#BlogTour | #GuestReview: San Diego Dead (Jake Wolfe #4) by Mark Nolan (@marknolan) @cobaltdinosaur #SanDiegoDead #JakeWolfe #damppebbles

San-Diego-Dead-Kindle.jpg“Danger awaits Marine-turned-lawyer Jake Wolfe on his vacation to sunny San Diego and Cabo San Lucas. There he finds sugary white sand beaches, warm turquoise water, boat trips among gray whales, and … cold blooded murder.

It was meant to be a relaxing holiday for Jake and his adopted war dog, Cody, but violence erupts when he crosses paths with a criminal cartel urgently seeking to reclaim a deadly package.

Jake learns the missing item is a threat to US citizens and vows to stop the cartel from possessing it, no matter what vigilante justice actions he might have to take.

Time is running out and thousands of innocent lives are at risk. Will the two combat veterans be able to retrieve the dangerous item before the killers do? The clock is ticking, but Jake hopes that if anybody can help find the package, it has to be his highly-trained and ultra-intelligent dog, Cody.

Find out what happens next. Start reading the latest Jake and Cody thriller right now and enjoy another fast-paced stand-alone story by author Mark Nolan.”

Happy Monday bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to Ryan’s guest review of San Diego Dead by Mark Nolan. I think I need to pull my reviewer socks up because Ryan has featured his thoughts on damppebbles more than I have so far this year. 😂

Let’s find out what Ryan thought of book four in the Jake Wolfe series…

San Diego Dead is the fourth book in the Jake Wolfe series, but can easily be read as a standalone.  The author has done a good job of hinting at previous adventures without making the reader feel that they are missing a lot of important information.  The reader is very aware early in the story that Jake is capable of taking care of himself and turning bad guys into cadavers at an alarming rate. That Cody, his loyal war dog, is something different from your run-of-the-mill pooch and Jake’s relationship with Sarah isn’t going as well as it should.

What I loved about this book was that the characters are well formed and easy to get to know. We have a set of ‘good guys and gals’ and set of ‘bad guys and gals’ the lines are clear and you know where you stand with everyone pretty darn quickly. But….the action and the story line, WOW! It comes thick and fast with suspense, action, and twists galore.

Now reader, I must confess….I made a mistake with this book and I am still kicking myself.  In one scene the action came thick and fast, and I could see the twist coming so clearly.  It was too obvious that something heinous was about to happen and being able to see it coming from so far away frustrated me.  Mark Nolan’s clever writing had me convinced and I was frustrated because up until that scene I was really enjoying the book. But this was too obvious and too predictable so I put the Kindle down in a huff.  I didn’t pick it up again for 3 hours as I was so disheartened! But I just had to know if I was right, whether my mystic reader powers had forseen the future. Guess what? I was wrong. Very, very wrong!  With deft like skill and a subtle twist the author managed to totally flumox me (I quietly cursed the author for writing so well and for misleading me, sorry Mark!) and I got back on with reading this excellent book.

If you like action books then this is a series to definitely look in to.  Jake Wolfe is an all-action hero with a side kick in Cody worthy of being up there with Robin (Batman), Luigi (Mario) and the Brain (Pinky)!  Jake and Cody’s relationship is never in question and the theme of loyalty runs throughout the book in multiple story lines.  Whether Jake is after a friend, comforter, weapon or tracker then Cody is his answer.

I would happily recommend this San Diego Dead to anyone craving an action fix and I look forward to having time to dive into the previous books.  Mark Nolan’s writing carries enough twists, turns and action to keep everyone happy.

Ryan chose to read a free digital copy of San Diego Dead. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

San Diego Dead by Mark Nolan was published in the UK on 28th August 2019 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, some of the following links* are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk* | amazon.com |

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Mark NolanMark Nolan has spent much of his life near the seashore. He loves dogs and has often been called a “dog whisperer.” These interests are reflected in his novels where the main character lives on a boat with his highly intelligent former war dog.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | GoodreadsWebsite |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. by Bill Flockhart #OperationLargeScotch #OLS @cobaltdinosaur #damppebbles #bookreview

OLS“Fearing the Good Friday Agreement will effectively end the lifestyle his IRA terrorist cell has enjoyed for years, Michael Caldwell the leader of the 1972 Club (named after the Bloody Sunday Massacre) decides to turn his attention to targeting the UK Government economically. He launches an attack threatening to bomb the Scotch whisky industry unless the British Government pay the terrorists a £20m ransom.

