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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#BookReview: Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (translated by David Warriner) @OrendaBooks #BloodSong #damppebbles

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“The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year, Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson. Blood Song is the third book in Gustawsson’s Roy and Castells series and is published by the mighty Orenda Books today! Wishing Johana and all the team at Orenda a very happy publication day. I received a free eARC of Blood Song but that has in no way influenced my review.

I want to put my cards on the table here and say I loved (LOVED!!) the second book in Gustawsson’s Roy and Castells series, Keeper. It was my book of 2018 and I still recommend to everyone. The first book in the series, Block 46, is also rather spectacular and well worth a read. Saying that, Blood Song does work perfectly well as a standalone so if you wanted to dive straight in, you could (but why would you do that when you have two utterly captivating novels to read first?!).

I can’t quite put into words how special these books are and how talented Johana Gustawsson, and the translators (in this case David Warriner), are. Some writers tell you a story, while others take you on a journey and that’s exactly what Gustawsson does in her novels. There is always a historical element to her stories and it’s always something that will make you stop and think. In Blood Song the story jumps from Franco’s Spain in the 1930s to the present day with spine chilling effect. At times, I was wondering what the connection would be. How the past and the present would collide. Then all the perfectly placed pieces fall into place and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

The current day investigation into the massacre of the Lindberg family in Falkenberg, Sweden, led by the brilliant Profiler Emily Roy and ably assisted by true-crime writer Alexis Castells, is compelling reading. I love Emily. I love that she doesn’t bow to social norms and is just herself – whether YOU like it or not. The unstoppable investigative duo are joined by Aliénor Lindberg, new recruit to Scotland Yard and recently orphaned daughter to the aforementioned Lindberg’s. It may seem unusual to include the recently bereaved daughter in the investigation of her parents and sister’s grisly death but Aliénor and Emily have a bond. Emily knows the only way Aliénor will heal is by being at the forefront of things.

The chapters set in Spain under Franco’s rule broke my heart. The book tackles a highly emotive subject and I take my hat off to Johana Gustawsson. There were points where, because of the heart-breaking scene I was reading (and so clearly picturing because there’s no avoiding it when reading a Johana Gustawsson novel) I had to take a step back and take a breather. I couldn’t stay away for long though. I was totally captivated by Gustawsson’s words. The terror and fear were palpable. The torture brought me to tears.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I most definitely would. Blood Song AND the first two books in the series. I cannot wait for book four. CANNOT. WAIT! Roll on whenever that will be. I am a massive fan of Johana Gustawsson’s books and I urge you to pick this one because you won’t regret it. If you’re looking for an intelligent thriller that will bury itself deep within your soul then this is it. Beautiful, traumatic and totally addictive. Hard to read at times but impossible to put down for long. I loved Blood Song.

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

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (translated by David Warriner) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 19th September 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 | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Johana Photo

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

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David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.

Translator Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Endgame by Daniel Cole @TrapezeBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #Ragdoll #EndgameBook #damppebbles

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A locked room. A dead body. A secret that went to the grave.

When retired police officer Finlay Shaw is found dead in a locked room, everyone thinks it’s suicide. But disgraced detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes isn’t so sure.

Together with his former partner Detective Emily Baxter and private detective Edmunds, Wolf’s team begin to dig into Shaw’s early days on the beat. Was Shaw as innocent as he seemed? Or is there more to his past than he’d ever let on?

But not everyone wants Wolf back – and as his investigation draws him ever deeper into police corruption, it will not only be his career on the line – but the lives of those he holds closest as well…

The explosive new thriller from the Sunday Times and international bestseller, perfect for fans of Fiona Cummins and Helen Fields.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I am absolutely delighted to be one of two blogs kicking off the Endgame blog tour today. Endgame is the third and final book in the Ragdoll Trilogy written by Daniel Cole and will be published by Trapeze Books in hardcover, audio and ebook formats later this week on 5th September (with the paperback to follow in January 2020). I received a free eARC of Endgame from NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of this author’s books. I really liked Ragdoll. I LOVED the second book, Hangman. And knowing this was a trilogy I was very keen to read book three. But also a little nervous too. What if it wasn’t as good as the first two books? What if a series I felt quite invested in didn’t deliver? What if it wasn’t all rounded-off perfectly and I was left feeling completely let down and dissatisfied? No pressure there then 😬! Excited but apprehensive. I needn’t have worried, this is an absolute blinder of a book and I loved it.

The first thing I must say is I can’t quite see this book working unless you have read the first and second books in the trilogy. There is a lot going on and an awful lot of history here which the author alludes to but doesn’t really go into any detail about. This is an exceptionally good set of books though so you’d be daft to not want to start at book one and see the journey with Wolf, Emily Baxter, Edmunds and the team through to the very end.

When the team’s loved and respected colleague, DS Finlay Shaw, is found in a locked room having allegedly committed suicide the team are devastated. Despite being one of London’s ‘most wanted’, Wolf makes an emotional return to grieve the loss of his friend and mentor…only to be arrested! But Wolf’s gift of the gab and his promise to dish the dirt on a notorious international criminal means he’s permitted to join the investigation into Shaw’s death, but with certain caveats in place (a curfew for example, which involves spending every night under lock and key at the local police station). Because the people who knew and loved Finlay Shaw the most don’t think he would have killed himself. But will the team’s digging into Shaw’s past lead them to discover something they’d rather not know…

I loved this book, I think I’ve said that before. But it’s true so it bears repeating. It’s a fitting end to a wonderful trilogy of books and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to these characters (but who knows what the future holds). I’ll be honest here, I wasn’t all that sure about Wolf and Emily after reading the first book. But oh my gosh, how my opinion has changed. The banter and familiarity between all the team (including ‘Lab Guy’) is just wonderful and really drew me into the story. The dark humour made me laugh out loud at points and at other points I found myself holding my breath.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But as I mentioned, it’s probably better to start with book one and make your way through the series in order. It’s a wonderful conclusion to a brilliant trilogy and no matter what Daniel Cole writes next, I will be making a point of reading it. I probably would have preferred a slightly ‘less perfect’ ending, something to appeal to my darker side, but that’s just me. Other readers will find the ending fitting and it finishes our time with these characters off nicely. A real page-turner of a novel with lots of really clever, laugh out loud moments. Highly recommended.

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

Endgame by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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daniel-cole

Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer, and most recently for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Ragdoll is his first novel. He lives in Bournemouth, England.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney @HQStories #IKnowWhoYouAre #damppebbles

I know who you are.jpg“Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from. But I know exactly who you are. I know what you’ve done. And I am watching you.

When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

I Know Who You Are will leave your heart pounding and your pulse racing. This is the most twisted thriller you’ll read all year.”

Welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of Alice Feeney’s I Know Who You Are which I read in instalments via The Pigeonhole in May.  My thanks to The Pigeonhole for the free copy which has in no way influenced my review.  I Know Who You Are was published in paperback and eBook format by HQ on 16th May 2019.

I read Alice Feeney’s debut, Sometimes I Lie in 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed it.  When this book appeared on my social media feed I knew I had to read it and I’m delighted I did.  As a small sidestep, this was my first experience of reading a book via The Pigeonhole which I enjoyed for several reasons.  The first, I was able to read two books at once which is something I NEVER do.  Having a short ‘stave’ to read each day kept me focussed and when I had finished that days section I went back to my ‘normal’ read.  Secondly, the anticipation was heightened a little as when we got a cliffhanger I HAD to wait until the next stave arrived the following day.  However, what I struggled with, and I think it’s particularly prevalent whilst reading I Know Who You Are which is bursting with red herrings, wrong turns and possible outcomes, was one of the other readers managed to guess the big twist.  If you haven’t read a book with The Pigeonhole before, you and other readers can comment on the text.  My nosiness got the better of me so I had to check each comment as and when they appeared.  One reader put their thoughts forward and after that, I couldn’t unsee what I had seen.  They were very close to being correct and this did take a lot of the oomph out of the ending for me.  Nothing really to do with the book but the experience did influence my read so I wanted to include my thoughts.  In future, I would probably not bother looking at the other comments in case someone comments with something which later turns out to be a spoiler.

I really enjoyed this book although it did feel a little far fetched at times.  Set in 2017 and the late 80s, this is Aimee Sinclair’s story.  Aimee is an emerging actress, on the brink of becoming a household name but she’s not quite there yet.  One day she returns home from filming to find her husband missing.  His keys, wallet and phone are discarded on the table – there’s no sign of a struggle – and Aimee has an ominous feeling so she calls the police.  They start to investigate but before long Aimee is their number one suspect.  Not helped by the circumstantial evidence they have collected including photos of Aimee withdrawing £10.000 from their joint account, which she has no memory of.  Aimee was diagnosed with transient global amnesia as a child which the police repeatedly throw back in her face.  But she knows now what she knew then – that diagnosis was a lie.  That’s not the only lie in Aimee’s life though, there are many others and as the police step up their investigation Aimee will need to work even harder to make sure her secrets stay buried.  But someone knows who she REALLY is…

The flashbacks to 1980s Essex are harrowing.  I found myself getting very angry with one of the characters who made my skin crawl more often than not.  A terrible, despicable person who blew from hot to cold in the blink of an eye.  I don’t want to give too much away as you need to read this book and find out for yourself so I’ll just say that Aimee ends up far away from home and my heart ached for her.  Throughout these chapters, I questioned the history of these people and what had gone before.  I just had to know!

I found it impossible to say at any given point in this book that I knew 100% what was going on and where the story was going (even with the other reader’s suggestions there were other storylines in play which completely flummoxed me and it certainly didn’t cover all of the twists – there were more to come).  Feeney is a master of the unreliable narrator.  I didn’t trust what Aimee was saying, doing or feeling at any point.  Everyone is a suspect, everyone is telling their own version of the truth and as the reader, you just don’t know who to believe.  I’ve grown to love novels like this over the years.  I don’t want the plot to be obvious, I want to doubt the opinions I form and I want a twist that knocks me sideways.  Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the twist had a little of the oomph taken out of it but it was still shocking, disturbing and totally memorable (if a little far fetched).

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes.  A very compelling read which keeps you on your toes from start to finish.  I felt dizzy with the lies, the suspicion and the red herrings and I loved it!  Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of I Know Who You Are.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney was published in the UK by HQ on 16th May 2019 and is available in paperback, audio 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.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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alice feeneyAlice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent 15 years at the BBC, where she worked as a Reporter, News Editor, Arts and Entertainment Producer and One O’clock News Producer.

Alice is has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband and dog.

Sometimes I Lie, her debut thriller was published around the world in 2017.

Author Bio © https://www.alicefeeney.com/

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear @ZaffreBooks #StoneColdHeart #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (3/15)

stone cold heart.jpg“A fractured marriage. A silent family. A secret worth killing for.

When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there’s not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him, but can’t – or won’t – give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it.

That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel, and Joseph is arrested for the murder.

Joseph says his wife is setting him up.
His wife says he didn’t do it.
The trail of evidence leads to even more questions . . .

Adulterer. Murderer. Victim. Who would you believe?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear – my third #15BooksofSummer review.  Stone Cold Heart is the second book in the Detective Cat Kinsella series (the first being the brilliant Sweet Little Lies) and it’s published in paperback today! Wishing the author and Zaffre, the publisher, the happiest of publication days.  I received a free eARC of Stone Cold Heart but this has in no way influenced my review.

I loved Sweet Little Lies so I have been eagerly waiting for this follow up novel to appear on my bookshelf. And oh boy, it did not disappoint! Caz Frear’s characters are utterly brilliant.  I fell a little bit in love with Cat Kinsella after reading the first book in the series but now, after book two, I’m totally smitten.  The way Frear writes her characters is so charming and with shedloads of warmth and humour that you can’t help but fall in love.

The team are called in to investigate the murder of 22-year-old, Naomi Lockhart.  Naomi hasn’t been seen since attending a fireworks party held by her boss at her home on Saturday night.  The team struggle to come up with any concrete links.  That is until Cat recognises a familiar face.  Joseph Madden, coffee shop owner and all-round creep.  Madden had cornered Cat earlier in the Summer and after his failed attempts at flirting with her, he confided that his wife was out to get him.  Cat, feeling it was no more than a lover’s tiff, advised Madden to report the incident to his local police station before making her excuses and NEVER volunteering to do the coffee run again!  But now Madden is their only suspect in the murder of Naomi Lockhart despite his repeated claims of innocence.  Will Cat be able to tie together all of the loose ends and make sure a killer is brought to justice…?

I love Cat Kinsella, I think I’ve already made that clear.  But I also love her supporting cast – particularly her DS, Luigi Parnell and her DCI, Kate Steele.  They are a brilliant team and one I want to return to again and again.  Parnell and Steele have a lot of history between them and it shows.  The way they both keep an eye out for newcomer, Cat, is just wonderful to witness.  Frear’s books have so far had brilliant plots to keep the reader gripped but oh boy, her characters are a delight.  It’s not just these three though.  Joseph Madden and his sliminess ooze from the page.  Cat’s father and her ‘uncle’ Frank both play a pivotal role in the book and you’re never really sure how much to trust either of them (definitely don’t trust Frank!).  And Cat’s gorgeous yet exasperated boyfriend, Aiden Doyle, who shows us Cat’s softer, more vulnerable side.  What a superb cast of characters!

This book can be read as a standalone.  However, there are several mentions made of Maryanne Doyle and the focus of the first book in the series, Sweet Little Lies.  The reader isn’t really given any details about this case but those involved are highlighted.  It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the story and if anything it will make you want to read Sweet Little Lies if you haven’t already done so!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Stone Cold Heart and Sweet Little Lies are both strongly recommended by me.  Frear has a way of writing believable characters, people you would want to hang out with at the pub after work (well, some of them anyway!).  I had a great time playing amateur detective with this one and, in the end, got it completely wrong…sort of.  I thoroughly enjoyed this compelling, character-driven police procedural and, if you’re a fan of crime fiction, I suggest you get yourself a copy and meet the brilliant DC Cat Kinsella for yourself.

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

Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 27th June 2019 and is available in paperback, audio 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.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

15 books of summer

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caz frear.jpgCaz Frear grew up in Coventry, England, and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the second finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, and when she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

 

#BookReview: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #TheHuntingParty

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“In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.”

There are some books you see and you know you HAVE to read them. It may be a striking cover, it may be an intriguing blurb or it may just be a feeling in your gut that you’re going to miss out on something GREAT if you don’t read a particular book. I can safely say it was all of the above for me when it came to The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a massive fan of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and I had everything crossed that this book was going to have echoes of Christie’s brilliant novel about it. It certainly does but with a wonderfully modern twist to the tale and it stands, two feet firmly on the ground, on its own merit. I love the idea of a group of people completely stranded in a vast inhospitable landscape. People you *think* you know but one of them is a murderer. Who is it? How well do you really know these people? And could you be their next victim…?

University friends Miranda, Katie, Julien, Nick, Giles, Samira and Mark plus the addition of a couple of partners, Bo and Emma, head north from London to the Scottish Highlands for New Year. It’s going to be the holiday of a lifetime, all meticulously planned by prim and proper Emma. However, over the years those strong bonds formed at Oxford have started to break a little. Everyone is busy with their careers or children so it’s tough to find the time to spend together. There’s no escape this New Year though as they’ll be living in each other pockets, miles from anywhere. Just how long will the friends be able to stand each other. How long can they keep the secrets they hide?

The characters and the setting absolutely make this book. The isolation of the Scottish Highlands, teamed with Foley’s very intriguing cast of characters kept me turning the pages at a rate of knots. I can’t say I particularly liked any of them but that never really matters to me. In fact, the more secretive and the more despicable a character is the more I enjoy the book! I wanted to know more, so much so that I read this book in a matter of days rather than the two weeks it’s been taking to finish a novel of late.

The story is told from several viewpoints; those of Miranda the beautiful ‘it’ girl who craves the attention of everyone around her.  Emma, Mark’s girlfriend who is chief organiser of the holiday and a late addition to the group.  Katie, Miranda’s not-quite-so-glamorous BFF.  Heather, the host at the house who has secrets of her own and Doug, the aloof gamekeeper.  Despite using several different voices to tell the story I didn’t find it confusing as all of the narrators stand apart from one another.  They are all very different distinct characters.

What I loved was that the reader discovers there has been a murder fairly early on. Foley, however, manages to keep who the victim is a secret until very near the end of the story. You can’t help speculating though. I make a couple of guesses as I progressed through the book. I won’t mention that there were times when I really hoped it was a certain dastardly character though 😉.  I can’t really put into words how compelling The Hunting Party is so I suggest you get a copy yourself and experience this brilliant book first-hand.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  Without a moment’s hesitation.  It’s creepy and claustrophobic with a brilliant ending.  It’s a perfect example of the books I love to read.  A great page-turner of a book with intriguing characters, a fabulous remote setting and shedloads of suspicion and suspense.  More please! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review The Hunting Party.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 24th January 2019 and is available in hardback, ebook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (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.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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lucy foly.jpgLucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Author Links:FacebookTwitter | Instagram |

#damppebblestakeover with Alice Castle (@DDsDiary) | #GuestPost: Why read cozy crime? #LondonMurderMysteries @crookedcatbooks

calamity in camberwell.jpg“Beth Haldane, SE21’s answer to Miss Marple, worries she is losing a kindred spirit when her friend Jen, the only other single mum in the playground, suddenly remarries and moves to Camberwell. 

Soon Beth has to face much more pressing fears. Has something gone horribly wrong with Jen’s marriage? What is her new husband really up to? Why is her daughter leading Beth’s son astray? And where on earth is Jen anyway? 

As Beth’s friends push her to start dating again, Beth turns to Metropolitan Police DI Harry York for help. But will they solve the mystery in time, or will it turn out that in south east London, not everyone gets to live happily ever after?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the second post in the resuscitated and reinvigorated #damppebblestakeover series.  Today I am thrilled to welcome the author of the London Murder Mysteries, Alice Castle, to damppebbles.  Alice is on the precipice of releasing the third book in her Beth Haldane and DI Harry York series so get those pre-orders in now (hitting eReaders on Monday 13th August)!

Without further ado, I will hand the reins of damppebbles over to Alice…

Why read cozy crime? By Alice Castle

We’re living at an extraordinary time for crime fiction. It’s officially now the most popular genre in the UK and, with steamroller successes like The Girl On The Train, crime is dominating not only bookshops but also TV, theatre and cinema screens too.

It might seem like an odd time to resuscitate the gentle tropes of cozy mystery, when the psychological thriller seems to be pushing new boundaries. But I believe that, in difficult times, people are drawn to Golden Age-type stories and find them just as satisfying, if not more so, than violent or shocking fare like twisty thrillers and grisly serial killers.

There’s still huge affection for Agatha Christie’s works, over forty years after her death, as evidenced by the success of recent TV remakes of Witness for the Prosecution, And Then There Were None and Ordeal by Innocence. These have led to the reissuing of many of the original novels in brand new tie-in covers. And who doesn’t love a good old murder amongst well-heeled folk in a country house, or feel a little thrill of satisfaction when the detective calls the suspects into the library for the final denouement?

I chose to write my series in the cozy crime genre, but have updated the formula by setting the stories firmly in contemporary south east London, with all the gritty urban problems that city life brings. I believe this gives my readers the best of both worlds – a secure moral universe, where evil-doers are always punished, a closed circle of suspects based in a beautiful area (lovely Dulwich!) and the real stresses and strains of modern life. Add a dash of satire on the frankly funny ways of the very privileged folk of SE21, and you have a series which I’m loving writing and which I hope will keep going far beyond the five stories which are either currently published or in the pipeline.

My single mum amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane, stumbles into her first investigation and is a hesitant but reckless detective. Her counterpoint is the Met’s DI Harry York, a pragmatist about crime but with a soft spot for Golden Age crime fiction – and for Beth.

If you’d like to read the stories, I suggest starting with Death in Dulwich (http://MyBook.to/1DeathinDulwich) and moving on to The Girl in the Gallery (http://MyBook.to/GirlintheGallery), then Calamity in Camberwell (http://MyBook.to/CiC, coming out on 13th August 2018) and Homicide in Herne Hill (3rd October 2018) with Revenge on the Rye following in 2019. They can all be read as stand alone stories as well. And do pop in to my blog, http://www.alicecastleauthor.com, for more news on the series and events I’m taking part in.

Thank you for joining me today, Alice.  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I love a grisly, gory serial killer – the more blood splatter, the better!  But I do have a rather large soft spot for cozy crime.  As for Christie, show me a crime reader who doesn’t love her books!  How do you feel about cozy crime? Let me know in the comments.

Calamity in Camberwell by Alice Castle was published in the UK on 13th August 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

If you’re a crime author and you would like to take part in #damppebblestakeover then please contact me via damppebbles@gmail.com.  Having originally planned to run the feature over the Summer, I have now decided to make it a regular weekly blog post on a Friday but I need YOU to write something.  No #damppebblestakeover next week though as I’ll be on holiday and it’s my birthday (a rather significant one, at that!).

about the author3

acb.jpegBefore turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019.  Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Rubicon by Ian Patrick (@IPatrick_Author) @fahrenheitpress #RubiconBook

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“Two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights.

Sam Batford is an undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police who will stop at nothing to get his hands on fearsome crime-lord Vincenzo Guardino’s drug supply.

DCI Klara Winter runs a team on the National Crime Agency, she’s also chasing down Guardino, but unlike Sam Batford she’s determined to bring the gangster to justice and get his drugs off the streets.

Set in a time of austerity and police cuts where opportunities for corruption are rife, Rubicon is a tense, dark thriller that is definitely not for the faint hearted.”

You have no idea how long I have wanted to read this book. I saw a couple of stonking reviews for it months ago now (before the recent blog tour) and I knew, as a die-hard fan of the police procedural, as a lover of coppers on the edge, as a book blogger that lives and breathes crime fiction that this book and I were destined to meet. I feel quite sad that it’s taken me this long to read it because it’s an incredible read and I relished every moment of being in Sam Batford’s company.

Rubicon is Ian Patrick’s debut and it’s such an assured read that I had to stop at times and remind myself of that fact. Ian Patrick has experienced life on the beat himself and that experience, that living of ‘the job’ gives the novel a level of authenticity that readers (readers like me, anyway) crave. Rubicon is a fast-paced crime thriller that keeps you turning the pages from start to finish and I was hooked from the explosive opening to the very last word.

Sam Batford is an Undercover Officer walking a very fine line. He’s prepared to do whatever is necessary to get what he wants. But he has a heart too, which I loved. Sam is seconded to work with DCI Klara Winter on the Vincenzo Guardino (or ‘Big H’) case but he has his own ideas and instead of working in harmony with his new DCI, he is determined to do his own thing and leave Winter flailing in his dust. Winter is an unlikable, do-gooder character who seems more out for the glory of arresting notorious local gangster Big H than anything else. She plays by the book though, whereas Sam…..doesn’t so much. The reader is regularly given an insight into Winter’s thought processes thanks to her ‘Sensitive Decision Log’; a clever move on the author’s part as it gives the reader a more candid look into this senior detective’s thoughts and feelings.

Now I’m a fairly slow reader but you can easily lose a day (chances are you read faster than me) to Rubicon. It has a way of completely absorbing you into the story and before you know it, you’ve read half of the book before you’ve even realised. It’s punchy, it’s thrilling and it’s everything I want in a crime thriller. One of the things I liked most about Rubicon is that Sam isn’t your usual copper. I read a lot of detective fiction so it’s good to have a lead who isn’t scared of REALLY breaking the rules (and oh my gosh, those rules get shattered!). Sam Batford is a character I want to see more of, I love the idea of a renegade cop and Sam fits the mould perfectly.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s edgy, absorbing and so deliciously different to other books in the genre. An absolute delight to read and I will be recommending this book to everyone. What a debut!

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

Rubicon by Ian Patrick was published in the UK bu Fahrenheit Press on 21st August 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Fahrenheit Press | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Educated in Nottingham, Ian left school at sixteen. After three years in the Civil Service he moved to London for a career in the Metropolitan Police.

He spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command. A career in policing is a career in writing. Ian has been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes.

Now retired, the need to write didn’t leave and evolved into fiction.

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon Author Page |

#BookReview: Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines) @Bloodhoundbook #DontYouDare

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“What if your daughter becomes your enemy?

When barmaid, Rachel, discovers her soon-to-be-married daughter, Beth, pinned down by a stranger in the pub cellar, Rachel lashes out in panic and the intruder ends up dead. In desperation, Rachel convinces Beth they should cover up the crime and go ahead with the planned wedding in one month’s time.

Rachel, however, has her own reasons for not involving the police.

Hiding their dreadful secret is harder than they both imagined and as the big day approaches and the lies multiply, Beth becomes a liability. Rachel looks on in dismay at the hen party when, after too many drinks, Beth declares she’s about to make a special announcement. But before Beth can say a word she disappears…

When two people share a chilling secret can both hold their nerve?”

I am a HUGE fan of A.J. Waines’ independently published series about clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby. Huge, I tell you! If you missed them the first time then here are my reviews of Inside the Whispers (book #1) and the more recent Lost in the Lake (book #2). So I was thrilled for A.J. (or Alison) when I heard she had secured a two-book deal with the independent crime fiction publisher, Bloodhound Books. The first book in that deal, Don’t You Dare, was published in the UK yesterday so a very happy (belated) book birthday to Alison and the team at Bloodhound Books!

Don’t You Dare has an eye-opening and really rather shocking first chapter which draws the reader into the story immediately. From then on in, I was hooked. We meet Rachel, mother to Beth who had her daughter at the tender age of 15. Beth is now in her early twenties and aspires to be an actor. But when Rachel walks into the pub where she works and finds her daughter being brutally attacked in the cellar, her instincts take over and she does everything (and anything) to protect her child. Including accidentally killing a man. Accidents happen though. After all, her daughter was being viciously attacked. Rachel lashed out to save Beth, she pushed the attacker, he fell and hit his head. Anyone would have done the same thing to save their child, right? Wrong, because Rachel convinces Beth that they need to lie about the accident and hide the body. And there the thread starts to unravel, destroying the most precious of relationships; the destruction of a mother and daughter…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m ashamed to admit that I became quite addicted to watching things spiral out of control for Rachel and Beth. At times, I had the same feeling as watching a tense drama on the television (peeking out from behind my hands). I wanted to find out what was going to happen but at the same time, it was tough to watch the devastation one terribly bad decision could wreak on such a strong bond.

I struggled to like Beth. As a twenty-something young woman, she felt quite childish and selfish. It was all about her and her career but I guess many of us acted that way at that age. (To be honest, my early twenties seem so long ago it’s hard to remember!) Did I like Rachel? I’m not sure. I did at the start of the book but I think my feelings changed for her as the story progressed. Rachel makes some pretty crazy decisions throughout the story and I can *kind of* understand her reasoning for doing some of the things she does (not hiding a body though, I really can’t understand that! 😱).

There’s very little downtime for the reader in Don’t You Dare. The plot moves at an addictive pace and keeps the reader hooked, waiting for the next bombshell to hit or the suspense to mount even more. The ending was totally unexpected and did leave me a little baffled. I didn’t see it coming (and being me, I was looking for clues). I’m sitting here, writing this review asking myself, ‘Really?!’. But I do appear to be the only early reader who has commented on this so I’m putting it down to being ‘just me’!

Would I recommend this book? I would. Told in the voices of both Rachel and Beth, Don’t You Dare is a very readable, hard to put down psychological thriller. Full of devastating secrets, the reader watches from afar as lives shatter and relationships crumble. I REALLY enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next book (be it a standalone psychological thriller or the next Dr Sam book) from the pen of A.J. Waines.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Don’t You Dare. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 8th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

WainesAJ6 (1)

AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

Authors Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter |

#BookReview: Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley (@RebeccaJBradley) #DeadBlind #DIRayPatrick #Prosopagnosia

dfw-rb-db-cover-mid.jpg“How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror? 

Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.

As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder. 

But it’s a killer he will never remember.

The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant he feels progressively isolated.

Can he escape with his career and his life intact?”

I recently had the pleasure of reading Fighting Monsters, the third book in the DI Hannah Robbins series written by ex-police detective turned author, Rebecca Bradley.  I said in my review of Fighting Monsters how it was the first full novel by Bradley which I had read.  I also said that I was keen to go back and read books one and two in that series, which (you’ve guessed it!) I haven’t done.  But, in an effort to redeem myself, I have just completed Dead Blind, a brand new standalone from Bradley with a fascinating lead character in DI Ray Patrick.

‘Why so fascinating?’, you may be asking.  DI Patrick was involved in a traumatic car accident whilst in pursuit of a killer.  The accident resulted in several badly broken bones, a colleague who is scarred for life (which he feels 100% responsible for) and a knock to the head.  Not just any old run-of-the-mill knock to the head though.  Prosopagnosia.  I obviously need to work on my knowledge of medical conditions as I had never heard of prosopagnosia.  Even in layman’s terms, I was a bit unsure what ‘face blindness’ actually meant for the sufferer.  Oh, the things I have learnt from reading this book.

At times my heart broke for Ray, the way he had to deal with situations that for the majority of us don’t require any real thought, things we take for granted; such as seeing your children, your partner, your friends and colleagues.  I couldn’t help but put myself in Ray’s shoes as he approached situations which he knew were going to cause him problems.  For example, any time he meets his long-term girlfriend. He knows it’s her because of her voice, her perfume, the smell of her shampoo, he recognises her clothes but when he looks at her face….nothing.  There is no connection there.  And imagine how difficult life would be if you were a senior police officer trying to catch a cold-blooded killer.  Someone only you’ve seen, someone who killed a young man in front of you and someone you now have to pick out of an identity parade.  This is the first time I have met a character with prosopagnosia and I thoroughly enjoyed what Bradley has done with him!

I liked Ray.  I wanted to thump him at times though.  I could see his reasons for wanting to keep his condition secret, and the story wouldn’t have had quite the same edge to it but flipping heck, man!  I would be terrified to tell my employer something like that too (although my employer is my children, and they’d probably just shrug and carry on squabbling over whose turn it was to choose a television programme!).  Sharing is caring, or something like that anyway!  What I did love was the bubbling, will they/won’t they between Ray and his ex-wife, Helen.  From Helen’s point of view, it seemed to be a fairly certain ‘they really won’t’ but I was never 100% sure, I *think* she could be tempted to rekindle her love affair with Ray, just for old times sake.  I’m not a fan of any kind of romantic liaison in my crime reads but this one could be interesting…

The investigation Ray and his team were carrying out was an interesting one.  This book is so much more about the characters rather the investigation, which was a rather pleasing change.  After all, we know whodunit fairly early on.  It’s just whether Ray can get his identifiers lined up in time to catch the killer, and exactly how long he can keep his condition a secret for…

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I really enjoyed it and hope (fingers crossed) that Bradley has lots more adventures in store for Ray and his team.  I want to read more about these characters; they intrigue me.  I will be sad if my path doesn’t cross with DI Ray Patrick’s again.  If you’re a fan of a character-driven police procedural then make sure you pick up a copy of Dead Blind.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, with Rebecca Bradley at the helm you get a certain amount of realism that others fail to achieve.  Her experience as a police detective adds so much to the detail of the story.  Slick, absolutely fascinating and very readable.  Great stuff.

Four out of five stars.

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

Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley was published in the UK on 8th May 2018 and is available in eBook format (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

rebecca bradleyI live in Nottinghamshire with my family and two Cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep me company while I write. I need to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if I could, I would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

After 16 years service, I was recently medically retired from the police service where I finished as a detective constable on a specialist unit.

My first crime novel, Shallow Waters is set in Nottingham. The lead protagonist is DI Hannah Robbins. Because the novel is written in first-person narrative you get a pretty good feel for who she is.

I blog about my writing, policing, social media, occasionally the above disorders and anything else that springs to mind. It’s a loosely connected place inside my head and it’s possible anything could come out. I would genuinely love to see you around and to hear your thoughts.

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Author Links: | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

Author Image and Bio © http://www.rebeccabradleycrime.com/about/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com