#BookReview: The Other People by C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks #TheOtherPeople #damppebbles

the other people

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .”

As far as most anticipated books go, The Other People is right up there teetering at the top of a fairly exclusive list. Newsflash people, I LOVE CJ TUDOR’S BOOKS. If you’re a regular reader of the blog then this may come as no surprise. Her first two releases – the blisteringly superb The Chalk Man, and the deliciously sublime The Taking of Annie Thorne both made my top books on the year list. No one writes like Caz Tudor – she’s in a league of her own. And if I haven’t convinced you to purchase The Other People (plus her back catalogue) in one short paragraph then I’m doing something wrong here. I might as well quit now 😂 (I’m not going to do that – just so you know.)

As soon as you start reading The Other People you know you’re in for one hell of a ride – quite literally! Up and down the M1 motorway. Gabe is a character that you can’t help but like. Tudor manages to make him thoroughly likeable despite his mounting flaws – something she has managed to achieve with all three of the male lead characters across her novels. Driving home one evening he spots a face he recognises in the car in front. It’s his young daughter, Izzy. He doesn’t recognise the car and Izzy should be at home with her mum. When the child mouthes the word ‘daddy’ Gabe is 100% sure it’s his daughter in the strange car. After that short fleeting glance, Gabe never sees his daughter again…

It’s not often you find a creepy, totally engrossing psychological suspense thriller set partly in a motorway service station. Necessary as they are, they’re not the most glamorous of locations but that was part of the appeal of this book for me. The setting and the set-up of the story was quite different to everything else I’ve read (please see previous comment about Caz Tudor being in a league of her own!). Tudor draws you into the story and makes you care about her characters with seemingly little effort. You also end up feeling that you don’t know half of what’s gone before, what’s happening behind the scenes, nor where you’ll end up heading as Gabe continues his search for Izzy. Other fascinating characters are brought into the mix; Fran and Alice who are running from something, Katie – the exhausted single mum of two who works every shift she can get at the service station. There’s the mysterious ‘Samaritan’ who ratches up the spooky factor ten-fold. Not forgetting the pale girl in the white room – what’s her role in all of this?

I spent a lot of time, whilst reading The Other People, trying to figure out how the different threads were connected. I was miles off. There was one aspect of the book I was able to guess in advance but I don’t think Ms Tudor will mind too much. Everything else came as a complete shock and left me reeling. And I loved it!

Would I recommend this book? One hundred per cent, yes! I can see it making an appearance on my top books of the year list (which will be the third year running for this author). If you haven’t experienced a CJ Tudor novel then that needs to change. The Other People is a stunning addition to this author’s body of work and I really can’t say it often enough, you need to read this book! Nerve-janglingly good, I was completely immersed in the story from start to finish. You’ll be reading through the night with this one.

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

The Other People by CJ Tudor was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books on 23rd January 2020 and is available in hardcover, ebook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in Summer 2020): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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cj tudor

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

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

#BookReview: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing #MyLovelyWife #damppebbles

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The twist at the end of the first chapter made me read through the nightJane Corry

Introducing the next generation of domestic thriller…

“Every marriage has secrets. Everyone has flaws. Your wife isn’t perfect – you know that – but then again nor are you.

But now a serial killer is on the loose in your small town, preying on young women. Fear is driving your well-behaved young daughter off the rails, and you find yourself in bed late at night, looking at the woman who lies asleep beside you.

Because you thought you knew the worst about her. The truth is you know nothing at all.

This is a thriller like nothing you’ve read before…”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of an incredibly popular debut, My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. My Lovely Wife was published by Michael Joseph on 2nd May 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and eBook formats with the paperback to follow in October. I received a free ARC of My Lovely Wife but that has in no way influenced my review.

When you’re talking psychological thrillers, I think there’s something about the seemingly mundane and ordinary that sparks an interest in me. I like secrets. I like to try and work out what is going to happen before the first clue is even laid before the reader. Yes, I am a wannabe detective but then I guess many of us crime fiction fans are, right? And that’s why I had to read this book. The blurb grabbed my attention immediately. I wanted to know more. My interest was well and truly piqued. I HAD to know what deep, dark secrets the pages of My Lovely Wife held.

This is an enjoyable read. It’s not long into the book before the first curveball is flung at the unsuspecting reader. I found myself to be quite thrown, taken aback even, but in an ‘oooooh, what’s going on here?’ – interest well and truly piqued – kind of way. From that moment forward I felt a wonderful sense of impending doom as the wannabe detective side of me kicked in and was drawing all sorts of conclusions…

It’s very difficult to say anything about the plot of this book without giving away a shed load of spoilers so I’m going to avoid that by telling you as little as possible about it and stick to my observations and how I felt about it. What I can tell you is that book is told from the point of view of the nameless husband (that’s right, we never actually discover his name, which was interesting because I picked up on this fairly early on and was on tenterhooks throughout looking for it!). He and his wife, Millicent, plus their two children who are in their early teens live, what on the surface, appears to be a fairly quiet life in Florida. She’s a real estate agent and he’s a tennis coach. But they have secrets! Oh boy, do they have secrets! I enjoyed this book but there were several aspects of this ‘secret’ which I struggled with. I couldn’t quite get my head around how it was so normal for them. How two random people who met on an aeroplane 15 years ago could haphazardly fall into the life they led and be completely OK with it. There were no discussions on the ethics of the situation between the two of them, no attacks of conscience and not once did they seen to doubt their situation (nothing significant anyway). Everything felt far too normal for me. I wanted peaks and troughs, I wanted questions and insecurities, moments of pure panic when the realisation hit home, but they just weren’t there. In truth, Millicent and the unnamed husband fit too nicely into the ‘normal’ box and it felt a little odd to me. Maybe I need my psychopaths a little crazier! There was one other twist which I could see coming but I’m putting that down to reading a shedload of psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators.

My heart ached for the couple’s young daughter who slowly starts to fall apart as the situation begins to worsen. Jenna goes from being a high achieving 13-year-old to an unstable child who unwittingly takes extreme measures to cope with how she’s feeling. She ends up meeting with a psychologist several times a week whilst her parents make excuses to not take her to the doctor’s office. Her parents watch as their bright young over-achiever starts to slowly deteriorate, but it changes nothing.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s an interesting read and one which, despite my reservations, I powered through. I found the ending a little obvious but I was on the lookout from the first word for that big twist. The final scenes in this book are superb and the book finished on a real high for me because of the wonderful way the author ended her story. I’m amazed this is a debut and I will pick up Samantha Downing’s next book without a moment’s hesitation. Recommended.

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

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 2nd May 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and eBook 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.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

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photo by Jacqueline Dallimore

Born in the Bay Area and now living in the Big Easy, I consider both to be home. Along the way I went to school, worked a few jobs and learned a thing or two. Throughout it all, I wrote. Never studied writing, it’s just a hobby that grew into a passion. A dozen books later, my first novel will be published in 2019. My Lovely Wife is not the first one I wrote, it’s the first one I submitted (trust me, the other eleven are terrible).

When I was a kid, my mom brought me to the library every two weeks. I checked out a stack of new books and new worlds. The best thing was becoming so absorbed in a book I couldn’t put it down. I walked around with it in front of my face, I took it to the bathroom, the kitchen, the book came with me wherever I went. I tripped, ran into walls and stubbed my toes because I never watched where I was going.

This is why I write. I want to tell stories that make people walk into walls.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Whisper Man by Alex North @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 #TheWhisperMan #damppebbles

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

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

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

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

He says he hears a whispering at his window…”

Hello bookish friends – welcome to the blog and to my stop on The Whisper Man blog tour.  The Whisper Man by Alex North is set to be published by Michael Joseph in hardcover, audio and eBook formats on 13th June, with the paperback to follow later in the Summer.  Let me tell you now, this is a book you need to get a copy of!  I received a free ARC copy of The Whisper Man but this has in no way influenced my review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whisper Man Blog Tour Banner

about-the-author3

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

Author Links:Twitter |

#BookReview: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks @DeadGoodBooks #TheTakingofAnnieThorne

the taking of annie thorne.jpg“Then . . .

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

Now. . .

The email arrived in my inbox two months ago. I almost deleted it straight away, but then I clicked OPEN:

I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again . . .”

The tricky second book.  I was a huge fan of C.J. Tudor’s debut, the totally unmissable The Chalk Man which blew my socks off and left me a little bit in love with Ed, the main character.  I often still think about him and that brilliant ending (book hangover, much?).  So there was nothing on earth that was going to stop me from reading Tudor’s second novel, The Taking of Annie Thorne.  I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher but this has in no way influenced my review.

I loved it.  The Taking of Annie Thorne is just as dark, just as creepy and just as brilliant as The Chalk Man (although I will put my hand up here and confess that I loved The Chalk Man just a teeny tiny smidge more).  There are definite similarities between the two books; a small claustrophobic town, our main protagonist is a teacher (there are other similarities between Ed and Joe which I won’t go into detail about here), strange creepy inexplicable things happening to normal everyday people.  But I enjoyed that, it added to the story for me.

