#BookReview: The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler @CaneloCrime #TheLuckyEight #damppebbles

“When the plane crashed, 160 people perished. Now someone is killing off the survivors.

Five years ago, a horrific airline disaster made headlines around the world. On the anniversary of the fatal crash, a number of those who were spared gather to mark the occasion. By morning, Nick Gilbert, a celebrity chef and one of the party, lies dead. Detective Rachel Lewis leads the investigation and within days another survivor is stabbed to death. It seems certain that a killer is targeting the lucky eight.

Clodagh Kinsella recovered from the injuries she sustained in the crash, but lost her sister that day. The bereavement shared by Clodagh and her sister’s husband led them to a romance of their own. Yet lately, Clodagh knows something isn’t right. As the noose tightens on the group and Rachel comes across more questions than answers, it’s only a matter of time before Clodagh will have to face the consequences of a mistake she made before the plane went down…

A tense and gripping crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lesley Kara and Mari Hannah.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler. The Lucky Eight will be published in paperback and digital format by Canelo Crime on Thursday (that’s 22nd July 2021). I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Lucky Eight but that has in no way influenced my review.

I love disaster thrillers and mysteries, particularly those featuring a plane crash/disappearance/hijack. If you’re a regular visitor to damppebbles you may have noticed a teeny tiny increase in the number of books I’ve read recently featuring aircraft. I can’t help it, I love them! But what I’ve really enjoyed about all of these books is that they all take a slightly different approach. And that’s certainly the case with The Lucky Eight. Because, at heart, I’m a crime fiction nut and I adore police procedurals and mysteries. And that’s where The Lucky Eight absolutely shines.

Five years ago Air Euro Flight 975 crashed on landing at Gatwick airport killing all onboard except for eight ‘lucky’ survivors. Every year, on the anniversary of the crash, the survivors meet in remembrance of those they lost. But by the following morning, one of the group, a notorious celebrity chef, is dead. Detective Inspector Rachel Lewis of the Surrey and Suffolk Major Crime Team is tasked with investigating what happened to Nick Gilbert. Tensions run high amongst the group and Rachel has her work cut out. Before long, another of the survivors is found stabbed to death. The pressure is on. Can Rachel and her team discover who wants the lucky eight dead before it’s too late…

The Lucky Eight is a well-written crime thriller with an intriguing mystery at its heart. DI Rachel Lewis and DC Ade Benjamin are thrown into the deep end and have to pick apart a group which, although not the best of friends, have a strong bond and secrets they would prefer to keep. I found the character of Clodagh absolutely fascinating. Her sister, actress Vivienne Kinsella, died when the plane crashed. Clodagh, also on the plane at the time of the incident, has had memory problems ever since. She knows deep down that something happened, something she did contributed to the accident but her memory refuses to recall what it was.

I really liked DI Rachel Lewis but I loved her colleague, DC Ade Benjamin, who I felt had a bit more grit to her. Rachel, being the boss, does everything by the book. Whereas Ade felt a little less formal in her approach. I do hope this isn’t the last we see of these two characters as they make quite a formidable team and I would really like to spend some more time with them, Ade in particular. There were also plenty of characters to dislike including career obsessed Adam and creepy Simon.

Speaking of the characters, I felt a smidge confused at times because there are quite a few characters and they are all connected in different ways (lovers, ex-lovers, siblings). But as soon as I got into the rhythm of the book it all clicked into place, so I put full blame for the confusion on my own shoulders. I would also say it’s a little slow at the start as it felt like it took a while for the chef’s death to be confirmed as murder. But as soon as Rachel is made SIO, the investigation really picks up the pace.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I enjoyed The Lucky Eight and would happily read more by this author. It’s an intriguing mystery which had me glued to my Kindle. I did have an inkling as to who was behind the murders but the reasons why came as a complete surprise, and I loved that.  All in all, an entertaining read which I recommend.

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

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler was published in the UK by Canelo Crime on 22nd July 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Sheila BuglerI’m the author of the Ellen Kelly and Dee Doran crime novels. My first stand alone novel, The Lucky Eight, is published in July 2021.

I grew up in a small town in the west of Ireland. After studying Psychology at University College Galway, I left Ireland and worked in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, Argentina and London before finally settling in Eastbourne, where I now live with my husband, Sean, and our two children.

Crime Time FM: On the Sofa with Victoria @VictoriaSelman #OnTheSofaWithVictoria #CrimeTimeFM #damppebbles #Podcast

Hello bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles. Today I have something a little different to share with you which I am VERY excited about. As an avid podcast subscriber and a lover of all things crime fiction, I was delighted to hear that the fantastic Crime Time FM are adding another brilliant string to their bow in the form of a new panel show hosted by the fabulous, bestselling author Victoria Selman. Every fortnight, starting TODAY, Victoria will be chatting to household names in crime fiction, as well as rising stars in the genre. Joining Victoria today are two of my favourite authors, Alex North and Sarah Pinborough, so make sure you don’t miss it! Read on for more information…

This June, bestselling thriller author, Victoria Selman will be joining Crime Time FM to host, On the Sofa with Victoria – a new arrow in the quiver of the popular podcast currently presented by Barry Forshaw and Paul Burke.

Victoria’s show will bring audiences panel-style discussions between some of the most exciting names in contemporary crime fiction including Mark Billingham, Sarah Pinborough, CJ Tudor and Chris Whitaker- as well as emerging voices and rising stars such as Abigail Dean, Will Carver and Dominic Nolan.

Each fortnight, she’ll be chatting to authors and industry insiders about everything from serial killers to series fiction kicking off with an examination of supernatural crime crossovers with Sarah Pinborough and Alex North entitled, Anything Can Happen.

Victoria says: ‘I’m thrilled to be joining Barry and Paul on Crime Time FM and can’t wait to explore the huge breadth of themes within crime fiction alongside such an exciting array of guests.’

On the Sofa with Victoria will launch on 15th June. Crime Time FM currently features one on one author interviews with Paul Burke (In Person with Paul) and film and TV reviews with Barry Forshaw (Barry’s Blu-rays).

The trio of hosts will also be getting together on a regular basis for chats about book news, discussions of upcoming events and reviews.

Fancy a sneak peak of today’s episode, Anything Can Happen (Supernatural Crime Crossovers)? Of course you do…

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN- Sarah Pinborough (BEHIND HER EYES) & Alex North (THE WHISPER MAN) discuss supernatural crime crossovers, Scooby Doo and ‘that’ ending.

On the Easy Fix Charge
Sarah Pinborough: Supernatural crime crossovers have to have the rules and beats of a crime novel. You have to have the clues. You can’t just pull it out of the bag.

Sarah Pinborough: If you’re going to blend your genres, you have to decide which is the dominant genre.

Alex North: Just because a book has supernatural elements, that doesn’t mean anything goes. It just means it has a slightly different set of rules.

On the Evolution of the Crossover
Alex North: Serial killers are a stand-in for vampires.

Alex North: Scooby Doo was about unmasking the monster but there was always something rational going on.

On Alex’s Books
Sarah Pinborough: The supernatural in Alex’s books is like a splash of Tabasco in a Bloody Mary. It’s there to add a little bit of ‘extra’ but it’s not the vodka.

I cannot wait to listen to this new series on Crime Time FM and I hope you feel the same. Head on over to your favourite podcast outlet to download!

#BookReview: Dead Ground by M.W. Craven @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #DeadGround #WashingtonPoe #damppebbles

“Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Dead Ground by M.W. Craven. Dead Ground is the fourth book in the Washington Poe series, it’s published today (that’s Thursday 3rd June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Dead Ground but that has in no way influenced my review.

Flipping heck, another absolutely stonking book from the pen of M.W. Craven. He can do no wrong in my eyes! Dead Ground is the fourth book in the Washington Poe series (although we all know the series is unofficially called ‘Tilly and Poe’, right?) and it’s an intense and gripping page turner of a read. I devoured it’s 448 pages in a little over 24 hours because it was impossible to put down. If you’re a crime fiction fan and you haven’t picked this series up yet, then you need to correct that ASAP!

In the middle of fighting for his beloved shepherd’s croft, moments before the magistrate delivers his final decision, two mysterious men enter the court room and summon Tilly and Poe to their vehicle. Poe is reluctant to leave but powers far superior to those he normally answers to have made the call. It doesn’t take Poe long to work out who the men are and where they are taking them. But the ‘why’ remains unclear. Until they’re shown grisly crime scene photos of a man beaten to death inside a brothel. As Tilly and Poe begin to scratch the surface, nothing seems to make sense. Who was the victim and why are MI5 so interested in him? As they dig deeper, it’s clear the pair are uncovering something with far reaching and dangerous implications…

Dead Ground was an absolute joy to read! It’s twisty and thrilling and all the things I want in my crime fiction. I adore both Tilly and Poe. The dynamic between the two characters is just perfect. Craven has created two very different people who bring out the best in each other, and spending time with them is like being reunited with old friends. I loved the banter, the sense of friendship and loyalty, and how the author evokes such strong feelings of fondness for them in his readers. By far the best crime fighting duo out there (and I will fight you if you disagree 😂).

Tilly and Poe are once again in deep. Nothing is ever simple, nor easy for these two. But if you’ve got a complicated case which needs solving, I can’t think of two people I’d rather have working it!  The author has written an exciting and intense story with several seemingly unconnected threads which had me on the edge of my seat. The investigation is on an epic scale and I couldn’t help but wonder how the author was going to tie everything together at the conclusion of the book. But oh boy, does it all come together. And when you think it’s all solved, there might just be another fantastic, unexpected twist to add to the mix!

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. The entire series is magnificent and I heartily recommend you get your mitts on all four books. Dead Ground is a compulsive and irresistible addition to an outstanding series. I fall a little more in love with these characters with each book so I’m counting down the days until book five is released next year (fingers crossed!). Poe stands head and shoulders above his counterparts in the same genre, and with the help of the incredible Tilly, they are a force to be reckoned with. A must read for all crime fiction fans, do whatever it takes (within legal boundaries and reason, of course!) to get hold of a copy. I promise, you’ll be hooked before you know it! Highly recommended.

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

Dead Ground by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 3rd June 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in November (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

#BookReview: The Islanders by S.V. Leonard @CaneloCrime #TheIslanders #damppebbles

The Islanders coverHer dream escape is about to become a nightmare…

Kimberley King has spent the last five years trying to outrun the reason she left the police force. Her life is a mess and she’s desperate for change. So when she is randomly selected for the new series of the hit show LoveWrecked, she can’t pass up the chance to win the £100,000 prize. All Kimberley needs to do is couple up with one of her fellow contestants, win the infamous LoveWrecked challenges, and she will have enough cash for a fresh start.

But the island isn’t the paradise she was promised and within hours, one of the contestants is dead. Then the announcement comes: one of the islanders is a murderer and Kimberley must find out who, live on television. For every hour it takes her, one more person will die.

The game is rigged, everyone is hiding secrets, and time is running out…

An addictive and unputdownable crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lucy Foley and T.M. Logan.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of a cracking debut – The Islanders by S.V. Leonard. The Islanders was published by Canelo Crime in paperback and digital formats on 11th March 2021. I chose to read a free eARC of The Islanders but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh.My.Gosh! This book 😍. As soon as I laid eyes on The Islanders I knew I was going to read it, and read it soon. Sometimes, as a reader, you pick up a book and you feel it was written for you. That’s how I felt about this particular novel. I LOVE the premise. I’m a huge fan of a certain book by a certain legendary author and there are fabulous little nods here and there to that great piece of crime fiction. I’ve never watched Love Island though, which I believe is the other influence. Other lust infused dating shows, perhaps 😳. But not Love Island.

Kimberley King’s life has taken a downturn. Following an incident which continues to haunt her, she waved goodbye to the police force, her friends and colleagues, and started a new life as a barmaid. And now she’s been sacked for turning up late repeatedly. Everything is wrong, nothing is right. Until a talent scout from the hugely popular dating show LoveWrecked turns up out of the blue and asks her to take part in the latest series. It’s going to be LoveWrecked‘s greatest ever season after being absent for five long years. And the contestants will all be chosen at random to mix things up a little! Kimberley really needs the £100,000 prize so reluctantly agrees. Following the contestants’ arrival on the island paradise, after a night of heavy drinking, they awaken to find one of their number dead. It’s Kimberley’s job, as an ex-police officer, to find out who the killer is. But the clock is ticking. Failure to find the murderer will result in another islander being killed, every hour, on the hour, until Kimberley makes her denouement. It’s a race against time and the World is watching…

Marvellous stuff! This book didn’t need to try very hard to get me hooked. It was eminently readable, pulling me along for a rip roaring ride full of delightful reveals and cleverly placed shockers. OK, it may be a little far-fetched, but who the flip actually cares?! It was 100% entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kimberley King is a desperate women, yes, but the thought of spending the Summer on a secluded Greek island, sunning yourself, eating delicious food and drinking copious amounts of wine would certainly appeal to me at the moment as well. Not too sure about the ‘famous LoveWrecked challenges’ or the TV cameras following you everywhere you go though! Kim isn’t the most likeable character, and I wanted to give her a good shake at one point, but I did find myself rooting for her. The other characters are an interesting bunch. I got really excited at the start of the book as the reader is told there are twenty LoveWrecked contestants being lined up. Knowing what was to come, I was in my element – looking forward to what initially promised to be a bit of a blood bath (yes, I’m quite peculiar it seems!). But only five contestants actually make it to the island (and a couple of crew) before things start to go very, very wrong. Still, that probably makes the book more palatable for more normal readers and a lot more manageable.

I was completely smitten with the plot of The Islanders. Hook, line and sinker. It’s paced beautifully with something always going on to keep the intrigue levels high. I was also keen to see who would get the chop (quite literally) from the show next. Interestingly, my guess as to whodunit always seemed to be the next person to die! By the time I approached the end of the book, I was completely clueless. So when the reveal came, their identity was a surprise. However, the killer’s motivation was not.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Islanders is a fantastically written, very readable, totally engrossing debut which I devoured with glee. This book made my dark heart happy and that’s all you can ask really. It’s a compelling page-turner which hooks the reader in with ease and keeps you transfixed from start to finish. Recommended.

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

The Islanders by S.V. Leonard was published in the UK by Canelo Crime on 11th March 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesFoylesGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

about-the-author3

SV LeonardS.V. Leonard grew up in the little coastal town of Formby, a suburb of Liverpool. She studied Classics at Oxford University and has been lucky enough to live in Australia, Poland, and Malaysia. She is now based in London. When not writing, she can be found breaking out of escape rooms; doing historical walking tours of London; or drinking wine.

#BookReview: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse @1stMondayCrime #TheSanatorium #damppebbles #FirstMondayCrime

EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

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

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

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

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

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse again in conjunction with the lovely folk at First Monday Crime. The fabulous Sarah Pearse will be appearing alongside a host of other brilliant authors this coming Monday, 12th April 2021 at 7.30pm over on the FM Facebook page. More information further down this post!

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

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

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

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

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend The Sanatorium to anyone who enjoys a locked-room mystery with a bit of an icy twist. The plot moves at a steady pace and keeps the reader turning the pages. I enjoyed reading The Sanatorium and I would gladly read more from this author. It’s a chilling, atmospheric mystery which I was happy to lose myself in. Recommended.

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

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse was published in the UK by Bantam Press on Thursday 18th February 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

First Monday Crime
Sarah Pearse will be joining the panel for April’s First Monday Facebook event on Monday 12th April 2021. Sarah will be appearing alongside David Fennell (author of The Art of Death), Matt Wesolowski (author of Deity), David Baldacci (author of A Gambling Man) and asking the questions will be Dr Noir – Jacky Collins. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 12th April via the First Monday Facebook page.

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

#BookReview: Tall Bones by Anna Bailey @DoubledayUK #TallBones #damppebbles

tall bones“When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Tall Bones by Anna Bailey. Tall Bones is published today (that’s Thursday 1st April) by Doubleday Books and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read a free eARC of Tall Bones but that has in no way influenced my review.

Gosh, I loved this book. I’m currently suffering a bit of a book hangover and I can’t stop thinking about it. I was instantly drawn to the stunning cover and the promise of small town secrets. It delivered ten-fold. You’ve got to read it!

Seventeen year old Abi Blake waves goodbye to her best friend, Emma Alvarez, and assures her she’ll be able to get home safely. Emma, fearful for her friend’s safety, reluctantly leaves. The following morning there’s no sign of Abi. Everyone in the small town of Whistling Ridge has a secret. Everyone has their own version of events from the night Abi disappeared but no one is willing to talk. What happened to Abi Blake that fateful night out at the Tall Bones…?

Absolutely gorgeous and utterly glorious. From the opening chapters this book had a hold over me and I savoured every moment I spent with it. It’s such a beautifully written piece of fiction which managed to completely entrance me. I loved it and I can easily see this book featuring in my top reads of the year, if not my absolute top pick for 2021.

My heart broke for Emma who is consumed with guilt after leaving Abi at the Tall Bones. She turns to drink to try and numb the hurt and the humiliation but no matter how much she drinks, it doesn’t stop the pain. And that’s how she meets Rat Lăcustă who she helplessly falls in love with. Rat is young, spirited and exotic. And not the slightest bit interested romantically in Emma which only brings her more heartache. In Emma, the author has created a young woman at her most vulnerable, and she touched my heart.

But Emma and Rat are only the beginning of a cast of characters who all stand tall from the page. The Blake family made me feel such a strong mix of emotions. I adored Jude, Abi’s younger brother, broken by those who should love him the most but still loyal to a fault. Abi’s mother, Dolly, made me furious in one breath for not acknowledging or stopping what was going on right in front of her eyes. In the next breath I couldn’t help but feel for her. Stuck in a loveless marriage and feeling completely trapped. Yes, her actions were unforgiveable but I wouldn’t wish her life on anyone. Noah, Abi’s older brother, was beautifully drawn. As he begins to realise who he is and what is important to him, he is shunned by the small town community he calls home and gossiped about at every opportunity. His blossoming relationship with Rat was both tentative and intense and I thoroughly enjoyed how the author wrote their interactions. A true love story. And finally we have Samuel Blake, Abi’s father. A cruel and aggressive man who made my blood boil with his  hatred and discrimination. He uses the bible and the church’s teachings to justify his atrocious treatment of his wife and sons without remorse.

The plot pulls the reader into the story to the point where it’s hard to put the book down for any length of time. When I wasn’t reading Tall Bones, I was thinking about it. It consumed me totally and I’m so glad it did. When I say ‘I will remember this book for some time to come’ that feels like a massive understatement. This is one of those books which has left its permanent mark on me.

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would, yes. Tall Bones is a haunting, beautiful but ultimately dark read that I devoured with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Its themes can be quite unsettling and upsetting at times, particularly later in the book, but it’s an astonishing debut. I’m so happy I took a chance on this one but I also feel bereft that it’s over. I miss Whistling Ridge (although once you’ve read the book you’ll wonder why). I’m a sucker for a small town American crime novel and this is an absolutely superb one. Shame, secrets, love and lies as the tagline says. What more could you want? Highly recommended.

