#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Family Retreat by Bev Thomas @FaberBooks #TheFamilyRetreat #damppebbles

“When Rob decides the family needs to get away for the summer Jess is not convinced – won’t all the things they’re escaping be waiting for them on their return? But the kids are thrilled, and before long their idyllic little cottage, the sea air, and the feel of skin sticky from sun-cream, lollies and sand, begins to work its magic. Jess allows herself to sink into the holiday vibes – the family even make holiday friends.

The summer heat intensifies Jess – ever vigilant – unearths a secret, a problem she’s sure she can help solve. But things are not always as they seem. The water may look inviting but even the gentlest looking waves can hide the deadliest undercurrents.

As autumn approaches, Jess – and the reader – will come to realise this is going to end in a way no-one could have imagined…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining The Family Retreat blog tour. The Family Retreat by Bev Thomas will be published in hardcover and audio next week (that’s Thursday 25th August 2022) with the digital format already available and the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read a free ARC of The Family Retreat but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Sophie at Faber & Faber for sending me a proof copy.

I am addicted to summer thrillers this year. Last year I had a thing for flight-based thrillers. This year it’s definitely the ‘summer holiday gone horribly wrong’ vibe I am loving! So when The Family Retreat landed on my radar I was, of course, drawn to it. I love the cover. It screams ‘PERIL’ at me, with the child in the ocean, and I found the blurb to be very intriguing. Plus a lot of the summer thrillers I’ve read recently have been set overseas but The Family Retreat is based in beautiful Dorset, which was also a pull. It’s an extremely well-written, suspenseful, dark tale which I devoured.

General Practitioner, Jess and her screen-writer husband, Rob are having extensive work done on their London home. In a bid to avoid the dust and the noise they pack up their young family and head to the Dorset coast for several weeks. Although initially unsure, Jess soon realises that the move could be a blessing as she’s already taking a hiatus away from her patients and the practice. The Gibson family soon become friendly with the small, local community, including the annoyingly perfect Helen and her more likable husband, James, who are also temporary residents of the community and have children of a similar age. Jess’s strong desire to know her new neighbours better reveals a secret which she is sure, with her experience and contacts, she can help with. But Jess’s interfering in other people lives, her meddling in things which don’t concern her, could have deadly consequences for her new community…

The Family Retreat is a suspenseful family-based thriller which I found very compelling with strong characterisation. Jess is an intriguing woman who to me felt overworked and repeatedly overlooked, both at work and at home. Yet the need to prove herself, go above and beyond, pushes her forward. This is very much her story, told from her point of view. When she meets Helen, Jess is drawn to her. She finds her guarded and intriguing, she wants to become friends, but Helen holds back. I found the relationship between the two women absolutely fascinating. I could feel Jess’s need to connect more with Helen but Helen was very closed off. I became very invested in the characters’ lives, I was keen to find out how things were going to end for these people. And what a jaw-dropping ending it is.

This is a well-paced tale where tension builds slowly over the course of the book. I adored the sweeping, dramatic setting which could be picture perfect one minute and a brooding, angry, dangerous threat the next. There’s a sub-plot featuring Jess’s parents which I thought really added to the story. Making characters that already felt real to me even more believable. With the extended absence of husband Rob (away on a business trip in the US), with the strange behaviour of her father, with the pressure to return to work, with two young children to look after and the need to fit into a new community, it’s no wonder that Jess has the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes, The Family Retreat is the perfect summer thriller if you’re looking for a smart, sophisticated read with superb characterisation and well-written suspense.  It’s a very human story with an unexpected twist in the tale which I thoroughly appreciated. I enjoyed the time I spent with the characters. Some are definitely more likable than others but I really warmed to Jess, despite her meddling, and grew to like her more and more as the story progressed. The Family Retreat is a slow-build, suspense filled tale of closely guarded secrets which I very much enjoyed. Recommended.

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

The Family Retreat by Bev Thomas was published by Faber & Faber on 25th August 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 |

persona imageBev was a clinical psychologist in the NHS for many years. She currently works as an organizational consultant in mental health and other services. She lives in London with her family.

#BookReview: Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza #FatalWitness #damppebbles

How do you find a killer who has destroyed all the evidence?

Detective Erika Foster is on a late-night walk near her new house in Blackheath when she stumbles upon the brutal murder of Vicky Clarke, a true-crime podcaster.

Erika is assigned to the case and discovers that Vicky had been working on a new podcast episode about a sexual predator who preys on young female students around South London, staking out his victims in their halls of residence before breaking in at the dead of night.

When Erika discovers that Vicky’s notes and sound recordings were stolen from her flat at the time of her murder, it leads her to believe that Vicky was close to unmasking the attacker, and she was killed to guarantee her silence.

The case takes on a disturbing twist when the body of a young Bulgarian student doctor is discovered in the same building, and this makes Erika question everything she thought she knew about Vicky. With very little evidence, the clock is ticking to find the killer before he strikes again.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza. Fatal Witness is the seventh book in the hugely popular Detective Erika Foster series and will be published in all formats by Raven Street Publishing later this week (that’s Thursday 7th July 2022). I chose to read and review a free ARC of Fatal Witness but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Robert for sending me a finished copy.

Erika Foster is back, baby! I have been a HUGE fan of Bryndza’s kick-ass detective since she first arrived on bookshelves back in 2016. In fact, The Girl in the Ice, book one in the series, was one of the first books I reviewed on damppebbles! So I feel Erika and I have some history. And since that first introduction, I have read and thoroughly enjoyed every single new title. So imagine my excitement when I heard the seventh book was set to be published 🤩. I could not WAIT to get my mitts on a copy of Fatal Witness!

DCI Erika Foster stumbles upon a grisly crime scene in her new neighbourhood, making her question her decision to move to Blackheath. The victim is true crime podcaster Vicky Clarke, whose body was discovered by her sister, Tess, only seconds before Erika’s arrival. Erika and her team are assigned the case, digging into Vicky’s life in an attempt to discover who wanted her dead. But the more they search, the more confusing the case becomes. There’s no motive, no evidence, and impossible as it seems, there are no records of what Vicky was working on. Could the murder be linked to one of her podcasts? Was Vicky getting close to revealing the identity of a serial sexual predator? And can Erika catch the killer before they strike again…?

The DCI Erika Foster series is by far one of my favourite police procedural series and I am so glad that the author has decided to write a seventh instalment. I’m keeping everything crossed that this is only the beginning and there are many more adventures to come for my favourite Slovakian DCI. I adore Erika. She’s a little bit of a b!tch (she’d be the first to admit that herself – in fact, I think she does in Fatal Witness!), she’s a little bit bossy, she’s a whole lot of kick-ass but oh my gosh, she gets the job done. To be reunited with her and the team felt like meeting up with old friends I haven’t seen in a while and I loved every single second. Erika is a strong, independent, determined woman but I felt the author added a level of vulnerability to her character in this book that we perhaps haven’t seen before. Still coming to terms with the events of the previous book, still grief stricken by the sudden and violent death of her husband before her transfer to London and having recently moved house, it’s clear to the reader that Erika Foster is a lonely woman. I really felt for her. That vulnerability made me like her even more (if that’s possible!). And fingers crossed, the future may be a smidge brighter. Possibly. Maybe. Who knows…?

The plot is compelling and draws the reader into the story from the prologue. There are, as I’ve come to expect from a Robert Bryndza novel, several fantastically placed and beautifully penned twists and turns along the way which keep the reader on their toes. I really enjoyed how flummoxed the team were at points in the story. With very few leads, a small number of possible culprits but no evidence to confirm their suspicions, they quickly run out of plausible, workable options. I was, of course, trying my darnedest to work out whodunit. (I’m a crime fiction fan, I’m sure we all do it!) However, as I approached the end of the book I could not for the life of me work out the who nor the why!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re a fan of well-written, cleverly plotted police procedurals then you need Fatal Witness, along with the first six books in the series, in your life. The entire series is an absolute ‘must read’ for crime fiction fans. All in all, a compelling, incredibly readable addition to a standout series which I hope continues for many more books to come. I’m still a little bit in love with Erika and I can’t see that changing any time soon. Great plot, fantastic characters, intensely atmospheric and impossible to put down. Highly recommended.

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

Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza was published in the UK by Raven Street Publishing on 7th July 2022 and is available in hardcover, 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 DepositoryGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Robert BryndzaRobert Bryndza is an international bestselling author, best known for his page-turning crime and thriller novels, which have sold over five million copies.

His crime debut, The Girl in the Ice was released in February 2016, introducing Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster. Within five months it sold one million copies, reaching number one in the Amazon UK, USA and Australian charts. To date, The Girl in the Ice has sold over 1.5 million copies in the English language and has been sold into translation in 29 countries. It was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller (2016), the Grand prix des lectrices de Elle in France (2018), and it won two reader voted awards, The Thrillzone Awards best debut thriller in The Netherlands (2018) and The Dead Good Papercut Award for best page turner at the Harrogate Crime Festival (2016).

