#BookReview: Time Is Running Out by Michael Wood @0neMoreChapter_ #TimeIsRunningOut #damppebbles

“You’re a survivor, aren’t you, Matilda? But what’s the point in surviving when everyone around you is dead?

When DCI Matilda Darke receives a mysterious telephone call, she immediately dismisses the threat. Afterall the Homicide and Major Enquiries team are a regular target for prank calls.

But ignoring this warning might soon be the biggest regret of Matilda Darke’s life.

A lone gunman is on a deadly rampage around Sheffield, leaving a bloody trail in his wake. Taking his shots with a sickening precision, he’s about to leave his mark on the world and change Matilda and her team’s lives forever.

The next chilling instalment in the DCI Matilda Darke thriller series, perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney and Angela Marsons.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of the latest book in the DCI Matilda Darke series by Michael Wood – Time Is Running Out. Time Is Running Out was published on 26th February 2021 by One More Chapter and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in May. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Time Is Running Out but that has in no way influenced my review.

This book is incredible and all kinds of insane! I’m a little awestruck but in the best way possible. Flipping heck! I have been reading the DCI Darke series for a while now. Although, I have to admit, I haven’t read the first two books but that has not hampered my enjoyment of the series at any point. My advice to you, before reading this latest instalment (which coincidentally is book seven), is to get to know the recurring characters a little first. Become familiar with and completely invested in this fantastic team. So then, when you get round to reading Time Is Running Out, the events and the outcome of this brilliant book will smack you about the head and leave you utterly dazed with your jaw on the floor. I ADORED this book!

It’s a normal day at South Yorkshire Police HQ when DCI Matilda Darke receives a strange phone call. She dismisses it, not giving it much thought and starts the morning briefing. But the phone call marks the start of an unforgettable day in the lives of those in and around the Sheffield area. The day a gunman terrorised their city, killing numerous people. The devastation and the grief is far reaching. Will life ever be the same again for the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team. And in particular, for DCI Darke…?

Holy moly, what a book! I’ve always said in my reviews for this author’s novels that he is not afraid to put his characters through the wringer and oh boy, I think Time Is Running Out proves that. What a brave, unflinching piece of absolutely gut-wrenching and gripping fiction. Fans of the series are either gonna love it or need counselling. I devoured this book and I loved every single bloodied second of it.

Now all I need to do is work out how to talk about the book without spoilers, which will be a challenge. We join the team on a normal day at the start of January and very early on the author gives readers a piece of good news – something to celebrate and warm the cockles. And then it all goes horribly, horribly wrong for the people of Sheffield. The initial scene, where we discover a gunman is on the loose, is utterly shocking. The pacing is perfect and I was holding my breath throughout. I kept muttering to myself under my breath – ‘surely, he won’t… oh, he has!!!’. It was jaw dropping and so brilliantly done. From there, things actually get a whole lot worse. If I said I was on the edge of my seat that would be an understatement. I had goosebumps, I had chills, I had palpitations.

The action doesn’t really stop from that point forward. Despite their best intentions and all resources being put into the investigation, the team falter. They struggle to find out the identity of the gunman or his reason for carrying out the devastating carnage. Time Is Running Out is so cleverly written, so very immersive and it was a dream of a novel to read. I am a little peeved at the author for a couple of things but hey, I can understand why he did what he did. I just wish other authors were as brave.

Would I recommend this book? I would recommend Time Is Running Out whole heartedly but only after you’ve read a couple of earlier DCI Darke novels. I think you need a good understanding of the team and what makes them tick to get the best out of the book. It’s a truly epic piece of crime fiction and I loved it. The best police procedural I’ve read in a long time, no doubt about it. Life will never be the same again. However, I will say it’s probably not for the faint hearted and contains some distressing scenes that not everyone will be comfortable with, but I devoured this book with glee. I cannot wait to see what the author comes up with next. Brave, bold and completely hypnotic. I struggled to put this one down. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Time Is Running Out. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Time Is Running Out by Michael Wood was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 26th February 2021 and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in May (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 Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | the damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Michael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: Stolen Children (DCI Matilda Darke #6) by Michael Wood @0neMoreChapter_ #StolenChildren #DCIMatildaDarke #damppebbles

stolen children“Some cases won’t die.
A young boy walks into a police station in France. He claims to be Carl Meagan – a missing child from Sheffield whose name is still whispered as a warning to kids who stay out after dark.

Some children won’t be found.
On her way home from the supermarket, nine-year-old Keeley Armitage vanishes without trace. Her family is overcome with shock and DCI Matilda Darke can’t help but focus on memories of the Carl Meagan case that almost ruined her career.

Some killers won’t be stopped.
As Matilda investigates, she peels back the layers of grief and sadness that surround Keeley’s family. Until she is left with an unimaginable choice: betray those closest to her or let a violent killer walk free…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles on this fabulous Friday! Today I am delighted to share my review of the latest DCI Matilda Darke novel with you — Stolen Children. Stolen Children by Michael Wood is published by One More Chapter in digital format today (that’s 2nd October 2020) with the paperback to follow in December. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Stolen Children but that has in no way influenced my review.

Stolen Children is the sixth book in the DCI Matilda Darke series and it’s an absolute cracker! I love this series and always look forward to the next book (although, confession time, I haven’t read the first book yet! 🤦). Wood is an accomplished writer, his stories are always gripping and engaging and I’m a little bit in love with Matilda.

DCI Matilda Darke and her team are called to investigate the case of a missing child. Nine-year-old Keeley Armitage vanished from outside the local shop and hasn’t been seen since. Her mother is frantic with worry. Then the call comes demanding £50,000 for Keeley’s safe return. The thought of another missing child case sends chills down Matilda’s spine, following the Carl Meagan case several years before, which nearly destroyed Matilda and her career. Keeley even looks a little like Carl with her blonde hair and blue eyes. Can the two kidnappings be connected? The more the team dig, the more secrets they discover. Can Matilda keep a clear head and find Keeley before it’s too late…?

If you’re already a fan of this series the prologue will have your jaw hitting the floor. I won’t go into detail – it’s already in the blurb – but what a great way to start the book. The thread of that particular storyline has been running through all of the books in this series and it just goes to show how fallible Darke is. Will she ever escape the hold that particular case has over her?

There are two storylines running through Stolen Children. The one I was trying to be vague about up there ⬆️ and the investigation into Keeley Armitage’s disappearance, which creates the bones of the book. It’s another thrilling, shock-filled investigation which kept me turning the pages from start to finish. I adore these characters and feel as though I could meet them all down the pub for an orange juice and a catch-up. They’re all so brilliantly human and stand tall from the page. Even the lesser characters are well written and wonderful examples of how to create engaging, believable characters. I feel very invested in them and their futures. And I love the way the author isn’t scared to put them through the wringer. More than other authors, I believe. He pushes them further and harder, sometimes with no return…

This is a terrific book and I will be awarding it five stars but I do want to add that I struggled a little with the storyline at times. This is the first book in a long time that really got to me. It affected me quite deeply and some of the scenes and descriptions made me feel uncomfortable (as scenes and descriptions of that nature should). I think I’m just feeling a little oversensitive at the moment because I love my fiction dark and I feel really strange adding this to the review, but I wanted to share my honest thoughts with you. You may not feel the same, of course. Any book involving bad things happening to kids (particularly kids the same age as mine) has always been and will always be an uncomfortable read for me.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend the entire series. I think it’s worth starting at the beginning though with book one as you’ll get the whole picture and see the team develop and grow. As I mentioned, I haven’t read the first book which I believe laid the building blocks for the rest of the series but I’ve been able to piece together what I think I need to know from that first investigation. I hope there are many, many more Matilda Darke books to come.

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

Stolen Children by Michael Wood was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 2nd October 2020 and is available in digital format (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 |

about-the-author3

michael woodMichael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Murder House (DCI Matilda Darke #5) by Michael Wood @0neMoreChapter_ #TheMurderHouse #DCIMatildaDarke #damppebbles

the murder house“They were the perfect family. It was the perfect crime.

It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog today. I am delighted to be sharing my review of the latest book in one of my must-read crime series, The Murder House by Michael Wood. The Murder House is the fifth book in Wood’s DCI Matilda Darke series and was published in digital format by One More Chapter on 31st January. The paperback will be available to purchase in the Spring on 19th March. I received a free eARC copy of The Murder House which has in no way influenced my review.

There is nothing I love more than a bloody good police procedural. And The Murder House was exactly that. Bloody and good! I have been eagerly waiting for Darke’s return as I have enjoyed all of her previous investigations (although I must confess I am still to read For Reasons Unknown – the first book in the series – which sits patiently on my Kindle waiting for me). If you’re a fan of detective fiction then I highly recommend you check out the whole series as every book Wood writes tops the last. AND you’ll need to read them quickly as book six in the series – Stolen Children – will be published later this year!

The Murder House is a brilliant addition to the series and one that, on those occasions when I did have to put the book down and do ‘life’, I was really keen to return to. I’ll tell you a little secret but you have to keep it to yourself. When I started reading The Murder House I was really struggling with a bit of a reading slump. By the end, my love, passion and enthusiasm for reading and for books had returned. So thank you Michael Wood and Matilda for reminding me how utterly engrossing a book can be.

This is Matilda and the team’s most disturbing crime scene to date which I know will raise a flag for some readers. I am aware many people don’t enjoy blood, guts and gore in their fiction (not me, I should add). If you are a little squeamish then please don’t worry. There are a couple of references to the scene and the damage done but it’s not over the top. If anything, I actually expected there to be more blood spilt and more gore after reading the blurb!

This book can be read as a standalone despite being the fifth book in the series. The author expertly fills in many of the gaps for new readers and explains the significance of sub-plots along the way. However, there are mentions of past characters which will pique your curiosity so it may be better to start at the beginning of the series, rather than with book five. The team have been through an AWFUL LOT together (five books worth now!) and not everything can be recapped along the way. If you want to see the whole picture then start at the beginning. If you’re happy to be left wondering on a couple of teeny tiny points then dive straight in with The Murder House.

Sometimes when you read a book the characters are great but the plot isn’t so much. Or vice versa, the plot is brilliant but the characters… Wood has produced a series where both character and plot are outstanding. I adore the characters in this series and have a bit of a girl crush on DCI Matilda Darke. The other supporting characters are all well written, particularly Sian and Christian. The sub-plots involving Scott’s inner struggle to be accepted and the continuation of the Carl Meagan storyline added to the primary investigation.

Would I recommend this book? I would, absolutely. I would recommend the entire series. If you’re a fan of crime fiction and you haven’t met DCI Darke and her team yet then that needs to change. You can thank me later! The ending of this book was hold-your-breath tense and I loved it. The twists and turns keep coming right up to the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed The Murder House and I’m counting down the days until the next book in the series is released.

I received a free eARC of The Murder House. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

My reviews of the other books in the series: | Outside Looking InA Room Full of KillersThe Hangman’s Hold |

The Murder House by Michael Wood was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 31st January 2020 and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in March (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depository |

about-the-author3

71KOZKetCmL._UX250_Michael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood (@MichaelHWood) @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK #TheHangmansHold #DCIMatildaDarke

hangman's hold.jpgYour life is in his hands.

In the gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.

“There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness.

He knows your darkest secrets.
He’ll make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.

And he is closer than you think.
DCI Matilda Darke is running out of time. Fear is spreading throughout the city. As the body count rises, Matilda is targeted and her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Hangman’s Hold blog tour.  The Hangman’s Hold is the fourth book in the superb DCI Matilda Darke series written by author Michael Wood.  I am such a huge fan of DCI Darke and this is a series I will return to again and again without a moment’s hesitation.  And to prove it, here are my reviews of the second and third books; Outside Looking In and A Room Full of Killers.  When I heard rumours of a fourth book being released, I jumped at the chance to read it!

I have several favourite fictional characters.  I’m a crime blogger so surprise surprise, they’re all pretty much (give or take a few)….detectives!  A large number of those detectives are female as well (which makes me happy for some odd reason).  DCI Matilda Darke is very high on my list of favourites.  I’ve said this before in my reviews of Michael Wood’s books but she’s so flipping wonderfully normal.  If she were real, I could see us being friends (or I would be stalking her from afar wishing she were my bestie and plotting to get rid of Adele.  Perfectly normal, right?!).  I love how committed to the cause she is, how she frequently berates herself for her past failings, how completely and utterly in love she still is with her deceased husband, James.  She is one of those characters who evokes a fondness in me, I’m 100% on Team Matilda and I hope it stays that way for a very long time to come.

DCI Darke and her team are called to investigate a hanging.  The victim, having returned home from a delightful first date with a new lady friend, has been strung up and left to slowly die, in agonising amounts of pain.  When Matilda arrives at the scene it becomes clear to hear that this murder is closer to home than she first thought.  She also discovers the victim is a confirmed paedophile from the south-east; having rellocated to Sheffield with a new name and leaving his past behind.  Then, another body is discovered.  This time a family man whose wrongdoings from the past have caught up with him.  With the Press breathing down her neck and accusations flying, can Matilda and her team stop the Hangman before he kills again…

This is the type of storyline I love to read.  Seemingly ordinary people with dark secrets to hide being picked off one by one by a callous, vengeful killer.  I was excited to find out what was going to happen next; who was going to fall victim to the Hangman and his deadly form of justice.  Reading about Matilda and her team made me feel in the midst of friends (I love Sian too!) and their failed attempts to make any progress in the case left me feeling frustrated for them.  I could feel my blood pressure rising as the killer taunted them with text messages and calls to the press.  Marvellous stuff!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I would recommend this entire series.  Michael Wood sure knows how to write a compelling, utterly absorbing crime series and create some of the most memorable characters out there.  Personally, I *maybe* need to take a small step back from this series and remind myself that it is indeed fiction, it’s not real life and Matilda isn’t a real person but hey, that’s enough about my issues!  Crime fans, this series is a must read and you’re letting the side down if you haven’t read it.  Take my advice, download all four books now ;).

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Hangman’s Hold.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 20th September 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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about-the-author3

michael woodMichael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

*Blog Tour: Review* Outside Looking In by Michael Wood

51-x44K35eL“When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.”

I’m thrilled to be today’s stop on the Outside Looking In blog tour.  In true damppebbles style, this is the first DCI Matilda Darke book I have read despite it being the second book in the series (at least I’m not too late to the party with this one!).  And oh my gosh, I love Matilda Darke.  And I love Michael Wood’s style.  Totally readable and very engrossing.

The bodies of a couple are discovered in their car following what looks like a massacre.  He is dead, beyond resuscitating and she is barely hanging onto life.  DCI Matilda Darke is put on the case and soon discovers the victims are Kevin Hardaker and Lois Craven who were having a secret affair for over a year.  But why would someone kill these two fairly normal people, and why with such vengeance and hatred?  Suffering from negative publicity and her own demons, can Matilda discover who killed the couple and why, before anyone else is hurt…?

I should start by saying that DCI Darke has made it onto the illustrious damppebbles #girlcrush list.  I LOVE her.  She’s so wonderfully normal, the kind of person I’d like to pop down to Costa with for a coffee (I would say ‘pub’ and ‘white wine’ but she’s on the wagon!).  Thankfully I have the first book in the series, ‘For Reasons Unknown’ on my TBR so I can get my second fix of DCI Darke, ha ha!  Anyway, enough of my new womance…

The pacing of the plot is spot on with the story unfolding at a thoroughly enjoyable rate.  I wanted to keep turning the pages, I wanted to find out what was going to happen.  There was a moment where I felt pure dread for one character.  I won’t say anymore as I don’t do spoilers but oh my!

The conclusion is gripping and kept me on the edge of my seat.  There is encounter at the end of the book which I hope Michael Wood will be building on in the third book.  I’m looking forward to seeing where that particular story line goes.

This book does work as a standalone but I think it helps (no matter what the series or who the author) to read books in their correct order.  I wasn’t sure whether the missing child case that is mentioned often is something that was covered in book one or if it happened in the distant past.  I think going into a series partway through does leaving you feeling like you’ve missed a couple of important days at school!

I loved the nod to other great crime writers (being a crime fiction fanatic!).  I was hugely jealous of Matilda’s book inheritance and could immediately picture the bookcase she would need (boy, would it be big!).  If anyone would like to donate their crime fiction collection to me, the address is Emma @damppebbles….heh heh.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would but I think starting at book one is the best way forward.  Outside Looking In is totally compelling, thoroughly engaging and you’ll really like DCI Matilda Darke.

Four and a half out of five stars.

Outside Looking In by Michael Wood was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 26th May 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Michael Wood is a proofreader and former journalist in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first novel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, was released in the autumn of 2015. The follow-up, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, is released in May 2016 in ebook format by Killer Reads at HarperCollins.