#BookReview: The Secret by Katerina Diamond @AvonBooksUK #TheSecret #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the secret“Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back – of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets?

As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter.

And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my fifth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Secret by Katerina Diamond. The Secret is the second book in Diamond’s DS Imogen Grey series and was published in all formats by Avon Books on 20th October 2016. I received a free eARC of The Secret but that has in no way influenced my review.

I confess, I’m a terrible book blogger. I read The Teacher (the first book in the DS Grey series) in 2017 and despite really enjoying it, I completely failed to review it. I read it shortly before my first massive reading slump (I can assure you, it was NOT the cause) and then never went back to write down my thoughts. I do regret that, as this series feels elevated from many of the run of the mill police procedurals out there. Diamond has no fear. She’s quite happy to shock and stun her audience with her graphic descriptions and the acts of violence her characters carry out. Which, of course, I absolutely love. I’m a reader who doesn’t shy away from a more brutal crime fiction novel. In fact, I wish more authors were as fearless as Diamond is, and were prepared to push the situations their characters find themselves in a little more.

Having recently returned to work, DS Imogen Grey and her partner, DS Adrian Miles, are tasked with finding a missing woman, Bridget Reid. Bridget was last seen by a hapless bystander half-conscious on the bank of a river after being pursued by two men. Both Grey and Miles know that they’re against the clock and they need to find Bridget soon, before the unthinkable happens. But their investigation grinds to a halt and they struggle to find a direction. As they dig deeper, more and more horrifying secrets are unearthed. Can they find Bridget alive, before it’s too late…?

This book is so much darker than the cover leads you to believe, and I kinda like that. With its grisly opening and it’s fast-paced story, led by a strong and gutsy female lead, it’s hard to not get sucked into this book from the get-go. Whether you’ll end up liking Detective Grey is another matter altogether but I think I’m certainly warming to her. One of the things I remember from reading the first book – The Teacher – was that I liked DS Adrian Miles more than Grey. But the more I get to know this character, the more I like what she’s about.

The story is multi-layered with lots going on to keep your interest. Everybody has a secret to some degree in this novel. There are chapters set in the present which follow the current investigation in Exeter with DS Grey and DS Miles. Then there are chapters set in the past – two years previous – which follow DS Grey and another officer, DS Sam Brown, on a different investigation in Plymouth. The reader discovers so much about Imogen and her past in this book, which I really enjoyed. Then there are some quite harrowing chapters from a young boy throughout the years who is unnamed but we get to follow him as his domineering and violent father carries out his despicable plans.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would but it’s not for the squeamish. There are some pretty grisly scenes in The Secret which I loved! The constant shift from the past to the present was a little disorientating at times, particularly if I had put the book down for a few hours before returning to it. But sitting here cogitating on the novel as a whole, I really enjoyed it and have since been able to piece the different aspects together. All in all, a very entertaining read and I really look forward to catching up with Grey and Miles again soon. Recommended.

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

The Secret by Katerina Diamond was published in the UK by Avon Books on 20th October 2016 and is available in paperback, 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 | Goodreads | Book Depository |

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Katerina DiamondKaterina is the author of the Sunday Times Best Selling Exeter based crime thriller series – starting with ‘The Teacher’ and followed by The Secret, The Angel, The Promise and Truth or Die. Katerina is currently working on her seventh novel which is a standalone.

Katerina also runs the facebook book group CRIME SUSPECT with several other crime authors.

Katerina currently lives in East Kent. Katerina was born in Weston-super-Mare and has lived in various places since including Greece, Cyprus, Derby, East London and Exeter. Katerina watches way too much TV.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Broken Steel by Stuart Field (@StuartField14) @NextChapterPB @cobaltdinosaur #BrokenSteel #NextChapterPub #damppebbles

Broken-Steel-2-Main-File“After ten years in prison for his wife’s murder, Brian Armstrong is free.

When a freak accident with the prison transport gives him and two others an opportunity to escape, they seize it. With revenge in his heart, Brian disappears into the storm-filled city. After an ex-schoolteacher is found dead, Detective John Steel is brought in to investigate.