Robert has released a further five novels in the Erika Foster series, The Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath, Cold Blood and Deadly Secrets, all of which have been global bestsellers, and in 2017 Last Breath was a Goodreads Choice Award nominee for Mystery and Thriller. Fatal Witness, the seventh Erika Foster novel, is now available to pre-order and will be published 7th July 2022.

Most recently, Robert created a new crime thriller series based around the central character Kate Marshall, a police officer turned private detective. The first book, Nine Elms, was an Amazon USA #1 bestseller and an Amazon UK top five bestseller, and the series has been sold into translation in 18 countries. The second book in the series is the global bestselling, Shadow Sands and the third book, Darkness Falls, has just been published.

Robert was born in Lowestoft, on the east coast of England. He studied at Aberystwyth University, and the Guildford School of Acting, and was an actor for several years, but didn’t find success until he took a play he’d written to the Edinburgh Festival. This led to the decision to change career and start writing. He self-published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels, before switching to writing crime. Robert lives with his husband in Slovakia, and is lucky enough to write full-time.

Capital Crime Launch 2022 Festival Programme @CapitalCrime1 #BookTwitter #BookFestival

Capital Crime launched their 2022 programme with a bang last night at leading independent bookshop, Goldsboro Books, at a party to announce their stellar line up and spectacular new location.

Taking place in the shadow of the iconic Battersea Power Station from 29th September – 1st October 2022, Capital Crime will bring together readers, authors, industry figures and the local community for the first major literary festival held on the site for a weekend of fun, innovation and celebration of crime fiction.

Consisting of over 40 events and over 150 panelists, the line-up will include appearances from Peter James, Kate Mosse, Mark Billingham, Richard Osman, Robert Harris, SA Cosby, Dorothy Koomson, Jeffrey Archer, Anthony Horowitz, Charlie Higson, Jeffery Deaver, Lucy Foley, Bella Mackie, Ragnar Jónasson, Paula Hawkins, Reverend Richard Coles, Mark Edwards, Claire McGowan, Ben Aaronovitch and Former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Judge Lady Hale, in conversation with Harriet Tyce. Their full schedule of innovative panel talks will be announced later in the summer.

As part of the live festival this year, Capital Crime’s Social Outreach Initiative will be returning for a third year with the aim to create an inclusive, safe space where state school students with an interest in books can engage with authors, agents, editors and publishers to help demystify the publishing industry.

The festival will also be launching the coveted Fingerprint Awards, which celebrate the best in genre, as chosen by readers. In 2022 the Fingerprints will present eight awards as well as a prestigious lifetime achievement award.

Co-founded by David Headley, the owner of one of London’s destination bookshops, which attracts visitors from all over the world, Capital Crime 2022 will serve as a major London attraction, following the regeneration of the local Battersea area and improved transport links.

Festival Founder, David Headley, said: “I am so delighted that Goldsboro Books and Capital Crime, along with our valued festival sponsors, will be working in partnership this year to bring a bigger and better live celebration of crime fiction back to London. We were so proud of what we achieved at our inaugural festival, and look forward to welcoming authors and readers to our new, exciting venue.”

Festival Director, Lizzie Curle, said: “After what ’s been an emotional few years, we are so grateful to our readers, authors and sponsors for their support, and are thrilled to be reuniting household name authors, new voices in fiction and their fans at our new home in Battersea Park. Though this Capital Crime event may look a little different from the outside; diversity, inclusivity and accessibility remain at the heart of our festival. We can’t wait to celebrate the best genre in the world, and hope everyone will agree it’s been worth the wait.”

With diversity, accessibility, inclusivity and readers at the heart of the festival, Capital Crime this year will take place in a series of large stretch-tented venues for multiple panel events, signing area, a stunning bar area central to the festival, a pop up Goldsboro Books bookshop in the iconic Pump House Gallery, and an array of London’s tastiest street food traders.

Weekend and Day Passes are available from the Capital Crime website:
www.capitalcrime.org/product/capital-crime-festival-2022

About Capital Crime:
Founded by bookseller, agent and publisher, David Headley, and author Adam Hamdy, Capital Crime is a new crime and thriller festival located in London. Built around the reader, Capital Crime is modelled on the extremely successful mass participation, multi-media conventions that engage and delight audiences in new and innovative ways.

