#BlogTour | #GuestPost & #Excerpt: False Prophet by James Hazel @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #FalseProphet #damppebbles

false prophet.jpg“A secret buried for two thousand years.
The rise of an ancient evil.
An invisible killer who will stop at nothing.

When a brutal serial killer defies all known methods, the police call in prolific lawyer and former homicide detective, Charlie Priest, to assist the hunt.

Working together they soon discover a link to a lost scripture that contains a secret so devastating that its custodians are prepared to die to keep it.

Tangled in a dark world of fanaticism, chaos and deadly secrets, Priest comes up against a nemesis more formidable and deranged than any he has previously encountered.

There is no Judgement Day. There is something far worse.”

Happy Friday. Welcome to damppebbles and to my stop (the final stop) on the False Prophet blog tour. False Prophet is the third book in James Hazel’s Charlie Priest series and was published by Zaffre Books in paperback, audio and ebook formats on 19th September 2019.  Today I am delighted to share both an extract from the book along with a brilliant guest post from author James Hazel.

Let’s get stuck in…

Prologue
The Snake and the Boy

There was once an angel named Samyaza. He was the leader of a band of angels known as the Watchers; the holy ones who descended from heaven to be with man.

It was propagated that, in the beginning, Samyaza changed his form into that of a snake: a copperhead serpent said to be the most cunning of all of God’s creatures. It is in this form that Samyaza took up his position in the Garden of Eden and enticed Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, telling her that the fruit’s consumption would give her the powers of God.

Like Prometheus stealing fi re to give to man, which angered Zeus because he knew that, with fi re, man would eventually find little need for gods, so the Christian God was enraged by Samyaza’s trickery. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, but man’s ultimate punishment was to live forever under the crushing weight of his own morality.

From high above, Samyaza watched as God punished man, no longer welcome in the celestial outworld of Heaven. Resentment, anger and lust boiled within him. And something else too. Hatred of God, and the burning desire for revenge.

Then one day, Samyaza felt a cold hand on his shoulder. In his rage, he made to throw off the hand, break it, smash it, tear it apart. But when he turned, his eyes flooded with bloodlust, and he met the cool, unrelenting gaze of the only creature who still had any dominion over him. Satan. And into Samyaza’s receptive ears, Satan poured a devilish plan.

Later that day, in accordance with Satan’s plan, Samyaza proposed to his followers, one hundred and ninety-nine other Watchers, that they descend to Earth, permanently, and make wives for themselves of the humans below waiting for them. It was a dangerous enterprise, one that would draw the ultimate wrath of God himself; Samyaza would take personal responsibility if they were uncovered. But the one hundred and ninety-nine drew a pact together – they would not let their leader sacrifice himself alone.

And so a covenant was reached – each Watcher was bound to himself, his kin and to Samyaza. Together, they descended to Earth, and in so doing became the Fallen Ones. Others called them Demons. Each took a human woman as his wife. And they procreated. Their off spring, a hybrid race of demon and human, were known as Giants.

But the Giants were a blasphemy. Nothing has ever existed that was more malevolent. They were a union that was supposed to be forbidden in every sense. Soon, God’s greatest creation had become corrupted, ravaged and ruined. When the Giants began to outnumber the purebloods, they turned upon their cousins – devouring them like the monsters they really were. From his demonic castle in the clouds, Satan observed the chaos below with gleeful eyes, knowing that his tenure became safer with the death of every pureblood. He knew about the prophecy; the Bible told of it. Th e one to overthrow him will be a man. Well that can’t happen if there are no men left, can it . . .

In retaliation, God sent a flood to cover the Earth, and destroy all living things, including the blasphemous demon hybrids. But in order to preserve the purebloods, God saved Noah and his family. Noah, who was perfect in his generations. The purest of pure, whose lineage was untouched by the demons. The Earth’s last hope.

But Satan was not done yet.

Janus was the son of a farmer; honest and hardworking. The kind of man who would have lived and died in total obscurity, ploughing the oil seed fields or tending to cattle in the arid wilderness of southern Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq. That is, were it not for one fateful day.

On that day, Janus was sent by his father to recover a lost sheep, a journey which took him across the unforgiving wastelands for two days. Starving and dying of thirst, Janus was about to give up on his pursuit when he tripped and fell, a sharp pain rippling up his leg. When he looked up, he saw he had been bitten by a snake; a creature with deep crimson scales, the colour of the Arabian sunset. The same copperhead serpent that curled artfully around the Tree of Life, and who lured Eve into sin. This was God’s partisan, the wicked Samyaza.

Afraid, Janus was about to strike out with his crook, when, just as the serpent of the Garden of Eden had, the snake spoke to him, warning Janus of the forthcoming deluge. The snake advised Janus that there was no hope for his father and mother but that he, Janus, might survive if he were to stowaway on the Ark built by Noah, which was then nothing more than a wooden carcass, a giant timber skeleton jutting out of the desert.

Then the snake writhed away, and where it slithered, crops grew and water flowed. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Janus set off to find the Ark. When he did, he disguised himself as one of the labourers, but whereas those men hired by Noah to unwittingly build his vessel of survival went about blindly following Noah’s directions, Janus constructed a small, secret room below deck where he stayed until the Ark was complete.

There he remained, as the rain lashed and the wind hurled the Ark around for forty days and forty nights until the highest mountains were covered with black water and all life on Earth was extinguished, save for Noah, his family, the animals aboard the Ark and their stowaway.

When the clouds parted, and the rain relented, Janus picked his moment and crawled away, the demon bloodline pulsing through his veins.

Above him, Satan smiled. His plan had worked. It would not be long before Janus spread his demonic seed. Soon, the age of the demon would be born again.

Why the biblical story of the flood is weird on a whole other level

When it comes to religion, there’s one thing that we can all agree on, and that’s that no one can agree on anything.

Not even the data. I recently read two articles in a popular mainstream newspaper less than a year apart. The first article declared that “faith is becoming more and more popular”. The second purported to chart religion’s “continued decline”.

Both articles were peppered with carefully selected statistics and bold statements about their meaning.

Atheism may or may not be on the rise, depending on whose survey you read this week, but one thing is for sure: there are some very strange things going on in the Bible. From talking donkeys (Numbers 22:28-30) to bans on people with crushed testicles from being Christian (Deuteronomy 23:1), there is an awful lot to worry about.

It turns out that one of the strangest is also one of the most well-known.

The story of the Flood can be summarised roughly as follows: God looked upon the Earth and decided that it was permeated with evil and vice. Thus, He destroyed all living things with a deluge; all except of course for Noah and his family.

It is an early example of indiscriminate genocide.

There is, however, a part of the Flood narrative that is less well known. This is the story of a band of angels who fell from grace to fornicate with human women thereby producing a race of hybrid offspring known as ‘giants’.

It’s there: written in the Book of Genesis, hiding in plain sight, although, generally, it is omitted from the Sunday School account of Noah and the Ark.

~

To understand what’s going on here, it’s helpful to bear in mind that the Bible is not a comprehensive, flowing story. It is a collection of vaguely connected material written by multiple authors across a timespan of up to a full millennium. It is therefore not difficult to find inconsistencies in the chronicle.

Moreover, the stories in the Bible, especially those of the Old Testament, may be supplemented by other scriptures that aren’t deemed part of the canon.

In the case of the Flood, the true story cannot reasonably be understood without consideration of the Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish work ascribed to the prophet Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. The Book of Enoch is not considered part of the Christian Bible.

Enoch tells the story of the Watchers, a band of rebellious angels led by Samyaza who decided one day to visit Earth and take female humans as their wives (whether this is a story of divine love or mass rape is open to interpretation).

The union between the Watchers and such women, who were either blessed or the victims of preternatural sexual abuse depending on your viewpoint, produced a race of half-angel / half-human hybrids called the Nephilim.

This story might have been confined to the annals of obscure Jewish history, were it not for the fact that the Nephilim are referred to directly in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 6:4). The King James version of the bible uses the word ‘giants’, which is the Hebrew translation of the word Nephilim.

Enoch then has the giants running riot, ‘devouring mankind’ and sinning ‘against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish’ while ‘devouring flesh’ and ‘drinking blood’ (Enoch Ch VII 1-6). This has led some to speculate that the hybrids might have ultimately become demons.

It begs the question: did God instigate the flood to rid the world of evil created by man, or to destroy the giants?

~

There may be some clues in the text, such as that describing the basis of God’s decision to burden Noah with the unenviable task of survival after the extinction of ‘every living thing’.

The orthodox explanation is that Noah was about the only decent soul around, the only one trustworthy enough to restart the human race after the deluge. He was a good-egg, immune from the unmitigated evil to which just about everybody else was seemingly predisposed.

That’s not quite accurate though. The actual text puts it slightly differently. Noah was chosen because he was ‘perfect in his generations’ (Genesis 6:9).

Was this a reference to Noah’s flawless character and devotion to God, or to his bloodline? Perhaps the point is that Noah’s ancestry was pure, untainted by demon DNA.

~

Whatever the truth of God’s intentions, all accounts seem to indicate that the plan (if that was the plan) failed. The giants are still around. The Bible is very clear on this (Genesis 6:4; Numbers 13:33).

Perhaps even Goliath, the Philistine behemoth slain by David, was a giant (incidentally, David’s slingshot was just about the deadliest weapon available at the time, and Goliath may have suffered from a disorder known as acromegaly, meaning he probably couldn’t see straight. Why David remains the underdog in this tale is beyond me. But I digress).

We must acknowledge that there are competing interpretations of all of this. Perhaps there were two races of giants, one pre-flood and one post-flood. Perhaps the giants were wiped out, but reintroduced by incubuses (demons that have sex with or rape women). Perhaps Noah’s son Ham was wicked, and his wife was a Pagan bearing the giants’ seed.

The latter explanation has some credence to it. Genesis gives an account of a rather strange incident wherein Noah plants a vineyard (Genesis 9:20). Pleased with himself, Noah takes to drinking an awful lot, leading to him falling asleep in a tent in a drunken stupor. During this period of incapacitation, Ham apparently sodomises him.

Even more curiously, Noah decides not to punish Ham for this act of gross indecency directly, but instead punishes (by way of a curse) Ham’s son, Canaan.

Whatever the explanation, the fate of the giants is left distressingly unresolved.

~

Given how the Bible was put together, perhaps this isn’t surprising.

The Old Testament once existed without a flood story. The account was added later by Jewish priests putting their own spin on the Sumerian / Akkadian / Babylonian cast of the same event. These additions and changes, introduced over centuries, constantly interrupted and disrupted the fluidity of the overall narrative.

Things were lost. The giants may well be part of that residue; their story was suddenly no longer relevant.