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

Tall Bones (also known as Where The Truth Lies in the US) by Anna Bailey was published in the UK by Doubleday on 1st April 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Anna Bailey grew up in Gloucestershire and studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, before moving to Texas and later Colorado. In 2018, she returned to the UK where she enrolled in the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course. She currently works as a freelance journalist in Cheltenham, where she lives with her three cats.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Last Seen by Joy Kluver @bookouture #BooksonTour #LastSeen #damppebbles

Last-Seen-KindleA little girl is missing from under her mother’s nose. She’ll be scared and vulnerable – if she’s still alive. But no one is helping us search. No one wants to give us information. No one even seems surprised. What’s going on?

Detective Bernadette Noel came to this quiet rural corner of south-west England from London to lie low after a high-profile prosecution led to death threats against her family. But she has barely settled in when the call comes. A woman’s voice, shrill with terror and thick with tears: ‘Help – it’s my daughter, Molly – I only had my back turned for a minute… She’s gone!’

A child abduction is about as far from lying low as it gets, and her boss wants to assign a different detective. But there’s no way Bernie’s not taking the case – she can’t miss this chance to prove herself.

Five-year-old Molly Reynolds has been snatched from the playground in the village where she lives. Normally in cases like this the community is an asset – eager to help search and full of local knowledge. But although Molly’s mother Jessica is in anguish, the other villagers don’t seem to want to know.

As details emerge, Bernie discovers a possible link to a shocking crime that has never been solved, and which the locals have never forgotten. But what exactly is the connection to Molly’s abduction? Cracking a cold case is the only way to find out – and meanwhile time is running out for Molly.

A dark and compelling crime thriller that will have you reading late into the night. If you like Val McDermid, D.S. Butler or Angela Marsons, you’ll love Joy Kluver.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year with you – Last Seen by Joy Kluver. Last Seen was published on 26th March 2021 by Bookouture and is available in paperback, digital and audio formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Last Seen but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Bookouture for an early copy and asking me to be part of the blog tour.

Last Seen is Kluver’s debut novel and what a cracking start it is! It was a joy to meet DI Bernadette (Bernie) Noel – new to the area and newly promoted – as she took on her first case with Wiltshire Police, the desperate search for a missing five-year-old child. This is a very assured debut from an author to watch!

Shy and sensitive Molly Reynolds has been warned about stranger danger by the adults in her life. But that doesn’t stop her from being snatched from the local park, mere feet from her mother’s turned back. New to Wiltshire Police, DI Bernie Noel, is tasked with finding the girl and reuniting her with her family. But Bernie’s search is hampered at every turn by the folk of Ottersfield who seem uncaring, uninterested and reluctant to take time out of their busy schedules to help find the child. Why would a village react like that? Bernie and the team are at a loss. Every lead turns out to be a dead end. Until Bernie discovers the disappearance of another child twenty-five years earlier. Are the two cases connected and will Bernie find Molly in time…?

I really liked DI Noel who came across as a very relatable, very real character. Not only has Bernie got a challenging case on her hands but the author hints throughout the book of a troubled past which intrigued me. There are references to Bernie’s life in London and a case which still visibly haunts her. And all of this on top of the search for little Molly! The reader also gets to discover more about Bernie’s family which isn’t all sunshine and rainbows (pretty normal then!). These well-plotted layers add up to a very likeable new detective who I’m looking forward to spending more time with in the future.

The characters who form Bernie’s team are also well-written and I felt they all contributed to the story. DS Kerry Allen has a heart of gold but won’t take cr@p from anyone. Matt Taylor is a young, ambitious detective constable who personally, I liked the most. I hope he features in future books. Although he’s not officially part of the team (he should be!), Sergeant Alan Turner was just wonderful! And lastly, we have DS Dougie Anderson who I couldn’t work out (I don’t think I was the only one!). He seemed totally obnoxious one minute, only to turn sweetness and light the next! I think DI Noel and DS Anderson have a very interesting future ahead of them, although fingers crossed it’s not a romantic one! 