Capital Crime is committed to producing an inclusive, welcoming festival that will deliver something for everyone.

www.capitalcrime.org | @CapitalCrime1

About Goldsboro Books:
Goldsboro Books is an independent bookshop, based in central London, specialising in signed first edition books. Providing an expert, knowledgeable team and a carefully curated range is at the heart of the business, delivering the best book-buying experience for every customer. Goldsboro Books aims to interest and inspire book lovers, readers and collectors and provide the finest quality signed books in the world. Goldsboro Books was founded in 1999 by two friends and book collectors, David Headley and Daniel Gedeon. Their reputation for spotting quality books early on, an expert eye on the future collectibles, along with enthusiasm and passion for bookselling excellence has grown with the business and Goldsboro Books has become a world-famous and much admired bookshop. Their global reputation grew in 2013 when they were the only bookshop in the world to have signed copies of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, who of course turned out to be none other than J.K. Rowling.

https://www.goldsborobooks.com@GoldsboroBooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: First Born by Will Dean @HodderBooks #FirstBorn #damppebbles

“THE LAST THING A TWIN EXPECTS IS TO BE ALONE …

Molly
 lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.

Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.

But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin’s last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.

Delivering the same intensity of pace and storytelling that made THE LAST THING TO BURN a word-of-mouth sensation, FIRST BORN will surprise, shock and enthral.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the First Born blog tour. First Born by Will Dean was published last week (that’s Thursday 14th April 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read and review a free ARC of First Born but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Jenny at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a proof copy.

When asked if I would like to read the latest Will Dean novel, I obviously jumped at the chance (you’d be bonkers not to!). Over the course of a few short years this author’s work has become hugely popular with a loyal fanbase. Which is why it’s very embarrassing to admit that until I picked up my copy of First Born, I hadn’t read any of Dean’s previous books. To further confirm what a wally I am, the author’s previous release with Hodder – The Last Thing to Burn – was the joint winner of #R3COMM3ND3D2021. I know, I’m hanging my head in shame. But I have corrected my horrible oversight now. I have read First Born and I can confirm it’s an absolute corker of a novel!

Molly and Katie Raven are identical twins, but they couldn’t be more different if they tried. Katie is the life and soul of the party. Outgoing, unafraid, she lives in the here and now, grabbing every opportunity that comes her way. Molly is introverted, risk adverse to the point it’s become a problem, planning her outings to the nth degree and ensuring she’s ready and equipped for any event. When Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in her New York apartment, Molly’s world turns upside down. Despite her fears, she knows she must go to New York and discover what happened to her sister. But on arrival it’s clear to Molly that things aren’t quite what they seem and Katie has been murdered…

What a compelling, twisty read First Born is! I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the moment I met Molly to the jaw dropping final chapter. Intricately plotted and utterly gripping, I was completely absorbed by Dean’s writing and I savoured every moment of it. Molly is an unusual character and for that, I really liked her. I found her fascinating – her plotting and planning, her forward thinking and the ingenious solutions she found to get herself out of a tricky spot, *should* one arise.

The book is expertly paced and the mystery behind what happened to Katie made for an intriguing read, so much so that I was trying hard to spot where the story was headed. One of the big twists I was able to guess from fairly early on. The other blew my mind. Clever, very clever. I will say that although I was able to guess one aspect of the story it didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all. Even though I was pretty sure I knew what was coming, I still let out a little gasp of shock which I think is testament to the author’s skill.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. First Born is a well-written, unique and clever tale featuring an unforgettable character who really left her mark on me.  I really enjoyed this book and finished it in a few short sittings, keen to return to New York, and to unconventional Molly, time and time again. It goes without saying that I will, of course, be reading more of this author’s books as soon as time allows, starting with The Last Thing to Burn. An excellent thriller chock full of suspense and tension. Recommended.

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

First Born by Will Dean was published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 14th April 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 |

Will DeanWill Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. He was a bookish, daydreaming kid who found comfort in stories and nature (and he still does). After studying Law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden. He built a wooden house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes. He is the author of Dark Pines.

#BookReview: The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane @AmazonPub #TheBoneJar #damppebbles

Two murders. An abandoned asylum. Will a mysterious former patient help untangle the dark truth?

The body of an elderly woman has been found in the bowels of a derelict asylum on the banks of the Thames. As Detective Lew Kirby and his partner begin their investigation, another body is discovered in the river nearby. How are the two murders connected?

Before long, the secrets of Blackwater Asylum begin to reveal themselves. There are rumours about underground bunkers and secret rooms, unspeakable psychological experimentation, and a dark force that haunts the ruins, trying to pull back in all those who attempt to escape. Urban explorer Connie Darke, whose sister died in a freak accident at the asylum, is determined to help Lew expose its grisly past. Meanwhile Lew discovers a devastating family secret that threatens to turn his life upside down.

As his world crumbles around him, Lew must put the pieces of the puzzle together to keep the killer from striking again. Only an eccentric former patient really knows the truth—but will he reveal it to Lew before it’s too late?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane. The Bone Jar was published by Thomas & Mercer on 1st July 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats.

It’s been such a long time since I last read a police procedural (at one time, they were all I read!) so I made the decision to take a break from my planned reading and get stuck into a detective story, something from my own bookshelf. I chose The Bone Jar because it’s the first in a series (I hope it’ll become a series anyway!) and I love the creepy cover. I’m really glad I chose it as it was just the right book at just the right time.

The body of an elderly woman is discovered at an old, abandoned asylum on the banks of the Thames. DI Lew Kirby and partner, DI Pete Anderson, are tasked with discovering what happened to the woman and why someone would beat her so viciously. And why was she left on a rusty old bed in the bowels of the asylum? The location, Blackwater Asylum, later renamed Blackwater Psychiatric Hospital, has its own chequered past of which no one speaks. Can Kirby and Anderson, with the help of urban explorer, Connie Darke, discover what happened to the woman? Or will Blackwater continue to keep it’s very dark secrets hidden…?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Bone Jar with it’s very likeable lead, hugely atmospheric landscape and well-written mystery. The author has done a superb job of sending chills down the readers spine with her descriptions of the creepy, derelict building and the relentless frosty, chill in the air. Set in South London on the banks of the Thames in the heart of winter, this novel would could give you the shivers even on a summers day! I’m always a fan of the setting being so well-written, such an integral part of the story that it feels like a character in itself and that’s exactly what Kane has achieved here. It’s a beautiful, eerie thing!

I loved DI Lew Kirby. Often the lead detective in the novels I read is highly flawed – drink, drugs, adultery etc. But Lew, apart from living on a narrowboat which isn’t all that odd really, is a very likeable, very competent detective. I loved the sub-plot where Lew makes a shocking discovery about his past (and as a result, his future). It was a fascinating revelation and I immediately went to my old friend Google to find out more.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I found The Bone Jar to be well paced and thoroughly engaging. The subject matter is quite shocking and the things the reader discovers about psychiatric treatments in the past, and the indignities they suffered, made me feel uncomfortable. But I’m so glad I read this book and I hope this is the start of a long and bright future for DI Kirby. I really enjoyed how atmospheric the book was, the characters were clearly defined and very well-written. All in all, a terrific debut which I heartily recommend to all crime fiction fans.

The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 1st July 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

S.W. KaneS W Kane has a degree in History of Design and worked at the Royal Institute of British Architects before taking on a series of totally unrelated jobs in radio and the music industry. She has an MA in Creative (Crime) Writing from City University. She began reading crime fiction at an early age and developed an obsession with crime set in cold places. A chance encounter with a derelict fort in rural Pembrokeshire led to a fascination with urban exploration, which in turn became the inspiration for her crime novels. She lives in London.

#BookReview: Hide by Nell Pattison @AvonBooksUK #YouCantHide #Hide #damppebbles

“Seven friends. One killer. You can run, but you can’t hide…

It’s Boxing Day and your friendship group has planned a hike.

You know tensions are running high.

You’ve heard the rumours flying around.

But this trip is a chance for you to reconnect.

As you head into the reserve, everyone is quiet.

It almost feels like you’ve imagined the rift.

But as the sun sets, you hear a gun shot.

One of your group is dead.

And someone you know killed them…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Hide by Nell Pattison. Hide is published by Avon Books today (that’s Thursday 9th December 2021) and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Hide but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to El at Avon Books for sending me a proof copy.

There’s nothing I love more than a snowy setting in my psychological thrillers. There’s something about the isolation, the unpredictability and the sheer force and speed at which events can turn, that just draws me in. So when I found out that Nell Pattison’s new standalone novel, Hide, takes place in a deserted nature reserve, the day after Christmas, as the snow begins to fall, I leapt at the chance to read it. And I am so very glad I did.

Lauren has persuaded her boss at the nature reserve to allow her nature group exclusive access to the grounds on Boxing Day for their monthly meet up. The seven of them, including her estranged sister, haven’t seen each other since the incident at the Christmas party the week before and understandably, tensions are running high. For this group of wildlife enthusiasts, the chance to see the starling murmuration is an opportunity for the group to bond once again and hopefully, put the past behind them. But as a gunshot rings out across the reserve, the rest of the group suddenly realise what terrible danger they are in. They’re the only people out on the reserve as far as they know, which can mean only one thing. The victim, and the killer, is one of them…

Hide is a page-turning read where the weather, the unusual terrain and those around you pose an immediate, somewhat deadly threat. I enjoyed getting to know the nature group and watching as some relationships blossomed, whilst others were well past saving. They’re an interesting bunch with several seeing themselves as ‘experts’ in the field, and not afraid to let everyone know it. Others were the opposite. Happy to watch, listen and learn – just enjoying the company. The one thing I would not describe the group as is ‘friends’. A shared common interest bringing them together and keeping them together, rather than a sense of loyalty to one another. Which gives the author a wonderful amount of free rein and the ability to hide her killer in plain sight. Which Pattison does incredibly well.

The story is paced well with lots of shocks and surprises along the way to keep the reader engaged. The more you learn about the group, the more you start to question their motives. Sisters Lauren and Emily lead the way with bolshie Lauren taking charge. She feels her knowledge of the reserve, as an employee there, is second to none. Volunteer Morna, just as knowledgeable as Lauren but pushed to one side due to Lauren’s seniority, also takes a stand which ends up separating the group and possibly hindering their escape. All of the characters are well written but special mention must be made of Emily who I found fascinating. Following an infection in her childhood, Emily is deaf. For those of us who can hear imagine being lost in the woods, in total darkness, disorientated by a sudden snow storm and not being able to hear someone approach. I loved the character. I don’t think, from memory, I’ve read a psychological thriller featuring a deaf character before but I want more please! A different perspective which really added to the story.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Hide is a claustrophobic psychological thriller which had me glued to the pages. I was very keen to find out whodunit and more importantly why-they-dun-it, so was hesitant to put Hide down for any length of time. It’s a slow burn of a read but full of atmosphere and tension, with a number of characters you’ll take pleasure in disliking. All in all, a great book and I would happily read more by this author. Recommended.

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

Hide by Nell Pattison was published in the UK by Avon Books on 9th December 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Nell Pattison

Nell Pattison is the USA Today bestselling author of THE SILENT HOUSE, SILENT NIGHT and THE SILENT SUSPECT, the crime thriller series featuring British Sign Language interpreter Paige Northwood.

After studying English at university, Nell Pattison became a teacher and specialised in Deaf education. She has been teaching in the Deaf community for 14 years in both England and Scotland, working with students who use BSL. Nell began losing her hearing in her twenties. She lives in North Lincolnshire, England, with her husband and son.

#BookReview: The Chateau by Catherine Cooper @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #TheChateau #damppebbles

“They thought it was perfect. They were wrong…

A glamorous chateau

Aura and Nick don’t talk about what happened in England. They’ve bought a chateau in France to make a fresh start, and their kids need them to stay together – whatever it costs.

A couple on the brink

The expat community is welcoming, but when a neighbour is murdered at a lavish party, Aura and Nick don’t know who to trust.

A secret that is bound to come out…

Someone knows exactly why they really came to the chateau. And someone is going to give them what they deserve.

The Sunday Times bestseller is back with a rollercoaster read, perfect for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Chateau by Catherine Cooper. The Chateau is published in digital format by HarperCollins today (that’s Tuesday 31st August 2021) and will be available in audio and paperback from Thursday 2nd September. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Chateau but that has in no way influenced my review.

Holy moly, The Chateau packed a bigger punch than I expected! I have Cooper’s debut crime thriller, The Chalet, on my TBR thanks to a number of very positive reviews from fellow bloggers. So when I saw the author’s latest book, The Chateau, available to request on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it! And I’m so glad I did. The Chateau is a wonderfully tense and compelling book which I struggled to put down.

Aura and Nick’s marriage is struggling. Following an incident in London, they’ve decided to start afresh and move to the French countryside with the aim of renovating a crumbling chateau and turning it into a chambre d’hôtes. It’s Aura’s dream come true and she’s keen to raise their two young sons in such an idyllic setting. But when one of their neighbours is murdered, uncomfortable questions need to be asked. The local ex-pat community is put under a spotlight and the newcomers don’t feel safe anymore. After all, they’ve got lots to hide from their new friends. Several devastating secrets which could change everything. But someone knows. And it’s time to make Aura and Nick pay…

The Chateau is a deliciously dark read which I thoroughly enjoyed. With lots of well-drawn characters to loathe and lots of beautifully uncomfortable situations, it was an absolute delight to lose myself in! I never knew what was round the corner for Aura and Nick and was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next well-timed, dark revelation to be dropped.

Aura and Nick aren’t the most likable of lead characters but oh boy, they’re very well-written, eliciting from me all of the emotions I hope the author wanted me to feel. Both characters made my blood boil for different reasons, both were horribly flawed and I absolutely delighted in disliking them! As the story progresses and as the reader discovers more about this couple, you can’t help but want them to fall from grace. Get their comeuppance and suffer, just a tiny bit. But what I’ve discovered from reading my first Catherine Cooper novel is that this author isn’t afraid to push the boundaries and take things a step further than some other writers would. And I loved that. I really, really loved that!

Written in three parts, the reader gets to discover exactly what the ‘incident’ in London was and it’s a shocker. The build up to and the devastating aftereffects of one stupid mistake are covered in page-turning detail. My heart broke for one of the characters, and I despised another with all my being! I couldn’t stop reading, I had to know how things were going to end.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Chateau is a hugely addictive and compulsive read which hooked me in. I couldn’t tear myself away from this one and I’ll be thinking about it for a while to come. I ADORED the ending. Perfection. I love it when an author is able to completely surprise me and Cooper did just that. The Chateau delivered in spades from start to finish. I revelled in my dislike of Aura and Nick, more so as the book progressed. A fantastically dark page-turner which I highly recommend.

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

The Chateau by Catherine Copper was published by HarperCollins on 2nd September 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 |

Catherine CooperI am a freelance journalist living in the South of France with my husband and two teenage children. We moved from London in 2009 so that the children could grow up bilingual and we could all ski more, and to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life.

I learned to ski on a school trip when I was 14 and have loved it ever since.

I’m an avid thriller reader and have been since I discovered Agatha Christie as a child.

The Chalet is my first published full-length novel, though I have also written several (unpublished) thrillers for teens and a (what used to be called) chick lit novel set in TV production.

Other than skiing and reading I love travel, theme parks (the pic on this page was taken on a rollercoaster in Spain) and I spend far too much time on social media. Some of my other favourite things include Alan Partridge, sparkly flip flops and salt and vinegar crisps.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mimic by Daniel Cole @orionbooks @eturns_112 #Mimic #damppebbles

1989
DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are on the trail of a twisted serial killer with a passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – their killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished.

1996
Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Metropolitan Police Service, fuelled by a loss that defined her teenage years. Obsessed, she manages to obtain new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between police officers and vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the Mimic blog tour and sharing my review. Mimic by Daniel Cole was published by Orion Books on 19th August 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC copy of Mimic but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Ellen at Orion Books for sending me a finished copy.

I am a HUGE fan of this author’s books. His Ragdoll Series featuring Detective ‘Wolf’ Fawkes is superb and I heartily recommend it if you’ve not had the pleasure of reading it yet. Mimic is a brand new standalone novel featuring a new team of detectives but with Cole’s trademark wit, ingenuity and perfect pacing. I absolutely LOVED Mimic.

DS Benjamin Chambers is called to a very unusual scene where the deceased has apparently taken their own life by choosing to freeze to death. On closer inspection, it becomes clear to Chambers that not everything is as it first appeared. This is the first victim of a twisted killer who is using his victims to recreate famous works of art. Partnered with the near-hopeless PC Adam Winter, Chambers sets out to catch the killer before he adds more bodies to his collection. But the investigation falters, Chambers is nearly killed in action and as a result, the case goes cold. Fast forward seven years to 1996 and police trainee, Jordan Marshall, is determined to crack the case. She calls in the help of now ex-detective Adam Winter and eventually persuades DS Chambers to take another look at the evidence. But it’s not long before new ‘masterpieces’ start appearing. The killer has returned to finish off what he started and it’s down to Marshall, Chambers and Winter to stop him in his tracks, before it’s too late….

Absolutely bloody marvellous! By far the best police procedural I have read this year. I loved everything about Mimic from the moment I cracked open the first page to its breath-taking conclusion. I was 100% hooked and completely immersed in the story. Expertly written, featuring some of the most interesting characters I have come across in a long time and I hope this isn’t the last we see of this brilliant crime-fighting trio. There were moments where I laughed out loud, moments where my smart watch was beeping at me because my heartrate was, apparently, too high (pah!) and moments where I just couldn’t tear myself away from the story. I loved this book.

Chambers, Winter and Marshall were the perfect team. Each bringing their own strengths (I’m still trying to work out what Winter’s strengths were but he was my favourite character! 😂) to a tricky investigation which kept me turning the pages late into the night. I know the Ragdoll Series has a lot of fans (me being one of them) but I’m going to be controversial here and say that Mimic is my favourite book by this author. I was completely smitten with DS Chambers. Winters had me chuckling to myself with lots of well-timed hilarity and Marshall’s growth as a detective had me rooting for her.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Mimic is a perfectly paced, expertly balanced novel. An absolute joy to read from start to finish. I loved the retro feel the author gave the story by setting it in the 80s and 90s (I’m obviously FAR too young to remember them myself! 🙈). I thought the characters were superb and I would love to see more of them in the future. The investigation was fascinating and I loved the addition of the hand drawn images at the end of each chapter (so even if you’re not an art aficionado, you can see what the killer created!). This is an absolute must-read for crime fiction fans and I will be recommending it to everyone! Highly recommended.

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

Mimic by Daniel Cole was published by Orion Books on 19th August 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 | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Daniel Cole (@DanielColeBooks) is the Sunday Times bestselling author of the Ragdoll trilogy, which has now been published in over thirty countries. A TV adaption is currently in the works and his fourth novel is due to be published late-summer 2021. He has worked as a paramedic, an animal protection officer, and with the beach lifeguards, but for the past five years has been describing himself on paperwork as a ‘full-time writer’.

He lives on the south coast of England and divides his time between the beach and the forest.

#BookReview: Sleep by C.L. Taylor @AvonBooksUK #Sleep #damppebbles

“All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

The million-copy bestseller is back in her darkest, twistiest book to date. Read it if you dare! Perfect for fans of Lesley Kara’s The Rumour and Cara Hunter’s DI Fawley Thrillers.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Sleep by C.L. Taylor. Sleep was published by Avon Books on 24th September 2019 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC copy of Sleep but that has in no way influenced my review.

Anna’s world is shattered when on the way home from a team building exercise, the car she’s driving is involved in a major collision. Two of her colleagues die. One is paralysed. Anna walks away with a few cuts and bruises and a whole lot of guilt. Her relationship with her boyfriend was flagging anyway but the trauma, regret and guilt she suffers pushes them over the edge. Newly single and with nowhere to live, Anna makes the decision to change her life completely – moving to the small Scottish island of Rum and starting work in a hotel. But the latest cohort of guests have their own secrets. Trapped by a storm, the hotel is cut-off. And there’s a killer in their midst…

I really felt for Anna who, despite not being responsible for the accident, was living with so much sadness, grief and guilt. The reader watches as it eats away at her, impinging on her life and in particular her sleep. When she starts to feel as though she’s being watched, her boyfriend puts it down to exhaustion and the effects of the accident. I could feel the condescending ‘pat on the head’, the ‘there, there…’ at his empty, meaningless words. The author sets up her introduction to Anna and her life very well. I felt as though, by the time she gets to Rum and starts her new life, that I had the measure of the character. Which meant that when the pace really picked up and the threat is closing in, you couldn’t help but feel invested.

When a catastrophic event happens, it really ramps the tension up. I tried to guess who was responsible but I couldn’t. The author is very adept at throwing lots of red herrings into the story so you end up questioning everything and everyone. On the rare occasion when the characters did venture out of the hotel, the blustery winds and hammering rain were easy to picture thanks to the author’s great descriptions. It’s a very atmospheric read.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Sleep is a very compelling psychological suspense novel which had me turning the pages faster than most other books I’ve read recently. I liked that the person ‘whodunit’ wasn’t obvious. I thought their reasons behind their actions were utterly chilling. Anna was a terrific protagonist who I was behind all the way. I thought the other characters in the book were all fully formed characters and had their part to play in the story. This is my second book by this author and I would happily read more in the future. Recommended.

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

Sleep by C.L Taylor was published in the UK by Avon Books on 24th September 2019 and is available in hardcover, 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 |

Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014.

She started writing short stories in 2005 and was published widely in literary and women’s magazines. She also won several short story competitions. In 2009 and 2011 her romantic comedy novels (as Cally Taylor) were published by Orion and translated into fourteen languages. HEAVEN CAN WAIT was a bestseller in Hungary and China and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a feature film by JumpStart Productions. Whilst on maternity leave with her son Cally had an idea for a psychological thriller and turned to crime.

C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son.