#BookReview: The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan @HQstories @1stMondayCrime #TheWildGirls #damppebbles

“In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sun-soaked plains, four friends reunite for a birthday celebration…

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL
Has it all, but chose love over her friends…

THE TEACHER
Feels the walls of her flat and classroom closing in…

THE MOTHER
Loves her baby, but desperately needs a break…

THE INTROVERT
Yearns for adventure after suffering for too long…

Arriving at the safari lodge, a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the party that was promised. There’s no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.

THE HUNT IS ON.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. The Wild Girls was published on 15th April 2021 by HQ and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free copy of The Wild Girls which has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to HQ and First Monday Crime for sending me a review copy of the book.

The fabulous Phoebe Morgan will be appearing alongside a host of other brilliant authors later today – Monday, 10th May 2021 at 7.30pm – over on the FM Facebook page. More information further down this post!

Four friends torn apart by one fateful night two years ago. Their lives have taken very different paths. Grace has become a hermit, hiding away from everyone and everything. Alice is drowning in debt and if truth be told, is unhappy in her relationship. Hannah is finally a mum to Max after years of trying and lots of heartache. And Felicity has moved to New York and is living a perfect, glamorous life (no surprise there!). When an expensive looking invitation arrives for each of the women, they’re shocked to discover that Felicity is offering them an olive branch in the form of an all expenses paid long weekend in Botswana to mark her 30th birthday. After careful consideration, all three friends accept and board the 11 hour flight to a different world. But when they arrive, exhausted, at their exclusive lodgings something doesn’t feel right. There’s no sign of Felicity, there’s not another soul to be seen. They have no idea where they are and their phones aren’t working. This dream holiday could turn out to be the death of them…

What a thoroughly entertaining book The Wild Girls is. I found it to be very readable and quite the page-turner. I admit, I initially took a bit of a dislike to the main characters but that didn’t stop me from enjoying their tale. I warmed to Grace the most over the course of the book, despite the fact she’s quite naïve and timid at times. Each of the four friends has a very defined role in their group, as you would expect, and as the story progressed she came out of her shell more and more. The more I read, the more I liked her.

The Wild Girls is full to the brim of secrets. I really enjoyed the uncertainty the author packs into the story. The reader finds out early on that something went wrong between the four friends to shatter their very tight-knit friendship. It’s not until later on in the story that you find out what happened and why. It was very clever the way the author put blame in one way or another on all four characters (although the blame on one character was self imposed – I don’t think anyone else would blame her for what she did!). I also really liked the way I was never 100% certain about anything.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Wild Girls is a very readable psychological crime thriller which I can see being a huge hit. This is the second book I have read by Morgan (the first being her debut – The Doll House) and I would happily read more of this author’s work. I loved the setting which gave the story a wonderful isolated edge. It was different and a hook in itself for me. I had hoped for a slightly different ending but it wasn’t to be – it felt a smidge flat after everything that proceeded it (perhaps I missed something). Still a very entertaining, compelling read. Recommended.

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

The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan was published in the UK by HQ on 15th April 2021 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 |

First Monday Crime
Phoebe Morgan will be joining the panel for May’s First Monday Facebook event on Monday 10th May 2021. Phoebe will be appearing alongside Tina Baker (author of Call Me Mummy), James Delargy (author of Vanished), Marion Todd (author of What They Knew) and asking the questions will be William Shaw. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 10th May via the First Monday Facebook page.

Phoebe Morgan is a bestselling author and editor. She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside. She has previously worked as a journalist and now edits commercial fiction for a publishing house during the day, and writes her own books in the evenings. She lives in London and you can follow her on Twitter @Phoebe_A_Morgan, Instagram @phoebeannmorgan, Facebook @PhoebeMorganAuthor or find her blog about publishing and writing at http://www.phoebemorganauthor.com.

#BookReview: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse @1stMondayCrime #TheSanatorium #damppebbles #FirstMondayCrime

EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse again in conjunction with the lovely folk at First Monday Crime. The fabulous Sarah Pearse will be appearing alongside a host of other brilliant authors this coming Monday, 12th April 2021 at 7.30pm over on the FM Facebook page. More information further down this post!

The Sanatorium was impossible to resist! That intriguing title, the striking, atmospheric cover, the enticing blurb. It screamed my name so I had to read it. This is the second book I’ve read set in the Alps in the space of a month but it gave me a whole different set of chills.

Detective Elin Warner and her boyfriend are staying at an isolated boutique hotel in the Swiss Alps. The hotel itself has an unnerving history, having started its life as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. Her estranged brother has surprisingly invited Elin to his engagement party. He’s marrying a childhood friend of hers, the glamorous Laure. Elin is happy to leave the UK for a while as, following her last case, something happened which made her doubt her future in the police force. But on arrival, nervous Elin is instantly put on edge even more by the imposing setting. The pressing snow storm doesn’t help her feel any safer. The relationship between Elin and her brother, Isaac, is tense and a missed dinner invitation causes more upset. But the following morning, Isaac reports Laure missing. The snow storm and the risk of avalanches cuts off all access to the hotel as the search for Laure continues. They’re on their own. Elin needs to step up and take control of the situation. Which, despite feeling hesitant, she feels ready to do. Until they discover the body…

Poor Elin. From the start of The Sanatorium she’s on the edge and that doesn’t really change very much as the story progresses. She’s a troubled woman who carries the tragic death of her brother at the age of 8 in her heart and her mind. The real reason for her decision to reconnect with her estranged other brother becomes very clear to the reader. She wants the truth and the only person who can give it to her is Isaac. Her grief has moulded and shaped her into the woman she is today. Elin is an interesting character who at times I really liked and admired.

The mystery aspect of The Sanatorium was interesting and it kept me turning the pages. I adored the setting. I love isolated, claustrophobic settings in novels and this one is done particularly well. The snowy mountains feel as though they’re pressing in on the hotel and the unpredictability of the avalanches was really wonderful. Picturing the icy scenes in my mind gave me goosebumps! Marvellous stuff.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend The Sanatorium to anyone who enjoys a locked-room mystery with a bit of an icy twist. The plot moves at a steady pace and keeps the reader turning the pages. I enjoyed reading The Sanatorium and I would gladly read more from this author. It’s a chilling, atmospheric mystery which I was happy to lose myself in. Recommended.

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

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse was published in the UK by Bantam Press on Thursday 18th February 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 | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

First Monday Crime
Sarah Pearse will be joining the panel for April’s First Monday Facebook event on Monday 12th April 2021. Sarah will be appearing alongside David Fennell (author of The Art of Death), Matt Wesolowski (author of Deity), David Baldacci (author of A Gambling Man) and asking the questions will be Dr Noir – Jacky Collins. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 12th April via the First Monday Facebook page.

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel. Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes.

#BookReview: Girl A by Abigail Dean @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @1stMondayCrime #GirlA #FirstMondayCrime #damppebbles

Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of the most talked about books of 2021 so far – Girl A by Abigail Dean. Girl A was published by HarperCollins on 21st January 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free copy of Girl A but that has in no way influenced my review.

Abigail Dean is one of the authors appearing at March’s First Monday event over on Facebook (the first gathering – although online – for 2021!). Read on to find out more and how you can get involved!

Girl A is a hugely popular book, and rightly so. It is exquisitely written, emotional and pulls the reader into the story of the Gracie children. It’s a book I was keen to read following a couple of really enticing blog reviews, and I’m so glad I did.

Lex Gracie is a survivor. A survivor of child abuse. She and her six siblings are the infamous Gracie children who were discovered in a house of horrors near Manchester. Malnourished, abandoned and neglected by their cruel, deluded parents. But Lex escaped and ran for help. And now she’s Girl A – her identity hidden from the press and the watching world. Her life picked apart and put back together again, along with the lives of her siblings. Years later, following the death of her mother, Lex is made executor of her estate and finally has to confront her past and the house which became her prison. The dream, with her sister Evie, is to turn the house of horrors into a community centre. But to do that Lex must visit each of her siblings and get them to sign on the dotted line. Can Lex relive her traumatic past to make a positive change for her future…

Lex is such a complicated character but I really enjoyed spending time with her. Despite numerous sessions with a psychologist, she still bears the painful scars of her traumatic past. And who could blame her?! Her distance from her siblings, except Evie, aides her continual healing. The reader watches on as she is no longer able to avoid the difficult confrontations she’s managed to distance herself from for years. For me, the journey with Lex, spending time with her and discovering what made her tick, was the highlight of Girl A.

The story is told in the past – from the early days when life was fairly quiet for the small Gracie family, all the way through to Lex’s brave escape – and the present, with an adult Lex meeting with her siblings after so many years and working out how to make them agree to the community centre. Each sibling bears their own scars, their own allegiance to a brother or sister who helped soften the horror they were suffering at the time. The dynamics of the family are very intriguing and the reader is drawn into the story with ease. There’s always a question mark over what really happened during the children’s imprisonment; those overheard conversations from another room, the bangs and crashes and the sudden, threatening silences.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Girl A is an emotional and compelling read which I think true crime fans will particularly enjoy. It’s not a book of twists and turns (although I will say that I was able to work out one of the major twists a smidge before it was revealed) but a well-drawn and considered exploration of a trauma survivor’s life. Defined forever by another person’s twisted ways. An exciting debut novel from a writer to watch. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free copy of Girl A. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Girl A by Abigail Dean was published in the UK by HarperCollins 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 |  WaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

First Monday Crime
Abigail Dean will be joining the panel for March’s First Monday Facebook event on Monday 1st March 2021. Abigail will be appearing alongside Nadine Matheson (author of The Jigsaw Man), Tim Glister (author of Red Corona), Femi Kayode (author of Lightseekers) and asking the questions will be Leye Adenle. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 1st March via the First Monday Facebook page.

Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took summer 2018 off to work on her debut novel, Girl A, ahead of her thirtieth birthday. She now works as a lawyer for Google, and is currently writing her second novel, The Conspiracies.

Girl A sold in the UK after a 9-way auction, and also sold at auction in the US. The novel has since been acquired in 27 other territories, and television/film rights have sold to Sony. Johan Renck, director of Chernobyl, is attached to work on the television adaptation of Girl A.

Abigail has always loved reading, writing, and talking about books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AbigailSDean.

#BookReview: The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd @TransworldBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheMemoryWood #damppebbles

the memory wood.jpg

Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd. Now, had life been relatively normal (normalish) then tonight would have seen the first First Monday Crime Night of the year. But we’re all on lock down so it’s obviously not happening (#StayHomeSaveLives #StayHomeStaySafe). That doesn’t mean we can’t shout about the brilliant authors who were due to appear though, no siree! Sam Lloyd, author of the haunting The Memory Wood, was due to be taking part this evening so I, of course, leapt at the chance to read this INCREDIBLE book. I have to be completely honest with you here. As soon as I saw this book, before I’d even read the blurb, I knew I had to read it. The cover gave me chills. I received a free ARC of The Memory Wood but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Memory Wood had my attention as soon as I set eyes on it; that stunning cover, the intriguing blurb. You know when you get ‘that’ feeling about a book…? You just know that it’s going to be something special? You don’t know how you know, you just do? That’s the feeling I had about The Memory Wood. Expectations were high. Oh, the pressure! And I wasn’t disappointed one jot. What a mesmerising, creepy crime thriller. Full of tension and dread. I absolutely loved this book!

Elijah lives with his family at the Game Keeper’s Cottage in the grounds of Rufus Hall, near the Memory Wood. Elijah’s life is quiet and sedate. He doesn’t attend school but he has a love of words and likes to think that makes him cleverer than the average 12-year-old. One day, while exploring a crumbling cottage in the wood, Elijah makes a discovery. Thirteen year old, Elissa. Chained to the floor and desperate to escape, Elissa pleads with Elijah to help her. But Elijah knows he can’t help and he can’t really understand why she is so desperate to leave. After all, they’ve only just met! In Elissa he sees a friend, a confidant and someone to spend his time with. He’s enchanted by her. But Elissa isn’t the first girl Elijah has discovered chained up beneath the cottage. And Elijah knows what happened to the other children when they refused to play by their captor’s rules…

I thoroughly enjoyed The Memory Wood. It was everything I hoped it would be and maybe even a little bit more on top! The author has done a wonderful job of making his reader feel they are there, living in the wood with these strange characters. The story is told from three perspectives; Elijah, Elissa and the detective in charge of finding Elissa, Detective Superintendent Mairead MacCullagh. I loved DS MacCullagh and thought the author made her even more interesting with the addition of an issue you don’t see every day. I hope this isn’t the last we see of MacCullagh as I would gladly read an entire series with her as the lead character. Elissa, the kidnapped 13-year-old, is an incredible character. Wise beyond her years with an intelligence to match. I loved how emotionally strong she was in the face of adversity. How every action was considered in detail and how determined she was to escape the clutches of her captor. Astute and spirited, she’ll be difficult to forget – that’s for sure! And poor, troubled Elijah. My heart broke for him.

The plot moves along at a steady pace and I was keen to find out how Elijah and Elissa’s story was going to end. There are a couple of ‘gasp-out-loud’ moments which turn the book on its head for the reader and I loved them! Cat and mouse game? Yes, definitely. But it’s more intricate, more detailed, more involving than that. Game of chess anyone? (Chess features quite heavily in the story so it only seemed fair….)

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a beautifully written, unsettling and atmospheric novel and I devoured it. With characters that will leave their mark on you, whether in a good way….or a not so good way, this book will be hard to forget. And if anyone ever utters the words ‘say you understand’ to me ever again then I may have a heart attack right there and then. Those three words will forever send chills down my spine. Highly recommended.

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

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd was published in the UK by Bantam Press on 20th February 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, making up stories and building secret hideaways in his local woods. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl. The Memory Wood is his debut thriller.

#FirstMondayCrime: The Panel – December 2019 @1stMondayCrime @shaminiflint #SimonBrett @tarquinhall @samblakebooks @JakeKerridge #CriminalMastermind @severnhouse #damppebbles

Hello and welcome to the blog today. I’ve donned my Santa hat and I’ve put up the Christmas decorations. Actually, that’s not true. It IS only November after all! Bah humbug. But December is just around the corner which means that it’s time for another brilliant First Monday Crime panel in London. Cancel all of your plans for Monday 2nd December at 6.30pm and head over to the First Monday website now to reserve your FREE ticket.

December’s panel is looking fantastic. And as a special Christmas treat, the team have lined up a little something extra which I will tell you about soon.

First, let’s find out who will be on the panel…

1_FlintShaminiShamini Flint – ‘A Frightfully English Execution’
Shamini Flint is a Cambridge graduate and was a lawyer with the UK firm Linklaters for ten years, travelling extensively in Asia during that period, before giving up her practice to concentrate on writing. She is the author of several children’s books. Visit her at http://www.shaminiflint.com

xsimon-brett.jpg.pagespeed.ic.cQ2w13ZhKRSimon Brett – ‘The Killer in the Choir’
Simon Brett worked as a producer in radio and television before taking up writing full time. As well as the much-loved Fethering series, the Mrs Pargeter novels and the Charles Paris detective series, he has written a number of radio and television scripts. Married with three children, he lives in an Agatha Christie-style village on the South Downs. You can find out more about Simon at his website: http://www.simonbrett.com

tarquin-hall-46978953Tarquin Hall – ‘The Case of the Reincarnated Client’
Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has previously lived in the USA, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. He now divides his time between the UK and India, and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand. He is the author of four previous Vish Puri mysteries

Sam-Blake-full-body-jason-clarke-photography-final-683x1024Sam Blake – ‘Keep Your Eyes on Me’
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the multi award winning national writing resources website http://www.writing.ie.

She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication.
Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. The first in her bestselling Cat Connolly triology, Little Bones, was nominated for Irish Crime Novel of the Year. 

And Jake Kerridge will be moderating. December’s panel is not to be missed, I’m sure you’ll agree.

But what of the extra little something I mentioned? Well, to start with, Severn House is sponsoring the night and will be offering ticket holders a free glass of wine. But it doesn’t end there, no siree! There will also be another event taking place that evening called Criminal Mastermind featuring the brilliant Claire McGowan and Angela Clarke.

Make sure you get your ticket before they are all snapped up! The event will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 2nd December at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

#BookReview: The Whisper Man by Alex North @MichaelJBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheWhisperMan #FirstMondayCrime #damppebbles

the whisper man

“If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window…”

Hello bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today because I get to share one of my favourite books of the year with you! The brilliant Alex North will be appearing at First Monday Crime this month which is the perfect excuse for me to shout about The Whisper Man for a second time. Scroll down to find out who else will be appearing at First Monday alongside Alex on Monday!

I received a free ARC copy of The Whisper Man but this has in no way influenced my review.

Well, this is an absolutely cracking read and a strong contender for my book of the year! You know when you see a book and you just know, without any shadow of a doubt, that you’re going to LOVE it. That happened to me at a crime fiction festival last year when I won a book. I could choose between this and another title. A very naughty publicist (who shall remain nameless) talked me into taking a different book against my better judgement and since then I have been hankering after a copy of The Whisper Man. I haven’t read the other book yet, by the way, and it’s got some awesome reviews. I was drawn to this one though and should have gone with my gut!

This a wonderfully creepy and dark read which I powered through – probably quicker than anything else I’ve read this year. There’s a definite horror vibe about it which just added to my overall enjoyment of the book. But what I loved most were our lead characters, Tom and Jake, who absolutely shone from the pages. Tom and his 7-year-old son, Jake, don’t have the easiest of relationships. Rebecca; wife, mother and the glue which held the family together, died suddenly leaving the pair of them to fend for themselves. Jake discovered his mum’s body slumped at the bottom of the stairs. Something that would traumatise most adults. He misses his mum terribly and has a new found fear of the stairs. Which is why Tom decides a fresh start is what they need. They leave the painful memories and the frightening stairs behind and move to the sleepy village of Featherbank. But Featherbank has a dark past of its own. The Whisper Man killed a number of young boys fifteen years ago. And now another boy has gone missing. Bewildered by Jake’s behaviour normally, Tom is even more confused when Jake starts acting even stranger…

I absolutely loved this book and will be sending people barmy by recommending it all of the time! The characters are just superb. I loved Tom and my heart ached for little Jake (I have kids around the same age) but there are other equally as brilliant characters in this book. I have to mention DI Pete Willis who I adored. A man with many regrets and forever searching for the one boy he couldn’t find. He has a troubled past which he tortures himself with on a daily basis and deals with an addiction which he takes one step at a time. Then there’s Frank Carter, an evil psychopath who revels in his past as The Whisper Man and who longs to be remembered for what damage he did. Brilliant, just brilliant!

You need this book in your life. It’s brilliantly creepy, edgy and chock full of surprises. I was totally smitten from the moment I read the first page. The characters are outstanding, the plot hooks you in in a matter of minutes and the writing is just sublime. Not forgetting the seemingly-quaint yet overwhelmingly sinister setting of Featherbank. This book has definitely left its mark on me. I loved it and it’s going to take something extra special to knock it off the top spot.

Would I recommend this book? You have to ask…?! Most definitely. It gave me chills and made my heart ache for Tom, Jake and their struggling relationship. Full of some of the most memorable characters I have ever met in a book – I loved it (do say if I’m repeating myself!). Completely unforgettable, impossible to put down and absolutely everything I want from a book. I am in love.

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

The Whisper Man by Alex North was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 13th June 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats with the paperback to follow in December (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 | BookDepository | Goodreads | Foyles |

First Monday Crime:
Alex North will be joining the panel for November’s First Monday Crime event on Monday 4th November 2019. Alex will be appearing alongside Louise Candlish, Abir Mukherjee, Victoria Selman and Sophie Goodfellow. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 4th November at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about-the-author3

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: The Lying Room by Nicci French @simonschusterUK @1stMondayCrime #TheLyingRoom #FirstMondayCrime #damppebbles

the lying room.jpg

Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn’t call the police.

‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’

A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?

A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of The Lying Room by hugely popular author, Nicci French. The Lying Room will be published in hardcover and ebook format on Thursday 3rd October 2019 by Simon & Schuster, with the paperback to follow next year. And to celebrate, Nicci French (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French) will be appearing at October’s First Monday Crime night in London on 7th October. The event is completely free to attend but you do need to reserve your spot. More information about how to do that shortly.

I received a free ARC of The Lying Room but that has in no way influenced my review.

I need to confess something to you, dear reader. We’ve known each other a while now. I feel I can open up to you and share a deep, dark secret. As you know, I am a huge (HUGE!) crime and psychological thriller fan. *In a tiny, squeaky voice* this is the first book I’ve read by Nicci French. I can actually hear your disappointment. I have to say I’m disappointed in myself too. However, let’s look on the bright side here – what an absolutely corking read to start with! Oooooh, I love a good character and Neve Connolly is so beautifully complex that I was smitten. I had to find out more.

On discovering her lover dead in his apartment Neve does the opposite of what most people would do. She cleans the flat from top to bottom eradicating every trace of her from Saul’s life, rather than calling the police and reporting what she immediately knows to be a terrible crime. She needs to keep their affair a secret; not only would it destroy her marriage but it would cause irreparable damage to her children, particularly fragile teenage daughter, Mabel. In doing so Neve sets herself on a path of constantly looking over her shoulder, fretting that she left a trace of evidence behind and becoming highly suspicious of the people she loves the most. That moment of madness, that split-second decision could destroy everything she cares about…

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive. (I was obviously a very deceitful child as I was reminded of this fairly often!) Poor Neve. You can’t help but feel some sympathy for her. The result of one very poor decision spirals and spirals until she doesn’t know who to trust or which path to take. A lot of extra pressure is piled on by the brilliantly written DCI Alistair Hitching who was by far my favourite character in the book. His interactions with Neve made me smile at times and his sleuthing reminded me a little of Columbo (the way he just knows the truth, and now all he has to do is find the proof). His slow, methodical picking apart of everything Neve says is just brilliant. Always trying to trip her up, always trying to find fault. Whilst Hitching was my favourite character, I struggled to understand Neve and Mabel’s relationship and found Mabel intensely irritating and by far the most difficult character to connect with or understand.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It’s an engaging slow burn of a domestic suspense novel which I think will appeal to many readers. I couldn’t work out for the life of me how the book was going to end but it was a fitting conclusion. It’s easy to see why this accomplished writing partnership have the fan base they do. I would certainly read more from Nicci French without a moment’s hesitation.

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

The Lying Room by Nicci French was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 3rd October 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

First Monday Crime:
Nicci French will be joining the panel for October’s First Monday Crime event on Monday 7th October 2019. Nicci and Sean will be appearing alongside Peter Robinson, Marnie Riches and Claire McGowan. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 7th October at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about-the-author3

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Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. The couple are married and live in Suffolk. There are twenty bestselling novels by Nicci French, published in thirty-one languages. Blue Monday was the first thrilling story in the Frieda Klein series, which concluded with Day of the Dead. The Lying Room is their latest novel.

facebook.com/NicciFrenchOfficialPage

#FirstMondayCrime: The Panel – June 2019 #BlindDatewithaBook @1stMondayCrime #damppebbles @TimWeaverBooks @TheAngelaClarke @doug_johnstone @HaningtonPhan

Hello bookish friends! I hope you’re starting to get ‘that Summer feeling’ with the lovely warm weather we’re having at the moment in the UK (I’m sure if you live outside the UK you’re very used to warm weather but it’s something us Brits rejoice in whenever the temperature rises about 12 degrees!).

What better way to celebrate the arrival of Summer (however brief it is this year!) than with an evening of crime fiction – First Monday crime fiction at that! Sounds like a perfect plan to me.  June’s First Monday will be the last before the hardworking team take a small siesta before returning in the Autumn, so don’t miss out.  And there’s an extra special bookish treat in June with the return of fan favourite, Blind Date with a Book.  Find the perfect book to take on your holibobs with you!  You can either visit this page to reserve your FREE ticket or scroll down for more information.

Let’s see what bookish delights the team have in store for us on Monday 3rd June…

tim weaver.pngTim Weaver is the Sunday Times bestselling author of ten thrillers, including I Am Missing and You Were Gone. Weaver has been nominated for a National Book Award, selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library award. He is also the host and producer of the chart-topping Missing podcast, which features experts in the field discussing missing persons investigations from every angle. A former journalist and magazine editor, he lives near Bath with his wife and daughter.

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Angela Clarke is the Sunday Times bestselling author of the Social Media Murders series. Her debut Follow Me was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month, longlisted for the CWA’s Dagger in the Library, and shortlisted for the Good Reader Page Turner Award. Angela has appeared on CBS Reality’s Written In Blood, on stage for BBC Edinburgh Fringe and on BBC News 24’s Ouch comedy special Tales From the Misunderstood, at Noirwich, Camp Bestival, Panic! (in partnership with the Barbican, Goldsmiths University and the Guardian), at City University, at HM Prisons, and she hosts BBC 3 Counties Tales From Your Life, and the Womens’ Radio Station Three Books show. She won the Young Stationers’ Prize 2015 for achievement and promise in writing. A sufferer of EDS III, Angela is passionate about bringing marginalised voices into publishing. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Crash Land. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is the drummer for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

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Peter Hanington is the author of A Dying Breed and A Single Source. He has worked as a journalist for over twenty-five years, including fourteen years at the Today Programme and more recently The World Tonight and Newshour on the BBC World Service. He lives in London with his wife and has two grown-up children.


And overseeing everything will be Jake Kerridge. Not to be missed, I’m sure you’ll agree! The event will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 3rd June at 
City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

 

#BookReview: The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor @ZaffreBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheDangerousKind #damppebbles

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“Perfect for fans of Anatomy of A Scandal, He Said/She Said, and Belinda Bauer,The Dangerous Kind is at once a gripping thriller and a stunning portrayal of the monsters that live among us.

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck. These people hide in plain sight, they can be teachers, doctors, holding positions of trust, of power.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.

But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into a web of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the safety of her own family.”

Woah, that was one hell of a ride!

Welcome my bookish friends to damppebbles. What are your plans for Tuesday? Nothing exciting? Then why don’t you head on over to First Monday Crime (on a Tuesday!) in London and hang out with some fabulous crime authors and brilliant book lovers? Appearing this month for your delectation are Chris Carter, Deborah O’Connor, Mark Billingham, Vanda Symon and Laura Wilson. It’s every crime fiction fans dream come true (well, it’s mine anyway 😍). More details to follow on the event after I’ve tried to put into words how I felt about Deborah O’Connor’s brilliant new thriller, The Dangerous Kind (or click here).

I need to rewind a little here first. Back in June 2016, a mere six months into my ‘career’ (if I can call it that!) as a book blogger, I was invited to join a blog tour for a debut Bonnier Zaffre author called Deborah O’Connor and her book, My Husband’s Son. I wasn’t able to review at the time (although I did at a later date) so offered to host a guest post instead. And what a guest post it was. It nearly broke my poor little WordPress blog. It still, to this day, gets regular hits. Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it before: The Bugaboo in the hall: Does having kids make it harder to be a writer? It’s so heartfelt, so wonderfully honest and I fell a little bit in love with it.

But what a gigantic leap O’Connor has made from her terrific debut to this, her latest book which is being billed as the thriller of the year. Uncomfortable, unsettling and so incredibly different to what came before. It’s a dark tale and, I’ll be perfectly honest, I found it hard to read at times due to the distressing subject matter but blimey – what a book! The Dangerous Kind is a multi-layered story of modern times and the terrible, destructive things adults can do. A highly emotional read but one which will stay with me for time to come.

Jessamine Gooch is a radio broadcaster who hosts a late night crime show. Potentially Dangerous People takes a retrospective look at past crimes and asks if it was possible to stop the act from being committed. Were there warning signs in the perpetrator’s behaviour? Could measures have been taken to intervene and stop the violence before the atrocity took place? Jessamine is a well-known broadcaster so she isn’t surprised when she is cornered outside Broadcasting House by a fan. Except the fan wants more than an autograph. Her friend, Cassie Scolari, has gone missing. Cassie’s husband has a history of abuse and Marnie is convinced he has something to do with Cassie’s sudden disappearance. Jessamine knows not to get involved, although her curiosity is piqued. She can’t help but wonder what happened to Cassie when life changes dramatically for her. With time on her hands, Jessamine starts to dig into Cassie’s past only to make some startling discoveries. Focussing on her investigation, Jessamine neglects to notice that her own daughter, Sarah, is starting a dangerous relationship of her own…

Chapters are told either in the modern day, in a specific character’s voice, or are flashback chapters set in the early 00s. The flashback chapters, which are mostly narrated by Rowena, are harrowing and the ones I found the most difficult to read. Although my heart broke on several occasions, O’Connor has pitched it just right. I was disgusted by the goings-on, yet I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. However, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The subject matter is distressing but the author has masterfully told her story in a compelling, sympathetic and non-gratuitous way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, O’Connor has made such a massive leap from her debut to The Dangerous Kind. This book gave me shivers and has left its mark on me for a long time to come. Oh, how I wept at one particular scene (I can feel myself welling up just typing this). The Dangerous Kind is an incredibly brave piece of fiction and absolutely devastating. Superb!

I received a free ARC of The Dangerous Kind but this has not influenced my review in any way.

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 16th May 2019 and is available in hardback, audio and ebook format (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

First Monday Crime:
Deborah O’Connor will be joining the panel for May’s First Monday Crime event on TUESDAY 7th May 2019. Deborah will be appearing alongside Chris Carter, Mark Billingham, Vanda Symon and Laura Wilson. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on TUESDAY 7th May at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

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Deborah O’Connor read English at Newnham College, Cambridge before going on to become a television producer. Having worked on everything from The Big Breakfast to Big Brother she produced the BAFTA award-winning poetry documentary Off By Heart and is currently the head of factual development at TV production company, CPL.

Born and bred in the North-East of England, she now lives in East London with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

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

#BookReview: Anything For Her by G.J. Minett (@GJMinett) @BonnierZaffre @1stMondayCrime #AnythingForHer

anything for her.jpg“You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago? 

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.”

G.J. Minett’s books have been on my radar for a while now.  I’ve had Anything For Her‘s predecessor on my TBR since last Summer and it’s been giving me ‘the look’.  You know about ‘the look’, right?  The one that makes you want to forget about any other reading commitments you *may* have and just get stuck into another, taking you totally off-piste!  So I was delighted to see G.J. Minett’s name on the list for the May (..pril) First Monday Crime panel.  Finally, I would get to read one of this author’s books!

And I enjoyed it.  It’s a twisty slow burn of a tale which made me reach for my Sherlock Holmesesque deerstalker and try to figure out what was going on with Minett’s secretive cast of characters.  I failed, by the way – I couldn’t see ‘whodunit’ in Anything For Her.

Billy is an interesting character.  We get to see snippets into his early teenage years; the loving relationship he had with his terminally ill mother, the relationship he believed he had with his father.  What I really liked about Billy was the air of something being a little ‘off’ which he carries.  The reader knows early on that something isn’t quite right with Billy and that feeling built into a wonderful sense of unease for me.  Saying that having finished the book last night, I’m afraid I’m still none the wiser with regards to the true dynamics of Billy’s relationship with his father.  And that not knowing is gnawing away at me a little.

Billy and Aimi are an item.  In the throws of young, teenage love which Billy firmly believes is going to stand the test of time.  Fast forward eleven years and Billy is shocked to bump into Aimi in his sister’s local supermarket.  Billy, on a mercy mission having recently discovered his sister has a terminal illness, is both thrilled and surprised to be reunited with his one true love, despite her now being married to someone else.  As is Aimi, but for different reasons.  During a stroll along Camber Sands, Aimi confesses how bad her marriage is and shows Billy the bruises as proof.  What comes next is a devious plan to deceive her husband and his influential family, and escape to a new life overseas.  Once Aimi’s vanishing act has taken place with the help of the ever devoted Billy, he slowly becomes aware that the Aimi he met in Tesco and the Aimi from eleven years ago are now very different people…

There’s something really quite dark about both Billy and Aimi which appealed to my need for monstrous, manipulative characters in my books.  That was particularly the case with Billy, I never really felt I had a grasp on what he was fully capable of.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily liked him though.  Of all the characters in Anything For Her, the only one I felt any sympathy for or warmth towards was Billy’s sister, Mia.  Her acceptance of her condition and her pragmatic approach to dealing with the uncertainty of when things will end for her was really quite moving at times.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  The plot gradually works its way up to a surprising reveal but it’s the final act, that ending…which did it for me.  This book couldn’t have finished any other way, in my opinion.  A perfect finale.  If you’re looking for a well written, character-driven psychological thriller to submerse yourself in, then you may just have found it!  I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by G.J. Minett.

Four stars out of five.

G.J. Minnet will be appearing at the Mayril (it’s May’s First Monday panel but because of the Bank Holiday here in the UK it’s happening in April instead!) First Monday Crime on Monday 30th April 2018. Graham (G.J.) will be appearing alongside Robert Goddard, Simone Buchholz, Cathi Unsworth and moderator Joe Haddow. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 30th April at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

Anything For Her by G.J. Minett was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

gj minett.jpgGraham was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and lived there for 18 years before studying for a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge.

He taught for several years, first in Cheltenham and then in West Sussex before opting to go part-time and start an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Completing the course in 2008, he gained a distinction for the dissertation under the guidance of novelist, Alison MacLeod and almost immediately won the Segora Short Story Competition with ‘On the Way Out’.

Other awards soon followed, most notably his success in the 2010 Chapter One novel competition with what would eventually become the opening pages of his debut novel. He was signed up by Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency, who managed to secure a two-book deal with twenty7, the digital-first adult fiction imprint of Bonnier Publishing.

“The Hidden Legacy” was published as an eBook in November 2015 and the paperback version was published in August 2016. The second book in the deal, entitled “Lie in Wait”, was published as an eBook in August 2016 and the paperback version in March 2017.

Graham lives with his wife and children in West Sussex but retains close links with the rest of his family in Cheltenham.

Author Links:Twitter | Website | Facebook |

Author image and bio © http://www.grahamminett.com/