The circumstances are mysterious – just the way Steel likes it. His partner Samantha McCall is convinced the timing between the escape and the death of the teacher are more than coincidence. As they start to investigate, the case becomes more complex than they could have ever imagined. With time running out, can they find the killer and bring him to justice?”

Hello! Emma has kindly passed the reviewing baton over to me today so that I can share my thoughts on Broken Steel by Stuart Field with you. I received a free eARC of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

When a bus carrying convicted criminals crashes on it’s way to court, it is not surprising that some make the break for freedom. But they then have a choice, lie low to avoid being caught or settle some old scores. So when people associated with the cases of the escapees start turning up dead, there is a big puzzle for Steel and McCall to solve.

This is my first book in the Steel series. There is clearly a fascinating backstory to this character but the book can still happily be read as a standalone. Steel is the classic ‘riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a puzzle and served with a side of mystery’ for us to have so little insight into the thinking of one of the main characters is a fascinating read. His partner, Samantha McCall, is much more transparent giving this partnership of contrasts an easy to understand character and a conundrum! Steel is impressive in that he contains many of the generalisations for lead characters but feels head and shoulders above many of his peers as a well formed character. Whether he is looking for answers in traditional ways or serving up his own form of justice, he comes across as consistent and focussed on solving the crimes. McCall brings her own perspective and insight into the investigation and takes decisive actions in the investigation rather than being dismissed to the role of trusty sidekick.

The story was strong and well written and Stuart Field avoids the temptation of making it all action. The scenes around the desk at the station, as the police search for clues, were as intriguing as the action scenes were immersive. The balance of action and mystery was so well made with the book feeling at home in both the ‘action thriller’ and ‘crime’ genre.

There are certainly twists in the book, red herrings and well drawn characters on both sides of the law. Who can be trusted, and who will betray Steel and McCall, keeps the reader on their toes throughout this novel.

Will I be reading more Steel? I hope so! I would happily recommend this book to anyone looking for an entertaining, well written and intriguing crime action thriller, and will be keeping my eye out to read more in the future.

Broken Steel by Stuart Field was published in the UK by Next Chapter Publishing on 26th February 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, 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 | amazon.comGoodreads |

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Stuart FieldStuart Field was born in the UK, in the West Midlands. He spent his early years in the army, seeing service in all the known (and some unknown) hotspots around the world. He now lives in Germany with his wife Ani. When not engaged in highly confidential security work, he writes thrillers which perhaps mimic his life-experience more than the reader would like to believe.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Deadly Waters by OMJ Ryan (@OMJRYAN1) #InkubatorBooks @cobaltdinosaur #DeadlyWaters #damppebbles

2019-1396 OMJ Ryan b03“Several young women have recently drowned in Manchester’s vast network of canals. A coincidence? Or something more sinister?

When star detective DCI Jane Phillips begins to investigate, her finely tuned instinct tells her these are no accidents. And when she discovers that each of the drowned women has a mysterious circular bruise on the back of her neck, Phillips is sure of it — she’s up against a very clever serial killer.

But how are the victims being chosen? And who will be next?

With the body count rising, Phillips and her team find themselves in a fight to the death with a shadowy figure who always seems to be one step ahead.

Can Phillips stop the killer before the next victim dies? Or will she herself become an offering to Manchester’s deadly waters?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I’m handing the keys over to my trusty guest reviewer, Ryan, today and he’s going to share his thoughts on Deadly Waters by OMJ Ryan as part of the blog tour. Ryan received a free eARC of Deadly Waters but that has in no way influenced his review.

Drowning in an ice cold canal is not how many would choose to end their lives and DCI Jane Phillips has that gut feeling that there is more to this than it may seem.  This is despite the view of her superior officer and others on the force wanting to dismiss the crimes, and DCI Phillips soon realises she has a race against time before the next victim is found or her supervisor stops the investigation.

This was my first OMJ Ryan read and I really enjoyed it. The lead characters and the team (Jones, Bovalino and Entwistle) are well drawn. Small mention is made of the team’s background but their interactions and easy to recognise traits make it easy to get to know them. DCI Jane Phillips, however, is much more nuanced. Mentions are made of an event in her personal history and a more conflicted character with nerves, determination and a host of personal dilemmas appears as the book progresses. The tension with her superior officer made an intriguing side plot, presenting the team with a ticking time bomb of whether they would be allowed to continue the investigation.