The debate about all of these matters rages on. Some people have pointed to a prophecy embroidered into the pages of Genesis: the one to overthrow Satan will be a man (Genesis 3:14-15). Perhaps it was Satan’s plan all along to contaminate the human bloodline with the divine seed of fallen angels so that there can be no pure man to overthrow him.

Perhaps the Biblical tale is just too convoluted, too confusing to make much sense of at all. It is ungraspable, like trying to catch fog in your hands.

~

None of this necessarily proves or disproves anything. All religions have an array of bewildering backstories. Many have flood narratives. Few have any cogent historical foundation. The lacuna between faith and evidence is staggeringly wide.

It’s easy to dismiss these stories as myth, the antiquated ramblings of an ancient sect. It’s easy to say that they have been misunderstood, misinterpreted by ignorant laymen who fail to grasp their deeper meaning. It’s easy to say that they have been taken out of context, ravished by flawed analysis and glossed over with misinformation. It’s easy to say that they shouldn’t be taken literally.

It’s easy to say that they’re just nonsense.

Perhaps all of these things are true to one degree or another. After all, what is proof, other than what we ourselves define it as? When it comes to matters of religion, just like metaphysics, we set our own bars.

There is a race of human-angels in the Bible; the same book that has codified the beliefs of billions of people throughout history. The same book that promotes misogyny, homophobia and a set of morals that seem utterly disconnected from a modern liberal social contract. The story of the giants isn’t proof of the Bible’s paucity when it comes to questions of credibility, but the lack of explanation does seem like an oversight when set against the vehemence with which certain Christian rhetoric is espoused, such as the insistence that God’s word is truth.

James Hazel is the author of False Prophet, out on the 19th September 2019 and published by Bonnier-Zaffre.

Many thanks to James for such an interesting guest post and allowing me to share an excerpt from False Prophet.

False Prophet by James Hazel was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 19th September 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

FalseProphet

about-the-author3

james hazel.jpgBefore turning his hand to writing, James Hazel was a lawyer in private practice specialising in corporate and commercial litigation and employment law.

He was an equity partner in a regional law firm and held a number of different department headships until he quit legal practice to pursue his dream of becoming an author.
He has a keen interest in criminology and a passion for crime thrillers, indie music and all things retro.

James lives on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds with his wife and three children.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Irony In The Soul: Nobody Listens Like The Dying by Pete Adams (@Peteadams8) #IronyInTheSoul #KindHeartsandMartinets @cobaltdinosaur @NextChapterPB #damppebbles

Irony in the Soul.jpeg“Recuperating from his past mission, disturbed but driven D.I. Jack Austin returns to work amid a personality clash with a retired colonel – who happens to be his new Chief Constable.

When the Constable is kidnapped – and returned in pieces – DI Austin’s hapless hunt for the culprit begins. He investigates a string of cryptic murders including a beheaded minister, a drowned woman in a Hijab, and a band of terrorists with explosives.

Meanwhile, Austin battles a grievous inner conflict. Will he thwart the perpetrator, or become a conspirator himself?”

Hello again. Emma has allowed me to return to share my thoughts on the second book in Pete Adams’ Kind Hearts and Martinets series, Irony In The Soul.  If you missed my review of book one, Cause and Effect, then you missed an introduction to our main character DI Jack Austin (a.k.a Jane), Amanda (a.k.a Mandy) and the motley crew of Plymouth Community Policing.

To say that Jack is more than meets the eye is an understatement, whether you are after empathy, violence, insight or intuition then Jack is your contradiction of a hero. Irony In The Soul can be picked up without having first read Cause and Effect but I would suggest starting at the beginning and taking the time to get to know Jane and the crew as things are about to get a lot bigger!

The second book in the series starts with religious hatred being stirred up in Plymouth’s tolerant and law-abiding suburbs.  Within a few chapters, the feeling that malevolent forces are at work is growing and you wonder if Jane is looking at a personal vendetta or events larger than anyone at Community Policing can foresee.

Beyond the investigation is the author’s development of the personal relationships within the team, and the blossoming relationship between Jane and Amanda which started in book one, Cause and Effect.  The author spends a lot of time building this relationship, providing a more rounded picture of Jack and giving the reader more of an insight into his back story.

The rest of the Community Policing group are also becoming fuller characters. Be it the ‘mumsy’ Jo-Jums or even bit-part players like Spotty the Media Officer. Even the disliked senior officer is growing in character before he is kidnapped and partially returned (don’t worry – this is not as gruesome as it sounds!)  The team work quickly, with help from everyone from the local gangsters to the secret service, to understand the scale of threat they are looking at and avert disasters whilst trying to find their boss.

The villain of the piece ‘Moriaty/Norafarty or any other such sound-alike that pleases you’ is an intriguing character.  Whether they are in for idealism, money or personal gain is not fully understood in this book and you can feel that the next book will bring further developments.

The ending of the book comes quickly if you read it as avidly as I did – easy to pick up – hard to put down!  But I warn you, there are strings left deliberately and tantalisingly hanging for book three, A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza: In Dead Flat Major.  Pete Adams has created a brilliant cast of characters whose personalities and beliefs are coming to the fore in this book.  His plotting is strong and the storyline is worrying believable bringing in media, technology and larger powers.  Another worthwhile and enjoyable read from this author. Just don’t blame me if you have to invest in book three too!

Ryan received a free eARC of Irony In The Soul.  The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Irony In The Soul by Pete Adams was published in the UK by Next Chapter Publishing on 14th July 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comBook DepositoryGoodreads |

Irony in the Soul banner.png

about-the-author3

pete adamsPete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Endgame by Daniel Cole @TrapezeBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #Ragdoll #EndgameBook #damppebbles

endgame.jpg

A locked room. A dead body. A secret that went to the grave.

When retired police officer Finlay Shaw is found dead in a locked room, everyone thinks it’s suicide. But disgraced detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes isn’t so sure.

Together with his former partner Detective Emily Baxter and private detective Edmunds, Wolf’s team begin to dig into Shaw’s early days on the beat. Was Shaw as innocent as he seemed? Or is there more to his past than he’d ever let on?

But not everyone wants Wolf back – and as his investigation draws him ever deeper into police corruption, it will not only be his career on the line – but the lives of those he holds closest as well…

The explosive new thriller from the Sunday Times and international bestseller, perfect for fans of Fiona Cummins and Helen Fields.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I am absolutely delighted to be one of two blogs kicking off the Endgame blog tour today. Endgame is the third and final book in the Ragdoll Trilogy written by Daniel Cole and will be published by Trapeze Books in hardcover, audio and ebook formats later this week on 5th September (with the paperback to follow in January 2020). I received a free eARC of Endgame from NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of this author’s books. I really liked Ragdoll. I LOVED the second book, Hangman. And knowing this was a trilogy I was very keen to read book three. But also a little nervous too. What if it wasn’t as good as the first two books? What if a series I felt quite invested in didn’t deliver? What if it wasn’t all rounded-off perfectly and I was left feeling completely let down and dissatisfied? No pressure there then 😬! Excited but apprehensive. I needn’t have worried, this is an absolute blinder of a book and I loved it.

The first thing I must say is I can’t quite see this book working unless you have read the first and second books in the trilogy. There is a lot going on and an awful lot of history here which the author alludes to but doesn’t really go into any detail about. This is an exceptionally good set of books though so you’d be daft to not want to start at book one and see the journey with Wolf, Emily Baxter, Edmunds and the team through to the very end.

When the team’s loved and respected colleague, DS Finlay Shaw, is found in a locked room having allegedly committed suicide the team are devastated. Despite being one of London’s ‘most wanted’, Wolf makes an emotional return to grieve the loss of his friend and mentor…only to be arrested! But Wolf’s gift of the gab and his promise to dish the dirt on a notorious international criminal means he’s permitted to join the investigation into Shaw’s death, but with certain caveats in place (a curfew for example, which involves spending every night under lock and key at the local police station). Because the people who knew and loved Finlay Shaw the most don’t think he would have killed himself. But will the team’s digging into Shaw’s past lead them to discover something they’d rather not know…

I loved this book, I think I’ve said that before. But it’s true so it bears repeating. It’s a fitting end to a wonderful trilogy of books and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to these characters (but who knows what the future holds). I’ll be honest here, I wasn’t all that sure about Wolf and Emily after reading the first book. But oh my gosh, how my opinion has changed. The banter and familiarity between all the team (including ‘Lab Guy’) is just wonderful and really drew me into the story. The dark humour made me laugh out loud at points and at other points I found myself holding my breath.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But as I mentioned, it’s probably better to start with book one and make your way through the series in order. It’s a wonderful conclusion to a brilliant trilogy and no matter what Daniel Cole writes next, I will be making a point of reading it. I probably would have preferred a slightly ‘less perfect’ ending, something to appeal to my darker side, but that’s just me. Other readers will find the ending fitting and it finishes our time with these characters off nicely. A real page-turner of a novel with lots of really clever, laugh out loud moments. Highly recommended.

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

Endgame by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

ENDGAME Blog Tour Asset.png

about-the-author3

daniel-cole

Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer, and most recently for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Ragdoll is his first novel. He lives in Bournemouth, England.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City by Pete Adams (@Peteadams8) #CauseandEffect #KindHeartsandMartinets @cobaltdinosaur @NextChapterPB #damppebbles

Cause and Effect cover“A self-labelled enigma, Detective Inspector Jack Austin is at once miserable and amusing, melancholy and motivated. Running the Community Police Unit from his deck chair, D.I. Austin is known for his ability to solve crimes out of the blue.

Trying to work cases while struggling with his mental issues, Austin deals with a variety of major crimes, including bicycle theft. But when the case of an executed police officer lands on his desk, he accidentally uncovers a malevolent scheme.

Can he discover who is behind it all – and keep what’s left of his sanity?”

It’s the weekend! Happy Saturday and welcome to damppebbles. I’m only popping in briefly to hand over to my trusty sidekick (he’s going to kill me for saying that 😂), my husband and guest reviewer, Ryan.  Ryan is reviewing the first book in Pete Adams’ Kind Hearts and Martinets series, Cause and EffectCause and Effect was published in paperback and ebook formats by Next Chapter Publishing on 28th June 2019 and Ryan received an eARC which has not influenced his review.

Over to Ryan…

How do you describe Detective Inspector Jack Austin?  Well, I should certainly start by calling him ‘Jane’ as everyone else at his station does.  To use his own words, which he muddles often, he’s a “riddle wrapped up in an enema”.  An aging detective who seems to attract the odd crisis whilst nicknaming almost everyone he meets, solving crimes and getting his words wrong as frequently as possible.

If you don’t like word play, (or sometimes just the wrong darn word!) then I will suggest now that you may not get on with this book. Jane’s use of language is somewhat unique but as the book progresses you soon become used to his turns of phrase.  Stick with it, it’s worth it.  The story from Pete Adams is well put together with multiple strands, criminal and personal playing out at a good pace throughout the book.  Supported by Mands (a.k.a. Mandy Pumps, Mandy Lifeboats, Amanda) , Jo-Jums, Nobby and KFC (no, not the chicken place – don’t ask – you’ll find out when you read it!) DI Jane sets out to solve a case that keeps growing. From stolen bicycles and assault, the story grows and ends up with major criminal rings.  All whilst Jane fights with the English Language and top brass.

The story is strong and I kept picking up my kindle to sneak another chapter in whenever I could.  I have already moved onto book two, Irony in the Soul: Nobody Listens Like the Dying, to find out where the story leads.  The ending is clever revealing threads that had been hinted at.  I must admit in the first chapter I was a little confused by the fact everyone had at least two names (real name and ‘Jane given name’) but this added to the human side of the story and gave insight into the way Jack felt about his team.  Jack is liked by most of the characters in the book, leading the reader to warm to him.  Although there are times when his maverick approach does seem out of kilter with the sleepy suburbs of Portsmouth.

Would I recommend the book?  I would. I can imagine some readers will find the first couple of chapters tricky but the team which emerges as the book progresses makes it worthwhile.  Pete Adams has introduced me to characters I like and I enjoyed spending time with them. Book two, which as I mentioned I’m currently reading, is also getting interesting but more about that next month…

Ryan chose to read and review an eARC of Cause and Effect. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City by Pete Adams was published in the UK by Next Chapter Publishing on 28th June 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comBook DepositoryGoodreads |

CAUSE AND EFFECT BLOG TOUR.png

about-the-author3

pete adams.jpgPete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

Author Links:TwitterFacebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead Inside by Noelle Holten @KillerReads #DeadInside #damppebbles

46902123_2290495507850861_1185184031919046656_nThe killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Dead Inside blog tour.  Dead Inside is one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2019.  Partly due to the fact the blurb sounds brilliant and partly due to the fact that the author is the fabulous Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie.  I received a free eARC of Dead Inside via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

Dead Inside is the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series set in Staffordshire, and Noelle Holten’s debut.  From the harrowing prologue to the books big reveal, I was on the edge of my seat.  What shines from the pages is the author’s knowledge of her subject matter having worked as a senior probation officer for many years.  I’m guessing that Noelle has probably seen it all!  I also found the probation aspects of the storyline absolutely fascinating as I can’t bring to mind another crime novel that focusses so strongly on this particular part of the criminal justice system.

Following a particularly difficult case involving the apprehension of a serial killer, DC Maggie Jamieson is temporarily transferred to the new Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit (DAHU).  Not long into her first shift she and her colleagues are called to investigate a murder.  The victim is a known offender with a history of violence towards his partners.  The attack seems personal and all avenues need to be investigated so PC Mark Fielding gets in touch with probation officer, Lucy Sherwood.  As the story progressed I found myself focussing less on the police team and more on Lucy.  Lucy lives a double life.  By day she’s a kick-ass probation officer staring down the most hardened criminals.  By night she returns home to her vile, abusive husband who torments her physically and emotionally.  My heart broke for the character.  Trapped because she had convinced herself that staying in the relationship would be the best thing for her husband’s young daughter.  This may be the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series but Maggie isn’t in the spotlight here.  It’s all about Lucy, just as it should be.

The other characters in the book are a good mix of people you warm to and people you instantly loathe (it’s really not hard to loathe the abusers in this book!).  I did struggle a little at times with the characters names as the author has used the names of several book bloggers, people I know in ‘real life’.  I found it difficult to picture the character without seeing the ‘real life’ person.  Holten isn’t the first person to do this – it happens a lot – but the number of names used is far greater in Dead Inside.  I felt I had to try a little harder to visualise someone different in my mind.

The big reveal was a complete shock and one I really didn’t expect.  But I loved it!  It felt so satisfying.  The way the situation was also dealt with by the characters involved was also brilliant.  I loved the total lack of shame or reproach – wonderful stuff!  I was able to guess where another of the big storylines was going but I thoroughly enjoyed the way it played out and knowing what was coming didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  It’s a great start to what promises to be an exciting new series written by an exciting new talent in crime fiction.  The ending of Dead Inside is set up beautifully for book two in the series and I’m already very intrigued.  I can’t wait to get my mitts on a copy.  A compelling read with some fascinating characters at its heart.  Emotional, raw and a complete page-turner.  Recommended.

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

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 31st May 2019 and is available in eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in August (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

#DeadInside B L O G T O U R

about-the-author3

screenshot-2018-12-03-at-13-14-311Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Author Links: FacebookTwitterBlogInstagram |

 

 

20 Books of Summer Challenge 2019 #20BooksofSummer2019 #amreading #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer2019

Call me a glutton for punishment but after my complete failure to get anywhere near completing Cathy’s #20BooksofSummer challenge (check out her BRILLIANT blog at 746 Books) last year I’m going to take the plunge and try again this Summer. But, having realised that compared to many bloggers I am a slow reader, and having realised that for 6 of the 13 weeks I have two small people running about the house screaming for my undivided attention, maybe 20 books in 13 weeks was a bit of a big ask. Fifteen books, however, feels a little more manageable. So this year I will be aiming to read 15 glorious books over the Summer months.

If you have a superbly good memory then you may recognise some of the following titles from my 2018 challenge (still not read a year on *book blogger guilt!*). It was a joy to choose my 15 books and I could have easily picked more but rules is rules! I’ve chosen 5 physical books and the rest have been sitting on my NetGalley for aeons gathering dust. I have a plan though. Read the physical copies first as they will be easier when the kids aren’t at home all the time and then move onto the ebook copies for the Summer Holidays. I have put some thought into this despite how it looks, lol!