Armitage Brown, Assistant Controller of MI5 is given the task of stopping the terrorist attack but is unable to get any information on the assailants as to how, where and when they are going to deploy their explosives if their demands are not met. He co-ordinates a strategy, using all the emergency services, to thwart the terrorists under the code name ‘Operation Large Scotch.’

Both the military and the intelligence services have been guilty of murderous acts going back over the previous eighteen years. John Johnston, a young Ulsterman, living thousands of miles away in South Africa, is determined to get revenge for the killing of his father in Belfast. With the assistance of Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service he releases information that will haunt both the British Military establishment and the terrorists.

Will MI5 succeed in preventing mayhem in various towns around Scotland?”

Hello! Long time, no see. Officially I’m not here. If you saw my end of year post which featured my top 10-ish books of 2019 you may remember me mentioning the fourteen reviews I had yet to write. I have good news – those fourteen reviews are now SIXTEEN reviews (which means I’ve read another two books since that post was published – good news, right?!). Yes, despite my best-laid plans I have failed. But the good news is Ryan, my guest reviewer (and husband), is keeping the damppebbles ship afloat and today he’s reviewing Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. by Bill Flockhart for the blog tour. Let’s find out what he thought…

Let’s start with the big news, Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. is an easy to read thriller that pulls you in from the early chapters and flies along at a great pace. The author has been very clever in limiting the number of characters to avoid confusing side plots and making it very clear from the start who the bad guys are. I love the books where the reader gets to see what both sides are doing and how far away the police/MI5 are from solving the mystery.

You follow the story wondering how anyone on the MI5 side is going to move from being in the dark to figuring out how to progress, and you watch the dissident IRA cell plot atrocities in cunning ways. Set in Antrim, Scotland and South Africa the story moves across multiple years and locations and manages to carry real peril throughout the story.  I can do it no higher praise than say that it would not have surprised me to see “elements of this book were based on real events” in the epilogue.

Michael Caldwell, the leader of the dissident IRA cell is a main character in the book and is clearly drawn by the author. Bill Flockhart has a knack of drawing characters in just the right level of detail. He shows the human side of characters on both sides of the story, combined with a strong storyline which has led to a great book with action, emotion and suspense.

If you are looking for a book to fly through with strong characters then this is a must-consider.  I can’t wait to see if Bill Flockhart writes a second.

Ryan received a free digital copy of Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. by Bill Flockhart was published in paperback and ebook formats on 11th December 2017 (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.com |

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bill-flockhart‘Operation Large Scotch’ is my first book and at my age (71) possibly my last. it reflects on my life in many respects having worked in a distillery in my early working life before digressing into financial services.

My interests are sport (especially golf, swimming and basketball, (the latter through my two sons who played at international level) and current affairs in our ever changing world.

I have always enjoyed a challenge, which producing a book has certainly proved to be, but I would recommend writing to the retired population as it certainly keeps your brain active.

Two years after publishing ‘operation large scotch’ I am delighted to release my second novel ‘She’s Not a Lovely Girl’ which is a sequel to my first book. I only hope it gives everyone the pleasure ‘O.L.S.’ did judging by the favourable reviews it received.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. @Nichola14282741 @cobaltdinosaur #JusticeGone #damppebbles

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WINNER OF THREE AWARDS

2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD
NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCY AWARD – Best Legal Thriller OF 2019
SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2019 READERS’ FAVORITES AWARDS

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.
Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.
The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.
Crime Review

“When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

Today I am delighted to hand the blog over to my guest reviewer, Ryan the husband, who is going to share his thoughts on Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. So without further ado, let’s find out what Ryan thought…

N. Lombardi Jr took on a tough task with Justice Gone, writing a legal thriller around veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) without trivialising the huge impact this condition can have on their lives. Dr Tessa Thorpe is the central character in this novel and works at the New Hope Trauma Recovery Clinic in Lower Manhattan. The Clinic’s work has bought her into contact with many veterans including Donald Darfield and Jay Felson. The book opens with the traumatic beating of Jay Felson and builds a strong story in five sections through protests, a man hunt, court case and the outcome.

This book seems to capture something that is “very now” with media focus on police brutality in the US. Protesters taking to the streets and the public’s need for a conviction. So it is no surprise that the book has won awards. There is a strong cast of characters in the book from the driven Tessa Thorpe who finds an unlikely ally in Police Chief Garson. Casey Hull, another counsellor at the New Hope Clinic and a veteran himself and Felson’s father a retired Marine with an unhealthy disrespect for almost everything. Small scenes showing the Police talking informally in their favourite bar ensure that room is given for all viewpoints and build suspicion well.

Lombardi Jr does a great job of planting doubt in the reader’s mind about a number of the characters’ motives. I think I suspected at least four characters of various acts they turned out to be innocent of, as I progressed through the book (lucky I am not a police officer I guess!). I also can’t believe I have got this far through my review without mentioning Nathaniel Bodine; a blind lawyer with a showman’s panache, cynicism that could sink a battleship and unique legal style. I still don’t know whether I liked or loathed Bodine but for the middle section of the book he became the main character and he controlled the courtroom scenes in a unique and memorable way.

But what of Darfield himself? Darfield provided a fascinating case study of PTSD. Bravery in a warzone leading to PTSD which could make him violent…but a killer? You’ll have to read it to find out. The sensitivity with which the book addressed PTSD whilst emphasising its seriousness was impressive and added to the reading experience.

Would I read more by N. Lombardi Jr? I would, and it will be interesting to see if he takes any of these characters forward or leaves this as a stand alone. A highly recommended legal thriller.

I chose to read and review a free digital copy of Justice Gone. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr was published in the UK by Roundfire Books on 22nd February 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Goodreads | Book Depository |

PLEASE USE IN ALL POSTS

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N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Visit his goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6982373.N_Lombardi_Jr_

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) @cobaltdinosaur #TheLagottiFamily #damppebbles

Boxset 3D.jpgTwo generations and four decades in the lives of Frank, Mary Lou and the rest of the gang

The Heist: After leaving Baltimore Penitentiary, Frank’s get rich quick scheme to rob a bank requires his girlfriend, Mary Lou to sleep with an inside guy and for his gang to stay together long enough to take down the vault. Meanwhile Mary Lou falls for the inside man and can’t decide whether to go with him or Frank. If she chooses the wrong fella she’ll be penniless and wind up dead. How would you choose between a fool and a dreamer?

The Getaway: After ex-con Frank and his girlfriend Mary Lou rob a Baltimore Bank, they must flee across country before the Feds find them and the mob ices them for stealing from an organized crime boss. As they dash to California, trust becomes the most important currency as Frank and Mary Lou grapple to decide whether love is enough to keep them together. And by the time they reach their goal, they must fight to the death to survive hired guns and trained police shooters. If they don’t kill everyone in their way then they will die themselves. Would you risk everything for a sack of greenbacks?

Powder: When Mary Lou takes the proceeds from a bank robbery to start up her heroin dealing business, old enemies circle overhead and threaten the lives of her twins. How will she keep them safe in such a dangerous place and what is she prepared to do to secure her new venture?

Mama’s Gone: When Mary Lou makes some bad decisions, her twins and her husband must decide whether she’s losing her mind. If they can get that cleared up then all they have to worry about is their feud with the Russian mob. And then someone goes and ices the old lady. Who would have the cajones to murder the head of the Lagotti family?”

Happy Friday and welcome to damppebbles. Ryan the guest reviewer here. Emma has let me take over with a review of Leopold Bortstinki’s book as she is looking through all of your lovely R3COMM3N3D2019 suggestions after her post yesterday (she’s also spent a lot of time adding books to her ‘Terrifying TBR’).  So whilst I am here, I thought I would share my review of The Heist. Without further ado, here’s what I thought…..

The Heist by Leopold Borstinski is the first book in The Lagotti Family Series Box Set. Now those of you with a keen memory will remember that earlier this year I reviewed Mama’s Gone, the fourth and final book in the series.  This blog tour offered me the chance for some reader ‘time travel’ and an opportunity to learn more about Frank and Mary Lou’s back story.

It is almost unfair to call Frank and Mary Lou the main characters as this book revolves around a small number of characters who are working to make Frank’s bank robbery a success.  Andrew and Brian represent the hired muscle and Pete, the getaway driver, completes the gang.  The story follows the planning of the job and the reader watches as tensions develop, scores are settled and each character works out how to get the best deal for themselves.  The deceit, plotting and characterisation in this novel are great as you soon realise that not everyone is going to get their way. And some characters are willing to spill a lot of blood to get a few extra dollars.

Outside the plotting is Mary Lou’s growing relationship with the inside man she is seducing to get information on the bank.   As time moves on you start to wonder who’s side she is on; is it Frank’s, Carter’s – the inside man, or just her own!  It has to be said there is a lot of carnal activity in this book and if that is something that you don’t enjoy then I would suggest you read something else.

My favourite aspect of this book was the slow burn. The planning isn’t over in a few days, it takes a lot longer.  Time for emotions to surface, characters to get hurt, plan their revenge and make whatever alliances are required.   In the background is the insidious Frank Snr, a character straight out of the grittiest noir novel, and a gritty noir novel is really what Borstinski has created here.  A novel which sets the platform for the rest of the box set.

So if you want strong characters, gritty noir and a sense of foreboding this is a good place to start. The Lagotti Family Series Box Set is going to show you a lot of twists and turns and probably a lot of blood before you put it down.  But beware, if you enjoyed this you will be straight into The Getaway – book two of this box set, as some plot lines are deliberately left dangling to entice you onwards. Follow them and watch a mob start from a bank job and develop through to an empire.  What are you waiting for?

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

The Lagotti Family Series box set was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 30th June 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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

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

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

#BookReview | #GuestReview: Hire Idiots by Prof. I.M. Nemo @FoxSpiritBooks @cobaltdinosaur #HireIdiots #damppebbles

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“‘This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to the living or the dead is purely coincidental and ought to make you ashamed at the comparison.’

PROMINENT PROFESSOR STABBED TO DEATH AT KINGSLEY COLLEGE

Unfortunately, the murder may get lost in the confusion of new vice presidents, marketers, focus groups, assessors and protestors as the administration tries to make education profitable. There’s no time for mystery!

Professor Clarence Van Dyke finds himself bewildered by the changes, but determined to get to the bottom of the killing. He wants his friend to rest in peace – or perhaps he just wants to spend more time with the attractive Detective Riordan. But isn’t he the primary suspect?”

Hello and welcome to another day where I get to take over damppebbles. I’ve got the chair and keyboard set up how I like them, the radio is on and there is a book to tell you about. So grab a cuppa, get yourself settled and let’s find out what I thought of today’s book. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin….

Hire Idiots is the first book I have read by Prof I.M. Nemo (if that is their real name 😉). The title comes from a William Blake poem where Blake talks about the degradation of the Arts, and this is what our protagonist is fighting. There are two crimes as he and his colleagues see it. The first the rather premature demise of his colleague Ned Sparks, and the threatened destruction of Kingsley College by those our protagonist will kindly think of as ‘idiots’. The story progresses quickly through three main storylines and allows the reader to relax into an entertaining and often humorous read.

The corpse of Dr Edward Sparks, Distinguished Professor of English at the College is discovered within the first chapter. Dr Sparks is not exactly a popular figure within the college but he is a drinking companion to our protagonist Professor Clarence Van Dyke, an Englishman living in America and teaching Poetry and English Literature. Professor Van Dyke is suddenly not only a drinking companion but a suspect. The case is being investigated by Detective Siobhan Riordan. For the first few chapters the murder suspects and motives begin to be fleshed out, but then something surprising happens. The murder plot begins to take a bit of a back seat to the second aspect of the story; Kingsley College has been taken over by a company seemingly intent of ridding the college of its Arts Department and solely focussing only on areas where they can smell profit. Then there is the third plot arm of the unnamed character locking themselves in the theatre in protest at something.

I enjoyed our main character’s journey through this book; from a quiet sedate existence in a sleepy American college to an existence surrounded by murder and sedition. His growing infatuation with Detective Riordan keeps threatening to drop him deeper into the investigation but can he stay on the right side of the law and his firebrand colleagues. It was interesting to read the character’s views on the changes in the American education system, but as they were played against such a nefarious villain as the new Chief of Operations, Georgia Moxley, this allowed them licence to be wild in their accusations.

I will also mention that Prof I.M. Nemo has created the first fictional “Wasps Rugby” fan that I am aware of – please let me know if you know of more!

Will I be reading more by Prof I.M. Nemo? I have to say “yes”. I enjoyed the book, the story, and characters coming together to try and keep their college as a sleepy haven for the arts. Plus the book was laugh out loud funny on occasions. Would I read more Blake? Unlikely, but in the spirit of fairness I will leave you with this;

“Degrade first the Arts if you would mankind degrade;
Hire idiots to paint with cold light and hot shade;
Give high price for the worst, leave the best in disgrace,
And with labour of idleness fill every place.”
William Blake

Ryan chose to read and review an eARC of Hire Idiots. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Hire Idiots by Prof. I.M. Nemo was published in the UK by Fox Spirit Books on 25th August 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Fox Spirit Books |

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#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City by Pete Adams (@Peteadams8) #CauseandEffect #KindHeartsandMartinets @cobaltdinosaur @NextChapterPB #damppebbles

Cause and Effect cover“A self-labelled enigma, Detective Inspector Jack Austin is at once miserable and amusing, melancholy and motivated. Running the Community Police Unit from his deck chair, D.I. Austin is known for his ability to solve crimes out of the blue.

Trying to work cases while struggling with his mental issues, Austin deals with a variety of major crimes, including bicycle theft. But when the case of an executed police officer lands on his desk, he accidentally uncovers a malevolent scheme.

Can he discover who is behind it all – and keep what’s left of his sanity?”

It’s the weekend! Happy Saturday and welcome to damppebbles. I’m only popping in briefly to hand over to my trusty sidekick (he’s going to kill me for saying that 😂), my husband and guest reviewer, Ryan.  Ryan is reviewing the first book in Pete Adams’ Kind Hearts and Martinets series, Cause and EffectCause and Effect was published in paperback and ebook formats by Next Chapter Publishing on 28th June 2019 and Ryan received an eARC which has not influenced his review.

Over to Ryan…

How do you describe Detective Inspector Jack Austin?  Well, I should certainly start by calling him ‘Jane’ as everyone else at his station does.  To use his own words, which he muddles often, he’s a “riddle wrapped up in an enema”.  An aging detective who seems to attract the odd crisis whilst nicknaming almost everyone he meets, solving crimes and getting his words wrong as frequently as possible.

If you don’t like word play, (or sometimes just the wrong darn word!) then I will suggest now that you may not get on with this book. Jane’s use of language is somewhat unique but as the book progresses you soon become used to his turns of phrase.  Stick with it, it’s worth it.  The story from Pete Adams is well put together with multiple strands, criminal and personal playing out at a good pace throughout the book.  Supported by Mands (a.k.a. Mandy Pumps, Mandy Lifeboats, Amanda) , Jo-Jums, Nobby and KFC (no, not the chicken place – don’t ask – you’ll find out when you read it!) DI Jane sets out to solve a case that keeps growing. From stolen bicycles and assault, the story grows and ends up with major criminal rings.  All whilst Jane fights with the English Language and top brass.

The story is strong and I kept picking up my kindle to sneak another chapter in whenever I could.  I have already moved onto book two, Irony in the Soul: Nobody Listens Like the Dying, to find out where the story leads.  The ending is clever revealing threads that had been hinted at.  I must admit in the first chapter I was a little confused by the fact everyone had at least two names (real name and ‘Jane given name’) but this added to the human side of the story and gave insight into the way Jack felt about his team.  Jack is liked by most of the characters in the book, leading the reader to warm to him.  Although there are times when his maverick approach does seem out of kilter with the sleepy suburbs of Portsmouth.

Would I recommend the book?  I would. I can imagine some readers will find the first couple of chapters tricky but the team which emerges as the book progresses makes it worthwhile.  Pete Adams has introduced me to characters I like and I enjoyed spending time with them. Book two, which as I mentioned I’m currently reading, is also getting interesting but more about that next month…

Ryan chose to read and review an eARC of Cause and Effect. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City by Pete Adams was published in the UK by Next Chapter Publishing on 28th June 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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pete adams.jpgPete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

Author Links:TwitterFacebook |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appetite For Risk by Jack Leavers was published in the UK by the Book Guild on 28th July 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBook Depository | Goodreads |

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

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

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

Website: jackleavers.com
Twitter: @jackleavers

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Rock Hard by Bill Todd (@williamjtodd) #DannyLancaster #RockHard #damppebbles @cobaltdinosaur

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“When Danny Lancaster gets a call from an old friend it’s a chance to swap his troubles in Brighton for a sunshine reunion in Gibraltar. He hasn’t seen Pogo since Afghanistan. They have war stories to retell, beers to drink. But Pogo is broke, sick and in trouble. It started with smuggling cigarettes. Now his Russian boss has taken on a dangerous job for a mystery businessman. A priceless package must be smuggled into Europe across the narrow straits from Africa. But unseen eyes are watching, lives are in danger. A game of Russian roulette is just the start of a deadly clash where two continents meet. And Danny must make a decision. How far do you go to help the man who saved your life?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles today. Today I’m handing the blog over to my guest reviewer (that’s the husband for anyone who doesn’t know!) who is sharing his thoughts on the fourth book in the Danny Lancaster series, Rock Hard by Bill Todd. Make sure you join him again on Saturday when he’ll be reviewing book six, Godlefe’s Cuckoo.

Ryan’s Review:
So…Danny Lancaster eh! Heading off to Gibraltar to meet his troubled ex-Army friend? What could possibly go wrong?

As you’ve probably picked up from this week’s reviews Danny Lancaster is a bit of a trouble magnet, wherever he goes a degree of chaos seems to follow. So when Danny lands in Gibraltar, a tiny territory of 2.6 square miles, the locals should have been getting worried! Danny has gone to Gibraltar to help his old army mate Pogo, who has fallen on hard times since they served together in Afghan. He has gotten himself involved with some dirty business and wants Danny to help him get back on to the right side of the tracks.

Gibraltar was a great setting for this book, the small location added a suffocating tightness to the drama. Bill Todd moves on the story on at a fast pace and you are never sure where the author is leading his characters. Todd’s characters in this book are pitched just right for an action thriller that keeps rolling. No long self indulgent reflection but enough background shared to draw emotion and make the motivation clear. The crime bosses are kept slightly mysterious even when close to the action, pushing the rest of the gang in the right direction (or worse, if needed) but keeping themselves hidden enough from the reader that you make assumptions on what is going to happen next.

As the end of the book approached there were some twists which I will not disclose here to avoid spoiling future readers enjoyment. The ending was also a surprise and provided a sharp end to the book which some may feel was too sudden, whilst others may rush to the next in the series to find out what happens next.

Would I recommend the Danny Lancaster books? Yes, they are easy to read, fast moving and contain an easy to like lead character. Join me again on Saturday when I review Godlefe’s Cuckoo and find out if I enjoyed that one just as much….

Ryan chose to read and review a free copy of Rock Hard. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Rock Hard by Bill Todd was published in UK by DLE Fiction on 26th November 2013 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

The Danny Lancaster Blog Tour

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Bill is a journalist and travel writer who has visited more than 40 countries from the white wastes of Arctic Finland to the ancient deserts of Namibia. He loves a good wilderness. He received the Ed Lacy travel award in 2007.

Bill has written six crime thrillers featuring soldier-turned-investigator Danny Lancaster and was startled and delighted to be voted one of the 100 best crime authors in the WH Smith readers’ poll in 2015. He’s also written three short factual military histories. He lives to write although keyboard time has been cut lately with the arrival of grandson Theo.

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

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

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“When children grow up, the parents must die

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Did I laugh out loud? Yes

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

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

4) Am I sad the books finished? Yes

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

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

Looking forward to my next adventure with these characters!

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

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

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

 


UK Only Giveaway:

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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

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

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

And lists.

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

And mashed potato.

He really doesn’t like mashed potato.

Author Links: Twitter | Website | Amazon |