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Last Seen is a compelling read featuring an intriguing new detective. I loved the secrets, the deceit and the small town apathy Bernie finds in Otterfield. Normally, when a child goes missing it’s all hands to the pumps, but not in this case and the reasons behind the residents complete lack of interest kept me turning the pages. It’s a great start to a new series and I’m excited to see what is in store next for DI Noel and the team. Recommended.

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

Last Seen by Joy Kluver was published on 26th March 2021 and is available in paperback, digital and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comApple BooksKoboGoogle BooksGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Last Seen - BT Poster

about-the-author3

joy kluverJoy Kluver has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. More recently she’s been escaping the madness of motherhood by turning her hand to crime novels. A book blogger, she’s also part of the First Monday Crime team and if you’ve been to any of their events it’s likely you’ve eaten one of her cookies. She also organises author talks for her local library. Joy lives in SW London with her husband and three children. ‘Last Seen’ is her debut novel and the first book in the DI Bernadette Noel series.

Joy is represented by Anne Williams at the Kate Horden Literary Agency.

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

EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse was published in the UK by Bantam Press on Thursday 18th February 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | the damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

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

#BookReview: The Rosary Garden by Nicola White @ViperBooks #TheRosaryGarden #damppebbles

“It was Ali who found the body of a murdered newborn baby, hidden in the garden of her convent school. In an Ireland riven by battles of religion and reproduction, the case becomes a media sensation, even as the church tries to suppress it. But this is not the first dead baby Ali has found.

For Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine, the pressure to discover the identity of the dead child is little help against a community with secrets to protect. Gina knows all too well how many of Ireland’s girls are forced to make difficult decisions in terrible circumstances, silenced by shame. Is Ali one of those girls? Because what evidence there is, points to Ali herself…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Rosary Garden by Nicola White. The Rosary Garden was published by Viper Books on Thursday 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Rosary Garden. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy of the book.

Nicola White first came to my attention when the first book in her Vincent Swan series – A Famished Heart – was chosen as a #R3COMM3ND3D2020 pick by author Rachel Sargeant. I said then how much that first book appealed to me. So when the opportunity to read this second Vincent Swan Mystery – set in Ireland in the 1980s – arose, I grabbed it with both hands.

Teenage Ali and her friend, Fitz, make a shocking discovery in the garden shed at their convent school. The body of a newborn baby. Detective Vincent Swan of the Murder Squad is called to investigate the grisly scene but because of Ireland’s turbulent history between religion and a woman’s rights, the case becomes an instant media storm. Particularly when it’s discovered that this isn’t the first dead baby Ali has discovered. The nuns are quick to absolve themselves of any blame. Swan struggles to find a link between his suspects and the child. Nothing seems to make any sense and the investigation falters. But someone is hiding a very dark secret. Someone knows what happened to the baby…

The Rosary Garden is a dark, beautifully written, emotional story which kept me turning the pages. It works perfectly well as a standalone. I haven’t read the first book in the series but I didn’t feel I was missing out. I will be rectifying that though and reading A Famished Heart as soon as I can. The author has skilfully managed to bring her reader into the lives of these characters to the point where they felt so very real to me. I watched as Vincent Swan struggled to find a link to the baby, as Ali was caught up in the media frenzy, wrung out by the press who claimed their pound of flesh and then left on her own to pick up the pieces. The way Ali was treated at times was appalling but sadly I feel this is how life was for young women in Ireland (and elsewhere) in the 1980s.

The subject matter isn’t something everyone is going to be comfortable with. The heart-breaking scenes the author paints are made to make the reader think about life for a young unmarried woman in Ireland in the 1980s and she does it with aplomb. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel something, The Rosary Garden is definitely it. The mystery aspect of the book flows steadily from the very beginning and I instantly liked Detective Vincent Swan, who is having his own issues at home, as well as investigating a very emotional and prominent case. The story builds gradually layer by layer and I was on the edge of my seat as the story edged ever closer to the end. And what an ending! It was a perfect fit and very satisfying.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Rosary Garden is a very compelling and beautifully written heart-felt mystery which I devoured quicker than most other reads of late. There was something quite addictive about the characters and their story. You’re never really quite sure who to trust and I really enjoyed that. I would happily pick up another book by this author and I look forward to reading A Famished Heart soon. Recommended.

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

The Rosary Garden by Nicola White was published in the UK by Viper Books on 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Bookshop.org | damppebbles Bookshop.org Shop |

Nicola White won the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award in 2008 and in 2012 was Leverhulme Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University. The Rosary Garden won the Dundee International Book Prize, was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, and selected as one of the four best debuts by Val McDermid at Harrogate. She grew up in Dublin and New York, and now lives in the Scottish Highlands.

#BookReview: The Survivors by Jane Harper @LittleBrownUK #TheSurvivors #damppebbles

“Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on a single day when a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that haunts him still resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge in the murder investigation that follows. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Yesterday was a very good day for book lovers. There were some absolutely cracking books published on Thursday 21st January 2021. So today I am delighted to be sharing my review of another eagerly anticipated release of 2021 with you, which is The Survivors by Jane Harper. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Survivors but that has in no way influenced my review.

I absolutely adore Jane Harper’s books. Reading The Dry a few years ago, which was Harper’s debut, ignited a love of Australian crime fiction in me which burns bright to this day. The publication of a new Jane Harper novel is a big thing for me and something I always look forward to. Harper is a master of her craft and The Survivors is another intoxicating and beautifully intense mystery to add to her superb back catalogue. If you love crime fiction, you MUST read Harper’s novels.

Kieran Elliot has returned to Evelyn Bay with his young family to help his mother pack up the family home. His father’s illness is worsening – he’s become a danger to himself – so he’s being moved into residential care. Kieran’s mother needs to downsize and move closer to her husband. But returning to the small town he grew up stirs up old memories. He’s never really escaped the guilt and the regret but it’s a lot more difficult to avoid when everyone you meet knows what happened all those years ago. When a body is discovered on the beach the police are called to investigate. But the town of Evelyn Bay is full of secrets and tragedy is never far away….

Once again the author has excelled at making the three main elements of a novel the very best they can be. The plot is intriguing and keeps you turning the pages. The characters are all very normal people who, despite living a world away, you feel you can relate to in some way. And the setting is always as much a part of the story as the characters. I tend to favour characters in the books I read. I like character-driven stories with people who stand tall from the page. But there’s such a strong sense of place in Harper’s novels that you can’t help but fall in love with the drama and the danger of her settings. The crashing waves and the surging tides in The Survivors give a claustrophobic feel to proceedings which I couldn’t get enough of. It’s a thing of beauty and one of the many reasons Harper is one of my favourite authors.

This isn’t a ten thrills-a-minute novel but a confidently written slow unravelling of an older unsolved disappearance and a much more recent tragedy. Add to the mix the affection the reader feels for Kieran as we watch him struggle with his grief and all in all, this is one cracking read. The author takes her reader’s hand and leads them through the lives of her very real feeling characters until you’re part of their day to day lives – watching the drama play out from afar.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you love crime fiction then I heartily recommend The Survivors (alongside all of Harper’s other novels). I wasn’t able to work out the big reveal but I’m glad that was the case. It was shocking and saddening in equal measure. I think having an inkling of where the story was going would have spoilt that a little bit for me. Another masterclass from Jane Harper on how to write an all-round stunning novel. I couldn’t fault The Survivors and I’m now hoping I won’t have to wait too long until Harper publishes her next book. Whenever that happens, consider me first in line! Highly recommended.

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

The Survivors by Jane Harper was published in the UK by Little, Brown on 21st January 2021 and is available in hardcover, digital and audio formats with the paperback to follow in September (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryBookshop.orgGoodreads |

Jane 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