I found our main protagonist to be instantly likeable.  He has a troubled past after discovering his sister, that’s Annie, has changed beyond recognition after she went missing one night.  He’s flawed (definitely flawed) with an addiction to gambling and a penchant for stretching the truth but when he receives an email telling him that ‘it’s happening again’ he feels he must return to the town of his youth and see for himself.  There are elements of the supernatural at play in this novel which would normally turn me right off but the way Tudor has written her story had me engrossed.  I didn’t care that I didn’t really believe in certain aspects of the story.  What is reading if not escapism?  I was captivated from the first page to the last and felt fully invested in Joe’s plight to discover the truth.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely and I suggest if you haven’t read The Chalk Man you download that too.  I’m a huge fan of horror/crime crossover novels and this one is another to add to the favourites list.  Tudor’s writing is sublime and before you know it hours have passed and you’ve forgotten to pick the kids up from school (that didn’t happen…honest!).  Deliciously creepy, totally addictive and the type of book I want to read over and over again.  Don’t miss out on this exceptional book!

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

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 21st February 2019 and is available in hardback, ebook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in July (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): ⋆ amazon.co.uk ⋆ amazon.com ⋆ Waterstones ⋆ BookDepository ⋆ Goodreads

about-the-author3

cj tudorC. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge @MichaelJBooks #DIHelenGrace #HideandSeek #20BooksofSummer

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“Prison is no place for a detective
Helen Grace was one of the country’s best police investigators.
Now she’s behind bars with the killers she caught.

Framed for murder
She knows there is only way out:
stay alive until her trial and somehow prove her innocence.

Locked up with a killer
But when a mutilated body is found in the cell next door,
Helen fears her days are numbered.

A murderer is on the loose.  And she must find them.  Before she’s next . . .”

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog you may be aware that I am a MASSIVE fan of a strong, kick-ass female lead character. Particularly police officers; senior female coppers are one of my favourite hooks when it comes to crime fiction. So when I decided to take on the 20 Books of Summer challenge it seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up with a few of my favourite detectives and with a number of series that I have unfortunately unwittingly fallen behind on.

DI Helen Grace has always been a firm favourite of mine. Hide and Seek is the sixth book in the DI Helen Grace series and my new favourite. Despite reading book five in the series, Little Boy Blue over two years ago, the plot and that breathtaking ending have been playing on my mind. Yes, it’s true, I have spent the last two years wondering about the general health and well-being of a fictional character! Book blogger problems taken to a whole new level, maybe?!

If you’re new to this series let me tell you, it is incredibly difficult to start this review as anything I say, anything I hint at could be (is) a massive spoiler regarding a previous book (the massive spoiler is also mentioned in the blurb so don’t look 🙈)! I will be as vague as possible and hope you don’t mind. Helen Grace finds herself somewhere no copper wants to be, in an environment as hostile as they come. I could make a couple of witty puns about a fall from ‘Grace’ but I won’t torture you, dear reader. I have been champing at the bit to find out what was going to happen to our battered and bruised hero and all I can say is wow, just WOW! I loved the environment Arlidge has immersed his lead character in, I really enjoyed the motley cast of characters she met on her journey into the pits of Hell and I’m sorry, I’m going to say it, I loved Helen’s fall from ‘Grace’, dangit!

Whilst Helen is otherwise engaged, her right-hand woman the tenacious DS Charlie Brooks, is out trying to right a few wrongs. The two plots run seamlessly alongside one another and I was compelled to keep turning the pages, flitting between the two investigations at breakneck speed. I had a fair idea of whodunit from early on in the book but I was completely wrong. The author has added some very believable red herrings which I fell for; hook, line and sinker.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s true – this is my favourite DI Helen Grace adventure so far. However, I’m not sure this book will work all that well as a standalone. There is a heck of a lot of history that won’t necessarily make sense to readers starting with Hide and Seek. My advice would be to start at the beginning and get to know Helen Grace from book one. I guarantee you will fall head over heels in love with her, just like I did. Oh, and don’t read the blurb. It gives far too much away in my opinion 😉

Four and a half stars out of five.

20-books

Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 29th December 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including the prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and Silent Witness. Arlidge also pilots original crime series for both UK and US networks. In 2015 his audio exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a Number One bestseller.

His first thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek, and Love Me Not.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and bio © https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/m-j-arlidge/96806/