washer-upper. A dish-jockey. But, that’s not relevant, Michael. Suffice to say, you left work at eight forty-five, and clunked your way upstairs at nine-fifteen. Our witness says she heard a lot of banging and thudding coming from your flat, but she just assumed you were having sex. Then, at ten thirty-five, according to two eye witnesses, you jumped off the roof. So, that just leaves the missing hour and twenty minutes when you stabbed your girlfriend to death with a kitchen knife.’
My heart stopped. ‘What?’
‘Murdered her in cold blood, Michael.’ He spoke the way some adults speak to old people as if they’re all deaf and daft. ‘Stabbed her twenty-one times.’
‘My girlfriend?’
‘Becky Marie Coombs. Name ring a bell?’
It didn’t. How was I supposed to react to the news I’d killed my girlfriend if I didn’t even remember her? It felt as if Carver was describing a nightmare which had happened to someone else.
‘Did you let yourself into your flat, or did Becky let you in?’
‘I don’t remember.’
‘Course. I forgot. All Dumbo’s memories fell out of his ears when he hit that builder’s van. Let me help you. Tell you what I think happened. You got home after working your bollocks off in that hotel kitchen. Only thing you’re bothered about is a drink to unwind and hitting the sack, right?’
‘If you say so.’
‘You like a drink, don’t you, Michael?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You do. Becky’s mum called you a piss-head, but that’s neither here nor there. So, you let yourself in, and then you realise your worst nightmare. Becky’s in bed with another man.’
‘I don’t—’
‘I’ll tell you this for nothing, son: I would have been bloody furious as well. How dare some dirty dog get into your bed and soil your sheets?’
The room was stifling. Suffocating. There was an oxygen cylinder by the door. I almost called out for a nurse to come and connect me up to it.
‘Let’s face it, Michael, you’ve not got much going for you, have you? A shitty job in a shitty hotel. Crap pay. Crap hours. A drink problem. A face like a smacked arse. If life was a pair of underpants, you’d be a skid mark, right?’
‘Could you open the window?’
He didn’t seem to hear me. ‘Do you know how I do my job, Michael?’
‘No.’
‘I imagine myself in the same situation as the criminal. Ask myself what would I do if I came home knackered from work and found my bird in bed with a stranger. A fucking freeloader. And here’s the truth: I’d want blood, too. Not the man’s. No way. Uh-uh. That slimy twat has no contract with me. No promises to stay faithful. No declarations of undying love. Just a dirty little opportunist. But, Mrs. Carver, bless her, well, she swore to be mine and mine alone. Not get in the sack with someone else as soon as my back’s turned. Open her legs to the first dirty bastard who paid her a compliment. Are we thinking the same thoughts, Michael?’
‘I—’
‘Of course we are. It’s a universal truth no man is willing to share. What’s his is his. So, I’d throw out the imposter. Naked if need be. Then I’d do the same as you Michael. I’d stab the bitch to death in a jealous rage.’
I focussed my attention on the knackered fan. It looked the way I felt.
‘Twenty-one stab wounds, Michael. And you expect me to believe you don’t remember a single one of them?’
‘I don’t.’
‘What about the one in her neck?’
‘I need water.’
‘Or the ten in her left breast?’
‘Please. I don’t—’
‘Was the breast significant, Michael? Maybe the bloke was sucking her tit when you caught them at it?’
My chest felt as if a boa constrictor had coiled itself around me and was squeezing for all it was worth.
‘You stabbed her in the eye, Michael. Was that symbolic?’
I shook my head. What did he want me to say? Oh, yes, come to think of it, I did mutilate her.
It must have slipped my mind.
Carver took a picture from the breast pocket of his suit. He handed it to me. ‘This is what you did, Michael. Take a good look. See if it jogs your memory.’

***

Woah!  If I wasn’t already lining this one up for the TBR I would be now.  Has that piqued your interest?  Let me know in the comments.

The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 28th February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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mark tilbury.jpgMark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

Mark served in the Royal Navy, and was left to raise his two daughters alone after being widowed. He finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his third novel, The Abattoir of Dreams, published by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar,
and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: No Safe Home by Tara Lyons (@taralyonsauthor) @BloodhoundBook

No Safe HOme cover.jpg“Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is haunted when the suspicious death of a teenage girl triggers suppressed memories. With a stalker targeting vulnerable women in Central London, and his team rapidly diminishing, Hamilton must conquer his emotions before another family is destroyed. 

In a sleepy town in Hertfordshire, Katy has worked hard to rebuild her life after leaving behind everything she knew. But when her past catches up with her, and her young son’s life is threatened, Katy must admit her true identity if she has any hope of surviving.

A home should be a safe place, shouldn’t it?

But sometimes it is hard to know who you can trust…

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the No Safe Home blog tour.  I have been waiting for the release of this book for some time now, ever since I read Tara Lyon’s brilliant debut solo novel In the Shadows last year.  In the Shadows was so good that it made it onto my top reads of 2016 list.  A brilliant, twisty story with one of the most appealing fictional detectives I have met in a long time.  And he’s back!  This is book two in the DI Denis Hamilton series and oh my gosh, it’s a corker!

DI Hamilton and his team become involved in two brutal cases.  The first, a young teenager who has apparently committed suicide in her bedroom.  Her parents don’t believe for one moment that it’s suicide – they know their daughter was murdered.  DI Hamilton’s reaction to the case is strange…unexpected and he hastily makes a retreat leaving the case in the capable yet nervy hands of DS Kerry Fraser.  The second case involves the murder of a woman and her young son, left to decompose for weeks before being discovered. Meanwhile, Katy Royal is hiding something.  She’s upped sticks and moved from the busy, bustling city to a leafy Hertfordshire town.  She’s incognito and plans to do absolutely everything she can to stay that way.  Even if it means her young son has to spend the majority of his time tucked away in their flat.  But someone is watching and wanting Katy all for himself, and they will stop at nothing to find her.  But is he the only one?  And, most importantly, is he the most dangerous?

I absolutely loved this book.  I couldn’t wait to be reacquainted with the grumpy yet lovable DI.  I felt whilst reading In the Shadows that DI Denis Hamilton was one of the main characters but he wasn’t THE main character.  I found the man intriguing and I wanted to know more.  And that is exactly what Tara Lyons has done, she’s given us a whole lot more Denis. No Safe Home provides us with DI Hamilton’s tragic backstory, we get to meet his long suffering wife and see snippets of their marriage and the after effects of their loss.  He’s a lot nicer than the majority of detectives I like to read about so maybe I’m mellowing with age!

The prologue is both shocking and terrifying.  After reading it, I put my Kindle down, got out of bed and went to check on my sleeping children.  It’s not often that a book has that kind of affect on me!  From that point on I was hooked.  Katy makes you instantly suspicious and you want to know exactly what she is running away from.  What has she left behind in London and why?  As the story progressed I began to feel a real warmth and lots of sympathy for Katy; after all, she’s just a young single mum trying to do what’s best for her son.

Whilst reading the closing chapters I suddenly realised that I was holding my breath!  The plot moves at a swift, exciting pace making the book hard to put down.  Although this is the second book in the series I think it could easily be read as standalone as there is little to no mention of the previous case undertaken by Denis and his team.  I can’t quite put my finger on it but something about this book, compared to Tara’s previous solo release, felt different.  The writing style felt more self assured, more knowledgeable…dare I say, more mature?

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read and I can’t wait for more DI Denis Hamilton.  I can’t remember the last time I felt so much fear whilst reading…I thought reading was supposed to be relaxing!  Gripping plot, great storytelling and relatable characters.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of No Safe Home.  My thanks to Bloodhound Books for providing me with a copy and asking me to be a part of the blog tour.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

No Safe Home by Tara Lyons was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 31st January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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Tara is a crime/psychological thriller author from London, UK. Turning 30 in 2015 propelled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. She studied English Literature at Brunel University and was Assistant Editor at an in-house magazine for 8 years,

In the Shadows is the author’s solo debut novel published in March 2016. She has also co-written with New York Times bestselling author, M.A Comley – The Caller and Web of Deceit.

When she’s not writing, Tara can be found at a local Wacky Warehouse stuck in the ball-pit with her young, energetic son.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Website |