Halcyon by Rio Youners
Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan
Scrublands by Chris Hammer
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Yesterday by Felicia Yap
Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear
Halfway by B.E. Jones

The Proposal by S.E. Lynes
The Mayfly by James Hazel
The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore

So there we have it! My fifteen beautiful books in all of their shimmery, shining glory. Have you read any of them? Which ones did you love? Are you taking part in the challenge this year? I’d love to see your books so please feel free to leave a link to your challenge post in the comments!

I think they’re a good mix of dark, dark and a bit more dark which should suit me down to the ground, lol! At the time of writing this post, I have absolutely no reading commitments whatsoever for the remainder of the year so I ‘should’ in theory be able to do this (in theory…..).

If you would like to join in with the challenge too then there’s still plenty of time as we don’t kick off until 3rd June. Go on, give it a try. How hard can it be, right…? 😉

Wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side!

15 books of summer

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #YourDeepestFear #damppebbles

Your Deepest Fear

“‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband.

As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife. Taking the investigation into her own hands, Sara is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected.

For Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted ways imaginable . . .”

The warmest of welcomes to the blog today and to my stop on the Your Deepest Fear blog tour which is also publication day! Wishing David Jackson and the Zaffre team the happiest of publication days. Your Deepest Fear is available to purchase in hardcover and eBook today! I received a free eARC of the book but that has in no way influenced my review.

If you’re new to damppebbles then there is one thing you should know. I LOVE (LOVE, LOVE!) the DS Nathan Cody series from David Jackson. It’s one of my two absolute favourite, must read, OMG there’s a new book coming out – put life on hold, series. I have been a huge fan of Cody and Jackson’s brilliant writing, since the first book. You can check out my reviews of the first three here: A Tapping at My Door, Hope to Die and Don’t Make a Sound.

I’ve given every single book in this series five out of five stars so far, so that’s a lot of pressure on Your Deepest Fear. I won’t keep you in suspense; this is another blinder of a novel which I devoured. And, of course, another cracking five-star read. You just can’t go wrong with the DS Cody series.

I love the relationship between DS Cody and his DC, Megan Webley. The plots Jackson selects for his books are always exciting and total page-turners, but his characters (and I’m including the supporting characters here too) are absolutely outstanding. They live and breathe in my head as Jackson paints the scene for me. Cody and Webley are my absolute favourite fictional crime-fighting duo – without a doubt.

The pair have been through a lot together (including being a couple at one point) and the chemistry between them really adds to the books. I did miss Megan a little in Your Deepest Fear. She was very much present and part of the main storyline but the focus of the novel meant that the interaction between the two wasn’t at the forefront of the story. Flipping heck, this one was Cody’s battle and oh boy, he fought it alone.

And what a battle it was! If you’re new to this series then Your Deepest Fear can be read as a standalone as Jackson provides enough background that new readers should have a good idea of what has gone before. But by coming straight in at book four you will be missing out. Do yourself a favour and just purchase all four books in the series in one hit (it must be payday soon, right?). You can thank me later 😉.  Anyway, I digress.  Cody has a battalion of evil little demons which have been gnawing away at his mental health and hanging over him like a rather unwelcome storm cloud since book one.  I feel Your Deepest Fear is the book readers of this series have been waiting for a while now as Cody is put into some pretty frightening situations and has to face up to the fact that his life will never be the same again.  He also to make some pretty horrific decisions so we get to see the kind of man he really is. I was on the edge of my seat throughout and read with trepidation.  I had everything crossed that Cody would come out of the end of this book in one piece.  Does he? Well, you’ll have to find that out for yourself.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, and all of the other books in the series as well.  If you’re a crime fiction fan then you need these books in your life.  This is another gripping addition to a thoroughly enjoyable, top-notch series.  I would even go as far as saying this is the best book in the series (despite the lack of Megan Webley).  Highly, highly recommended.

I chose to read and review Your Deepest Fear.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 16th May 2019 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (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.comBookDepositoryWaterstonesGoodreads |

David Jackson Blogtour Poster 2

about-the-author3

david jacksonI was a latecomer to fiction writing, having spent most of my adult life producing academic papers and reports. After some limited success entering short story competitions, I submitted the first few chapters of a novel to the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. To my great surprise, the book was not only short-listed but given the Highly Commended accolade, which stimulated the interest of agents and publishers and eventually led to the publication of PARIAH. Since then, I have written several more crime thrillers, the most recent of which are set in my birth city of Liverpool. I still have a day job in Liverpool as a university academic, but now live on the Wirral with my wife, two daughters and a British Shorthair cat called Mr Tumnus.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: You Die Next by Stephanie Marland @TrapezeBooks #YouDieNext #damppebbles

you die next.jpg“A group of urban explorers stumble into a murderer’s kill room in a derelict film studio. Terrified, they run, thinking they are safe. Then a message appears on their video channel: Who dies next?

As DI Dominic Bell and his team investigate the series of murders in hidden locations across London, they fail to find the connection between the victims. The only person who can help is Clementine Starke, an academic researching adult thrillseekers. However, Clementine is haunted by dark and violent obsessions, including her former relationship with DI Dominic Bell.

As the body count rises, Clementine Starke and DI Dominic Bell form an uneasy alliance to hunt the killer. But as they close in on their prey, and things turn personal, Clementine has to decide which side of the law she’s really on.

A cat-and-mouse thriller for fans of Mark Billingham, Sarah Hilary and Rachel Abbott that unfolds in a number of terrifying hidden locations across London. Readers who enjoyed Thomas Harris’s Hannibal series will be thrilled by the deadly relationship between DI Dominic Bell and Clementine Starke.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the You Die Next blog tour.  You Die Next is the second book in the Starke and Bell series written by a favourite author of mine, Stephanie Marland (also known as Steph Broadribb). You Die Next was published by Trapeze Books earlier this month in eBook, audiobook and paperback formats.  I received an eARC copy of You Die Next which has in no way influenced this review.

I am a huge fan of this author’s writing no matter what guise it takes.  Be it home-grown amateur sleuth, Clementine Starke, and her favourite obsession, DI Dominic Bell.  Or whether it’s a trip stateside with kick-ass bounty hunter, Lori Anderson.  Stephanie Marland knows how to tell a story and I, for one, enjoy reading them.  Here’s my review of the first book in the Starke and Bell series, My Little Eye, to prove it.  When I discovered that book two in the Starke and Bell series was imminent, I knew I had to get a copy.

And I’m so very glad I did.  I have to be honest, I think I preferred the second outing of this intriguing duo a touch more than the first.  Both Dominic Bell and Clementine Starke are fascinating characters and I cannot wait to see where Marland takes them.  From book one to book two they’ve taken a step (or rather Clementine has!) towards the dark side and I love that!  That’s what I want from a series of crime novels – something a little different, something that’s going to make me sit up and take note.  There’s so much potential here, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

The plot focuses on a group of urban explorers who one day stumble upon a grisly murder scene.  Being in the act of breaking the law themselves they fail to notify the police but the guilt eats away at some of them.  Then subtle yet threatening messages start appearing on their video feeds.  The plot was interesting and kept me gripped throughout. I loved the set-up of the murders and the way individuals within the group were picked off one by one.  The reveal of whodunit was a complete surprise and I spent a lot of my time whilst reading coming up with motives and suspects.  I was wrong…a lot!

Would I recommend this book? I would, definitely.  However, I’ve read both books in this series and I’m not sure if You Die Next works as a standalone.  By going straight to book two you will miss a lot of background information about Clementine and Dominic so I would recommend you start with My Little Eye first and then move onto You Die Next.  Stephanie Marland is a must read author for me and this is a must read series.  I can’t wait for book three to be published.

You Die Next by Stephanie Marland was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 4th April 2019 and is available in paperback, audio 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.comWaterstonesGoodreads |

You Die Next price blog tour

about-the-author3

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

Author Links: | Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour┃#BookReview: The Lost Man by Jane Harper (@LittleBrownUK) #TheLostManIsComing

the lost man.jpg“‘He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.’

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…”

Happy Monday! I am delighted to welcome you to my first ‘actual’ book review of the year and my first blog tour post of 2019 which is for The Lost Man by Jane Harper.  I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher but that has in no way influenced my review.  I am a huge fan of Harper’s writing having loved her previous novels, the epic The Dry and the superb Force of Nature.  This latest book, however, is a standalone and not part of the brilliant Aaron Falk series so if you’ve not picked up one of Jane Harper’s books before now is the time to start!

When Jane Harper has a new book coming out you can guarantee it will be one of my most eagerly anticipated reads of the year.  Full stop.  If Jane Harper writes something then oh boy, do I want to read it!  The Lost Man is a brilliant addition to her repertoire but one I found quite different from her previous works.  One thing I will say is that in every Harper novel I have read you can guarantee that the landscape; that desolate isolation, the unpredictability of the Australian Outback plays as much a part of the story as the lead characters do.  I think it’s something us Brits tend to struggle to get our heads around.  Exactly how much open space there is, how far you have to travel to see another human being and how totally alone you can feel.  Harper writes these scenarios with such aplomb and so vividly that I found myself totally immersed in the picture she was painting for us readers.

The Lost Man is about the Bright family, an isolated family of cattle farmers.  You can’t help but like Nathan, the eldest of the three Bright brothers.  Early on you discover that he has done something so catastrophic that the entire town has turned their backs on him.  What exactly that is you don’t discover until later in the story but for a community so dependent on each other and so isolated you can guarantee it’s no small thing.  Despite discovering what terrible thing Nathan did, my like of the character did not waiver.  He comes across as a struggling, part-time, single parent who regrets past decisions he made but most of all he comes across as very lonely.  Tidbits of information fall into the reader’s lap as the story progresses and things gradually start to crystalise.  Before long Nathan realises that not everything is as it seems…

Would I recommend this book? I would. This was a slow burn of a read for me that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a well-written story.  The setting and the characters combine to make a suspenseful tale about the Bright family and the secrets they hide within their familial bubble.  I had my suspicions about what had happened to Cameron, the deceased middle brother, but it was interesting to watch the story unfold and have my suspicions confirmed.  Harper throws in some wonderful red herrings to keep her readers on their toes and I had several moments of doubt before the perpetrator was uncovered.  You can’t go wrong with a Jane Harper novel and if you haven’t read one of her books before then please do yourself a favour and grab a copy.

I read and reviewed an eARC of The Lost Man by Jane Harper.  The above is my own unbiased opinion.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper was published by Little,Brown on 7th February and is available in hardback, 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.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads

1.png

about-the-author3

jane harperJane Harper is the internationally bestselling author of The Dry and Force of Nature. Her third book, The Lost Man, was released in October 2018.

Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year.

Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.

Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads |

Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BookReview: The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (@MWCravenUK) @LittleBrownUK #ThePuppetShow #WashingtonPoe

the puppet show“A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless. When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of . . .

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …”

Hello you! It’s me. I’m alive! I know you haven’t heard from me in a while but I’m back… Well, ‘sort of’ back. I ‘intend’ to be back providing I can find the right words as I have to confess that I have been struggling to write reviews of late.  I’m still reading, still enjoying books but putting my thoughts together into a coherent post has been…difficult.

Anyway, I digress.  The absolutely phenomenal The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven was released in paperback yesterday and I couldn’t let the moment pass without posting my review once more (the words came easily for this one, believe me!).  So, without further ado, here is my review of The Puppet Show from June last year.

A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a book called Body Breaker written by Mike Craven (that’s Mike Craven as in M.W. Craven, if you were wondering what odd tangent I was meandering off at!), and it was an absolute joy to read from start to finish. I pretty much fell in love with Craven’s protagonist, DI Avison Fluke. Then I heard Mike was about to release a new book called The Puppet Show, featuring a brand new detective with a brand new publisher. Now I openly admit, I was intrigued. After all, what crime fiction fan wouldn’t be? Particularly when I heard the main character of The Puppet Show is called Washington Poe (what a name! Where does this author get inspiration from for his character’s names? He appears to err on the unusual which is a rather splendid thing IMHO). Then, as if by magic (I pressed a button on NetGalley) a copy of The Puppet Show arrived on my Kindle and the deal was sealed. Washington Poe and I were destined to meet…

And truth be told, I flipping love him as much as I love DI Fluke. Craven certainly knows how to write and develop a character to the point where they jump off the page at the reader. I was smitten from early on; particularly as we meet Poe after he has shunned modern life and is living with his loyal pet dog, Edgar, in a semi-converted shepherd’s croft in the middle of nowhere (for ‘nowhere’ read Cumbria or the Lake District! Please don’t hurt me Cumbrians, it does sound pretty vast, lonely and desolate from Craven’s illustrative descriptions and I’ve never visited 😉). Suspended from work following his last (bodged) case and awaiting the result of an internal investigation and an IPCC inquiry, Poe has pretty much decided that his past is very much behind him and that his future lies in Herdwick Croft with Edgar, and the sheep. But that was before Cumbria’s latest serial killer, The Immolation Man made matters personal. Whether he wants to or not, Poe must return to the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) and to a case that could easily be the death of him.

I have a bit of a thing for serial killer novels. They’re my favourite, particularly if they are a smidge on the gory side as well (which this book is). I also thoroughly enjoy books which make you think the plot is heading one way and then totally flips things over and makes you gasp in surprise when you end up somewhere you didn’t expect (which again, this book did). Another thing I love is a cast of well-written, individual, stand out characters who all add something to the story (yup, that’s The Puppet Show). I loved this book.

As I’ve mentioned Washington Poe’s supporting cast it would be rude to ignore them. First and foremost, Tilly Bradshaw is a shining star and will appeal to nerds far and wide. Her intelligence and her awkwardness are a delight to read and I hope she makes future appearances with Poe as her sidekick! Beleaguered DI Stephanie Flynn is now her ex-bosses boss (!) which makes things somewhat tricky between her and Poe at times. He’s a little reckless and likes to follow the evidence anywhere, whereas Flynn likes to play by the book. I would LOVE to read a prequel to The Puppet Show and see the dynamic between the two of them before Poe was demoted from DI to DS and Flynn was promoted. Not dropping any hints here, Mike…

Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely. If you’re a fan of crime fiction, if you can stomach a drop of blood or a pool of melted human fat (OK, it is a little grisly in places and you may need a slightly stronger stomach than I’ve alluded to in this paragraph, but for me I loved the gruesome touches to this book. Plus the author provides a wealth of information about burns and the effect of fire on a human body) then you will enjoy this well-written, engrossing crime thriller. I struggled to put it down and I’m left wanting more Washington Poe and more Tilly Bradshaw. I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 24th January 2019 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 |

about-the-author3

16473225_743395339158440_999373164873613480_n (1)Although M.W. Craven was born in Cumbria in 1968, he grew up in the North East, going to the same school as Newcastle and England centre-forward, Alan Shearer, before running away to join the army. He believes, but has no proof, that his little sister moved into his bedroom before the train had even left the station. He trained for two years as an armourer (that’s gunsmith to you and I) before spending the next ten being paid to travel the world and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.

In 1995, sick of writing postcards and having fun, he decided it might be time to do something a bit more sensible. And it doesn’t get more sensible than doing a law degree. So he did Social Work instead. Two years later, as pimply-faced, naive social worker he started working in Cumbria as a probation officer. Sixteen years, and a few promotions, later he is still there, although as a crime writer, he now has different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

Mike’s first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and will be out on 11th June, published by Caffeine Nights. His collection of short stories featuring Fluke and his colleagues from the Cumbrian Force Major Incident Team, Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything, is out now.

In March 2017 Mike signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown for his new Washington Poe series. The first book, The Puppet Show, will be released in hardback under his new name, M .W. Craven, in June 2018.

In between joining the army and securing a publishing deal, Mike found time to have a pet crocodile, survive cancer, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He wanted to call him Gimli but was told to grow up. He lives in Carlisle where he tries to leave the house as little as possible and gets annoyed by people who say “it’s too cold to snow” and “watch that swan, its wings can break your arm”.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter |