#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Donna Maguire (@dmmaguire391) #donnasbookblog

Hurrah for the weekend! Welcome to today’s #R3COMM3ND3D2018.  Joining me today is another of my favourite bloggers (it’s true, I do love book bloggers!) the very lovely Donna Maguire of donnasbookblog. If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking Donna’s blog out then you must. She reads so many books that there are always a number of new reviews every day. I don’t know how Donna does it but I would love some lessons!

If you’re new to this feature then let me explain.  #R3COMM3ND3D2018 is where I invite bookish folk to share three titles they think the rest of us should make a point of reading.  It doesn’t have to be your three absolute favourite books, just three that you love so much you have to recommend them.  The only stipulation being the three books you choose must have been published after 1st January 2018.  They all have to be 2018 publications.

So without further ado, here’s what Donna has chosen…

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The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (Washington Poe #1)
It was an amazing book to read!!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/my-bookreview-of-the-puppet-show-by-m-w-craven-thepuppetshow-mwcravenuk-littlebrownuk/

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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
It is a dark, twisted, gritty and a thrilling read – and I loved it!!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/my-bookreview-for-jar-of-hearts-by-jennifer-hillier-jarofhearts%e2%80%8b-jenniferhillier-minotaurbooks/

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Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh (Eddie Flynn #4)
It has a brilliant hook and it completely lived up to all the hype for me!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/06/blogtour-review-of-th1rt3en-by-steve-cavanagh/

Fantastic choices, Donna. I ADORE The Puppet Show and it will most definitely feature on my books of the year list.  I have Th1rt3en on my TBR and I’m really looking forward to reading it, and I’ve added Jar of Hearts to my wishlist!

If Donna has managed to tempt you or if you would like to find out more about the titles she recommends then please see the following links:

The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven | Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier | Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh |

About Donna:
I’m Donna and I blog over at donnasbookblog. I have been blogging for 3 years now taking part initially in the odd blog tour and sharing my reviews, I went on maternity leave in May 2017 before having my daughter, Ava in July 2017 and started to really actively blog and things have really taken off since then. In my day job I work with a lot of legal paperwork so blogging takes me away from that and gives me an avenue to escape. My husband works shifts with his job so I read an awful lot after putting Ava to bed and can normally get through a book a day!

Donna’s Social Media Links:
donnasbookblog | Twitter @dmmaguire391 | Facebook |

If you’re a book blogger, author or publisher and would like to take part in #R3COMM3ND3D2018 please complete this form:

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton (@AuthorSJBolton) @TrapezeBooks #TheCraftsman

the craftsman.jpg“Devoted father or merciless killer?
His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago? 
Or is there something much darker at play?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Craftsman blog tour.  Now some of you may be experiencing a spot of deja vu here but fret not, you’re not seeing double.  Yes, I have published my review for the EPIC The Craftsman before but that was to celebrate the release of the book in hardcover.  Now we’re back, still celebrating, but this time it’s for the paperback release.  New cover, same book, still an absolute MUST READ.

So without further ado, here (for the second time) is my review of one of my favourite reads of 2018 (it’s long, so make yourself comfy)…

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for crime/horror crossover novels, which this most definitely is.  Thanks to social media I saw this book sent to a few lucky early readers at the start of the year and I kid you not, it arrived in its own flipping grave!  How incredible is that?!  I knew there and then that I had to read The Craftsman.  I was pretty much prepared to do ANYTHING to get my hands on a copy (including waiting very calmly and patiently for it to be published!).  So when I was asked to feature on the blog tour, there was no way on this earth that I could say no.

Strangely, and I still can’t quite believe it myself, this is the first book I have read by Sharon Bolton.  I have a copy of Bolton’s Dead Woman Walking on my TBR which I really must get around to.  I loved The Craftsman.  I was immediately drawn into a story that I could not pull myself away from.  Our main character, WPC Florence Lovelady, had my full attention from start to finish and I’m left wanting more.  What an intriguing, fascinating story and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

The book opens with a funeral.  A funeral with a difference as the mourners aren’t there to mourn, they want to prove to themselves that it’s true; Larry Glassbrook is finally dead.  Florence Lovelady, who was heavily involved in the hunt for Glassbrook after he murdered three local teenagers by burying them alive and was key to discovering Glassbrook’s identity, has returned to Sabden in Lancashire to attend the funeral.  Lovelady has been in regular communication with the convicted killer since he was imprisoned.  Glassbrook’s final message, delivered via a short cryptic message, makes Florence wonder whether the arrest, the horrors she experienced all those years ago back in the late sixties, were the doing of Larry Glassbrook or someone much more sinister…

I enjoyed many of the characters in The Craftsman.  But for me, it was ALL about the tough, plucky WPC Florence Lovelady.  It’s the late 1960s and Florence is the first woman to work for the Sabden Police Force.  She’s ‘just a young girl’ in their eyes so is consigned to tea making and typing duties, but she outshines every single other character in the book!  Florence is smart, gutsy and tenacious and tends to run rings around her male colleagues, even when she’s trying not to!  While the men are busy being misogynists, Florence is suggesting filming a re-enactment of the latest victim’s last movements.  While the men are twiddling their thumbs, Florence is creating charts and looking for patterns, searching for the elusive clue to break the case.  Unfortunately, her intelligence, her keen eye and her repeated bouts of good luck put her somewhere she doesn’t want to be.  In the spotlight as one of the main suspects.

Now, this isn’t your everyday serial killer novel.  Nor is it your traditional police procedural.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea because, at the heart of this story, there be witches.  Sabden, where the story is set, is at the foot of Pendle Hill which has a long history of witches and witch trials.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author has taken this long, dark history and used it to grow her character’s experience.  In essence, Florence becomes the focus of a cruel local witch hunt just because she’s more intelligent than her colleagues, more determined, more proactive,…and not a man.

There is so much more I want to tell you about this book.  I could go on for hours telling you about another favourite couple of characters; Daphne and Avril, and the wonderful sparkle they exude.  Oh, and I could tell you how much I enjoyed the main body of the story where the reader is transported to the late sixties (and how I couldn’t help but picture the odd scene from ‘Life on Mars’, the television programme).  This is where you get to meet some of the most misogynistic characters I have ever had the displeasure of encountering in a book.  I wanted to thump most of them.  Thank goodness times have changed!  But if I do continue telling you everything I loved then this will be the longest review I have ever written.  So instead, buy the book and find out the wonders of The Craftsman for yourself.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s creepy, it’s tense and it’s full of witches!  Plus, I don’t know about you, but death by suffocation has always terrified me and I’m a terrible sufferer of claustrophobia.  Which made this book all the more frightening for me.  I loved it.  I love what the author has done with her story and her characters are an absolute delight.  Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 18th October 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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sharon boltonSharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

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

#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.

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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 |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) @AmazonPub @midaspr #InHerShadow

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“Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.

For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.

As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.

Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the In Her Shadow blog tour. In Her Shadow is the latest release from bestselling author, Mark Edwards, and is set to be published by Thomas & Mercer later this week on 4th October 2018.

When Mark Edwards publishes a book, I read it. It’s that simple really. He’s an author whose writing I am happy to return to again and again. To prove my point, here are my reviews of Mark’s previous books; Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work, The Lucky Ones and The Retreat. I’ve also read ‘The Magpies’ which started it all for me a few years back. All wonderful, immersive pieces of fiction and highly recommended.

Making a start on Mark Edwards’s latest book is a strangely nerve-wracking experience for me. I have loved everything I have read by this author so far. Will this be the first book to disappoint? Will I love it as much as the others? Well, the answer to those two questions is that it did NOT disappoint but I maybe didn’t love it as much as his previous releases. Let me explain. Once again, Edwards has penned a highly readable, family focussed psychological thriller. What he does best in my opinion. However, this book has an overarching paranormal element to it, and the inclusion of any kind of paranormal ‘activity’ in a novel tends to leave this reader feeling cold. But that’s me. Your feelings on the matter may be completely different to mine and that, I find, is one of the joys of reading, and books in general. Saying that, the paranormal elements to the story were extremely well done and at points I felt shivers run down my spine – particularly in the first half of the book. Little Olivia really did freak me out.

Edwards really knows how to write a fully formed, living, breathing character. I was drawn to Jessica and her deceased sister, Isabel. In fact, I would go as far as saying Isabel was my favourite character in the book. There are wonderful flashback sections throughout so what I’m saying isn’t completely crazy (read the blurb if you’re not sure what I’m talking about). I loved her feistiness, her boundless self-confidence and her ambition. Also her strong sense of right and wrong. Jessica very much pales in her sister’s shadow. Olivia was also a firm favourite, despite the fact she did send shivers down my spine at points. I couldn’t get over how authentic Edwards made her voice.