The plot is interesting. When one body is found in the canal with a circular bruise on the back of her neck, no-one is sure what to think. But when a second appears suspicions are raised, and it soon becomes clear the body count is only going to increase. At this stage we get to meet the murderer. Not in name, but taking the role of narrator for the murders. We get to hear more about their motive and method before flicking back to see an investigation struggling to find a connection, let alone a solid lead. With both sides trying to work out who is next – for very different reasons!

Deadly Waters is well paced, mixing the drama of the murder and fast police responses with the growing frustration of an investigation going nowhere. Some promising avenues soon become dead ends and the truth that they are uncovering may not be one they want to hear.

This is book two in the series and whilst references were made to book one, there is nothing to stop you reading this as a standalone. In fact, I am now very tempted to go back and find out more about that adventure!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a UK based crime thriller, and even without reading it, I would suggest adding the first book, Deadly Silence, to your TBR too! DCI Phillips is a character that many will love and the book feels ripe for screen adaption. Excellent police characters mixed with a dark and self-righteous murderer who is in a hurry to take more lives. A great read.

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

Deadly Waters by OMJ Ryan was published in the UK by Inkubator Books on 15th March 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, 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.com |  Goodreads |

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OMJ RyanHailing from Yorkshire, OMJ Ryan worked in radio and entertainment for over twenty years, collaborating with household names and accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards.

In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting, fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed. Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last. DEADLY WATERS will be his third novel published with Inkubator Books.

#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 |

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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 |

#BookReview: The Bad Place by M.K. Hill @HoZ_Books #TheBadPlaceBook #damppebbles

the bad place.jpg“The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of The Bad Place by M.K. Hill. The Bad Place was published on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats with the audio and paperback to follow. I received a free ARC of The Bad Place but that has in no way influenced my review.

M.K. Hill also writes under his full name, Mark Hill, and is the author of the DI Ray Drake series. You can check out my review of his first two books here: His First Lie and It Was Her. I thoroughly enjoyed both of his previous books so when I heard Hill was writing a new series with a new publisher I knew I had to read it. So I was delighted to win a copy of the book at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in July (as well as a voucher for Harrogate favourite, Betty’s Tea Rooms!).

I loved the sound of The Bad Place. It had a different feel to other ‘missing children’ novels (and I’ve read a few!). Twenty-six years ago a minibus full of teenagers was taken by a madman. Intent on doing something evil, Jerry Swann drove the kids to his remote farmhouse and locked them in the cellar. Six teenagers were thrown into a terrifying, life-changing situation. Five of the children managed to escape and run to safety. Becky Haskell didn’t. Becky was killed as the police tried to rescue her from Swann’s clutches. The farmhouse was aptly renamed from Baden Place to the Bad Place by the press. Now, every year, the group meet for dinner and remember Becky. But on her way to dinner, one of the original six, Lydia witnesses another teenage girl being kidnapped. Her immediate thought is that it is happening again, Jerry Swann has returned from the dead and is taking more children to the Bad Place. DI Sasha Dawson remembers the original case well. As a probationary WPC she made a promise to one of the girls which she was unable to keep and has lived with the guilt ever since. But this time she’ll do everything right and find the missing child. But the only way to rescue missing Sammi is to work out exactly what happened at the Bad Place all those years ago…

DI Sasha Dawson is a great character and I’m looking forward to reading more about her in future novels. She has a complicated home life (not helped by her incredibly frustrating and interfering mother), two moody teenagers and an emotionally distant, grieving husband. The couple suffered a terrible tragedy when their young son was mown down by a dangerous driver and despite Sasha having time to grieve for her son, Kev was more focussed on getting his wife through her pain. The reader watches as Kev falls apart but Sasha, who is consumed by work and other people’s problems, isn’t present enough to notice. This heartfelt sub-plot added to what is a great detective novel.

Being a detective novel I should mention the investigation. I liked the majority of the team and I’m hoping DC Power won’t be quite so arrogant and a little more cautious now he realises that he’s not immortal.  I’m looking forward to seeing if the memory of his rather savage beating lasts into the second book – or maybe he will have left to join The National Crime Agency by then…😂. The team works well together though and they look to Sasha for guidance.  I did feel they were all flailing a little at times which made me even more desperate for Karin to reveal everything (or just a little more than she was!) about the day they escaped.  Karin is the lynchpin holding the group of survivors together and the one instigating and hosting the yearly memorial dinner.  But the flashback scenes in the cellar show how utterly obsessed she was with Becky as a teenager. Even in the present day, Karin can’t let go of her friend and is convinced that she might, just might, still be alive.  It sent shivers down my spine.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I’m excited to read the next book in the DI Sasha Dawson series.  This was a compelling, page-turner of a novel and I heartily recommend it to fans of detective fiction (and those who just enjoy a good story).

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

The Bad Place by M.K. Hill was published in the UK by Head of Zeus on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover 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.ukWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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Mark_Hill-308 (1).jpgI’m MK to some, and Mark to others…

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR.

But I write now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

I’m on Facebook. If you like any of my books, if you’re interested in keeping up to date with news, events and giveaways – everything Dawson and Drake, basically – then head to my author page and, you know, ‘like’ the page.

Or if Twitter’s your thing then you can find me there, too. I tweet about all sorts: writing, books, movies, games, custard, otters, all the stuff you like. So give me a follow.

Alternatively, you can laugh at my terrible photos on Instagram.

But wait, before you do any of that, make sure you buy my books.

The Bad Place, His First Lie and It Was Her are out now as in ebook and paperback —from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, all the usual places.

© https://www.mkhill.uk/about

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

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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 |

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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 |

#BookReview: The Chain by Adrian McKinty @orionbooks @orion_crime @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheChain #DontBreaktheChain #damppebbles

the chain.jpg“VICTIM.
SURVIVOR.
ABDUCTOR.
CRIMINAL.
YOU WILL BECOME EACH ONE.

YOUR PHONE RINGS.

A STRANGER HAS KIDNAPPED YOUR CHILD.

TO FREE THEM YOU MUST ABDUCT SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

YOUR CHILD WILL BE RELEASED WHEN YOUR VICTIM’S PARENTS KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD.

IF ANY OF THESE THINGS DON’T HAPPEN:
YOUR CHILD WILL BE KILLED.”

YOU ARE NOW PART OF THE CHAIN

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Chain by Adrian McKinty blog tour.  I was given a free ARC copy of The Chain but that has in no way influenced my review.  My thanks to Leanne Oliver at Orion Books for being able to read minds and know this was a book I was desperate to get my mitts on and to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite.  This book is a corker.

I spend an awful lot of time on Twitter.  I’m not ashamed of that.  It’s part of being a book blogger and part of the job I do.  There are LOTS of books on Twitter.  It’s a total book-haven with something for everyone.  With that in mind, there are books I see and they don’t interest me (don’t get me wrong, I wish every success to the authors, publishers and everyone else involved – it’s just that I’m a psychological thriller and crime lover and if it doesn’t fall into that category then I let it pass me by).  Then there are the books I see and I know that I HAVE TO READ THEM.  Should I shout that a little louder? I KNOW I HAVE TO READ THEM!  The Chain by Adrian McKinty was one such book.  I saw a GIF.  The deal was done…

How often do you feel like you have a connection with a book before you’ve even read it?  To any of my blogger friends reading this, you may recognise this feeling.  Everyone is talking about a certain book and then the FOMO kicks in and you know you HAVE to read it.  It happens to me a few times a year.  And then the poor book sits on my shelf gathering dust for….well, however long it takes me to remember how much I REALLY wanted to read it.  The ‘gathering dust phase’ didn’t happen with The Chain.  I started reading it the same day it arrived.  I HAD to read this book immediately. I’m not even sure the book was completely out of the envelope before I made a start…

That premise.  How can you resist that premise? I know I couldn’t.  Are chain letters still a thing? I remember receiving a few when I was younger.  They didn’t invoke any kind of fear or compulsion in me.  The only thing they evoked was the desire to chuck the thing in the bin.  But what if the message you received meant your child had been kidnapped?  What if the only way to get your child back was to kidnap another child? And so on and so forth (#DontBreaktheChain).  To save your child you must become a kidnapper and turn another family’s life upside-down causing fear, heartache and untold trauma to so many.  And what if breaking the chain meant your child would die…?

That’s exactly the situation single mum, Rachel finds herself in after allowing her 13-year-old daughter, Kylie, to walk to the bus stop alone.  And there begins Rachel’s nightmare and the start of a compelling, high energy tale about the bad things good people are capable of doing when put under extreme amounts of pressure.  I loved it! It’s got everything you want; likeable and unlikeable characters (actually, the bad guys are pretty despicable characters in all fairness) and a flawless hook that won’t let you go even when you should really be doing ‘life stuff’.  Plus the writing is just wonderful.  Really, really top notch.

I really felt for Rachel but I’m still not sure if I liked her.  I kept wincing as another terrible scenario or choice was forced upon her.  If I could have read the book from behind my hands then I would have done.  Rachel was frequently put into impossible situations and I eagerly watched as she made the only decision she could whilst shaking my head and muttering ‘noooooooo…’ under my breath.  All the time reminding myself that ‘it’s just a book, it’s not real!’.  Exactly how far would YOU go to save your child?

Would I recommend this book? I certainly would.  It’s like nothing else you’ve read before and it will leave its mark on you.  The story is gripping from start to finish and the ending is very satisfying.  I wanted to race through this book yet savour every moment.  I haven’t read a book by Adrian McKinty before but I can guarantee The Chain won’t be the last title I pick up by this author.  A terrifying, edge-of-your-seat read which I highly recommend.  The Chain is going to be massive!

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

The Chain by Adrian McKinty was published in the UK by Orion Books on 9th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, 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.comWaterstones | BookDepositoryGoodreads |

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adrian mckinty.jpgAdrian McKinty is a crime novelist from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

His books have won the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, the Ned Kelly Award and the Barry Award. Adrian is also a two time Dagger nominee and shortlistee for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year.

He studied law at Warwick University and philosophy at Oxford University before emigrating to New York City in the mid 90s.

Author Links:TwitterWebsiteFacebook |

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Godlefe’s Cuckoo by Bill Todd (@williamjtodd) #GodlefesCuckoo #damppebbles @cobaltdinosaur

D6 - GODLEFES CUCKOO Cover - L“Danny Lancaster has been missing since the fishing boat exploded.

Police are closing their inquiry but Wanda Lovejoy continues her campaign to find the truth.

An evil man kept alive by machines nurses a corrosive hate. As drugs and disease pull his dying mind apart he throws his crime empire into a scorched earth quest to find one man.

If Danny Lancaster isn’t dead he soon will be!”

Happy weekend bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles.  Once again, I am handing the reins of the blog over to my guest reviewer (my husband, Ryan) who is going to share his thoughts on the sixth book in Bill Todd’s Danny Lancaster series, Godlefe’s Cuckoo, with you.

So without further ado, here’s Ryan’s review:

OK I admit I skipped a book.  Book 4 to Book 6 doesn’t sound the worst crime, does it? I mean what could go wrong, how much backstory, character development, death and destruction could I really have missed?

Well, before I tell you too much I must say I have written this review before the review for book 5 in the series has been published. But the strange answer appears to be zero.  In fact the book appears to directly follow on from Rock Hard, with Danny struggling to come to terms with his body and mind after the fishing boat explosion.

The book is intriguing from multiple angles. Firstly there is the struggle that Danny is going through. Where will it take him and will he still be the damaged but ultimately good character we have loved throughout the series?  Then there is the second element; the enemy.  Who knows when they will give up looking for him.

Donald Rumsfeld made headlines with his “known knowns and known unknowns” speech and this book turned my mind to that often.  For instance, if an enemy wants you dead and doesn’t know if you are dead or not, when do they stop?  In the case of Danny’s enemies in this book the answer is clear – “when there is proof”.  Reading this book as a standalone you may feel the enemies push too hard, and are prepared to go to extreme lengths.  But in the context of the series it feels a natural extension.

The same can be said for Danny’s allies. Will they support someone they don’t know is alive?  Will they?  Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

I enjoyed Godlefe’s Cuckoo. Once again it was a good read for relaxing into and letting the action and suspense play out.  The characters by book 6 are becoming well formed but there were good new additions, in his ‘rescuers’, further development of Wanda and of course the ever baffled police.

Well written, fast moving and characters you can like or loathe. This is the perfect read for those that don’t want gritty reality forced down their kindle each morning.  The title confused me at first but as you read the book you understand the historical relevance.  A great read from Bill Todd and I look forward to reading more.

Ryan chose to read and review a free copy of Godlefe’s Cuckoo. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Godlefe’s Cuckoo by Bill Todd was published in the UK by DLE Fiction on 15th March 2018 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.comGoodreads |

The Danny Lancaster Blog Tour

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2017-12-20 15.50.35Bill is a journalist and travel writer who has visited more than 40 countries from the white wastes of Arctic Finland to the ancient deserts of Namibia. He loves a good wilderness. He received the Ed Lacy travel award in 2007.

Bill has written six crime thrillers featuring soldier-turned-investigator Danny Lancaster and was startled and delighted to be voted one of the 100 best crime authors in the WH Smith readers’ poll in 2015. He’s also written three short factual military histories. He lives to write although keyboard time has been cut lately with the arrival of grandson Theo.

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

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Rock Hard by Bill Todd (@williamjtodd) #DannyLancaster #RockHard #damppebbles @cobaltdinosaur

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“When Danny Lancaster gets a call from an old friend it’s a chance to swap his troubles in Brighton for a sunshine reunion in Gibraltar. He hasn’t seen Pogo since Afghanistan. They have war stories to retell, beers to drink. But Pogo is broke, sick and in trouble. It started with smuggling cigarettes. Now his Russian boss has taken on a dangerous job for a mystery businessman. A priceless package must be smuggled into Europe across the narrow straits from Africa. But unseen eyes are watching, lives are in danger. A game of Russian roulette is just the start of a deadly clash where two continents meet. And Danny must make a decision. How far do you go to help the man who saved your life?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles today. Today I’m handing the blog over to my guest reviewer (that’s the husband for anyone who doesn’t know!) who is sharing his thoughts on the fourth book in the Danny Lancaster series, Rock Hard by Bill Todd. Make sure you join him again on Saturday when he’ll be reviewing book six, Godlefe’s Cuckoo.

Ryan’s Review:
So…Danny Lancaster eh! Heading off to Gibraltar to meet his troubled ex-Army friend? What could possibly go wrong?

As you’ve probably picked up from this week’s reviews Danny Lancaster is a bit of a trouble magnet, wherever he goes a degree of chaos seems to follow. So when Danny lands in Gibraltar, a tiny territory of 2.6 square miles, the locals should have been getting worried! Danny has gone to Gibraltar to help his old army mate Pogo, who has fallen on hard times since they served together in Afghan. He has gotten himself involved with some dirty business and wants Danny to help him get back on to the right side of the tracks.

Gibraltar was a great setting for this book, the small location added a suffocating tightness to the drama. Bill Todd moves on the story on at a fast pace and you are never sure where the author is leading his characters. Todd’s characters in this book are pitched just right for an action thriller that keeps rolling. No long self indulgent reflection but enough background shared to draw emotion and make the motivation clear. The crime bosses are kept slightly mysterious even when close to the action, pushing the rest of the gang in the right direction (or worse, if needed) but keeping themselves hidden enough from the reader that you make assumptions on what is going to happen next.

As the end of the book approached there were some twists which I will not disclose here to avoid spoiling future readers enjoyment. The ending was also a surprise and provided a sharp end to the book which some may feel was too sudden, whilst others may rush to the next in the series to find out what happens next.

Would I recommend the Danny Lancaster books? Yes, they are easy to read, fast moving and contain an easy to like lead character. Join me again on Saturday when I review Godlefe’s Cuckoo and find out if I enjoyed that one just as much….

Ryan chose to read and review a free copy of Rock Hard. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Rock Hard by Bill Todd was published in UK by DLE Fiction on 26th November 2013 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.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

The Danny Lancaster Blog Tour

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2017-12-20 15.50.35

Bill is a journalist and travel writer who has visited more than 40 countries from the white wastes of Arctic Finland to the ancient deserts of Namibia. He loves a good wilderness. He received the Ed Lacy travel award in 2007.

Bill has written six crime thrillers featuring soldier-turned-investigator Danny Lancaster and was startled and delighted to be voted one of the 100 best crime authors in the WH Smith readers’ poll in 2015. He’s also written three short factual military histories. He lives to write although keyboard time has been cut lately with the arrival of grandson Theo.

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

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Dead in the Water by Simon Bower (@SimonBowerBooks) @cobaltdinosaur #DeadInTheWaterBook

dead-in-the-water-cover“Was it murder, suicide or an accident? Who will be next to die?

Six international friends all appear to be successful, albeit to different levels. A human rights’ lawyer, an IT geek, a businessman, a waitress, a phone guy and a physiotherapist. None of them are known to the police.

One of them must know what happened that fateful night on the catamaran.

Agent Georges Fournier is assigned the case in the French resort town near Antibes. He’s short on time, with a growing health problem and a District Attorney who just wants the case closed as accidental. But he’s not letting go.

Chrissie is a single mother and respected flight attendant in New York. When she finds out who her father is, she’s ecstatic and wants to meet him. 

But within a week she’d wish she’d never known.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my guest reviewer’s stop on the Dead In The Water blog tour.  My guest reviewer, for those of you who don’t know, is my wonderful husband who is learning to love fiction once again after many years of not wanting to pick a book up (having my old Kindle helps I think…!).

Let’s find out what he thought about Simon Bower’s Dead In The Water

Thanks to Emma for letting me into damppebbles again. I am really excited to bring you my latest review of Simon Bower’s Dead In The Water.  I always get nervous writing reviews of crime books as I want to avoid giving away spoilers – but here goes….

Dead in the Water is a well constructed crime thriller, with a timeline that flits between the past and the present.  The author cleverly sets up teaser shots from the present day, without giving us too much information.  Someone is dead – but who, someone is in a hospital bed – but who and why?

The constant tease and reveal structure worked well to keep me speeding through this read and the author manages the pace nicely.  All of the 7 core characters are well formed – the 6 protagonists and Agent Fournier, the dogged detective tasked with understanding whether there was foul play in the death of ….(did you think I was silly enough to tell you who died!).  Simon Bower has carefully constructed his characters to show likeable elements and their not-so-nice side!  Characters and their story evolve through the book and I found myself re-assessing my liking for characters as I moved through, which is a good sign that I was engaged with the story.

Dead in the Water takes us on a pan-European adventure and the author has worked hard on his research – dropping in little facts as we move across the continent to give more depth and atmosphere to the locations.  Coupling this with the story’s narration switching between the main characters and you get an immersive and enjoyable read which will keep you guessing till the very end.

Would I read more Simon Bower – almost certainly.  Would I recommend this book to someone looking for an easy reading and enjoyable book that will immerse them in a fantastic story – yes.  Would I go on a boat with Simon – no….bad things seem to happen!

So hopefully I haven’t given too much away, death, hospitals, characters, Europe…you need to read it to find out the rest!  Thanks again to Emma for letting me takeover today!

4 stars out of 5.

Dead In The Water by Simon Bower was published in the UK by Middle Farm Press in May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats [only 99p to download on Kindle this week!] (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles |

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SIMONBOWERSimon Bower is a British and Canadian author born in Berkshire in 1973. Since 1998, he’s adopted a global lifestyle, setting up home at times in Europe, Africa and North America.  In 2016 Simon turned to writing full time, which led to his first published work, Dead in the Water, being released in paperback and eBook by Middle Farm Press in 2018. Simon currently lives in France, near the Swiss border, where his young family, mountains, acrylic paint and sharpened skis keep him in regular mischief.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads |