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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane Harper is the internationally bestselling author of The Dry and Force of Nature. Her third book, The Lost Man, was released in October 2018.

Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year.

Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.

Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads |

Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BookReview: The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks #TheBurningGirls #damppebbles

the burning girls“500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.

And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?

Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.

But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year, The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor. The Burning Girls is published today (that’s Thursday 21st January 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in the Summer. I received a free eARC of The Burning Girls but that has in no way influenced my review.

I LOVE C.J. Tudor’s books. Tudor is a master storyteller and a new release from this author is always a highlight of my bookish year. I’ve been repeatedly checking NetGalley for MONTHS in the hope of seeing The Burning Girls appear (fangirling to the extreme!). So imagine my joy when this brilliant book landed on my Kindle in all of its eerie glory. Tudor has once again written a very compelling and human story with a nod to the supernatural. I really enjoyed it.

Following a high profile incident in Reverend Jack Brooks’ previous parish, the Rev. and 15-year-old daughter, Flo, are made to up sticks and move to the sleepy Suffolk village of Chapel Croft. But Chapel Croft isn’t the picturesque haven it makes itself out to be. Chapel Croft has a dark past which the residents are surprisingly proud of. Jack and Flo’s welcome isn’t quite what they hoped for and soon strange things start happening to the new arrivals. When Flo starts having peculiar visions and an anonymous parcel containing macabre artefacts arrives, the new vicar begins to fear for their lives…

I loved Jack. What a fantastic and memorable creation! Not your average vicar by a long shot. The internal dialogue the reader is party to is a wonderful thing and shows how completely human Jack is. Brutally so. Fearing for Flo’s safety in today’s modern world, Jack is plagued by concerns for Flo but without being a helicopter parent. Their relationship is heart-warming and felt very real to me.

The chapters in The Burning Girls are either from Jack or Flo’s point of view with a third unknown narrator sharing insights from their dark past along with their troubling thoughts. I found the chapters from the unknown narrator particularly eerie but that’s what this author does with style! Tudor skilfully ratchets up the ‘creep-factor’ which I find makes her books so utterly readable. I found myself looking forward to hearing from Jack who, I confess, I think I’m a little bit in love with.

Not only does the village’s past dominate daily life, the case of two missing teenagers from thirty years ago still weighs heavy on Chapel Croft. The disappearance of the vicar, alleged to have been one of the last people to see the girls, adds to the mystery. Then there are Jack’s concerns over Flo’s new friend (boyfriend?) who Jack can’t help but feel uncomfortable around. After all, no one will ever be good enough for Flo, no matter who they are. Add to this the fact that Flo is the new girl in town and isn’t all that worried about fitting in and Jack’s worries skyrocket.

I loved the intricacies of this novel. The strands where, no matter how hard you try, you can’t see the connection. Then all of a sudden…BOOM! It all makes perfect sense. I was a little wary of one aspect of the book and was proved correct but that in no way spoiled my enjoyment of this cracking novel.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend The Burning Girls and all of Tudor’s previous books. Another engrossing read from a superbly talented writer. I was pulled into this story hook, line and sinker and I loved every minute of it. Twists and turns galore, nothing is as it first appears and I am very grateful to have read such a fantastic story. Tudor has done it again and written an eerie mystery which I lapped up. I’m now left counting down the days until book five is released. Recommended.

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

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 21st January 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book DepositoryBookshop.orgGoodreads |

about-the-author3

cj tudorC. J. Tudor lives in Sussex, England with her partner and daughter.

Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voiceover and dog-walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.

#CoverReveal: The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite (@BCopperthwait) @bookouture #TheGirlInTheMissingPoster #damppebbles

Hello my bookish lovelies. I hope you’re having a splendid weekend. Allow me to make it a little bit better!

If you were online on Friday around 4pm you may have seen a rather stunning cover be revealed. Sadly, I wasn’t so I couldn’t take part. However, the author – Barbara Copperthwaite – is one of my favourite authors and quite possibly, the loveliest and most encouraging person in the book world. So I wanted to help share the love for her brand new book – which I hope explains why I’m a little late to the cover reveal party.

So, without further ado, let’s find out a little more about the brilliant new novel from the utterly fabulous Barbara Copperthwaite – The Girl in the Missing Poster! Here’s the blurb…

MISSING – Have you seen this girl? Nineteen-year-old Leila Hawkins was last seen on 24 June, 1994, when she left her parents’ anniversary party early and ran into the stormy night wearing her twin sister Stella’s long red coat. She was never seen again.

I wrap my arms around the tree trunk, pressing my cheek against it until the bark digs in and the missing poster is finally secured. I try not to look at the photograph on it. At the features so similar to mine. Perhaps this will be the year someone comes forward.

Were crucial mistakes made by detectives from the very beginning?

Could the pressure of living two lives have led my sister to run away – or even end it?

Or did someone in her tight circle of friends and family have reason to want her gone?

Someone out there must know something.

But the last thing I ever expect is a direct response from the person who took Leila. Wracked with guilt and completely alone in the world without the other half of me, I have no choice but to agree to his strange request: private, intimate details of my life in return for answers.

As the final moments of my sister’s life play out before me, I feel closer to her than I ever dreamed I’d be again. So close, it could almost be happening to me. But when I finally realise who is behind this terrifying tragedy, will I make it out alive?

From the bestselling author of The Perfect Friend, this absolutely gripping psychological thriller will keep you up all night and leave you sleeping with the light on. If you lovedGone Girl, The Girl on the TrainandThe Wife Between Usthis book is for you!

Now doesn’t that sound AMAZING?! I can absolutely guarantee you will be hearing more about this book on damppebbles when it’s released in February. Without a shadow of a doubt.

And now, here’s that gorgeous cover…

tgitmp_

I love it! What an eye-catching cover. I cannot wait to read this book!

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite will be published in the UK by Bookouture on 23rd February 2021 and is available to pre-order now (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | apple books | kobo |

about-the-author3

j1g1dqoj5e1ufe7m2e3u5htf2f._US230_Barbara is the Amazon, Kobo and USA Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE, FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, THE DARKEST LIES, HER LAST SECRET and THE PERFECT FRIEND. She has a new book coming soon!

Her writing career started in journalism, writing for national newspapers and magazines. During a career spanning over twenty years Barbara interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. She is fascinated by creating realistic, complex characters, and taking them apart before the readers’ eyes in order to discover just how much it takes to push a person over a line.

Her first book, Invisible, was ‘totally gripping, and scarily believable’ according to Bella magazine. Its success was followed by Flowers For The Dead, which was the Sunday Mirror’s Choice Read, beating Lee Child’s latest offering. ‘Will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed… Original, gripping, with a deep psychological impact,’ their review read.

The Darkest Lies came next, published by Bookouture, and became a USA Today bestseller. The follow-up, Her Last Secret, hit the Number 1 spot on Kobo. The Perfect Friend is a No 1 Kobo and Amazon best seller.

When not writing feverishly at her home in Birmingham, Barbara is often found walking her two dogs, Scamp and Buddy, or hiding behind a camera to take wildlife photographs.

To find out more about Barbara’s novels, go to:
Website: http://www.barbaracopperthwaite.com
Blog: http://www.barbaracopperthwaite.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BCopperthwait
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/barbaracopperthwa

#BookReview: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager @DuttonBooks #HomeBeforeDark #damppebbles

home before dark“Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Alternating between Maggie’s uneasy homecoming and chapters from her father’s book, Home Before Dark is the story of a house with long-buried secrets and a woman’s quest to uncover them—even if the truth is far more terrifying than any haunting.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2020 with you – Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. Home Before Dark was published by Dutton Books on 30th June 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I was far too impatient for Home Before Dark to make an appearance in the UK so my wonderful children bought me a US hardcover copy for my birthday 🥰.

I absolutely adore Final Girls by Riley Sager. It’s one of my favourite books EVER and I always make a point of recommending it to everyone (my family are understandably quite fed up with my obsession!). So I make a point of reading everything this author publishes, as a matter of urgency. Sager is a great writer but so far nothing has quite come close to the feeling reading Final Girls gave me. Until I picked up my copy of Home Before Dark, that is!

Maggie Holt is a household name for all the wrong reasons. Escaping, as a child, from a haunted house in the dead of night with her family can do that. Not helped by her writer-father turning their terrifying ordeal into a bestseller. Except Maggie remembers next to nothing of what happened at Baneberry Hall, Bartleby, Vermont. And surely something like that would be hard to forget. Following her father’s death, Maggie discovers the family still owns Baneberry Hall, and the crumbling estate has been left to her in her father’s will. Determined to put the past to rest, prove ‘House of Horrors’ was all lies and rid herself of the feeling of uncertainty, Maggie returns to renovate the house with a view to selling it. But what she discovers on her return is more shocking and more terrifying than she ever imagined…

I am completely smitten with Maggie Holt and I loved Home Before Dark. It’s a wonderfully eerie read which held my attention from beginning to end and one I really looked forward to returning to on the odd occasion I had to put the book to one side. The story is told in the present from Maggie’s point of view as we see her experience Baneberry Hall as an adult, only having knowledge of the place garnered from her father’s book. And also from the past via chapters from Ewan Holt’s bestseller ‘House of Horrors’. I particularly loved the way the two different view points were presented in the hardcover copy I read with different fonts and formatting. It really added to the reading experience for me and I found it easy to flit between the then and the now.  I found myself looking forward to each new chapter and the palpable rising tension as this wonderfully creepy story progressed.

I never really knew what was going to happen next in Home Before Dark. Each new twist and turn, each new ghostly happening took me completely by surprise and I savoured every moment. I became so invested in Maggie’s pursuit of what she felt was the truth that I would have loved this book no matter what the conclusion was. The finale, however, is perfect and I found it very satisfying. There was only one point where I could see what was going to happen from a mile off but I certainly hadn’t worked everything out and there were plenty more surprises to come!

Baneberry Hall was the perfect setting for this spooky novel and the author has done a superb job of painting a very clear picture of the house with his words. The neighbouring town, full of angry and hurt locals who had to live with the negativity surrounding the Hall, was also very well drawn and really added to the atmosphere of the book.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved Home Before Dark and I think it will stay with me for some time to come. I’ve come to expect a lot from Sager’s novels (thanks to the magnificent brilliance that is Final Girls) and although I doubt any book (by any author) will ever come close to Final Girls in my eyes, Home Before Dark gets a lot closer than most. It’s absolutely marvellous and I expect it will feature on my ‘top reads of 2020’ list. I loved Home Before Dark and highly recommend you give it a go if you’re not afraid of things that go bump (or in this case THUD – tap, tap, tap…) in the night. Chilling, engaging and deliciously tense. Highly recommended.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager was published by Dutton Books on 30th June 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

pseudonymRiley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called “The first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King), was published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen @HQstories #TheStolenSisters #damppebbles

the stolen sisters“Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
 
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of the brilliant The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen with you, and help kick off the amazing blog tour alongside the fabulous Emma Mitchell. My thanks to HQ for the blog tour invitation and eARC of the book. The Stolen Sisters will be published on 1st October 2020 and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Stolen Sisters but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a HUGE Louise Jensen fan. I have read every single psychological thriller she has written, and will continue to do so because she is a master storyteller. I was really, REALLY looking forward to reading The Stolen Sisters and I was not disappointed. I loved this book. It gave me everything I was hoping for and so much more.

Carly, Marie and Leah Sinclair. Three sisters who went through hell twenty years ago when they were snatched from outside their home by two men and locked up in a dank and dilapidated room for days on end. Miraculously, the girls managed to escape, but that was only the beginning. Hell left their prison with them and followed them all the way home. Now, twenty years older, each of the sisters is bearing the brunt of those traumatic days as captives. Leah’s compulsions threaten to destroy her marriage and take her young son from her. Marie’s drinking problem has spiralled out of control, and Carly has never forgiven herself for not protecting her younger twin sisters enough and won’t let anyone get close to her. And let’s not forget the secrets. How much longer can the truth be kept hidden…?

The Stolen Sisters is an astonishingly good book and I savoured every moment I had with it. When I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about it. Pondering on the girls’ situation, trying to work out where the author was going to take the story (I failed at that, by the way) and generally relishing the author’s ability to tell a blimmin’ good story. It’s an absolutely cracking novel and if you love a family-driven psychological thriller, make sure you grab a copy. You won’t be disappointed.

The story is told from the past – we watch as the girls are taken from near their house at the tender ages of 13 and 8 – and the present day – where the reader witnesses the devastating long-term effects of the trauma suffered by the girls all those years ago. Leah’s compulsions, and how they impinge on her life, are eye-opening. The reader gets to see the gradual increase and deterioration of her condition as the anniversary looms. I found her anxiety and fear palpable. So cleverly written by the author. Out of all the characters in the book, we most closely follow Leah so I found myself warming to her more than the other two sisters. The majority of the chapters from the past are told from Carly’s point of view and my heart absolutely ached for her. Her disappointment in herself for not protecting her sisters enough and the mother role she took on whilst the girls were trapped, it almost broke me.

If you’ve read books by this author before you will be aware that she is a master at deceiving her reader (in the very best way possible). This is another wonderful example of why Jensen’s books are so incredibly popular. I had no idea where the story was going but when we got there, WOW! Dark and twisted – just how I like my books. I certainly didn’t see that one coming! I was gripped from start to finish. Even though it’s clear from the outset that the girls escape, the chapters set in the past still had me on the edge of my seat.

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would, yes. I loved The Stolen Sisters. It’s the most enjoyable, absorbing and exciting psychological thriller I have read in a long time. I was 100% in the pages of this book living the story alongside the characters. A highly emotive read that is incredibly tense and the ultimate page-turner. Did I mention that I loved The Stolen Sisters? Oh well, worth mentioning again. I loved The Stolen Sisters! Louise Jensen is a superb writer. It was an absolute joy to read this book and I will savour the memory of it for a long time to come. Highly recommended.

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

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by HQ on 1st October 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

The Stolen Sisters

about-the-author3

louise jensenLouise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s sixth thriller, Stolen Sisters, will be published in Autumn 2020 by Harper Collins.

The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BookReview: Shed No Tears by Caz Frear @ZaffreBooks #ShedNoTears #damppebbles

shed no tears

“Four victims.
Killer caught.
Case closed . . . Or is it?

Christopher Masters, known as ‘The Roommate Killer’, strangled three women over a two-week period in a London house in November 2012. Holly Kemp, his fourth victim, was never found.

Until now.

Her remains have been unearthed in a field in Cambridgeshire and DC Cat Kinsella and the Major Investigation Team are called in. But immediately there are questions surrounding the manner of her death. And with Masters now dead, no one to answer them.

Did someone get it wrong all those years ago? And if so, who killed Holly Kemp”

Welcome to damppebbles! Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Shed No Tears by Caz Frear. Shed No Tears is the third book in Frear’s absolutely outstanding DC Cat Kinsella series and was published by Zaffre Books on 23rd July 2020 in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of Shed No Tears but that has in no way influenced my review.

I LOVE this series. The DC Cat Kinsella Series is one of the most interesting, compelling, readable new crime series out there at the moment and I get very excited when I know there’s a new book coming out. There’s something about Cat Kinsella that is just ‘right’. She’s down to earth and very likeable, she’s hard-working and a first class copper (we won’t mention the, erm, skeletons in the closet). If you’ve not picked up one of this author’s books before, then now, this very moment, is your chance to rectify that.

DC Cat Kinsella and her DS, Luigi (Lu) Parnell have left the bright lights of London for Cambridge. A body, or what remains of it, has been discovered. The remains of the final victim of the ‘Roommate Killer’, Holly Kemp, have been found dumped in a field up the M11. Case finally closed after 6 long years. But on closer inspection, there are differences between the victims. It looks as though Holly was dressed, the other victims weren’t. There are differences to the wounds Holly suffered too. Nothing really matches. But the ‘Roommate Killer’ confessed to her murder….sort of. And there was an eye witness account which placed Holly at the killer’s house. Was the right person accused of Holly’s murder? And if not, who killed Holly Kemp…?

Everything about Shed No Tears clicked for me. The author can do no wrong in my eyes. This is one of two new crime series that every crime fiction fan should read, without doubt! If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that characters maketh the book for me and the author has created the most wonderful cast. I’ve already mentioned how much I love Kinsella but I have just as much love for her senior officers (who are more like parents than superiors at times!), DS Lu Parnell and DCI Kate Steele. These two supporting characters add as much to the story as Kinsella does. Reigning her in when necessary, encouraging her to make random, off-the-wall connections at other times which move the investigation forward. Plus you have wonderful dollops of menace which Kinsella’s real-life father brings to the story. A devoted father, yes, but also a criminal with a dangerous boss who knows too much and won’t think twice about taking Kinsella down.

To fully appreciate the DC Cat Kinsella series I would recommend that you start with the first book – Sweet Little Lies – as the author builds the story and the relationships over time and Sweet Little Lies is the cornerstone of the entire series. Coming straight into Shed No Tears may raise a couple of questions about the previous books so you may as well purchase them all and start at the beginning. They’re all cracking novels and you won’t regret it.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, yes! I would recommend all three books in this brilliant series. Shed No Tears is a slower paced investigation but it will hook you in from the start. I had my suspicions about where the story was going to go but that didn’t take anything away from the reading experience. I’m very intrigued to see where the author is going to take the next book as Shed No Tears ends on a bit of a revelation. Change may be afoot! I love the characterisation, I love the compelling plots and I absolutely adore the sprinkles of humour which had me laughing out loud at points. A marvellous addition to what is becoming a very strong series. More please! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Shed No Tears. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Shed No Tears by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 23rd July 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository |

about-the-author3

caz frear

Caz Frear grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true.

She has a first-class degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, shop assistant, retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter.

When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Shadow Friend by Alex North @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #TheShadowFriend #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the shadow friend“The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.

Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.

For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.

But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists there’s something in the house.

And someone is following him.

Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog. Today I am delighted to be sharing my eighth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Shadow Friend by Alex North. The Shadow Friend is published in hardcover, audio and digital formats by Michael Joseph books today (9th July 2020). Wishing a very happy, if somewhat slightly different, publication day to the author and the publisher. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Shadow Friend but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Shadow Friend is one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2020, without a shadow (see what I did there!) of a doubt. I loved (LOVED!) The Whisper Man so much. Expectations were high. But, as is normally the case (with me, anyway) because I was so looking forward to reading The Shadow Friend, I kept putting it off. Would it be as good? What if I was left feeling disappointed? Would life ever be the same again?! Oh, the pressure! I needn’t have worried. I thoroughly enjoyed North’s latest book.

Paul Adams had a traumatic childhood when his friend was savagely murdered by two other teenagers. The murder went down in the annals of history, as the killers were convinced that by doing what they did, they would be rewarded by being whisked away from this life to a fantasy dream world. Crazy, right? But immediately after the murder one of the teenage killers, troubled Charlie Crabtree, vanished without a trace and hasn’t been seen since. Now, 25 years later, history is repeating itself and more teenagers are copying the murder in an attempt to disappear just like Charlie. Paul can no longer hide from the past and has to confront the guilt he carries for what happened that fateful day twenty-five years ago. But someone doesn’t want Paul back in Gritten Wood…

Creepy, chilling, twisty and everything I had hoped for. North has done it again and given readers a compelling, character-driven mystery which I was more than happy to lose myself in for a number of hours. I really liked Paul from the get-go. Putting likeable, normal people in the most ominous of situations is something this author absolutely excels at. I also really liked Detective Amanda Beck but I was a little confused as to why she didn’t search for similar murders pre-dating the Featherbank killing (the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that Featherbank is the town the Whisper Man tormented all those years ago!), and had to rely on Paul to drop that particular bombshell. But what do I know about modern-day policing?! (Only what I read in crime novels, dear reader 😂.)

There was one particular twist in this book which took my breath away and I loved it. I really took to the plot as the science behind why and how we dream is something I find really interesting. I remember keeping a dream diary at the same age as the teenagers in this book. Not to the same end, thankfully, but I felt I related to some aspects (for the record, it wasn’t so I would disappear and there was absolutely, definitely, categorically no murder involved).

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Shadow Friend and The Whisper Man are both cracking reads. There’s such a chilling edge to both books and for that, they get top marks from me. I’m excited to see what this author comes up with next. Creepy, compelling and so very entertaining from start to finish. Highly recommended.

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

The Shadow Friend by Alex North was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 9th July 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Foyles | Waterstones | Book Depository | Add to your Goodreads Shelf |

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Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department.

Author Links:Twitter |

#BookReview: Halfway by B.E. Jones @TheCrimeVault @LittleBrownUK #Halfway #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

halfway

“Three women. One killer. No turning back.

The Halfway Inn is closed to customers, side-lined by a bypass and hidden deep in inhospitable countryside. One winter’s night, two women end up knocking on the door, seeking refuge as a blizzard takes hold.

But why is the landlord less than pleased to see them? And what is his elderly father trying so hard to tell them?

At the local police station PC Lissa Lloyd is holding the fort while the rest of her team share in the rare excitement of a brutal murder at an isolated farmhouse. A dangerous fugitive is on the run – but how can Lissa make a name for herself if she’s stuck at her desk? When a call comes in saying the local district nurse is missing, she jumps at the chance to investigate her disappearance.

The strangers at Halfway wait out the storm, but soon realise they might have been safer on the road. It seems not all the travellers will make it home for Christmas . . .”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my sixth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Halfway by B.E. Jones. Halfway was published by Constable in November 2018 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Halfway but that has in no way influenced my review.

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog you may be aware that one of my favourite books from last year was the absolutely outstanding Wilderness by B.E. Jones (it’s amazing, you need to get hold of a copy!). Jones has written a number of other books though, all of which look very intriguing, but there was something about Halfway which sang to me. The blurb, the cover, and the idea really appealed. And now, of course, I’m kicking myself that I haven’t read Halfway sooner because once again, it’s another absolutely outstanding novel. I LOVED it!

On a snowy December day near the isolated Welsh town of Pont, hitchhiker Lee is trying to find her way out. She’s cold, the weather is getting worse and she just wants to get as far away from Pont as possible. Desperate times call for desperate measures so she steps out in front of a car, the driver slams on the brakes and Lee invites herself into the warmth of local nurse, Becca’s, vehicle. But the car won’t start and both women know they need to find shelter from the snowstorm. So they head back the way Becca had come from, to a dilapidated pub further down the road. The landlord greets them less than enthusiastically, there’s a strange air about him. And why is his hand bleeding? As the day progresses, it becomes clear to Lee and Becca that not everything is as it seems at The Halfway…

In a similar vein to Wilderness, Halfway is as much about the setting as it is about the characters. The atmospheric descriptions of the vast Welsh countryside, with the added smothering effect of the snowstorm, the knowledge that one wrong turn could have you lost forever, made me feel quite claustrophobic, and I loved it. It’s really beautifully done and Jones is a master of making you feel as though you’re living the story along with the characters.

The characters are well-drawn and I made my mind up about them pretty quickly. But this is a crime thriller and nothing is ever as straight forward as it initially seems. The book has a wonderful darkness to it and I absolutely lapped it up. From start to finish, you know there’s something very wrong here and I found myself on the edge of my seat, loving the ominous feeling Jones’ writing gave me. I did have a few suspicions about where the story was going and despite being able to spot one big twist (because I’m Mrs Super Suspicious!) it didn’t detract from the story at all.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, yes! Without a moment’s hesitation. I loved Halfway and I’m so glad I read it. I loved the entire book but I really enjoyed the ending, which was blood-soaked and so very satisfying. I think one of the most impressive things for me though was how the author managed to completely change my opinion of two of the main characters as the end of the book approached. Beautifully written, utterly compelling and really quite addictive. Highly recommended, one for my top books of the year list and an author to watch.

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

Halfway by B.E. Jones was published in the UK by Constable on 1st November 2018 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | hive.co.uk | Goodreads |

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photo of Bev

Beverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today.

She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Wilderness, her sixth crime novel follows the release of Halfway by Little Brown in 2018.

Bev’s previous releases, Where She Went, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e books.

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

#BookReview: The Proposal by S.E. Lynes @bookouture #TheProposal #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the proposal“The first thing you should know, dear reader, is that I am dead…

Teacher Pippa wants a second chance. Recently divorced and unhappy at work, she uproots her life and moves to the countryside, determined to make a fresh start. But Pippa soon realises: your troubles are never far behind.

When Pippa meets blue-eyed Ryan Marks, he is funny and charming. He is haunted by his past – but insists he is a changed man.

He might just be the answer to all of her problems. And Pippa can tell the truth from lies. She’d know if she were in danger. Wouldn’t she?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my first 20 Books of Summer review with you and it’s for a corker of a book – The Proposal by S.E. Lynes. The Proposal was published by Bookouture on 21st September 2018 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Proposal but that has in no way influenced my review.

Well, this book is a bit bonkers! And by ‘a bit’ I actually mean ‘totally and completely’ — and I loved it! What an intoxicating and unexpected ride the author took me on. I’ll be completely honest, from the design of the cover, I was expecting a fairly run of the mill psychological thriller. But I should have known better! S.E. Lynes is always pushing the boundaries and The Proposal is proof of that. I have loved this author’s work ever since I read her outstanding debut, Valentina, and I continue to do so (although I have fallen a little behind with her books I’m ashamed to say). If you haven’t read an S.E. Lynes book before, then I heartily recommend you remedy that as soon as possible.

Teacher and romance author, Pippa Gates, is uninspired with life. She’s recently divorced, has had a string of depressing Tinder hookups and is facing a deadline from her editor. The clock is ticking and she doesn’t have the foggiest idea of even the basic storyline for her next book, let alone any of the details her editor wants to hear. That’s when the doorbell rings. She’s not expecting company, but reluctantly opens the door and comes face to face with door-to-door salesman, Ryan Marks. Ryan has had a tough life but is trying to find his way back into society. It’s hard to describe, but Pippa feels an odd connection to this man. She wants to hear his story, it could help inspire her writing – the bestseller she’s dreamt of for so long could be stood in front of her – so she makes a proposal. She’s a street-smart and intelligent woman who knows exactly what she’s doing, doesn’t she…?

Oh my flipping goodness! What a compelling novel The Proposal is. There’s such a delicious sense of foreboding from the start and I was hooked instantly. I’m not sure I liked Pippa Gates, Novelist but I was more than happy to spend time with her. There’s ‘something’ about this character that made me want to follow her, I was drawn to her. The story is told in the main by Pippa in the form of diary entries. She speaks directly to the reader, which is only one aspect of the many in this book which I loved. She almost has a conversation with her reader, making judgements about you, your thoughts and your feelings. I loved it. And if you’re not a little intrigued by that first line: The first thing you should know, dear reader, is that I am dead… then WTF? There are also blog posts, references to Instagram posts and audio recordings which all put you thoroughly on edge and wanting to know more.

The first half of the book I devoured as I felt nervous as hell for a very reckless woman who seemed intent on putting herself in the most dangerous of situations. Lynes’s writing carried me along and I was lost in Pippa’s world. The second half of the book (it could have been the last third – I’m afraid I was so caught up in the action, I didn’t take note) slowed down a little for me as what I had feared, happened in full technicolour glory. The anticipation dropped a little, although my concern for Pippa certainly didn’t. This is one dark and devilish tale and I still stand by what I said earlier in this review – it’s a little bit bonkers. I was able to guess what one of the big twists was going to be but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book at all. In fact, it made me read faster as I was desperate to have my suspicions confirmed or proven incorrect.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! I would, yes. The Proposal is an edgy, no holds barred psychological thriller. There are times when the characters (or Pippa) do some pretty daft things, but just go with it. It’s such an intriguing, captivating, well-written book and goes to prove that Lynes is a ‘must read’ author (but I knew that already). Twisted, twisty and impossible to put down. Recommended.

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

The Proposal by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 21st September 2018 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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S E Lynes Author PhotoS E Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT and THE PROPOSAL.

After graduating from Leeds University, Susie lived in London before moving to Aberdeen where she worked as a producer at the BBC before moving with her husband, Paul, and two young children to Rome.

In Rome, she began to write, snatching time where she could. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University.

She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing. She has also published two children’s books in Italy.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Curator by M.W. Craven @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #TheCurator #WashingtonPoe #damppebbles

the curator“It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year with you, The Curator by M.W. Craven. The Curator is the third book in Craven’s superbly good Washington Poe series (or, as everyone seems to refer to the series, Tilly and Poe) and is published in hardcover, audio and digital formats today (4th June 2020) by Constable. I received a free eARC of The Curator but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’ve been waiting a whole year (and a bit) for The Curator to arrive on my kindle. And what’s the first thing I do when it does? I simper a little because I finally have a copy – the wait is over! – and then I try to pretend it’s not there. Crazy, right? I was so keen to read this book but at the same time, I was really, really nervous. What if I didn’t enjoy it? What if I rushed in and didn’t savour it (it’s a flipping long wait ’til the next one, that’s for sure!)? And that, I think, is the sign of an incredibly talented author who has built the beginnings of a series into something that, for the reader, is extra special. Reading The Curator, for me, was an event. Something to look forward to. Something to anticipate and savour every minute of. Something to remember. And I loved it. Craven can do no wrong in my eyes.

DS Washington Poe, Tilly Bradshaw and a heavily pregnant DI Stephanie Flynn of the National Crime Agency are called back to Cumbria to investigate a perplexing case. Severed fingers. What appears to be three pairs from three individuals, left over the Christmas period in the most surprising of places. On further investigation it’s confirmed that one finger in the pair was removed antemortem, the other finger was removed postmortem. But that’s only a tiny piece of the puzzle. The female victims were drugged, the male victim wasn’t. And a note was left with each set of fingers with the hashtag #BSC6. The team – even with Tilly’s immense intelligence and analytical brain – are initially baffled. But then through a little supposition and a lot of analysis, a suspect emerges. But what the suspect tells them turns everything upside down. This isn’t any run of the mill serial killer, this is the Curator…

Another absolutely cracking novel from the crime fiction mastermind that is M.W. Craven. I loved this book and savoured every darn second I had with it. I could have easily read this book in a couple of sittings but I slowed down to ensure I enjoyed every twist and turn. Craven appears to be one of those crime writers who doesn’t shy away from digging the depths of the internet to find strange and unusual ideas for his novels, which he then twists and shapes into crime fiction gold. The Curator is solid proof of that. An intriguing and intricate setup, followed by an edge of your seat hunt for the bad guy, culminating in a devilishly dark twist that you won’t see coming.

Even when I had my suspicions about who the killer was, there was another unexpected gut punch just waiting around the corner. Such a clever well-written book that hooks you in from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the shocking finale.

Tilly and Poe are wonderful creations who have been firm favourites of mine since the very first book. I’ve loved watching their friendship and working relationship grow over the last couple of years. The chemistry and the bond they have, makes for compelling reading. The humour and the wit the author includes in the story adds a few lighter moments to what is a brilliantly dark and twisty story. Expertly paced, skilfully written and all in a setting to die for (literally!).

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, categorically, YES! If you’re a crime fiction fan and you haven’t met Tilly and Poe yet, then that has to change. The Curator can easily be read as a standalone but if you’ve not read any of the books before, why not treat yourself to the entire series?! Be whisked away to deepest, darkest Cumbria and meet two totally unforgettable characters who you will grow to love and admire. I loved this book and I’m counting down the days until Dead Ground is published next year. Another stunning novel from an accomplished writer and I’m really excited to see what the future holds (let’s hope it’s a lot more Tilly and Poe!).

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

The Curator by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 4th June 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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16473225_743395339158440_999373164873613480_n (1)M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .

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