Would I recommend this book? I would but why recommend one when you can recommend them all! I felt there was a stronger lean towards the ‘women’s fiction’ genre in In Her Shadow which I have nothing against but it’s really NOT my thing. It’s also a little sexy which again, I could have done without. However, Mark Edwards is a supremely talented writer and if you haven’t read any of his books yet then we need to have serious words. A strong family driven thriller which I enjoyed. Recommended.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of In Her Shadow. The above review is my own honest unbiased opinion.

In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 4th October 2018 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 |

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EDWARDS 7 TS 28

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For (2014), Because She Loves Me (2014; also a No.1 bestseller in the UK) and Follow You Home(2015).

He also co-writes with Louise Voss. Their novels are: Killing Cupid (2011); Catch Your Death(2011); All Fall Down (2012); Forward Slash and a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle (2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). Read more about Voss & Edwards.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

When he’s not writing or looking after children, Mark reads a lot, devours TV box sets and spends far too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where he loves chatting with readers. He also wishes he had more time to do the activity he loves most: karaoke.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham (@AlisonBelsham) @TrapezeBooks #TheTattooThief

the tattoo thief cover.jpg“A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Tattoo Thief blog tour.  The Tattoo Thief is the debut novel from Alison Belsham and was published in paperback by Trapeze Books on 20th September 2018.  It is also one of my most eagerly anticipated reads of the year after I heard about it from fellow bloggers and bookish folk at Harrogate Crime Festival last year.  No pressure, eh?

If you’re a regular visitor to damppebbles.com then you will know that I like my reads to err on the darker side of fiction.  In fact, I would go as far as saying, the darker – the better, for me!  So I was immediately drawn to this book following the mention of ‘flaying’ in the blurb.  But there was more to it than that.  Yes, it sounded a little on the gruesome side but it is also about something that I find utterly fascinating.  Tattoos.  Now, I don’t have any tattoos, nor am I brave enough to go out and get one.  But I can’t help but be intrigued and find myself casually gazing at tattooed folk from afar, trying to work out what designs they’ve had permanently inked onto their bodies.  So in other words, this book absolutely sang out to me.

The Tattoo Thief is an unexpected, somewhat surprising mix.  Some parts were dripping in beautifully vivid descriptions of blood-soaked gore, the pain the victim suffers, the process the killer goes through flaying their victim and what happens next (read the book to find out what this is).  And then you have DI Francis Sullivan, a young DI in his late twenties who is purer than the driven snow.  A devout Catholic, a stickler for the rules and a complete goody-two-shoes who is tasked with investigating the terrifying spate of horrific murders to hit Brighton.  Out of his depth, much?  You bet he is.  Especially as his more senior and experienced DS is nipping at his heels.  Looking for the moment when he can knock DI Francis Sullivan from his wobbly perch and take his DI crown.  But I kind of liked that; a bit of ying and yang, a touch of light and dark.  It worked for me.

This was an enjoyable read but I found the characters hard to like (particularly DCI Bradshaw who is an @rse and unbelievably reckless!).  Even the unlucky Marni Mullins was difficult to warm to, although I really wanted to like her.  It’s not often that I come across a fellow diabetic in the novels I read so that did help…sort of.  Maybe I read too much crime fiction but on a number of occasions I wanted to shake Marni hard and scream ‘you’re going to do WHAT??’ in her face.  Crime fiction 101, lady!

Please don’t get me wrong.  This is a wonderful debut and a very gratifying read.  I’m also very much looking forward to Belsham’s next release which is published in 2019!  I absolutely love the idea behind this book.  This is the type of storyline I adore and Belsham has done a great job of bringing it to fruition.  I just found the twists a little obvious (but then I was looking for them because that’s the kind of annoying thing I do, grrrr!).

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, absolutely.  I am so pleased I read The Tattoo Thief.  It’s a wonderful debut, and I really enjoyed the light vs dark aspect (but I will always want it to be darker. It’s fine, I know I’m weird).  If you’re a little squeamish or nervous about graphic crime novels then this may not be the book for you (although I dare you to give it a go!).  An absolutely fascinating read.  Recommended.

Four out of five stars.

The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 20th September 2018 and is available on 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 |

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alison belsham.jpgAlison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. After signing with agent Jenny Brown, The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and biog © http://www.alisonbelsham.com/

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood (@MichaelHWood) @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK #TheHangmansHold #DCIMatildaDarke

hangman's hold.jpgYour life is in his hands.

In the gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.

“There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness.

He knows your darkest secrets.
He’ll make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.

And he is closer than you think.
DCI Matilda Darke is running out of time. Fear is spreading throughout the city. As the body count rises, Matilda is targeted and her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Hangman’s Hold blog tour.  The Hangman’s Hold is the fourth book in the superb DCI Matilda Darke series written by author Michael Wood.  I am such a huge fan of DCI Darke and this is a series I will return to again and again without a moment’s hesitation.  And to prove it, here are my reviews of the second and third books; Outside Looking In and A Room Full of Killers.  When I heard rumours of a fourth book being released, I jumped at the chance to read it!

I have several favourite fictional characters.  I’m a crime blogger so surprise surprise, they’re all pretty much (give or take a few)….detectives!  A large number of those detectives are female as well (which makes me happy for some odd reason).  DCI Matilda Darke is very high on my list of favourites.  I’ve said this before in my reviews of Michael Wood’s books but she’s so flipping wonderfully normal.  If she were real, I could see us being friends (or I would be stalking her from afar wishing she were my bestie and plotting to get rid of Adele.  Perfectly normal, right?!).  I love how committed to the cause she is, how she frequently berates herself for her past failings, how completely and utterly in love she still is with her deceased husband, James.  She is one of those characters who evokes a fondness in me, I’m 100% on Team Matilda and I hope it stays that way for a very long time to come.

DCI Darke and her team are called to investigate a hanging.  The victim, having returned home from a delightful first date with a new lady friend, has been strung up and left to slowly die, in agonising amounts of pain.  When Matilda arrives at the scene it becomes clear to hear that this murder is closer to home than she first thought.  She also discovers the victim is a confirmed paedophile from the south-east; having rellocated to Sheffield with a new name and leaving his past behind.  Then, another body is discovered.  This time a family man whose wrongdoings from the past have caught up with him.  With the Press breathing down her neck and accusations flying, can Matilda and her team stop the Hangman before he kills again…

This is the type of storyline I love to read.  Seemingly ordinary people with dark secrets to hide being picked off one by one by a callous, vengeful killer.  I was excited to find out what was going to happen next; who was going to fall victim to the Hangman and his deadly form of justice.  Reading about Matilda and her team made me feel in the midst of friends (I love Sian too!) and their failed attempts to make any progress in the case left me feeling frustrated for them.  I could feel my blood pressure rising as the killer taunted them with text messages and calls to the press.  Marvellous stuff!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I would recommend this entire series.  Michael Wood sure knows how to write a compelling, utterly absorbing crime series and create some of the most memorable characters out there.  Personally, I *maybe* need to take a small step back from this series and remind myself that it is indeed fiction, it’s not real life and Matilda isn’t a real person but hey, that’s enough about my issues!  Crime fans, this series is a must read and you’re letting the side down if you haven’t read it.  Take my advice, download all four books now ;).

Five out of five stars.

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

The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 20th September 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.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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michael woodMichael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Overkill by Vanda Symon (@vandasymon) @OrendaBooks #Overkill #NewZealandNoir #SamShephard

Overkill Cover  (1).jpegWhen the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.

Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.

To find the murderer … and clear her name.

A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Overkill blog tour.  Overkill by Vanda Symon was published by Orenda Books on 6th September 2018 and is the first in a new crime series featuring PC Sam Shephard.

I have travelled the world thanks to my literary choices over the years; it’s something I love to do.  Reading about a place far from home is always interesting and exciting – a different way of living, different cultures.  Until recently I had not managed to make my bookish way to New Zealand.  Australia, yes.  New Zealand, no.  However, thanks to Overkill I can now add a New Zealand stamp to my literary passport as this delightful piece of crime fiction is set in Mataura.

I am a huge fan of books set in small, close-knit towns.  The claustrophobia, the suspicion, the uncomfortable feeling you get as the characters start to realise that you can’t trust anyone.  The small town feeling Vanda Symon conveys in Overkill is wonderful.  The residents of Mataura have all been mucking along quite nicely together for years.  Then the body of a young mother is discovered in the river; the suicide note left behind confirms she couldn’t face life any more.  But PC Sam Shephard’s gut is telling her differently, something is wrong.  Before long Sam is investigating a murder.  What she doesn’t realise is that she’s the main suspect in her detective colleague’s eyes.  Can Sam solve the murder and clear her name…?

