#BookReview | #GuestReview: Appetite For Risk by Jack Leavers (@jackleavers) @cobaltdinosaur #AppetiteForRisk #damppebbles

9781912881505.jpg“With Saddam Hussein deposed and an entire country in need of rebuilding, former Royal Marine John Pierce hears the siren call of adventure and opportunity. His fledgling UK business is struggling to support his young family and he has connections in the Iraqi capital – fate seems to point one way. 

In early 2004, Pierce rolls the dice when he jumps into a taxi in Jordan and heads for the turmoil of postwar Baghdad to grab a share of the reconstruction gold rush. But when Iraq spirals into the hell of a full-blown insurgency, he must rely on his wits and his local friends if he’s to evade the rampant bloodshed. 

As the action rolls across the blood-stained Iraqi landscape and embraces London’s seedy underbelly, Pierce tangles with the authorities at home and finds himself thrust into the heart of British and American covert operations against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. 

Having set out with little more than ambitious goals and an appetite for risk, can a determined ex-bootneck survive the mounting chaos unscathed and succeed in hitting the jackpot?”

It’s me! I’m back! Did you miss me?  I know Emma was here wasn’t she…talking about murders, detectives, thrillers and horror characters and the ever-growing TBR (honestly it’s huge). Well, she has a well-deserved break today, sitting with her feet up, Kindle on and waiting for the right time to open the wine [DP: What?! Seeing as this review will go live at 7am on a Sunday it’s a little early for that!]! whilst I tell you about something a little bit different!  Appetite For Risk is Jack’s Leavers debut novel, and it is clear this is an author with tales to tell.   Leavers’ novel takes us around Iraq with his main character, John Pierce, an ex-marine turned security consultant who puts in himself in dangerous situations to make money to support his family.  There is a strong air of realism for many of the characters in this book, as though they are closely based on friends of Jack Leavers, the atmosphere and locations he describes also feel so realistic that you are let with a sense of visiting somewhere you have never been.

John Pierce is a great main character.  He is not an all-action hero defeating Al Qaeda with little more than a penknife. He is a normal ex-soldier (if there is such a thing!) with an eye to the future and working hard to create his own business.  There was something endearing about the way John Pierce recognises his weaknesses and failures but cannot always convert them to successes – a realism that is lost in too many books of this genre.

The storytelling is also done well. Jack Leavers gradually lets characters develop in the book allowing you to decide who John can trust and who has more sinister plans.  There were two or three characters I expected to re-appear in the book after certain scenes, but come the end I realised that I had fallen for some clever red herrings.  The end was a surprise for me and I don’t want to provide spoilers but I can say it took me a couple of days to come to terms with it and decide it was clever and probably one of the most realistic endings I had read in a long time.

Would I read a second Jack Leavers book? I would!  I am sure John Pierce has more adventures in him and my suspicion is that Jack himself has more tales he would like to share!  This is a well-told story about one man in a dangerous situation, told by someone you would probably want with you if you were there too!

I read an eARC of Appetite for Risk.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Appetite For Risk by Jack Leavers was published in the UK by the Book Guild on 28th 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.comWaterstonesBook Depository | Goodreads |

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jack leaversJack Leavers is a former Royal Marines Commando with over thirty-years’ experience in the military, private security, corporate investigations, maritime counter-piracy, and risk management. His varied career has included numerous deployments to conflict zones around the world such as Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, trouble spots in Africa, and the Somali pirate-infested waters of the Indian Ocean.

He continues to work in challenging environments and has now begun to pen novels inspired by some of the more enterprising projects that got the green light, and other audacious plans that didn’t.

When knuckling down to write, he’s normally based in London, UK.

Website: jackleavers.com
Twitter: @jackleavers

#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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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 | #BookReview: Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski @cobaltdinosaur #GuestReview #MamasGone #TheLagottiFamily

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“When children grow up, the parents must die

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love.

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them.

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone?”

Hello my bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today to my guest reviewer’s stop on the Mama’s Gone blog tour. Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi is the fourth book in The Lagotti Family series and was published earlier this week on 18th March 2019. I’ll hand straight over to my guest reviewer, Ryan (or ‘the husband!’).

Starting a post on damppebbles is always tricky. It’s a great blog [Emma: You have to say that!] and I always worry whether my review is going to get it a bad reputation? But after reading Mama’s Gone, a mob crime thriller, I’m not so worried! I’m considering up and leaving damppebbles, setting up my own blog, making some money out of the marks and building my own blogging mob empire.

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski is effectively the fourth book in the Lagotti Family series. However, having read it, I would not have known this. It reads well as a standalone with plenty of back story and character history. The book moves at a rapid pace, starting with a shooting before bringing out what has gone before. The four main characters are each clearly cast; hard working Alice, lazy Mama’s boy Frank, reliable Bobby and of course Mama. Mama runs a traditional mob; drugs, prostitution and gambling but with two children growing up as rivals to be the successor and Russian mobs moving in, what will happen? Will the traditional mob be victorious as it has been so many times in the past or is a new dawn coming?

I must admit by the end of the book I didn’t really like any of the characters. Normally I like a good anti-hero but the author does a great job of showing the multiple flaws of each character. Too much loyalty in one, a ruthless streak for succeeding in another and what some would call a pathological streak in yet another. The book cleverly draws the story forward quickly with each small battle a character faces adding to the story. As we near the crescendo the characters not only have to fight with the outside world but also inside the family as Mama slowly loses her grip on the helm of the family organisation.

I have to say I liked the story. It read well as a standalone and bought some distinct characters into being. The author wasn’t afraid to let his characters live and die by their bloodthirsty, ruthless decisions. Decisions of a mob character rather than your typical reader and watching this happen from the other side of a kindle screen worked well! If crime is a genre you enjoy this will be an easy read for you and I recommend it to all.

However, as I reach the end of this review I can confirm I enjoyed the book but I’m not brave enough to be a mob boss, so I will just thank everyone for reading and quietly creep out before anyone notices!

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi was publsihed in the UK on Monday 18th March 2019 and is available in eBook format: | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer (@mark_farrer) #TheGoodTheBadTheRugby @cobaltdinosaur

GBR-Front-Cover.jpg“Getting to the truth. By trial… and eror error.

Cullen is on jury duty, and the sleepy Scottish town of Melrose is experiencing a rare crime wave: the famous Rugby Sevens trophy is stolen, a dead body is unearthed, there is a spate of petty arson, and someone drives a van into Gloria’s front room.
Why? And what is her husband doing every night up on Eildon hill?

In this hilarious crime romp, misguided loyalties, thwarted love, and unbelievable gullibility reach crisis point on the one day in the year when the world pays a visit to Melrose.

At the final whistle, Cullen will ensure that justice is done.

Because sometimes twelve good men just isn’t enough.”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to the final stop on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby blog tour.  I’m once again handing the reins of the blog over to my husband who is my overused and underappreciated guest reviewer!  Here’s what Ryan thought about The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer…

I’ve just read “The Good, The Bad & The Rugby” and am delighted to be reviewing it for damppebbles.  Crime fiction comedy writers can miss the mark in many different ways; focusing on the comedic value rather than the story, humorous twists that are way too obvious and having long periods of story telling between “the funny bits”.   But as I think back on this book I believe Mark Farrer nailed it!  I’m not one of those reviewers who leaves these things to the end, it was 5 stars, my favourite fiction book of the year.

As I read the story it reminded me of Christopher Brookmyre’s work; fantastic characterisation, a well-paced and balanced storyline and lots of laughs.  I think the title is good but hope it doesn’t scare readers off who aren’t rugby fans.   You don’t need to be a rugby fan to enjoy this book.

I don’t know about you but one of my main criteria for judging a book like this is l how I reacted, so let’s do the checklist;

1) Did I laugh out loud? Yes

2) Did I laugh out loud somewhere I would have preferred not to? Yes (seat 13b of flight BA705 Vienna to Heathrow)

3) Did I read bits out to my wife despite not considering context or whether she was interested? Yes

4) Am I sad the books finished? Yes

5) Am I going to tell people about the book? Yes

So five out of five!  I have a sad Kindle staring forlornly at me now, it will surely have more of Mark’s books on it in the near future.

Looking forward to my next adventure with these characters!

I think he liked it! If Mark Farrer’s books encourage my husband to read more fiction then I am over the moon.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer was published in the UK on 18th October 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com |

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Download Mark Farrer’s novella DIRTY BARRY for FREE via this LINK!

 


UK Only Giveaway:

For your chance to win 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books, please click the following Rafflecopter link.  Please note this a UK only giveaway.  The 14 winners will be selected at random and your postal address will be passed onto Mark Farrer.  There is no cash alternative.  The giveaway ends of midnight (GMT) on 16th November 2018.  Any personal information stored by the Rafflecopter giveway will be deleted after the winners have been drawn.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Mark Farrer.jpgMark was born in Liverpool, studied Computer Science at Hull University, then had a successful career in IT management in London and the South-East for twenty years before moving to Edinburgh in 2001. He continued working in IT until 2015 when he decided to retire from the rat race and focus on becoming a writer. He now spends half his time writing and the other half worrying why he is not yet making money from writing.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby is Mark’s third comic novel featuring a morally righteous loner called Cullen. He also has a perma-free novella on Amazon, called Dirty Barry, which tells how Cullen and Big Paul first met. He is currently at work on a second novella, called Bronchial Billy.

Mark has three children, one at University, one on a gap year in Ghana, and one still at High School. He lives with his partner Claire, a photographer, near West Linton, in the Scottish Borders.

He likes: his Mini Cooper, songwriting, playing piano, vanilla pannacotta, The Beatles, woodburning stoves, wittertainment, Bill Bailey, #sadmanonatrain, fruit gums, Carl Hiaasen, The Wire, spicy food, Van Gogh, Lindsey Buckingham, oaked chardonnay, House MD, long walks, cinema, reading in bed, florentines, Only Connect, board games, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Budweiser, GBBO, India, cheese, David Armand’s mimes, bookshops, Scandi Noir, Diet Coke, The Economist, Blackadder, good sausages, Dickens, Helena Bonham-Carter (secret crush), the Times crossword, the song mmmbop, and pies.

And lists.

He dislikes: ITV, pinot grigio, tattoos, ballet, ready meals, rap, religion, clutter, artificial raspberry flavouring, marmite, jazz, under-powered showers, people who don’t look after their stuff, opera, sprouts, and waste.

And mashed potato.

He really doesn’t like mashed potato.

Author Links: Twitter | Website | Amazon |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Without Rules by Andrew Field (@AFwithoutrules) @cobaltdinosaur #WithoutRules

Without Rules cover.jpg“When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired.

A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning.

China knows she’s next to die.

Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else.

She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.”

It is my pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and my guest reviewer’s stop on the Without Rules blog blitz.  My guest reviewer, should you not be familiar with him, is my dear husband Ryan.  Having been a passionate reader when we first met, Ryan is a reluctant reader these days.  So I try and reignite his love of literature by encouraging him to occasionally guest review on the blog.  What sickens me is that he’s actually better at review writing than me! (Not reading, mind.  I am the MASTER of the house at reading!) I’m not here really, a mere figment of your imagination.  It’s all about Ryan and what he thought of Without Rules by Andrew Field…

Sometimes I don’t want to read….Now I admit that is not a usual way to start a book review and Mr Field is probably slightly worried!  But after a day of work, playing with the kids and sorting out a few things in the house I don’t really want to sit down and concentrate on a book.  Without Rules by Andrew Field is probably exactly what I have been needing on evenings like this.  A fast-paced story which sharply cuts between scenes and a story being told from multiple character viewpoints.  This is a story that sucks you in and washes over you without any undue effort from the reader.

Without Rules is unusual for me in that I didn’t really like any of the characters, there was little of your classic all good all action hero, rather we had characters with back stories which became clear throughout the story moving between hero, anti-hero and anti-anti-hero (is that a thing?).  The books main characters Jak and China are thrown together through circumstance at the start of the book, both have motives that are unclear at that stage but as the book develops we see the story unfold for both of them.  Scenes through their own eyes, as well as those of the police and others around them bring multiple story lines together as the story moves along and both have to make decisions that will yield consequences for many.

I would love to read short stories by Andrew Field as he is not afraid to take a character in an unexpected direction at a paragraphs notice. He cleverly moves your feelings towards the characters through the situations they find themselves in and your evolving understanding of their history.  Is it realistic?  Not overly but it has that Jack Reacher style adventure and exuberance to it that makes you go with it and enjoy the ride.   As the blurb says this storle y is not about rules, only consequences!

Would I recommend this book?  I would, this was everything it should be fun, absorbing with an interesting cast of characters who will continually surprise you!

4 stars

Told you. Better at writing reviews than me.  This review really makes me want to read Without Rules!

Without Rules by Andrew Field was published in the UK by Boomslang on 15th October 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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Andrew Field new photo.jpgAndrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR and marketing consultant helping raise the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight as the author of Without Rules, a crime thriller about vulnerable people forced to do bad things to escape evil people. “Authors, by the nature of what they do, are relatively introverted. They work in isolation. Inhabit imaginary worlds of their own creation. They can spend ages staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves. Writing is the easy part compared to the marketing, especially when crime fiction has become a very crowded marketplace.”

“From my point of view, professional PR people operate best from behind the scenes. They should never become the story otherwise you’re deflecting attention away from the messages you’re trying to communicate,” says Andrew. “The New Labour experiment, for example, was doomed the minute Tony Blair’s media guru Alistair Campbell generated his own headlines. Bragged about ‘spin’.  Believed his own hype. Ditto Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as the shortest-serving White House communications director in history – and his “off the record” expletive-ridden rant about his colleagues in Donald Trump’s White House.”

As a PR, Andrew memorably handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural media partnerships with newspapers and TV stations for the beer brand – but also PR’d a fashion entrepreneur who was a convicted armed bank robber and a property developer who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail. “Having a diverse range of clients keeps it interesting. They are all different but the core requirement is to be seen as a believable and trusted information source ready to take advantage of PR opportunities as and when they arise. As a novelist, you look to do exactly the same with your work and yourself.”

“The catalyst for Without Rules was a friend testifying against her father in an abuse case. Although the prosecution was successful, she can never really escape the consequences of what happened to her. She has to find a way of coping for the rest of her life while he was sentenced to two and half years.”

Andrew says crime fiction has a duty to try and educate and as well as entertain. “The memorable books are the ones you’re still thinking about 48-hours after you finished reading.”

Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram | Andrew Field Online Book Shop |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Needle Song by Russell Day (@rfdaze) @fahrenheitpress #NeedleSongBook

needle song“Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband. 

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.”

It is my great pleasure to be one of two blogs closing down the Needle Song blog tour today.  Needle Song is the first full novel from debut author Russell Day and is available to purchase now having been published by Fahrenheit Press in April 2018.

Needle Song is something quite special.  What you see isn’t quite what you get but it’s done in such a glorious way that it really doesn’t matter.  What struck me the most about this book is the quality of the characters.  Now I’m a reader who loves a story that centres around its characters, so Needle Song was a real pleasure for me to read.  I also like those characters to be different, a little odd maybe and with appealing quirks.  Once again, Needle Song ticks all the boxes.

When Chris Rudjer is arrested for the murder of his new girlfriend’s husband, tattoo shop owner and psychology graduate Doc Slidesmith and his somewhat unenthusiastic sidekick, Yakky, leap to his aide.  Armed with a love of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and a loaded deck of tarot cards, Doc and Yakky poke where the police fear to tread – all in the name of saving their mate from a life in prison.  After all, Chris looks the most likely suspect in the murder.  But Doc knows better.  Doc knows that man mountain Chris would never hurt a fly (unless provoked!) and it’s down to him (and the slightly dubious Yakky) to prove it!

I loved Doc Slidemsith, but Yakky stole my heart.  The story is told from his perspective so the reader gets to see and feel what he’s experiencing.  The moments when Doc suddenly pronounced his latest theory and Yakky’s obvious underwhelmed reaction to the reveal was just wonderful.  Very reminiscent in a lot of ways to one of my favourite movies ‘Without a Clue’.  Just brilliant!

I was compelled to keep turning the pages and was engrossed in the investigation from start to finish.  I admit that I was a little disappointed with the ‘whodunit’ but I was delighted that Doc was able to uncover the mystery in such a dramatic and flamboyant style.  Miss Marple would have been proud of him!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I don’t want to say this book is delightful as that makes it sound twee (it’s not twee; voodoo, tattoos, bikers, blood spill, murder, suicide and shotguns under the floorboards…) but that’s the first word I think of when I think of Needle Song.  It was a joy to read, a delight!  It breaks down genre barriers with the wonderful Christie-esque mystery but the modern day, darker setting makes it so different to everything else.  Needle Song blurs the lines and I really enjoyed it.

Four out of five stars.

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

Needle Song by Russell Day was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 28th April 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Fahrenheit Press online shop | Goodreads |

about the author3

Russell Day (1)Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s always been a miserable bastard.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#CaseClosed: #May2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove

Hello my bookish friends! It’s not quite the last day of May but I have such a busy schedule on the blog this week that it seemed only right to post my May #CaseClosed a day early (it was that or four days into June which may have resulted in some unusual twitching, haha).

May has been another quiet month on the blog. I’m really struggling to find the time to read and if I’m honest, the thought of sitting down and writing a review is just a little ‘ugh’ at the moment. I took a lovely social media break over the Bank Holiday Weekend so that may become a more regular thing. Do you take regular social media breaks?

During May I took part in five blog tours (plus I have another tour coming your way tomorrow!):

All posts were reviews:
Pressure by Betsy Reavley | The Retreat by Mark Edwards | The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton | The TV Detective by Simon Hall | Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty |

I also reviewed two other books, both for publication day (or as near as dangit!):
Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley | Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines |

And that’s it for May! What an unproductive month it’s been *sigh*. Actually, thinking about it (brooding on it!) I do have other reviews waiting in the wings (It Was Her by Mark Hill for the blog tour on Thursday, When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith for the blog tour on Friday and I’m currently nearing the end of Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough for June’s First Monday Crime) so it’s not as bad as it looks after all! Hoorah!

As for other news, not a lot has happened this month. It was the #BloggersBash awards the other weekend and a number of very good friends won awards. I didn’t but d’you know what? I didn’t expect to. I won the Services to Bloggers category last year and it was time for other people to sparkle and shine. Congratulations to all the winners, you guys are awesome!

Business is good! Just a quick reminder that if you’re a crime author and you’re looking to run a blog tour then give me a shout. I’ve recently started my own blog tour organising business; damppebbles blog tours and I’m currently taking bookings. If you’re a book blogger and would like to find out about the tours I organise then click HERE. Actually, I was wondering where my reading time has gone. I may have just found the answer, lol! (But I’m certainly not complaining!)

Which I think just leaves my book of the month…

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So without further ado, here’s my book of May 2018…

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It’s The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton!

the craftsman

“Our main character, WPC Florence Lovelady, had my full attention from start to finish and I’m left wanting more. What an intriguing, fascinating story and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. It’s creepy, it’s tense and it’s full of witches! I loved it. I love what the author has done with her story and her characters are an absolute delight. Highly recommended.”

So that’s it from me for now. I have at least two posts a day for the rest of the week so strap yourselves in and hold tight, it’s gonna get busy!

Thanks for dropping by today. I hope you have a sunshine filled June and that the start of Summer is full of fantastic reads.

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: The TV Detective by Simon Hall (@SimonHallNews) @fahrenheitpress #TheTVDetective #damppebblesblogtours

The TV Detective cover

“Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to the start of The TV Detective blog blitz. The TV Detective is the first book in the series of the same name and is written by ex-television news correspondent, Simon Hall. This new and updated edition was published by Fahrenheit Press in March 2018.

What’s that old writer’s adage, ‘write what you know’? Well, that’s exactly what Simon Hall has done in this very readable first instalment of The TV Detective series. Truth and fiction ‘sort of’ collide in this semi-autobiographical tale of a television news reporter. A reporter who contentedly deals with stories involving environmental issues suddenly being thrown into the deep end and having to find his way in the dark and murky world of crime reporting. You see, Simon Hall was a news reporter specialising in the environment until he was moved to the crime beat. Art imitating life, you could say…

Newly appointed crime reporter, Dan Groves is called to a lay-by in the middle of the night to report on a shooting. Unfortunately, being the new kid on the block, he’s missed the main body of the briefing and realises he needs to work on his contacts. What he does learn is that notorious local businessman, Edward Bray has met an untimely end thanks to a shotgun blast to the chest. Groves knows that he’s on the back foot with an investigation that could make or break his new career. That’s when an idea takes root. An idea that’s a bit of a long shot but well worth the ridicule and risk. Miraculously, Groves’ plan is agreed which makes television reporter, Dan Groves, the newest recruit at Charles Cross police station working alongside Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen and the rest of the murder investigation team. Will Dan be able to add anything useful to the investigation or will the crime newbie be thrown out on his ear after the first day? Or could Dan’s skills be used in a different way. Could Dan be the key to solving the case?

I really liked Dan Groves. I expected him to be a bit of a diva what with being a local television celebrity but that wasn’t the case at all. He’s just a normal bloke who ends up working alongside the police, and appearing on TV several times a day! I also very much liked DCI Breen and enjoyed watching the relationship grow into a friendship between Dan and Breen. I would happily read more about these two characters. There’s a good dose of humour and banter between them which added to their overall likeability. However, I would have quite happily done without the excitable puppy that is paparazzo Ellis Hughes, or Dirty El to his friends. Gah, he made my skin crawl!

The TV Detective is set in and around Plymouth and as a once regular visitor to the area, I was enjoying spotting local landmarks and place names. The author managed to hold my attention from start to finish and I was keen to discover what would be the ‘break’ in the case, the clue that helped solve the perplexing riddle.

Would I recommend this book? I would. If you enjoy a well-plotted murder mystery then I heartily recommend you get yourself a copy of The TV Detective. A good all round mystery with a cast of appealing characters that make this an enjoyable read. I would certainly pick up the second book in the series.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review The TV Detective. The above review is my own unbiased opinion. My thanks to Fahrenheit Press for providing me with a review copy of the book.

The TV Detective by Simon Hall was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Purchase from Fahrenheit Press |

TV Detective

about the author3

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Simon Hall is an author and journalist.

He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.

Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective) and studying pop lyrics.

For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Website |