#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Jacob Collins (@collinsjacob115) #HookedFromPageOne

I am delighted to welcome Jacob Collins to damppebbles today.  Jacob is the blogger behind the wonderful Hooked From Page One and has kindly agreed to share three book recommendations which he feels you MUST READ!

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is my new feature where I invite book bloggers and authors to share three recommended reads with us.  The only rule being that the books must have been published between 1st January 2017 and, well, now!

So without further ado, here’s what Jacob recommends:

all the wicked girls.jpg

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker
All the Wicked Girls was an utterly absorbing read. Once I started reading I didn’t want to put it down, it’s one of those books that you don’t want to end. Great characters, great plot and a great setting, Chris Whitaker has become one of my favourite writers.

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Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary (DI Marnie Rome #4)
This is the fourth book in the DI Marnie Rome series. Sarah Hilary has created an engaging series with unforgettable characters. I rarely look at the blurb for Sarah’s books as I know straight away that I’ll enjoy it. I had to choose this book as one of my top reads because I was lucky enough to feature as a character in the book. As with all of her books, she has created a really engaging storyline. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

the binding song

The Binding Song by Elodie Harper
I read this novel quite late in the year, I was so excited when I finally got round to reading it as it had been sitting on my shelf for a while. Elodie’s writing is exceptional, very atmospheric, she paints a vivid picture of the Norfolk landscape and the story will keep you turning the pages. I loved it.

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Great choices Jacob.  I have recently read and enjoyed The Binding Song myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the Marnie Rome books I have read (not made my way to QTK yet) and have All The Wicked on my radar for reading in the next couple of weeks!  Thank you for joining me on damppebbles today.

If Jacob has tempted you with his recommendations or you’d like to know more, then please click the following amazon.co.uk links:

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker | Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary | The Binding Song by Elodie Harper |

About Jacob:
My name is Jacob and I am in my early twenties. I have been blogging since June 2016. I have loved reading since I was a child; I was always up the local library and I loved listening to audiobooks, The Famous Five and the Horrid Henry books were among my favourites. I am also currently working on my own crime novel which I am hoping to finish early next year.

Jacob’s Blog and Social Media Links:
Hooked From Page One | Twitter | Facebook |

If you’re a book blogger or an author and would like to take part in #R3COMM3ND3D2017 then I would be thrilled to hear from you.  Just complete the following form (if it crashes, as it has been doing, or you would prefer the form by email then please let me know via damppebbles@gmail.com):

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#BookReview: The Binding Song by Elodie Harper (@ElodieITV) @MulhollandUK @1stMondayCrime

the binding song“Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…”

I was absolutely delighted to discover that Elodie Harper is one of the authors appearing at November’s ‘First Monday Crime’ event in London on Monday 6th November because it gave me the excuse (absolutely NO excuse needed) to read her debut, The Binding Song.  The Binding Song has been on my radar for some time now.  It was published by Mulholland Books in eBook and hardcover format earlier this year.  The paperback is due to be launched in February 2018 so keep an eye out for that.

As Autumn fades and Winter approaches it’s that time of year when I want to dive into a creepy, gothic thriller and fictitious HMP Halvergate in Norfolk provided the most perfect of settings to do that.  What a beautifully atmospheric and creepy story, one where I never really felt sure I knew exactly what was going on.  Even the sceptic in me believed in ghosts at one point during Harper’s haunting tale.  I felt apprehensive from the very first page and discovered a delightful ominous edge to Harper’s writing which had me hooked.

Dr Janet Palmer is the newly appointed forensic psychologist at the remote Norfolk-based Halvergate prison.  Halvergate is nothing like the prison she worked at before in London but the promotion seemed worth upping sticks for and moving away from her partner, Arun, and their comfortable life together.  Colleagues at the prison are distant and unfriendly, the prisoners are threatening and violent and Janet now feels very much alone.  Janet is made aware of an alarming increase in the number of suicides on D Wing – an occurrence which started under Dr Helkin’s care, and something she is keen to call a halt to.  But on starting work she discovers no one wishes to speak of her predecessor.  And Janet is approaching her caseload blind as all of Helkin’s notes seem to be missing.  She knows nothing about the deviant, sexual predators she faces on a daily basis and one particular prisoner both intrigues and repels her.  And what of the White Visitor, a pale black-eyed woman who is said to visit certain prisoners shortly before they take their own lives.  It’s down to Dr Palmer to uncover Halvergate’s secrets before more prisoners die and before the White Visitor comes to visit Janet…

As the story progresses you discover more about Janet and her tragic past.  The reader is given flashbacks into her teenage years and the heartache she and her family experienced.  At times I wondered why Janet would want to work in the prison service but as the story progressed and I was given more of an insight into her past, it all started to make sense.  Janet’s only friend in Norfolk is the prison chaplain, Steve.  Their relationship was interesting if a little stilted.  The friendship started to blossom only to be nipped in the bud by Janet’s frightening discoveries.  Knowing these two characters were friends but also so very alone created an eerie sense of isolation which sent shivers down my spine.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I’m looking forward to reading more from Elodie Harper in the future.  It’s a surprisingly creepy read with a breath-taking atmospheric feel at its core.  Ominous, tense and chock full of suspense.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of The Binding Song.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Binding Song by Elodie Harper was published in the UK by Mulholland Books on 29th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in February 2018) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Don’t forget to book your FREE place to see Elodie Harper alongside Stuart McBride, Simon Booker and Vaseem Khan with moderator Barry Forshaw on Monday 6th November at 6.30pm in Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket.  To find out more about the November panelists and to read the first chapter of their latest books, click HERE.

about the author3

elodie harper.jpgElodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, run by The Guardian and Hodder & Stoughton and judged by Stephen King. She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. She is married with a young son

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Devil’s Daughters by Diana Bretherick (@DianaBretherick)

TDD - paperback jacket.jpg“1888. When young Scottish scientist James Murray receives a letter from Sofia Esposito, a woman he once loved and lost, he cannot refuse her cry for help. Sofia’s fifteen-year-old cousin has vanished but, because of her lower-class status, the police are unwilling to investigate.

Accompanied by his younger sister Lucy, Murray returns to the city of Turin where he was once apprenticed to the world-famous criminologist, Cesare Lombroso. As he embarks on his search for the missing girl, Murray uncovers a series of mysterious disappearances of young women and rumours of a haunted abbey on the outskirts of the city.

When the body of one of the girls turns up bearing evidence of a satanic ritual, Murray begins to slot together the pieces of the puzzle. But as two more bodies are discovered, fear grips the city and a desperate hunt begins to find a truly terrifying killer before he claims his next victim.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on The Devil’s Daughters blog tour. The Devil’s Daughters is the second book featuring Cesare Lombroso and his trainee criminal anthropologist, James Murray.  Those criminologists among you may recognise Lombroso’s name (well, you should do, anyway!) as Lombroso (1835-1909) was one of the founding fathers in the study of criminology.

Today I am delighted to share a guest post with you, written by the very talented author of The Devil’s Daughters, Diana Bretherick.  And to round things off, I have my review of this wonderful book.  So, without further ado, I’ll hand over to Diana…

Writing Crime Fiction.

Let me begin by telling you about my own ‘criminal past’. It began when I was about 11 and ‘stole’ my mother’s library books. Technically I suppose I borrowed them but as she didn’t know what I was doing and probably would have stopped me if she had, I was forced to go under cover – literally – with a torch under my bed sheets which made it all the more thrilling. She was an avid fan of crime writing, both fiction and true crime and I was immediately drawn into a dark world of murder, complicated puzzles and deception –a world that I have never really left.

I was particularly fascinated by old mysteries firmly rooted in a dark past where there was a doubt over the guilt of the accused, usually a woman – Florence Maybrick who was almost certainly wrongly convicted of poisoning her husband with arsenic and served many years in prison before her release, Edith Thompson hanged for the murder of her husband even though it was her young lover who wielded the knife, Alma Rattenbury who was acquitted of a similar spousal murder but committed suicide anyway – distraught at her lover being sentenced to death. Injustice, passion and misogyny lay at the heart of all of these cases and fired up my adolescent self, making me want to stand up for those falsely accused. Eventually I became a criminal barrister but reality never quite measured up to the drama of the past and the motivation behind a crime often took a back seat.

I wanted to know more. I took a sabbatical and trained as a counsellor, working with serious sexual offenders at Brixton prison as a volunteer. That was a fascinating though occasionally disturbing experience. It did answer some of my questions but not all, so I studied criminology. Here I found a whole host of theories none of which were completely satisfactory. As with all theories about anything they were always flawed in one way or another. I began to look at how crime was represented through media of various kinds. This led me to wonder if I could write my own crime fiction. I decided to study for a Masters in creative writing.

Thinking back to those stories from the past I focused on historical crime fiction. How did our ideas about criminals and their motivation begin? It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that crime was studied at all as a separate phenomenon. Then an Italian doctor called Cesare Lombroso discovered an anomaly in the skull of a criminal. Could it be, he wondered, that all offenders had similar characteristics? Lombroso was the world’s first criminologist and he suggested that some criminals were born with a propensity to offend, that they were throwbacks from a more primitive past and their physical characteristics would help us to identify them. He had his critics but many supported his ideas. He was the first to write about female criminals as a separate entity, something that didn’t happen again until the mid twentieth century.

I decided to make Lombroso my detective drawing on my fascination with both criminology and crime fiction. So far I have written two novels about him, giving him fictitious cases to solve assisted by a fictitious young Scottish doctor James Murray.

I am not sure that I have ever really found an answer to my question of what motivates someone to commit a violent crime. It is true that recent developments in the field of neuro-criminology suggest that some may have a propensity to violence identifiable from their genes although their criminality is almost certainly triggered by environmental factors.

Why then do people commit crimes, particularly of a violent kind? I doubt that we will ever find a conclusive answer. The thing about all of us, including criminals, is that we are all different as are the situations we find ourselves in. That is why both the study of crime and its fictional counterpart are so endlessly fascinating and why my ‘life of crime’ goes on.

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Who doesn’t love a bit of historical crime every now and then!  And if you don’t, can I suggest that you read this book?  It will totally change your mind!

James Murray receives a letter from his Italian love, asking for help but saying little else.  He’s a dashing and chivalrous kind of chap so he runs to her aide with his teenage sister, Lucy, in tow.  Upon arrival in Turin he discovers that Sofia is not keen to rekindle their love affair as hoped; all she wants is James’ help in finding her missing cousin, Chiara.  Broken-hearted, James sets out on the hunt for Chiara, only to discover the disfigured body of a girl.  Before long he and his mentor Lombroso, are on the hunt for a savage killer.  It doesn’t help that someone is out to discredit James and have him returned to Scotland.  It also doesn’t help that someone has their eye on his sister…

This is a fantastic book which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I try and avoid reading historical crime on a regular basis as it’s a special treat to myself, and this book goes to prove my theory about it being a treat.  What a treat The Devil’s Daughters is!  I loved the plot of this enchanting novel (enchanting makes it sound all light and fluffy – it’s not, it’s got just the right amount of blood, guts and a little bit of gore!).  I was drawn in from very early on and completely mesmerised by some wonderful characters who felt very real to me (yes, I know Lombroso was a real person!).  I adored James, what a kind hearted and chivalrous young man.  He, to me, felt like the main protagonist with Lombroso taking a back seat.  Lucy’s desire to become an accomplished writer of detective novels was so very charming, along with her desire to do what the blinking heck she wants to do, gender aside!  I even liked Miss Trott (what am I saying, I loved Miss Trott!).

Although I found the reveal of the murderer a little obvious, there were plenty of other surprises along the way to keep my interest.  Red herrings galore to keep you guessing, just the way I like my crime novels. It’s a brilliant book and, I’ll say it again, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m off to add the first book, City of Devils, to my wishlist!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s a wonderfully written historical crime novel, with an endearing cast of believable characters.  I hope there is more to come from James Murray and Lombroso, but we’ll have to see.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Emma Dowson, Orion Books and Diana Bretherick for providing me with a copy of The Devil’s Daughters in exchange for an honest review.

The Devil’s Daughters by Diana Bretherick will be published in the UK by Orion Books on 25th August 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orion Crime |

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Diana Bretherick

Diana Bretherick was a criminal barrister for ten years and is a former lecturer in criminology and criminal justice at the University of Portsmouth.

Her first novel, City of Devils (Orion, 2013) was selected for the 2013 Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club. Her latest novel The Devil’s Daughters is recently published by Orion in paperback.  Connect with Diana via Twitter @DianaBretherick or Orion Crime @orion_crime.

Guest Post: Tracey Sinclair (author of the Cassandra Bick Chronicles) #damppebblesTakeOver

So here’s the thing, I was due to have wrist surgery at some point during July.  In preparation for my surgery and post-op recovery I had kept most of the month free of blog tours and other promotional bits and bobs; it was going to be quiet month. However, my surgery was cancelled so I’ve been left with a fairly empty blog, which is a very sad thing indeed!

After pondering on it for a few days I decided that I wanted to fill damppebbles during July with author guest posts.  Mainly from crime writers but I’m not scared of stepping out of my comfort zone into other genres every now and then!

With that in mind, I am delighted to welcome Tracey Sinclair to damppebbles today.  Tracey is a fantasy writer and the author of the Cassandra Bick Chronicles.  Book 3 in the series, Angel Falls, was published earlier this year and is available as an eBook.  Here’s the blurb…

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00027]“It isn’t easy to surprise Cassandra Bick. When you run a human-vampire dating agency, your colleague is a witch who is engaged to a shifter and your business partner is one of London’s most powerful (and sexiest) vampires, there’s no such thing as a normal day at the office.

But when a mysterious Dark Dates client brings a dire warning of a new threat to the city’s supernatural community, Cass and her friends realise they are up against their deadliest foe yet – and that this time, the danger is far closer to home than they could ever have imagined.

Sexy, snarky and with more bite than a crypt full of vampires, Angel Falls is the latest in the Dark Dates: Cassandra Bick series.”

Not my usual genre but the Cassandra Bick Chronicles sound fantastic!  Tracey has very kindly provided me with a review copy of  Dark Dates (book one of the series) which I will be reviewing on damppebbles in due course.

Over to you Tracey…

When genres collide… crime meets fantasy fiction by Tracey Sinclair

I’m a huge fan of genre fiction, and it’s always been one of my pet peeves when it’s dismissed as ‘not serious’ or not as high quality as ‘literary’ fiction (this was true even before I wrote genre fiction myself, honest!) I’m also fond of a series, which is something genre fiction specialises in, as they often focus on strong storylines and interesting recurring characters, rather than the ‘one big idea’ of a standalone literary novel. My favourite genres are crime and paranormal/urban fantasy, and I’ve realised they often have more in common than you’d think…

Charlie Huston – Joe Pitt casebooks
Vampire fiction has become synonymous with YA romance thanks to the Twilight phenomena. But Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt has more shared DNA with the hardboiled heroes of Raymond Chandler or Elmore Leonard than he does with Edward Cullen. Best described as pulp noir, these books are gory, gritty stories set in a New York that is instantly recognisable, despite having a thriving vampire population. Not for the faint-hearted, they don’t shy away from modern realities (Aids, racial divisions, economic inequality) and are utterly compelling and even ultimately romantic (after all, Pitt does it all for the love of a dame).

John Connolly – Charlie Parker series
Although these tend to be categorised as crime, they actually have a strong supernatural element, which only becomes more pronounced as the series goes on. They are on one level just exceptionally well-written (although very dark) thrillers, and much of the ‘otherworldliness’ is open to question: are there eternal evil forces at work, or is that just the delusion of criminals seeking justification for their wrongdoings? But as the books build into a satisfying arc, you realise that there is something bigger at play, even while you can’t quite figure out Parker’s role in it.

Jim Butcher – Harry Dresden files
Yes, the other wizard called Harry. One of the most consistently enjoyable urban fantasy series around, these start off basically as ‘wizard detective’ novels, as Dresden works with the police to solve crimes that may or may not have a supernatural element. In some ways he’s the archetypal PI – smart mouthed, cocky, too stubborn for his own good and with a weakness for a damsel in distress. As the series goes on, the storylines become more fantasy-heavy, as Dresden’s world opens up to everything from reanimated corpses to evil fairies, but by then you’re too hooked to care.

Terry Pratchett – the Men at Arms books (Discworld series)
Lots of people dismiss Pratchett out of hand – he writes about trolls and witches! Lots of people are wrong. Because while the first couple of books in his best-selling Discworld series have dated badly, the collection as a whole offers one of the most complete and coherent fictional universes, and he uses the oft-mocked (sometimes, admittedly, by Pratchett himself) tropes of fantasy to draw parallels to our own world, tackling everything from religious extremism to people trafficking to rampant capitalism. It may be stretching to call them urban fantasy (although they are mostly set in a city, so maybe not), but his books featuring the Night Watch are some of his best, following copper Samuel Vimes’ progress from disillusioned Watch commander with a fondness for the bottle, to (reluctantly) upstanding community leader who only occasionally gets to kick criminals’ doors in. On the way it has an awful lot of fun with all of the clichés of crime and thriller stories, from Columbo-style faux-bumbling questioning (‘Just one more thing…’) to the rebel cop being thrown off a case, all set against the background of an organic, evolving cityscape. Essential reading.

***

Thank you Tracey for this fascinating post.  I have read a number of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series and have always enjoyed them.  As for Terry Pratchett, I devoured his books during my teens and they still have a special place in my heart.  My parents will, to this day, tell you about the holiday we took where I all I did was read Discworld novels (I’m not sure what else there is to do on holiday other than read….).

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Author image.JPGTracey Sinclair is an author, writer and editor who lives in Brighton. She’s a massive geek and lover of all things supernatural (and, indeed, Supernatural) and who probably spends way too much of her time on Netflix. She writes for a range of magazines and websites and her latest books are the Dark Dates series – which do indeed owe quite a lot to crime novels. The most recent of these are Angel Falls and A Vampire in New York and Other Stories.

 Buy Angel Falls via amazon.co.uk

Buy A Vampire in New York and Other Stories from amazon.co.uk

Connect with Tracey on Twitter @Thriftygal

 

*Blog Tour: Review* Outside Looking In by Michael Wood

51-x44K35eL“When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.”

I’m thrilled to be today’s stop on the Outside Looking In blog tour.  In true damppebbles style, this is the first DCI Matilda Darke book I have read despite it being the second book in the series (at least I’m not too late to the party with this one!).  And oh my gosh, I love Matilda Darke.  And I love Michael Wood’s style.  Totally readable and very engrossing.

The bodies of a couple are discovered in their car following what looks like a massacre.  He is dead, beyond resuscitating and she is barely hanging onto life.  DCI Matilda Darke is put on the case and soon discovers the victims are Kevin Hardaker and Lois Craven who were having a secret affair for over a year.  But why would someone kill these two fairly normal people, and why with such vengeance and hatred?  Suffering from negative publicity and her own demons, can Matilda discover who killed the couple and why, before anyone else is hurt…?

I should start by saying that DCI Darke has made it onto the illustrious damppebbles #girlcrush list.  I LOVE her.  She’s so wonderfully normal, the kind of person I’d like to pop down to Costa with for a coffee (I would say ‘pub’ and ‘white wine’ but she’s on the wagon!).  Thankfully I have the first book in the series, ‘For Reasons Unknown’ on my TBR so I can get my second fix of DCI Darke, ha ha!  Anyway, enough of my new womance…

The pacing of the plot is spot on with the story unfolding at a thoroughly enjoyable rate.  I wanted to keep turning the pages, I wanted to find out what was going to happen.  There was a moment where I felt pure dread for one character.  I won’t say anymore as I don’t do spoilers but oh my!

The conclusion is gripping and kept me on the edge of my seat.  There is encounter at the end of the book which I hope Michael Wood will be building on in the third book.  I’m looking forward to seeing where that particular story line goes.

This book does work as a standalone but I think it helps (no matter what the series or who the author) to read books in their correct order.  I wasn’t sure whether the missing child case that is mentioned often is something that was covered in book one or if it happened in the distant past.  I think going into a series partway through does leaving you feeling like you’ve missed a couple of important days at school!

I loved the nod to other great crime writers (being a crime fiction fanatic!).  I was hugely jealous of Matilda’s book inheritance and could immediately picture the bookcase she would need (boy, would it be big!).  If anyone would like to donate their crime fiction collection to me, the address is Emma @damppebbles….heh heh.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would but I think starting at book one is the best way forward.  Outside Looking In is totally compelling, thoroughly engaging and you’ll really like DCI Matilda Darke.

Four and a half out of five stars.

Outside Looking In by Michael Wood was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 26th May 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Michael Wood is a proofreader and former journalist in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first novel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, was released in the autumn of 2015. The follow-up, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, is released in May 2016 in ebook format by Killer Reads at HarperCollins.

 

*Blog Tour: Guest Post* When The Killing Starts by R C Bridgestock

51tfBIhhASL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_“Crime is a way of life for the Devlin brothers. Groomed at an early age and trained as criminals by local gangsters, the Devlin brothers get their thrill out of creating fear amongst their victims. They have a macabre pact; not to be arrested or caged. Brutality hits the town of Harrowfield when the scourge of the community is found dead, his companion slaughtered. The locals react with praise for the killers. The same day firefighters respond to a fire but lose the fight to save Merton Manor.  Amongst the debris two bodies are discovered; executed. As Dylan struggles to cope with the pressure, armed officers await his judgement call. Can he remain professional or will he release his anger?”

It is my pleasure to welcome R C Bridgestock to damppebbles today as part of their blog tour.  I am handing the reigns of my little blog over to the lovely Carol and Bob to celebrate the publication of their seventh DI Jack Dylan novel (which happens to be tomorrow, that’s Thursday 30th June 2016).  Over to you #TeamDylan.

Bob dealt with hundreds of dead bodies in his 30 year detective led police career; he has met cold blooded murderers who show no iota of remorse – and then he retired and became co-author of the Detective Inspector Jack Dylan’ series with his wife Carol.

unnamed (2)Bob had reached the rank of Detective Superintendent, Senior Investigative Officer, in
charge of major incidents for West Yorkshire Police, the fourth largest force in the country. But, at just 51, he knew it was time to stop.
Id see more horrific sights in a couple of weeks than most people see in a lifetime,’ he says. So, with his wife Carol, also in the Force as a support officer, they retired to the Isle of Wight, where the plot of their lives took an unlikely turn. They became authors.

‘Wed watch TV detective dramas/read books and Bob would say: It would never be done like that!, says Carol. ‘Youd never want to live in Midsomer, would you!’ returns Bob. ‘Think how much it would cost to insure your house!

Actually writing their own book seemed as unlikely a turn of events as many in that TV drama. ‘I had a lifetime of cases but I didnt consider myself a writer. I dont even read a lot. In fact I  often wonder whether Tom Sawyer ever finished painting that fence,’ he jokes, recalling the unfinished book he was given for good attendance at Sunday School.

Yet one day he saw an advert for a writing course at the Isle of Wight College, and enrolled himself and Carol. The result was Deadly Focus, a novel which has been well received by public and police alike. The couple have gone on to write six more books, the second, Consequences, third White Lilies, fourth Snow Kills, fifth Reprobates, sixth Killer Smile and the seventh When The Killing Starts publication date 30th June 2016.

Carol describes how two people can work on one book. I say to Bob: How dyou see Vicky, (the main characters sidekick). Bob saysI see her like Joanne Froggatt (Downton).So we can both imagine her, physically, then her character is based on someone we both knew well.’

Plots not a problem: it was Bobs life.

unnamed (8)It’s hard to square the circle between Bobs very talkative avuncular comedian personality and the dogged and hard-faced policeman you see in the newspaper cuttings. For even in the fuzziest little newspaper picture, Bob appears as a human mask, exhausted eyes peering out of fixed pallid face. ‘There were times I was dealing with six murder enquiries at once,’ he says.

Bobs early brushes with the law should have turned him off the idea of policing. ‘When I was five my elder brother picked a fog warning detonator off the railway line and told me hed got me a watch,’ grins Bob. ‘I was given a clip round the ear by the policeman. That didnt seem fair!

Bob, born in 1952, was one of five siblings in the small Yorkshire village of Marsden, on the border with Lancashire. Although his father was working there wasnt much money to feed a large family. ‘We used to hide under the stairs from either the lightening or the rent man,’ he grins. It was a life of hand-me-downs and making do. ‘My dad used to repair all the shoes: for two years I thought I had a club foot, because one foot was higher than the other!’

unnamed (4)He had two paper rounds before walking a mile and a half to school. ‘But,’ he says, ‘you just got on with it. Everyone did.’ He made it to grammar school, but Bob didnt take his GCEs. ‘I was offered a job at the butchers where id worked on a Saturday and decided to take it.’He had two paper rounds before walking a mile and a half to school. ‘But,’ he says, ‘you

You cant avoid assuming the slaughterhouse went some way to preparing him for the blood and gore he was to come across later. It was now that he had a second run-in with the police. ‘I was travelling home by bus, with my blood-stained butchers smock under my arm. Suddenly the bus stopped, I get another clip round the ear for wasting police time and had to walk home. I dont know what they thought Id done.

Bob could have become a cynical decrier of the law. Another time he was thrown into a van with an Alsatian snapping at him, for no good reason. But somewhere in Bobs mind was the idea that policemen should be more like televisions Dixon of Dock Green. ‘I thought somewhere there must be a nice police officer.

Bob qualified as a butcher, but by now he was married and the money was poor. So he left to work at the local dye works, an unforgiving place where he saw colleagues with terrible burns. ‘Id blow my nose and give off blue dye, and thought this cant be healthy.’ He stuck it for two years and then, taking a massive cut in pay, he joined the police force. The training was harsh. ‘In the first fortnight, I had my hair cut six times! We learnt to march, press our own uniform, bull our boots. You used to parade at 2 or 3 oclock in the morning. I used to say to myself ‘what the hell am I doing here?’

unnamed (1)Two years and several exams later Bob was working five weeks of night duty, marching out on the streets of Huddersfield in his too-tight helmet and collar which rubbed. His dogged determination and fearlessness led to promotion, and Bob became a detective. He soon learnt that catching criminals had an element of luck or otherwise. ‘Me and a colleague were watching a timber yard which had had been subject to arson attacks. We were there seven nights. On the eighth, a girl called Helen Rytka was murdered just yards from where wed been sat: a victim of the Yorkshire Ripper.’ He pauses. ‘Just one more night and hed have been well and truly caught.’

The Ripper case, then in its latter stages, was just one of very many high profile murders that Bob would see over the years, and it is a prime example of the way a case takes over the lives of those dealing with it. ‘There was so much criticism over the case that Sutcliffe (eventually convicted) was questioned but let go several times it destroyed the lives of those in charge.’

But being the man in chargewas something he aspired to. As a uniformed sergeant in Calderdale he was told: We dont go into that pub, they dont like police!‘Well, it was like a red rag to a bull! If you dont nip behaviour in the bud it just goes on.’

unnamed (7)Pleased to cast off the uniform again, he became a detective working on the infamous Sarah Harper murder, the little girl who went to buy a loaf of bread and never came back. Equally chilling were the Boarded Barn murders in Cheshire, where an ill-conceived attempt at kidnap and extortion led to the utterly callous murders of two young mothers. The team was commended for solving the crime, and Bob was promoted. As Detective Inspector he was given the Denis Hoban Trophy for outstanding detective work. Bob mentions this and his other commendations not with any arrogance but with an air of gratitude that his efforts have been noted. It is Carol who points out that most officers dont get anything like the 20 certificates of commendation that Bob has accumulated over the years.

Bob became Detective Chief Inspector and held the post for seven years. He spent four years at Wakefield Detective School training future senior detectives; he became a hostage negotiator, and trained others in the art: ‘Fortunately, on incidents I went to I never lost anybody.’

unnamed (3)His biggest fear was, being in the middle of six death-related cases at once, hed
blather out the name of the wrong victim to a relative. ‘One of them was the Huddersfield fire case (where petrol bombs were thrown through the window and petrol poured through the letter box killed seven in an Asian family). ‘Lovely family, but it was easy to pronounce the Asian names wrongly.’ In that case, the survivors wanted the victims flown home to Pakistan, a
nd Bob, arranged all this. ‘I was the man in charge,’ he says, adding: ‘Don
t get me wrong, youve got forensic, youve got pathology but its you that makes the decisions that will make or break the enquiry. So you go to the mortuary, you endure the very terrible sights and smells because you need to understand the nature of the injuries.’

Getting a feel for the atmosphere of a crime scene was important, too. One thing he found frustrating was that, as he rose to be DCI he was no longer allowed to interview suspects because the rank of Det Chief Inspector was deemed to be intimidating to suspects. ‘You learn so much from being face to face with people.’ For the Dylan series he resorted to reducing hisrank, because suspect interviews were an essential tool of the plot.

Bob believes two things are essential in policing. The first is common sense. ‘People say youre breaching criminalshuman rights.Hang on a minute! If you steal youre a thief; you dont swear because its rude. If you cross that line and injure or kill you should forfeit those human rights.’

The second is keeping a sense of humour. He talks about the man in charge of the mortuary who had a pacemaker, who was on the lookout for a free upgrade. Gallows humour maybe, but an essential pressure release.

Despite his relentless exposure to callousness he retained his belief in people. He recalls with pleasure people who went out of their way to thank him: the wife of one victim, have-a-go heroKevin Jackson, bought him a pair of slippers so he wouldnt worry about bringing muddy shoes into peoples homes.

unnamed (5)A sweet thought in a world of cynicism. Bob, when he became Detective Superintendent, had 26 murders in his last three years alone, as well as 50 suspicious deaths and 23 major incidents. In true Detective hero style, he had a maverick approach to the task. ‘We knew who killed Kevin Jackson because wed got a DNA match from under his finger nails. So I got photos of the suspects and did the press conference in front of the photos which Id had blown up into massive posters!’ Legally sensitive, perhaps, but Bobs argument was were looking for murderers here.

As the face of the news conference, wasnt he fearful of backlashes? ‘No, providing youve been right with them theyre right with you. Ive always treated people the way Id want to be treated. I go back to these influences from earlier,’ he says, referring to all those uncalled-for clips round the ear ‘Police shouldnt treat people like that.’ When in the midst of a case, members of the public would come up to him when he and Carol were doing the weekly shop with their own suggestions: ‘Here, Bob, had you thought it might be so-and-so that did it?!’ Carol laughs: ‘We couldnt get round Sainsburys without someone coming up to us!’

unnamed (6)Their lighthearted approach belies the reality that there were no real days off. His catalogue of cases is relentless. He spent days at a time in the mortuary and TV post-mortems go nowhere to prepare for the real thing and there were nights when Carol didnt even know hed come to bed at all. But he couldnt rest until that case was finished because if you relaxed there might just be something, something that you miss.  In the end his body told him to quit. He found, getting out of the car one night, he was frozen to the spot. His doctor suggested it was time to stop. ‘If you dont step away you get sucked into a vacuum of sadness,’ says Bob.

Thirty years seemed a reasonable innings, and the Isle of Wight has had its fabled relaxing affect on this non-stop policeman and his wife. ‘Being in the Force meant I understood the demands of the job,’ says Carol. ‘And I love him, so of course I supported him.Some people say Jen, is too good but we tell it as it is – in a fictional tale.

10572212_724226717696085_6988507816097066973_oNow, as well as the couple getting their DI Dylan books published by Caffeine Nights
Publishers, Kent they have also found a super literary agent in David Headley (DHH Literary Agency, London). They are also active Patrons of three charities and Ambassadors for two others. Why? ‘I thought I worked hard,’ says Bob. ‘But these people, they just give everything.

The DI Jack Dylan series of books is available from all good book shops and online.

Thank you so much R C Bridgestock.  What a fascinating guest post and great to learn about the real experiences of senior detective.

When the Killing Starts by R C Bridgestock was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 30th June 2016 and in available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

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RT 4 Bob & Carol 89764 RTThe D.I. Dylan series of books by RC Bridgestock (Husband and wife writing team, Bob and Carol Bridgestock) comes from a unique perspective of a collective real life experience of high level policing of 47 years.

The couple are consultant storyline/police procedure for Sally Waintwright on 2014 police drama series for BBC 1 Happy Valley and are also consultant storyline advisors/police procedural to Red Productions Ltd for ITV 1 Scott & Bailey & general police advice.

Bob and Carol are represented by David Headley, DHH Literary Agency.  Connect with R C Bridgestock via Twitter @RCBridgestock and on Facebook.

 

#Blogival: Devil’s Demise by Lee Cockburn (Extract, Guest Post & Review)

41Xat-MjUgL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_“A cruel and sinister killer is targeting Edinburgh’s most powerful women, his twisted sense of superiority driving him to satisfy his depraved sexual appetite. He revels in the pain and suffering he inflicts on his unsuspecting victims but a twist of fate and an overwhelming will to survive by one victim ruins his plans for a reign of terror. His tormented prey will need all her courage if she is to survive the hunt. DS Taylor Nicks, DC Marcus Black and the team are failing to get a positive lead as this unlikely monster reeks havoc on the city, always managing to keep one step ahead of them. DS Nicks, a strong, intelligent and striking woman, is now under mounting pressure both at work and in her eventful private life. Can she stop the evil beast before he takes his ultimate revenge?”

Welcome to my third and final #blogival post of the month.  Today I am thrilled to have an extract from Devil’s Demise by Lee Cockburn along with a guest post from the author, as well as my review.  Here’s an extract from the book (be warned, it’s a saucy one!):

Marcus turned her on her side and re-entered her from behind, his hands caressing her silky swollen pleasure from the front, his kisses powerful and demanding, Maria turned her head round to allow their mouths to meet, Marcus finally giving in to his physical need and letting go, his hands and thrusts continuing until Maria tensed her body, trapping him in the grip of her orgasm; he took hold of her, kisses still manic and desperate although not with the animal desire previously felt. Maria freed herself from him and turned to face him, her face and neck flushed with the pleasure of their intimate hot sex. She held his face and kissed him, her tongue savouring his kiss, his meeting hers and the tenderness overwhelming.
“I love you, Marcus Black.”
“I love you too, Mrs Black.”
“You do realise that I’m going to be really, really late, young lady and I won’t know what to say.”
Maria smiled at him and whispered to him, “You’re not going anywhere.”
She pushed him over onto his back and used her mouth to arouse him again. She straddled him and demanded more, her body taking him into her, his hands slipping over and over her silky mound, again and again she came hard, her body tensed and needy; Marcus looked at her in disbelief, not unpleasant disbelief as she eventually sighed and slumped against him.
“I’ve really missed you.”
Marcus held her tight and said, “Not half,” and laughed with her, their bodies joined together in their twisted sheets, bodies glistening with beads of sweat and faces flushed with the glow of pent up desire and exhaustion.

After another shower Marcus finally left the house and headed to work. He rang his boss. She answered, “Yes, DS Nicks.” Marcus fibbed as he said, “I’m sorry I’m late, I was caught up.”
“In the sheets,” Taylor cut in. “It’s about time you lived a normal life like me, flying by the seat of your pants and telling lies about being stuck in traffic, cause that’s what you were going to say, wasn’t it?”
Marcus remained silent with a big warm smile spreading over his face; he couldn‘t have wished for a better boss, and hot too.
Taylor informed him, “I’m up at the enquiry office looking into the outstanding missing people files. You could meet me there. That will stop Findlay getting in about your mince. See you soon, you naughty boy.”

The enquiry office was a specialist department in the police that dealt with missing people and all of the sudden deaths in the city. There were 10 dedicated officers who catered to the next of kin; when a death occurred, they produced in-depth death reports for the procurator fiscal. They also collated and recorded all information about every missing person in the city area and any enquiry made relating to each case documented.  They created invaluable databases which officers could refer to and utilize, whenever the need arose.
Taylor looked up from her computer with a great big smile directed at a rather flustered DC Black.
“Glad you could come in, better late than never though, eh!”
Marcus apologised genuinely and pulled up a seat beside Taylor. She was looking as polished as ever, her tight fitting suit and long spiralling hair covering her shoulders, her scent intoxicating – any man’s dream, if you didn’t mind never reaching your goal.
“How long have you been at it?” Marcus, realising what he had just said, was leaving himself wide open for Taylor’s reply, which followed quickly.
“No, how long have you been at it more like?” Her laughter escaped and she patted him on the shoulders, as if to say that’s my boy.
“Let’s get down to business. We are looking for women, I’m not sure that the accused will have a certain age group, as we only have one victim.”
“That we know about!” added Marcus.
“Although I do think it will only be women, the man at the house was not planned, he just got in the way, poor old soul.” “How many do we have?”
“What, in Edinburgh or Scotland? Who knows how far he’s travelled to indulge in his sick fantasies,” Taylor replied with a tone of disgust, as her mind returned to Susan and the way he had sadistically left her.
“I think we have about six or seven that have potential, having looked through the files. There are two in Edinburgh, three in Glasgow and one in the Borders that I think we should look at first.”
Marcus pointed to the picture of one of the outstanding missing women, a young Polish prostitute; her name was Layla Petrovsky and she had been missing since Halloween a year ago.
“How do we even know if she’s still in this country? She might have made her money and gone back to where she came from – maybe just had enough and left, who knows?”
“Well, we’ll just have to work our way through all of them systematically and see if anything has been missed or if there is a lead we can still follow. A lot of enquiry has obviously been done and nothing has come to light so far that has made them suspicious enough to turn them into murder enquiries, not yet anyway.”

Marcus began his enquiry into Mary Dawkins, a 29 year old music teacher from Edinburgh, who had not been seen since December the year previously, and Taylor took the other Edinburgh case, the prostitute Layla Petrovsky missing since November the same year; neither of them looked overly suspicious, just people who had their own reasons for not wanting to be found, or on the other hand, other people who didn’t want them to be found, but it was a start.

What do you think?  Want to read more?  I’ll reveal my thoughts after I have shared a guest post from the author.

Last week I had a post from Adapt author, Edward Freeland, which featured his five favourite books.  I loved it so much that I’m doing it again!  Lee Cockburn shares her four favourite crime/thriller books with us.  Over to you Lee…

9780553817065My favourite crime writer just now is Tess Gerritsen, her books the surgeon and the apprentice were the first of a series, the characters Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles both believable, have real life vulnerabilities, but both very skilled workers in their chosen professions. I like the rest of the books in the series as I have read them all bar one, but my mum bought it for my birthday yesterday, but has told me I’ll get it once she’s read it on holiday! The main perpetrator of the book is Warren Hoyt, a cruel and vile man with surgical skills factually described throughout ithe book, and featuring in all of Gerritson’s books due to her profession, other that being an author. I like how Hoyt features in the second book, continuing his reign of terror and his unhealthy focus on Rizzoli.

269831._UY200_The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, I just loved it, the twists and turns throughout, the short chapters allowing you to race to the next, skilfully tying up all of the loose ends, and leaving me happy I picked it up, although I wasn’t available for a day or two.

375013Schindler’s list, by Thomas Keneally a war crimes thriller, brutally graphic, true account of the horrific atrocities that took place during the Second World War. Brilliant book, well written, provoking novel that leaves you with tears in your eyes at the way humans can behave towards one another.

Tea Planter's WifeThe last book not a crime thriller as such, the Tea Planters Wife by Dinah Jeffries, given to me by my mother in law. I started reading it, initially moaning at some of the over description, but the story soon had me drawn in, the true crimes of life itself out on full display, opinions and beliefs leading to the main character giving up her daughter, lies and deceit throughout left me impatient to get to the end, where I found myself in tears, with the sadness behind the unfortunate chain of events. Not the type of book I read, but really enjoyed it.

Thank you so much Lee.  Some great choices there.  I’ve read and enjoyed a number of Tess Gerritsen books and Schindler’s List is on my wish list.

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I love a serial killer thriller and I enjoyed this book.  I was a little sceptical to start with as there is a fair amount of quite explicit sexual content which I struggled with.  The violence is also quite brutal and very graphic but that didn’t bother me so much.

You find out who the killer is relatively early on in the book so the plot is built more around the hunt for the murderer, more cat and mouse than ‘whodunnit’.  I did wonder at times how the killer was managing to get away from the police as he seemed quite bumbling!  There were moments where I thought, ‘they’re going to get him now, surely…’.

The characters are well written but I struggled to connect with them.  The killer oozes evil and I wonder if the author intended to write a crime novel that could also border on being a horror novel (the cover certainly gives that impression).

Would I recommend this book? I would but my recommendation comes with a warning; there are quite a few explicit sexual scenes within the pages of this book. It’s certainly not for the fainthearted!

Three and a half stars out of five.

Thanks to Rachel at Authoright for providing me with a copy of Devil’s Demise in exchange for an honest review.

Devil’s Demise by Lee Cockburn was published in the UK by Clink Street Publishing on 10th November 2014 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

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Lee Cockburn has worked for Police Scotland for fourteen years including as a police sergeant in Edinburgh for five years and also as a public order officer. Before joining the force, she played for Scotland Women’s rugby team for fifteen years, earning over eighty caps for the Scottish ladies and British Lionesses teams. She also swam competitively for twelve years, successfully representing Edinburgh at the age of fifteen in the youth Olympics in Denmark in 1984. Lee lives in Edinburgh with her civil partner Emily and their two young sons Jamie and Harry.

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*Blog Tour: Review* My Girl by Jack Jordan

51YyNoTecqL“Paige Dawson: the mother of a murdered child and wife to a dead man.

She has nothing left to live for… until she finds her husband’s handgun hidden in their house.

Why did Ryan need a gun? What did he know about their daughter’s death?

Desperate for the truth, Paige begins to unearth her husband’s secrets.

But she has no idea who she is up against, or that her life isn’t hers to gamble – she belongs to me.

From the bestselling author of Anything for Her, Jack Jordan’s My Girl is the new chilling thriller that you won’t want to miss.”

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the My Girl blog tour.  I recently reviewed Jack Jordan’s debut novel ‘Anything for Her’ which I loved (you can find that review here). Once again Jack has done himself proud with another blistering psychological thriller.

Paige Dawson is a troubled woman.  Chloe, her teenage daughter is dead.  Ten years later Paige’s husband unable to cope with his own grief commits suicide ensuring Paige finds the body.  Understandably Paige finds it hard to cope after the death of her family so turns to alcohol and pills to get her through each day.  Then strange things start to happen; her husband’s face has been cut out of all the family photographs, her husband’s things are removed from her house.  She may be drunk, but she’s not mad…is she?!

The story grabs you by the throat and draws you in.  You get a sense of impending doom whilst reading about Paige and her terrible life choices.  But I started to feel real sympathy for the character as strange things began to happen.  She’s not particularly likeable, she has moments when she is very much to blame, but you can’t help but want things to turn out OK for her.  Do they?  Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The story is punchy with twists and turns and I found it very easy to read, devouring it in under 24 hours (that’s speed reading for me!).  It is a dark story about a dark subject matter which is written brillantly by Jordan.

Would I recommend this book? Oh yes, but prepare yourself for quite a shock. I for one am very much looking forward to Jack Jordan’s next book.  It’s going to be very difficult to top this one (no pressure Jack!).

Four and a half out of five stars.

Many thanks to Jack Jordan for providing me with a copy of My Girl in exchange for an honest review.

My Girl by Jack Jordan is published wordwide on 4th July 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com |

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Jack Jordan lives in East Anglia, England. He is an introvert disguised as an extrovert, an intelligent person who can say very unintelligent things, and a self-confessed bibliomaniac with more books than sense. ‘Anything for Her’ is Jack Jordan’s debut novel.

Connect with Jack via Twitter @_JackJordan_

 

*Blog Tour: Review* Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett)

415DfcTexyL“September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge … Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.”

I am delighted to be today’s stop on the Where Roses Never Die blog tour.  As you may be aware, I have a habit at the moment of coming to a series several books in.  I tend to start with book two or (heaven forbid!) book six.  I think this book and it’s beleaguered lead, PI Varg Veum, takes the biscuit though.  Gunnar Staalesen has been writing about Veum since 1977!  Granted, only a handful of his novels have been translated from their original Norwegian to English, but I intend to hunt down every single one of them!

It’s 1977 and a young girl is snatched whilst playing in the sand pit outside her home.  She and her family live in a remote but secure co-op, designed by one of the residents and surrounded by handpicked neighbours.  They all trust each other…to some extent.  After a thorough police investigation the family is none the wiser and Mette is not found.  As the statute of limitations approaches (25 years later), Maja, Mette’s mother contacts Veum hoping he will discover the truth, before time runs out.  All Veum discovers though is a community in pieces harbouring the most shocking of secrets…

Brilliant!  I have a real soft spot for translated books but have always tended to avoid Scandinavian authors and Nordic Noir (I can’t say why that is but it may be something to do with reading a novelisation of ‘The Killing’, which was written by a Brit!).  That won’t be the case in future!

I really warmed to PI Varg Veum despite his very obvious flaws and addictions.  He is quite a character and I feel a little jealous of Norwegian readers who have grown up reading his stories.  (There is a life sized statue of Veum in Bergen, that’s how you treat your most loved fictional characters!)

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Gunnar Staalesen and the statue of Varg Veum

One thing I will say, this is not a ‘fast paced, thrill-a-second’ book.  More of a slow build to a blistering conclusion (which is superb).  There are unexpected twists throughout the story which are cleverly placed to make sure you keep turning the pages.  It’s a very enjoyable read about a group of people who aren’t necessarily what they seem.

Would I recommend this book?  Definitely.  Thanks to Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum, Nordic Noir has a new fan.  My Norwegian is pretty rusty (haha, read: non existent!) so I’m off to find Gunnar’s other translated-to-English Veum books so I can fall in love with him just a little bit more.

Five out of five stars.

Thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for my copy of Where Roses Never Die in exchange for an honest review.

Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett) is published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th June 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

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unspecifiedGunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947.  He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series.  He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. The next instalment in the Varg Veum series – No One Is So Safe in Danger – will be published by Orenda Books in 2017.

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*Blog Tour: Review* Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus

51E1j1admpL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_“Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

A complex, page-turning psychological thriller, riddled with twists and turns, Epiphany Jones is also a superb dark comedy with a powerful emotional core. You’ll laugh when you know you shouldn’t, be moved when you least expect it and, most importantly, never look at Hollywood, celebrity or sex in the same way again. This is an extraordinary debut from a fresh, exceptional new talent.”

Welcome to my stop on the Epiphany Jones blog tour.  This book is something special and I am thrilled to be a part of the tour, along with some other fabulous bloggers.  Make sure you check out all of the other stops along the way.

Oh. My. Gosh!  I have never read a book quite like Epiphany Jones before.  From the moment I read the blurb I HAD to read this book.  And look at that cover!! Absolutely stunning. This is a brand new reading experience so I suggest you do everything you can to get hold of a copy.  Did I mention that I have NEVER read a book like this one before…??

Jerry suffers from figments, imaginary people who pop into and out of his life at the most inopportune moments.  This is due to his traumatic past; his young sister died of leukaemia and his father died in a horrific car accident, Jerry was also in the car at the time.  Oh, and he’s addicted to porn.  He can keep the figments at bay though by taking his meds, but there’s this one figment who keeps appearing.  She even appears in his dreams!

Whilst Jerry is at lunch one day a priceless painting goes missing from the museum where he works.  He is accused of the theft but only digs himself in deeper by lying when confronted.  Upon his return home he is aghast to find the stolen painting in his apartment.  Confused and wanting to distance himself from the booty he leaves his apartment only to bump into his figment, literally.  But that can’t happen.  Figments are created by his mind and they are not real.  Except this one is and she’s not really a figment.  She’s Epiphany Jones…

This book contains some pretty dark, gutsy themes and you do need a strong stomach for parts of it.  Saying that I am hugely impressed with the way Michael Grothaus has handled these themes within the story.  None of the sexual content felt gratuitous and it was very much necessary for the story.  Even the moments when Jerry is alone (I shall say no more and let your mind fill in the blanks)…

The story flows smoothly and at an enjoyable pace.  My interest was kept from the very first word to the very last.  I couldn’t predict where the story was going and I was always surprised by the twists and turns (full marks from me for that!).  The humour I adored. The blurb is correct, you do find yourself laughing at things which you know you shouldn’t.

I didn’t like Jerry, I did like Jerry and then I didn’t like Jerry again.  Now I have reached the conclusion of the book I definitely DO like Jerry.  The rest of the characters I’m not so sure about.  That is, except Epiphany.  Epiphany is an amazing character, quite possibly my favourite fictional character…ever!

I have to congratulate Michael Grothaus on his use of the word ‘mosey’.  It’s not a word I see often in books but it’s one of my favourites.  Thank you for using it with such aplomb Mr Grothaus.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I would, however, add a cautionary note about it not being for the faint hearted. There is a lot of bad language, copious amounts of sexual content (it’s about sex-trafficking and Jerry is addicted to porn, after all) and a fair amount of graphic violence that even made my tummy flip and that’s saying something as I love blood, guts and gore in my books!

Five stars out of five.

Thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of Epiphany Jones in exchange for an honest review.

Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 16th May 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

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Novelist and journalist Michael Grothaus was born in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1977. He spent his twenties in Chicago where he earned his degree in filmmaking from Columbia and got his start in journalism writing for Screen. After working for institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, Twentieth Century Fox, and Apple he moved to the United Kingdom where he earned his postgraduate degree and began writing for The Guardian, Fast Company, VICE, and others. His debut novel is EPIPHANY JONES, a story about sex trafficking among the Hollywood elite, based on his experiences at the Cannes Film Festival. It will be published by Orenda in May 2016. Michael is represented worldwide by The Hanbury Agency in London, where he lives when not traveling. His writing is read by millions of people each month.

Epiphany Jones Blog tour.jpg