#BookReview: Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber @panmacmillan @ed_pr #OutofHerDepth #damppebbles

There are summers that could change your life.
There are summers that could end it.

Meet Rachel.
An unassuming young woman from a quiet London suburb.

Picture the scene:
A summer job at the beautiful Villa Medici in the Tuscan hills.
A group of glamorous teenagers, used to a life of privilege.
Lavish parties, heady sun-soaked days, backstabbing and bedhopping.

Until someone goes too far.
And nothing will ever be the same.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber. Out of Her Depth will be published by Pan later this week (Thursday 28th April 2022) and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Out of Her Depth but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Emma at EDPR for sending me a proof copy.

Rachel is a gifted student who has earned a spot at Cambridge to study languages. Her Italian is a little rusty though so her tutor encourages her to take a Summer placement working in an exclusive Villa for wealthy guests at the foot of the Tuscan Hills. It’s a dream come true for Rachel; the luxury, the extravagance is unlike anything she’s experienced before. And then she meets Diana. Beautiful, charming and entitled, Rachel is immediately swept up in the magnificence of her new friend. Rachel is living a life so far removed from her own, basking in Diana’s glow. Drink, drugs and sex aplenty, the girls have it all. Until someone goes too far. Until the night when everything changes…

I LOVED THIS BOOK! Love, love, loved it! Completely absorbing, utterly addictive and truly sublime in every sense. The characters felt real, the setting was vividly drawn, hypnotising in its beauty and decadence, and the plot had me turning the pages at a rate of knots, keen to find out how things were going to end. And oh my gosh, what a perfect ending the author has created. Absolutely gripping and deliciously uncomfortable. Marvellous!

Told in the past and the present, the reader meets Rachel twenty-one years after her fateful Summer in Florence. She’s a changed woman having failed to reach the heady heights she set her sights on in her teenage years. Rachel is a university dropout, working as a language teacher in an exclusive girls school. Her life is mundane, her desire to live a more perfect life eats away at her and the past is impossible to forget. And that’s when a face from Villa Medici, a face she’s tried so hard to forget, makes a shocking reappearance. Old feelings surface, resentment builds and fear drives her forward. I sympathised so much with the present day Rachel and adored the way the author has written her. She’s frustrating, she’s obsessive and she’s haunted by a past she can’t escape. I found I was hanging on Rachel’s every word, her every action. Compelled to see what she would do next and how far things would go. I loved it.

The author builds the suspense incredibly well putting the reader on edge from the moment Rachel and Diana meet in the Villa. I enjoyed the fact that the author brings wealthy, entitled Diana down to the same level as Rachel by making her a maid/waitress at the Villa. And that’s where the similarities end between the two characters. Their friendship starts out as you would expect, two young women left to their own devices in stunning surroundings having the time of their lives. One a leader – used to being the centre of attention. One a smitten follower. But as the Summer months progress, facades slip. The author writes her characters so subtly that it still comes as a huge shock to the reader with one act in particular making me gasp out loud.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved Out of Her Depth and can see it featuring on my top books of the year list. It’s a highly addictive, sophisticated and atmospheric thriller that has left its mark on me. Everything worked. The characters felt real, their interactions were very convincing, the setting – well, I’m booking my holiday to Florence this year! – and the plot drew me into the story, and kept me within the pages even when I should have probably been cooking dinner for the kids (don’t worry, they were fed 😂). I loved this book and will be recommending it to everyone, starting with YOU! If you enjoy psychological thrillers featuring toxic friendships then you need this book in your life. It was a thrilling, uncomfortable, unnerving, tense joy to read and I highly recommend it.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Out of Her Depth. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber was published in the UK by Pan on 28th April 2022 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Lizzy BarberLizzy Barber studied English at Corpus Christ College, Cambridge University. After ‘previous lives’ acting and working in film development, she is now the Head of Brand and Marketing for a restaurant group, working with her brother, a restaurateur.

Her debut novel, MY NAME IS ANNA / A GIRL NAMED ANNA (US), is the winner of the Daily Mail First Novel Competition, and was published by Penguin Random House in 2019. OUT OF HER DEPTH will be published in April 2022.

Lizzy lives in London with her husband, George, food writer and strategy consultant, and their son, Marlowe, born January 2019.

#Extract: Good Friday by Lynda La Plante (@LaPlanteLynda) @BonnierZaffre @ed_pr #JaneTennison

good friday

“Every legend has a beginning . . .

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not.

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast

that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation.

‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It’s the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London’s entire detective force?”

‘La Plante excels in her ability to pick out the surprising but plausible details that give her portrayal of everyday life in a police station a rare ring of authenticity’ Sunday Telegraph

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and boy, do I have a treat in store for you! Back when the weather was warmer (only a smidge, mind you) in August I was part of the blog tour for Good Friday, the third book in the Tennison series written by the Queen of Crime Drama, Lynda La Plante. That was to celebrate Good Friday‘s release in hardback, eBook and audio. Tomorrow marks the book’s publication in paperback – the perfect excuse to reshare the stonking extract I featured in August.

So without further ado, brace yourself…

Jane took the Circle line from Baker Street and changed at King’s Cross St Pancras to take the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden. From there it was just a short walk to the Bow Street station. It was eight thirty when Jane arrived at Covent Garden station, right at the peak of the early morning rush hour. There were groans from the other passengers when they saw that the lift wasn’t working, but Jane didn’t mind as she wasn’t in any great hurry. She followed the throng of people walking up the 193 steps of the spiral staircase, trying her best not to bump into the people heading down the stairs in the opposite direction. Behind her was a woman with a pushchair and a baby in her arms.
‘Can I help you?’ Jane asked.
‘Oh, yes please, thank you, love. These lifts here are always out of order.’
Jane carried the pushchair, and as there were so many people up ahead of her, they moved very slowly. On reaching the top stair she unfolded the pushchair so the woman could put her baby in the seat. Jane paused at the ticket barriers to search her handbag for her warrant card. The area surrounding the faulty lift was heaving with people moving in both directions, and a guard was on duty checking and taking tickets. Behind Jane were queues of passengers waiting impatiently to show their tickets so they could leave the station, and she found herself being pushed forward.
The guard shouted, ‘Please do NOT push! We apologise for the lifts being out of order and ask for your patience. Please proceed in an orderly manner through the ticket barriers!’
Jane made her way through the ticket barrier and out into the packed foyer.
‘Excuse me, sir, you forgot your bag.’
Jane turned to see an elderly woman pointing to a rucksack that had been left on the floor next to the ticket box.
‘Hey, you left your bag!’ the woman repeated. Jane followed her gaze and caught sight of a man wearing a hooded winter coat, walking away with his head down. Instead of turning to acknowledge the old lady he pushed people out of his way as he hurried
towards the Long Lane exit.
‘I just saw him put it down!’ the woman said loudly. Jane hesitated. Was it just a mistake, and the man had simply not heard the woman calling out to him? She hurried after him, in the hope of stopping him and reuniting him with his bag.
‘Excuse me, sir! I’m a police officer and . . .’
The man kept on moving quickly through the throng of people and Jane picked up her pace as she called out for him to stop. Just as he reached the exit, Jane managed to grab hold of his sleeve. He half turned towards her and she had a momentary glimpse of his
profile, but he twisted out of her grasp, batting her away. He pushed people aside as he ran out of the station. Jane stumbled backwards, and then turned to look for the abandoned rucksack. She could feel the panic rising as she realised it had gone, but then calmed down as she reassured herself that the old lady must have been mistaken and the real owner had picked it up. Jane turned around in a circle, searching for anyone carrying the rucksack. Then she saw the ticket barrier guard holding it against his chest, heading towards the guards’ office. She immediately sensed that something was very wrong. For a second she was paralysed with fear, but then she started pushing people aside and screamed at the guard to put the rucksack down, shouting for everyone to evacuate the area. Some people began to run. But it was too late.

I don’t know about you but I need a lie-down now and some calm, soothing music after that extract! WOAH!

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 22nd March 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Lynda la Plante

Lynda La Plante was born in Liverpool. She trained for the stage at RADA and worked with the National Theatre and RDC before becoming a television actress. She then turned to writing – and made her breakthrough with the phenomenally successful TV series WIDOWS.

Her novels have all been international bestsellers. Her original script for the much-acclaimed PRIME SUSPECT won awards from BAFTA, Emmys, British Broadcasting and Royal Television Society as well as the 1993 Edgar Allan Poe Writer’s Award.

Since 1993 Lynda has spearheaded La Plante Productions. In that time the company has produced a stunning slate of innovative dramas with proven success and enduring international appeal.

Based on Lynda’s best selling series of Anna Travis novels, Above Suspicion, Silent Scream, Deadly Intent and Silent Scream have all adapted into TV scripts and received impressive viewing figures.

Lynda has been made honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and was awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Writer’s Award 2000.

On 14th June 2008 Lynda was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List (Writer and Producer for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity).

On 3rd October 2009, Lynda was honoured at the Cologne Conference International Film and Television Festival with the prestigious TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel, Above Suspicion.

Books penned by Lynda La Plante include: The Legacy, The Talisman, Bella Mafia, Entwined, Cold Shoulder, Cold Blood, Cold Heart, Sleeping Cruelty, Royal Flush, Above Suspicion, The Red Dahlia, Clean Cut, Deadly Intent and Silent Scream, Blind Fury (this entered the UK Sunday Times Bestsellers List at number 1 having sold 9,500 copies in its first two weeks), Blood Line, Backlash, Wrongful Death, and Twisted, which have all been international best-sellers.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Scorn by Paul Hoffman (@PaulGHoff) #RedOpera @ed_pr

SCORN_FINAL.jpeg“After an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider goes horribly wrong, depressed scientist Aaron Gall wakes up to discover his mind and body have undergone an astonishing transformation. Now bursting with the joys of life, he is inspired to undertake a radical new therapy: to talk to the priests who brutalised him and his school friends, point out the intellectual dishonesty and inhumanity of their religious beliefs – and then eat them.

Aaron enjoys the process so much (as well as taunting the police and MI5) he decides to extend his murderous conversations to include the Archbishop of Westminster, recently converted Catholic Tony Blair, the Queen of England – and, finally, the Pope himself. But a Catholic Church that has given the world the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Papal Infallibility hasn’t survived for two thousand years without a reason. Aaron is in for the greatest shock in the history of mankind.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn and sadly the last stop, on the Scorn blog tour.  Scorn is written by author Paul Hoffman and was published by Red Opera on 7th September 2017.

To celebrate the release of this dark yet rather fun sounding novel I have an extract to share with you.  So sit back, relax and take a read…


It was one o’clock in the morning and Father Thomas Lloyd was eating sardines on toast in the vast and gloomy kitchen of the rectory of St Edmunds Church in Abingdon, a place not a hundred yards from the Victorian building in which Aaron had received the worst beating of his life from Mother Mary Frances and a mere thirty yards from where the sadistic old bitch was buried. Burial in the otherwise full cemetery was a privilege accorded only to people with a special reputation for holiness.

As he was about to begin his meal, one which he realised at some guilty deep level he was not as thankful for as he ought to have been, there was a hard rap at the door. Although it was unusual for there to be such a late caller, it was not unknown for someone to fetch him to a deathbed or a tormented soul to come looking for the peace of mind only God could grant. Still, he was no fool and was wary. He walked out of the cavernous kitchen and switched on the light in the barely less sepulchral cavern of the hall.

“Who is it?” he called out, ill at ease.

“Is that you, Father Lloyd?”

Who else would it be in the rectory of the church at this time of night?” was what he wanted to say. Immediately he accused himself of the sin of the lack of charity. “Yes. Yes it is.” To make amends he opened the door immediately. The man on the stoop was not an alarming sight – five nine perhaps, and thin.

“Come in out of the rain.” He ushered the man inside and gestured him through the hall into the kitchen. The abundance of mahogany gave an unpleasant brown quality to the light. “Let me take your coat.”

Draping the man’s coat on the hat-stand, he turned to get a better look at his visitor. Many years of ministering to the soul distressed made him alert to the despairing and the desperate. His visitor did not seem to be either. The man looked at the uneaten plate of toast and sardines.

“I’m sorry. Please finish your meal.”

Father Lloyd was tempted but not for long. He would offer this sacrifice up to God, aware of course that God would realise it was not all that much of a renunciation.

“No. I’ve rather gone off the idea.” He gestured for the man to sit. “Tell me your name and what I can do for you,” he said softly.

“I’d like to make a confession.”

“I see.” A pause and a sigh. “Well, there’s no doubt you’ve come to the right place, Mr..,?”

“Gall. Aaron Gall.”

“Are you from around here, Aaron?”

“I used to be a long time ago.”

“Is that so indeed? I’ve been away and back a fair few times but I’ve spent near half my life as a priest in St Edmunds. You must have been here during my away years.”

“No,” said Aaron. “You taught me, my class, religious instruction when I was a boy.”

The priest looked worried. It didn’t look good or feel right to forget a parishioner.

“Help me. I’m an old man and my memory isn’t what it was.”

“The old primary school, just before it moved.”

“My God, that’s a fair few years.”

“I was seven or so the last time I saw you. It wouldn’t be reasonable to remember me.”

“I was only here a few months the first time, waiting to go to Birmingham.”

There was a silence – an odd one, uncomfortable for the priest. “So, what brings you out tonight?” he said at last.

“You remember Mother Mary Frances. She’s buried in the churchyard here.”

“So they told me.”


“The Sisters of Mercy.”

Another pause.

“So. This isn’t a visit on the sudden then.”


“What is it you want, my son?”

Aaron smiled quietly and spoke softly.

“I’m not your son, old man, and this isn’t a visit.”

Scorn by Paul Hoffman is published 7th September by Red Opera, £7.99 in paperback

So, what do you think?  The plot of this book really intrigues me and despite it being a little different to my usual reads it’s definitely going on the wish list.  I hope your interest has been piqued too!

Scorn by Paul Hoffman was published in the UK by Red Opera on 7th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Blog Tour Banner.jpg

about the author3

Paul Hoffman is a bestselling author whose work has been translated into thirty languages. He spent his early working life as a Boardman in a betting shop, a teacher in a girl’s school, and a film censor with special responsibility for pornography, before becoming a screenwriter and novelist. Paul Hoffman’s first novel, The Wisdom of Crocodiles, predicted the attacks of 9/11 and set out in detail how and why the financial system would crash early in the new millennium. His second novel, The Golden Age of Censorship, is a black comedy satirising both the world of the film censor and the visionary megalomania of New Labour.

He came to international recognition with The Left Hand of God trilogy – a sly attempt to write about war and politics in a way that stole from both contemporary and historical worlds in a way that caused heated debate on the way to becoming a top ten Sunday Times Bestseller.

His new novel, Scorn, is his most controversial yet. Drawing from his own experiences in a hideous Catholic boarding school in Oxford, Hoffman has fashioned a contemporary black comedy that truly defies any attempt at classification – comic, tragic, a love story; with songs, illustrations, two highly unusual policemen known as The Butchers of Basra, a central character unlike any other, as well as cameos from Tony Blair, the Queen, and the a final confrontation with  the Holy Father himself resulting in the most astonishing twist in the history of fiction.

Probably the last English novelist to be born by the light of a paraffin lamp, Paul Hoffman spent much of his childhood on airfields all around the world watching his father – a pioneer of sports parachuting – jumping out of aeroplanes. He witnessed his first death at the age of six when one of his father’s friends was killed in an attempt to discover how near the ground he could open his parachute. After a long and brutal battle with the nuns and priest who were charged with saving his soul and which left him at sixteen without any formal qualifications he was offered a place to read English at New College, Oxford when no other university would interview him. He is probably the only Oxford graduate in history to have failed all his O-Levels. On his first night at New College a fellow undergraduate was heard to comment: ‘My God – the kind of people we’re letting in these days’.

The Wisdom of Crocodiles took thirteen years to write and went into its third imprint within six weeks of publication. Jude Law starred in the motion picture of the same name based on one part of the novel.

Scorn is his sixth novel. His next book, The White Devil, will be published by Penguin in 2018

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

#BookReview: Dead in the Water by Matt Costello (@katonahprod) & Neil Richards (@neilmustard)

The Cherringham Mystery Novels (Book #1)

5174oyx4bl“On the night of the school prom, a young teacher is found dead in the Thames in a drug-related accident. It seems – at first – to be another sign that Cherringham High is spiralling out of control. The new head however is convinced that the teacher’s death is suspicious and quietly calls in Sarah Edwards.

With her one-time detective partner, Jack Brennan, back in America, Sarah is at first reluctant to take on the case. But when she does get involved, it soon becomes clear that the tragic accident might really be a case of murder – and even Sarah herself could be in danger …

“Dead in the Water” is the first full-length novel set in the sleepy English village of Cherringham, featuring the unlikely sleuthing duo Sarah, an English web designer, and Jack, American ex-cop. Thrilling and deadly – but with a spot of tea – it’s like Rosamunde Pilcher meets Inspector Barnaby.”

Now some of you may be wondering whether you’ve arrived at the right blog. Damppebbles and cosy mysteries…?!  Surely not!  Regular visitors will know that I am a fan of blood, guts and gore, and lots of it.  So to find me reviewing a cosy mystery may come as a surprise.  I think those of us that stick mainly to the one genre (in my case, crime and thriller) should explore as many of the sub-genres within as possible.  I’ve mentioned before how, every so often, I like to read historical crime novels as a treat.  Well, from now on, I’m going to treat myself to the odd cosy mystery too as I very much enjoyed the adventures of Sarah and Jack.

The end of the school year is a time for celebration.  A prom maybe?  Followed by a rather loud and lively night in the local pub, present are a mix of teachers and senior students.  All making the most of the time they have together.  But for one teacher, that time is shorter than he thinks.  Full of drink and drugs, Josh Owen’s body is found later that night following a tumble from Cherringham’s idyllic stone bridge, into the freezing Thames.  Was it an accident?  Did Josh commit suicide?  Or was it something more sinister?  Amateur sleuth, Sarah Edwards, a local web designer with a history of solving difficult criminal cases with her ex-cop partner, Jack Brennan, is called in to investigate.  But Sarah is on her own this time.  Jack returned to the US a year ago and Sarah hasn’t heard from him recently.  Can she use her detective skills to work out what happened to Josh?  Is the school’s drug problem bigger than she originally thought?  Has Sarah managed to get herself in too deep…?

I’ll openly admit to being a huge fan of the TV show Midsomer Murders.  I cried a little when John Nettles left but soon fell completely in love with Neil Dudgeon’s Barnaby.  Being such a fan of the series, I have tried to read Caroline Graham’s original novels but strangely, I didn’t really enjoy them as much as I expected.  Midsomer Murders is one series (and please forgive me for saying this booky people) where the tv adaptation, in my eyes, is far superior.  Anyway, get to the point Emma!  The point being, that you cannot move for comparisons between Midsomer and Cherringham on the web.  But Cherringham stands alone (and stands strong!) and I really enjoyed it.  What I’m trying to say in a very round-about way is that this book (or rather this series) feels like the perfect read for fans of that cosy style of village crime series.  And having read Dead in the Water I would always recommend Cherringham above others.

For those not familiar with the series, co-authors Matthew Costello and Neil Richards have written 24 short eBook novellas featuring Sarah Edwards and Jack Brennan.  Dead in the Water is their first full length novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m adding all 24 eBooks to my wishlist as there was something so wonderfully endearing and engaging about these characters that I need to read more.  The plot wasn’t the usual thrill a minute I crave in my other reads but it was very well written and to be honest, I went in expecting a cosy mystery and that was what I got…I just enjoyed it more than I expected too!

I enjoyed the plot; the search for what really happened to Josh Owens and the sub plot of the drugs epidemic at the local school.  I did realise fairly early on ‘whodunit’ with regards to Josh’s demise but that certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the novel as I was caught up in the hunt for the drugs lord.

Would I recommend this book?  I would!  It has a wonderful gentleness about it that I know will appeal to many people.  If you don’t normally read crime but would like to start, this would be a good series to start with.  Very enjoyable, wonderful characters with lots of heart and a beautiful Cotswold setting (just down the road from me!).

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Dead in the Water.  Many thanks to Sophie Goodfellow at edpr.

Dead in the Water by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards was published in the UK by BAstei Entertainment on 10th October 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Smith & Sons (11)

matt-and-neil-1Co-authors Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US) have been writing together since the mid 90’s, creating content and working on projects for the BBC, Disney Channel, Sony, ABC, Eidos and Nintendo to name but a few. Their transatlantic collaboration has underpinned scores of TV drama scripts, computer games, radio shows, and – most recently – the successful crime fiction series Cherringham. After 24 novellas, Cherringham is popular around the world, and has been adapted into a series of audiobooks read by Neil Dudgeon, of Midsomer Murder fame.

Author Links:Neil on Twitter | Matthew on Twitter |