I loved Sam.  She’s so wonderfully human, so normal.  She has a chequered history with the victim’s husband which hangs precariously over her head throughout the entire investigation.  Her conflicted emotions and her self-deprecating manner made her all the more likeable.  I was also very fond of her flatmate and best friend, Maggie who stands by Sam when others don’t.  The writing and the narrative had a wonderful Kiwi flavour to it; it felt very real and I was pleased to see Sam wasn’t dressed up to be something she wasn’t.  She’s tough, resilient and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty.  She certainly needs to be tough as the only police officer stationed in Mataura!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Sam is a very likeable character who will appeal to many readers and Symon’s honest, no-nonsense writing brings her gloriously to life.  If you’re looking for thrills and spills a minute then maybe Overkill isn’t the book for you.  But if you’re wanting a cleverly woven mystery with characters who shine through then it’s well worth a read.  Claustrophobic, delightfully mysterious and a with a fierce female lead you can’t help but like.  I can’t wait to read the next book in the Sam Shephard series!

Four out of five stars.

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

Overkill by Vanda Symon was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 6th September 2018 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 |

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vanda symonVanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.

A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.

As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.

And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.

Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.

When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.

Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.

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

Biography © http://vandasymon.com/

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward (@sarahrward1) @FaberBooks #DCConnieChilds #TheShroudedPath #MustRead

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“The past won’t stay buried forever.

November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.

October, 2014: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: ‘Find Valerie.’ Mina’s elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?

DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs’ old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Shrouded Path blog tour. The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward is the fourth book in the excellent DC Connie Childs series and continues to remain a very firm damppebbles.com favourite. A series I return to time and time again. And it’s the eBook publication day today for this latest instalment so a very happy release day to Sarah and the folk at Faber Books. The hardback will follow later this week on Thursday 6th September.

One of my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year is always the next DC Connie Childs book from Sarah Ward. And do you know what? I am NEVER disappointed. Never. It’s that simple really. If you’re a fan of crime fiction and you haven’t read one of Ward’s books, then you’re doing something wrong. Her characters are fully formed, living beings who leap off the page at the reader. You’re drawn into the misty fictional town of Bampton and it’s surrounding Peak District towns, a landscape which feels as much a part of the book as the characters. And then you’re handed a complex, enthralling mystery to get your teeth into. It’s fictional bliss and I can’t get enough of Ward’s masterful writing.

I adore Ward’s lead protagonist, Connie Childs, but I also have a rather large soft spot for her DI, Francis Sadler, who, unlike many senior officers you find in crime fiction, is supportive of his DC. Sadler offers an encouraging word and a gentle shove in the right direction whilst also providing the authority which spontaneous and impulsive Connie needs at times. They’re a wonderful match and such a refreshing change to many other DI/DC relationships I read about. I must also mention the new boy, DC Peter Dahl. He’s not as fiery as some of Connie’s previous colleagues but he felt a good fit for the team. I look forward to finding out more about him in future novels.

I very much enjoyed the leaps from the late-1950s to the present day. The author has built a wonderfully enjoyable mystery around a small group of school friends, both in the past and in the present. The secrets, the lies and the half-truths made for compelling reading. And yes, I tried from the very start to figure out where the story was headed and who was responsible but I would never have reached the correct conclusion. I was bowled over by how simple parts of the story were, how Ward manages to keep her big reveal, her ‘taddah’ moment away from the reader’s mind. Absolutely brilliant.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. And it’s predecessors too. This is one of the very best crime fiction series out there at the moment and Ward’s books are a must read for every crime thriller fan. A dark and brooding mystery which I couldn’t put down. The eerie atmosphere of ‘the Cutting’ sent chills down my spine. I absolutely loved it!

Five out of five stars.

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

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward was published in the UK by Faber Books on 6th September and is available in hardcover and eBook formats, with the paperback to follow in 2019 (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 |

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sarah ward

Sarah Ward is the author of four DC Childs novels, In Bitter Chill, A Deadly Thaw, A Patient Fury and The Shrouded Path set in the Derbyshire Peak District where she lives. On her website, Crimepieces (www.crimepieces.com), she reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world. She is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels. Sarah was a 2015 Amazon Rising Star and A Patient Fury was The Observer’s Thriller of the Month in 2017.

Author Links: | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

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

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“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 |

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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: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (@cjtudor) @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #TheChalkMan #PaperbackPublication #TopReadsof2018

the chalk man“You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you.

It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man.

He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body.

Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure.

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?”

Today is a very special day.  Today is the day that the mighty, the incredible, The Chalk Man is published in paperback.  I read this book earlier this year and it is a very strong contender for my book of 2018.  I couldn’t let the paperback publication day go by without doing ‘something’.  So, to encourage you to buy a copy of this masterpiece of crime/horror fiction, I thought I would repost my review.  Here’s what I thought earlier this year (brace yourself!)…

What a treat! What a prologue! What a flipping brilliant story! If you haven’t quite guessed yet then yes, I am a huge fan of The Chalk Man and something quite incredible will have to make itself known to me for it NOT to make it onto my ‘books of 2018’ list. The bar has been well and truly raised and this little beauty is currently sitting pretty at the top of the book pile. Quite extraordinary and totally mesmerising!

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I love crime fiction with a passion (unhealthy? *shrugs* 😉😜). But I get particularly excited when I find a crime novel with a hint of a horror crossover included, which this is. My book of 2017 was Final Girls because it had a horror movie feel to it, crime with a large dash of spinetingling, nerve-jangling horror.  The Chalk Man has some fantastic horror-esque elements to it but it is to all intents and purposes a crime thriller novel.  I particularly enjoyed the scenes at the fairground which I found shocking and unsettling.  And oh boy, that prologue!  However, I know that many readers switch off when the word ‘horror’ is mentioned.  I’m telling you now, don’t.  Just don’t do it!  Try it, what is there to lose?  Start with The Chalk Man and I bet you fall a little bit in love with the creepiness, with the unease and bucketfuls of suspense Tudor has so expertly crafted.  Go on, I dare you…

The story runs a dual timeline; partly set in 1986 and partly set thirty years later in 2016.  In both the past and the present the reader is introduced to Eddie Adams (or Ed as he becomes known, later in life).  Eddie is a normal kid, messing around with his mates and dreading the end of the school holidays.  His little gang of friends made me quite nostalgic for my bygone childhood days in the late 80s (more early 90s really!).  Except me and my friends didn’t have ‘cool’ nicknames like Hoppo, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Eddie Munster and, erm…Nicky!

I loved the adventure these kids went on.  I mentioned earlier how much I loved the scenes at the fair.  The fair plays a pivotal role in the story as this is where Eddie meets Mr Halloran for the first time.  Mr Halloran is nicknamed ‘The Chalk Man’ by the kids he teaches at the school.  He’s also the reason that Eddie and his little gang start leaving chalk man drawings as secret code for each other.  So when the harmless, benign drawings lead Eddie and his friends to a dead body, there is only one person in the frame for murder.

From the day of the accident, strange things start happening in the small town of Anderbury.  Tudor has masterfully built the tension so you never know what to expect but you’re on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  And this is Tudor’s debut novel!  I can’t wait to see what else the author has in store for us.  Her debut is sublime!

I fell head over heels in love with middle-aged, stuck in his ways, teacher Ed.  Something about this character drew me to him.  I was completely hooked by his story and that of his friends, past and present.  I want to say so much more about this incredible book but I’m on the brink of giving too much away so all I will say is that you need to get yourself a copy of The Chalk Man as it is magnificent and just the sort of book I want to read again and again and again.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.  It’s so deliciously gripping, chock full of suspense, engrossingly creepy and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  Although I managed to put this book down and walk away from it I really didn’t want to.  When I was doing ‘life stuff’ I was thinking about the story, thinking about Eddie and his friends.  Trying to see where the story would lead me.  I failed, by the way.  There was no way I saw THAT coming. WOW!  Absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, lots of fun and wonderfully addictive.

Five out of five stars.

So there you go.  The character of Ed will stay with me for a long time to come and he often pops into my head at odd moments during the day.  This really is a must read and if you only listen to one of my book recommendations this year then please make it this one.  I cannot wait to find out what else C.J. Tudor has in store for us readers.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 23rd August 2018 and is available in hardcover, 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 |

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cj tudorC. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, waitress, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and now author. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |