#BookReview: WAKE by Shelley Burr @HodderBooks #WAKEBook #damppebbles

EVERYBODY THINKS THEY KNOW MINA McCREERY.
EVERYONE HAS A THEORY ON WHAT HAPPENED TO HER SISTER.
NOW IT’S TIME TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH…

Mina McCreery’s sister Evelyn disappeared nineteen years ago. Her life has been defined by the intense public interest in the case. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, she lives alone on her family’s destocked sheep farm.

When Lane, a private investigator, approaches her with an offer to reinvestigate the case, she rejects him. The attention has had nothing but negative consequences for her and her family, and never brought them closer to an answer.

Lane wins her trust when his unconventional methods show promise, but he has his own motivations for wanting to solve the case, and his obsession with the answer will ultimately risk both their lives.

Superbly written, taut and compassionate, Wake looks at what can happen when people’s private tragedies become public property, and the ripples of trauma that follow violent crimes. Wake won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2019.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of WAKE by Shelley Burr. WAKE is published today (that’s Thursday 9th June 2022) by Hodder & Stoughton and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow at a later date. I chose to read and review a free eARC of WAKE but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am the biggest fan of Australian crime fiction and prioritise Aussie writers before everything else on my TBR at the moment. So it goes without saying that I was immediately drawn to WAKE when it first landed on my radar. It has the CWA’s seal of approval winning the debut dagger back in 2019 and rightly so. I adored this book. So much so that I’m going to put my neck on the line here and say, as things stand (at the time of writing this review we’re halfway through May), this is my book of the year.

Nineteen years ago Mina McCreery’s sister, Evelyn, was taken from the family home never to be seen again. Australia’s most famous abduction case remains unsolved to this day but, of course, everyone has an opinion about Evelyn’s fate. Which is why Mina prefers to live a secluded life, away from prying eyes and the opinions of others. Following the success of a previous case private investigator Lane Holland turns up in the small town of Nannine offering to look into Evelyn’s disappearance. But Mina isn’t interested, not initially anyway. The hunt for her sister only caused her family more pain and sadness. But Lane gradually manages to convince Mina to accept his help. But what Mina doesn’t know is that Lane has his own reasons for wanting to know what happened to Evie McCreery that fateful night nineteen years ago…

Oh. My. Word! I loved this book. Atmospheric, packed full of mystery and brimming with suspense. It’s an absolutely glorious debut which consumed my days and had me blurry eyed in the morning after staying up far too late to finish it! I was well and truly gripped by this compelling piece of well-written crime fiction and I savoured every single second I spent in Mina McCreery’s company. What a character! I was highly suspicious of her but I loved her standoffishness. As with all newsworthy unsolved crimes, everyone has an opinion. And many are not afraid to voice it! Particularly if that’s with the safety of anonymity, hidden behind a keyboard. Mina is suspect number one according to many true crime fanatics and her aloofness only goes to prove their point. The investigation into Evelyn’s disappearance damaged the McCreery family beyond repair, forcing them into the spotlight. Something the girls’ mother blatantly used to keep Evie at the forefront of Australia’s minds. But Mina’s reluctance to participate in her mother’s media sideshow only fanned the flames. Does Mina know more than she’s letting on? And what exactly is Private Investigator Lane Holland’s interest in the family? Why, following countless rebukes from Mina, won’t he pack up and leave town?

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. WAKE is an absolute corker of a novel which I immersed myself in completely. It consumed my thoughts whilst reading it and I still, weeks later, think about it more than any other book I’ve read recently. Absolutely, categorically, my favourite book of the year so far. This is the type of crime fiction I want to read. WAKE is such a compelling, intriguing mystery with superb characters and a vividly drawn, remote setting. I lived and breathed this book alongside Mina and Lane, gripped by the mystery of what happened to Evie McCreery. Every single little thing worked. Beautifully tense, truly unforgettable and the ultimate page turner. A magnificent debut and I’m excited to see what the author has in store for us next. Gosh, I really loved this book! Highly recommended.

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

WAKE by Shelley Burr was published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 9th June 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Shelly Outdoor Shots_JUL2021 (2 of 42)_edited.jpgWAKE won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2019 and was previously shortlisted for both the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award and the Bath Novel Award.

Shelley works in environment policy in Canberra and is studying agriculture at the University of New England. She is an alumni of ACT Writers Hardcopy program and a Varuna fellow.

#BookReview: The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley @fictionpubteam @harpercollinsuk #TheParisApartment #damppebbles

“Welcome to No.12 rue des Amants

A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine.

Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest

There was a murder here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.

Who holds the key?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. The Paris Apartment will be published later this week on Thursday 3rd March by HarperCollins in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Paris Apartment but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of Lucy Foley’s mystery novels. Her previous two books (The Hunting Party and The Guest List) both managed, on two completely separate occasions, to pull me out of a reading slump with their clever plotting, atmospheric settings and intriguing cast of characters. The publication of Foley’s latest novel has quickly become one of the most anticipated highlights of my reading year. So I couldn’t wait to get stuck into The Paris Apartment.

Jess arrives in Paris looking forward to escaping her life back home whilst spending some quality time with half-brother, Ben. Ben isn’t so keen however, having built himself a new life as a journalist in Paris and now living in an exclusive apartment block. When Jess arrives at No.12 rue des Amants though, something is amiss. Ben, who promised to be there, is nowhere to be seen and something just isn’t quite right. Jess’s concern for Ben grows as days pass without word from her brother. She begins to search for clues as to his whereabouts, reaching out to the other residents, seeking help and information. The other residents of the apartment block are reluctant to get involved though leaving Jess facing dead-end after dead-end. Can Jess discover the fate of her brother and unearth the secrets of the Paris apartment….?

Twisty, chock full of suspense and with shedloads of intrigue. The reader gets to meet Ben as he prepares for his half-sister’s arrival, only for him to suddenly vanish. From that moment on the reader is drawn into this compelling mystery and watches as Jess tries to make sense of Ben’s disappearance and the scarce clues left behind. Foley once again manages to lull her readers into a false sense of security, pulling the wool masterfully over our eyes only to whip the carpet out from beneath our feet at the most surprising moment. I loved the twists and turns throughout the book. Foley’s books always provide an exquisite moment when you realise all is not as it seems. It’s shocking, it’s heart stuttering and I love the thrill of the reveal.

The Paris Apartment bears many hallmarks of Foley’s previous mysteries but this one did feel different to me. In previous books the setting has been isolated and enclosed. The characters are left to deal with what’s happening to them very much alone and miles from help. The main setting in The Paris Apartment does provide a similar sense of isolation with the heavy, locked gates and the ever-watchful, ever-present concierge. However, the author also has the thriving metropolis of Paris to play with providing Jess with a myriad of new opportunities to investigate and new characters to introduce throughout the story. Definitely a Lucy Foley book but…different. ‘Good’ different.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Paris Apartment is an intriguing mystery novel which I enjoyed reading. I warmed to Jess over the course of the book and I loved discovering more about the peculiar residents of No.12 rue des Amants, along with their deep, dark secrets. Well-paced with a somewhat eerie setting and plenty of fascinating characters, I found The Paris Apartment to be a very readable novel with tons of suspense and twists galore. Recommended.

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

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 3rd March 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Lucy Foley is the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party and The Guest List, with two and a half million copies sold worldwide. Lucy’s thrillers have also hit the New York Times and the Irish Times bestseller lists, been shortlisted for the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year Award at the British Book Awards, selected as one of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year, and The Guest List was a Reese’s Book Club choice. Lucy’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and her journalism has appeared in publications such as Sunday Times Style, Grazia, ES Magazine, Vogue US, Elle, Tatler, Marie Claire and more.

#BookReview: The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett @ViperBooks #TheTwyfordCode #damppebbles

“It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…

Perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Alex Pavesi and S.J. Bennett, The Twyford Code will keep you up puzzling late into the night.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett. The Twyford Code is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 13th January 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Twyford Code but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me an early proof copy.

When making a list of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year, it was no secret that The Twyford Code was at the very top, the very pinnacle, of that list. Hallett’s debut, The Appeal, completely blew me away with its clever plotting, completely original format and captivating mystery when I read it twelve or so months ago. I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on more of this talented authors work. Would the story and characters be as absorbing? Would the format be as interesting and unique? Would the mystery be as satisfying? Yes, yes and yes! The Twyford Code was an absolute ‘must-read’ for me and what a complete and utter joy it was from start to finish.

Schoolboy Steven Smith finds a battered copy of an old book on the bus one day which he takes into his remedial English class only for it to be confiscated by his teacher, Miss Isles. Despite it being outdated and officially banned, Miss Isles begins to read aloud the story written by disgraced children’s author Edith Twyford. The class are enraptured by the tale. But then Miss Isles notices annotations and strange markings in the margins, which she believes is secret code. It becomes somewhat of an obsession for the group, ending in an ill-fated trip to the coast and Twyford’s old stomping ground. Fast forward many years and Steven is fresh out of prison. Having recently met his son for the first time and armed with his son’s old mobile phone, Steven sets out to solve the mystery of the Twyford Code and finish what Miss Isles started all those years ago…

There is so much I want to say about this book, so much TO say about The Twyford Code. The author has absolutely gone and done it again with another beautifully crafted and intricate mystery which I fell head over heels in love with. First of all, the characters are sublime. Hallett is an expert at getting under the skin of people and making her creations feel incredibly lifelike. They have flaws, they have weaknesses but you can’t help but feel fondness towards them. This was my experience of Steven Smith. He’s not a bad bloke but he made a few dodgy decisions along the way, probably not helped by a tough upbringing. But my heart went out to him. A thoroughly intriguing character with hidden depths. I was glad he was my guide throughout the twists and the turns of the Twyford Code.

If you’ve read The Appeal then you will be aware that this author likes to spice things up for her readers by throwing away tradition and taking a completely different approach to her storytelling. In The Appeal the story was told through emails, texts and WhatsApp messages. In The Twyford Code we have audio files which have been converted to text via transcription software. Sometimes it’s spot on. Other times…it’s not. Which makes for thoroughly entertaining reading. I was a little worried initially that I would be slow to make the connections needed, work out what was being said. But I shouldn’t have worried as I was in very safe hands. Before long the words were flowing and the misinterpretations and notations in the text were as normal as normal can be. What a skill to come up with something so clever and then make sure it works across the board. Absolutely marvellous!

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Janice Hallett has once again engaged, amazed and enthralled this reader and I cannot (CANNOT) wait to see what she comes up with next. Beautifully complex, utterly absorbing and an experience from start to finish. I loved the mystery, I loved the characters and I loved the way the book swept me away to another world. There is something very special about this author’s books and I urge you, if you’re a fan of a well-written mystery, to do everything you can to get hold of copies. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett was published in the UK by Viper Books on 13th January 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandiwe Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel.

#BookReview: On the Edge by Jane Jesmond @Verve_Books #OnTheEdge #damppebbles

A FAST-PACED, TWISTY THRILLER WITH ECHOES OF DAPHNE DU MAURIER

Jen Shaw has climbed all her life: daring ascents of sheer rock faces, crumbling buildings, cranes – the riskier the better. Both her work and personal life revolved around climbing, and the adrenaline high it gave her. Until she went too far and hurt the people she cares about. So she’s given it all up now. Honestly, she has. And she’s checked herself into a rehab centre to prove it.

Yet, when Jen awakens to find herself drugged and dangling off the local lighthouse during a wild storm less than twenty-four hours after a ‘family emergency’ takes her home to Cornwall, she needs all her skill to battle her way to safety.

Has Jen fallen back into her old risky ways, or is there a more sinister explanation hidden in her hometown? Only when she has navigated her fragmented memories and faced her troubled past will she be able to piece together what happened – and trust herself to fix it.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of On the Edge by Jane Jesmond. On the Edge is published by Verve Books next week (on Tuesday 26th October 2021) and will be available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read a free ARC of On the Edge which has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Hollie at Verve Books for sending me a proof copy.

Jenifry Shaw lives for climbing. It’s in her blood and something she’s been doing for as long as she can remember. There were no limits in Jen’s mind, often undertaking dangerous climbs just for the buzz it gave her. Until the accident. The accident changed everything and instead of climbing, Jen turned to recreational drugs for the same high. But the drugs are behind her now. She’s checked out of rehab and is on her way home to a small Cornish village to answer her brother’s call for help. But on her first night in Craighston, she regains consciousness, precariously hanging from the edge of the lighthouse with no memory of what happened to get her there. Jen has to face facts. She’s either back to her old habits, or someone from her past has just tried to kill her…

On the Edge is the most beautifully atmospheric novel I have read in a long time. I was swept away by the author’s vivid descriptions of the dark and stormy Cornish landscape, as tension built and Jen stumbled her way to the truth. Jen is a terrific character and I was pleased to see that this is the first book in a series. If you’re a fan of the unreliable narrator then Jen is your woman! Parts of her past are patchy due to her drug use, she’s never sure if she can trust herself and she questions everything. Her unreliability made for a suspenseful read which this reader thoroughly enjoyed.

The mystery at the heart of the book is an intriguing one and I was with Jen every step of the way as she considered the options and questioned her friends and family’s motives. The enigmatic new arrival in town, who Jen unquestionably has chemistry with, adds another thread for her to unpick as she tries to discover what happened to her that dark and stormy night. Can Jen trust him? Can Jen trust anyone? I found myself suspicious of most of the characters at one time or another, which is testament to the author’s wonderful, suspense-laden writing.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. On the Edge is a very impressive debut and I’m looking forward to picking up Jen Shaw’s next literary adventure as soon as it’s available. The attention to detail and the research that has gone into this book is clear to the reader from the outset. From what I can gather, the author isn’t a climber but you would never guess that from the precise knowledge she displays of the sport (I should add that I’m also NOT a climber and get a little dizzy on the upper deck of a double decker bus!). It’s not just the technical stuff though. It’s the way the feel of the rock is described, along with the smell and a myriad of other sensations which cumulate to give Jen the high she so desperately craves.  A very well thought out tale with an unexpected darker edge which I appreciated. All in all, a thoroughly tense and enjoyable book which transported me to the atmospheric Cornish moors. Recommended.

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

On the Edge by Jane Jesmond was published in the UK by Verve Books on 26th October 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Jane JesmondOn The Edge is Jane Jesmond’s debut novel and the first in a series featuring dynamic, daredevil protagonist Jen Shaw. Although she was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, raised in Liverpool and considers herself northern through and through, Jane’s family comes from Cornwall. Her lifelong love of the Cornish landscape and culture inspired the setting of On The Edge. Jane has spent the last thirty years living and working in France. She began writing steadily six or seven years ago and writes every morning in between staring out at the sea and making cups of tea. She also enjoys reading, walking and amateur dramatics and, unlike her daredevil protagonist, is terrified of heights! You can subscribe to her newsletter at https://jane-jesmond.com/contact/

#BookReview: Passenger List by J.S. Dryden @TrapezeBooks #PassengerList #damppebbles

“A missing plane.
A cabin full of suspects.
One woman’s quest for the truth.

When Atlantic Airlines Flight 702 disappears mid-flight between London and New York, the world is stunned. With the public clamouring for answers, authorities seem at a loss as to how to explain the plane’s disappearance.

There were 256 passengers on Flight 702, with many carrying dark secrets on board with them. Could one of them hold the truth behind the plane’s disappearance?

College student Kaitlin Le’s beloved twin brother Conor was on that plane. She refuses to believe the official statements, or to join her parents in their blind acceptance of Conor’s death.

But as she journeys deeper into the murky heart of what really happened on board that plane, it becomes clear she’s drawing attention to herself. And there are some people who would rather the truth behind the fate of Flight 702 stayed buried…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Passenger List by J.S. Dryden. Passenger List will be published by Trapeze Books next week (that’s Thursday 24th June 2021) and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Passenger List but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of disaster based thrillers and mysteries, particularly those featuring a hijacked or missing plane. So when I saw this book, it absolutely screamed my name. This is the third plane-based thriller I have read this month (but only the second I’ve reviewed so far on the blog) but it’s slightly different in its approach to the first two, both of which involved a hijacking. Passenger List is more of a fast-paced mystery. I was swept up into Kaitlin Le’s story and oh boy, it was one heck of a ride!

Kaitlin Le refuses to acknowledge the presumed death of her twin brother, Conor. Conor was a passenger on Atlantic Airlines Flight 702 which disappeared during a scheduled flight from London to New York. She’s his twin, surely she would know if he had perished. But with the authorities sticking to one story, Kaitlin has a battle on her hands. Turning her back on her education and her place at Vassar, partly funded by her roommate, Amelia, Kaitlin heads to New York to dig deeper into what happened to flight 702 and ultimately, to find Conor. No matter what it takes…

Kaitlin Le is one tenacious and persistent woman! Where others would have walked away for fear of their life, Kaitlin refuses to give up. I loved her drive. It made for an exciting and thrilling read. She’s pretty reckless at times and gets herself into some terrifying scrapes but she keeps going. Ably assisted by a small group of fascinating characters (an investigative journalist, an ex-FBI agent, an ambulance-chasing lawyer) all of whom help move the story along and add something interesting to the tale.

On analysing the passenger list and digging a little deeper, Kaitlin is able to come up with several possible reasons as to why the flight changed course and vanished. I liked the variety this gave the story. Leads had to be investigated, the truth uncovered (as much as possible) before Kaitlin could decide whether it was worth taking her idea forward. There were a couple of points in the book where I felt things got a little far-fetched but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story at all.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. After reading several plane-based thrillers of late Passenger List‘s different approach made a thoroughly enjoyable change. I found the book easy to read and hard to put down, so much so that I sped through it in a little over 24 hours. A gripping, thrilling read which I heartily recommend to fans of plot-driven mysteries. Just don’t blame me if you never step foot on a plane again! Recommended. (And if you’re a fan of podcasts I believe there’s an accompanying series which you can listen to via the author’s website or your favourite podcast outlet.)

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Passenger List. The above review is my ow unbiased opinion.

Passenger List by J.S. Dryden was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 24th June 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Thumanbay_by The Masons-57.jpegJohn Dryden is a writer, director and executive producer. He created the fiction podcast PASSENGER LIST, a mystery thriller about a plane that disappears mid-flight between London and New York, and the historical fantasy series TUMANBAY which has run for four series. He has written and directed many audio drama series for the BBC including the thrillers SEVERED THREADS, A KIDNAPPING, PANDEMIC and THE RELUCTANT SPY. He has also dramatised and directed for BBC Radio 4 a Sony Award winning dramatization of Charles Dickens’ BLEAK HOUSE, Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE and Vikram Seth’s A SUITABLE BOY.

#BookReview: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave @ViperBooks #TheLastThingHeToldMe #damppebbles

“IT WAS THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME: PROTECT HER

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his new wife, Hannah: protect her. Hannah knows exactly who Owen needs her to protect – his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. And who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As her increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, his boss is arrested for fraud and the police start questioning her, Hannah realises that her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey might hold the key to discovering Owen’s true identity, and why he disappeared. Together they set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realise that their lives will never be the same again…

A beautiful and thrilling mystery, perfect for readers of Lianne Moriarty and Celeste Ng.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. The Last Thing He Told Me will be published by Viper Books tomorrow (that’s Tuesday 4th May 2021) and will be available in hardcover and audio formats, with the ebook publishing next week and the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Last Thing He Told Me. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy.

After an unexpected whirlwind romance, Hannah Hall and Owen Michaels have married. Hannah has left her life in New York City and moved into Owen’s house boat in Sausalito, Northern California, to start building a life together. Except there’s one problem. Owen’s sixteen year old daughter, Bailey, is not a fan of her new stepmother and she’s not afraid to make her feelings known. Hannah is desperate for some kind of connection with the teenager but no matter what she does, Bailey shows no sign of softening. And then Owen disappears leaving only a note: ‘PROTECT HER’. His boss is arrested for fraud and fingers are beginning to point in Owen’s direction. Hannah is repeatedly questioned about her husband’s whereabouts, but she knows nothing. Who is Owen really? Does Bailey’s childhood hold the key to figuring out where he’s vanished to? And how well do we really know the people we’re closest to…?

The Last Thing He Told Me is a beautifully written mystery which captivates the reader from the start. Hannah and Owen live an almost idyllic existence and I was enchanted by their lives. I particularly liked Hannah who, despite her own parental traumas, seemed keen to be there for an uncommunicative and stroppy teen no matter what was thrown at  her. There are some wonderful moments of interaction between Hannah and Bailey scattered throughout the book, many of which gave me a warm glow. The return plane journey being one of my favourites.

I loved that the book didn’t go in a direction I was expecting. The unravelling of Owen’s past was very compelling reading and I was always keen to return to the book and find out what juicy titbit Hannah and Bailey had discovered and how it would link to the next reveal. The suspense the author conveys is palpable and I was on the edge of my seat throughout, asking myself ‘who is this man and why would he leave his wife and daughter alone?’. All is revealed to the reader and it is completely unexpected.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re looking for an intriguing mystery laden with bucket loads of suspense and family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me fits the bill perfectly. I was captivated by Hannah and Bailey’s hunt for the truth. It’s an emotional and beautifully written novel about sacrifice and what makes a parent. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Last Thing He Told Me. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave was published in the UK by Viper Books and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Laura DaveLaura Dave is the bestselling author of several critically acclaimed novels including Eight Hundred Grapes and The First Husband. Her work has been published in eighteen countries, and five of her novels, including The Last Thing he Told Me, have been optioned for film and television. She resides in Santa Monica, California.

Her new novel, The Last Thing He Told Me, will be released on May 4th, 2021.

#BookReview: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks #EveryVowYouBreak #damppebbles

“After a whirlwind, fairytale romance, Abigail Baskin marries freshly-minted Silicon Valley millionaire Bruce Lamb.

For their honeymoon, he whisks her away to an exclusive retreat at a friend’s resort off the Maine coast on Heart Pond Island.

But once there, Abigail’s perfect new life threatens to crash down around her as she recognises one of their fellow guests as the good looking, charismatic stranger who weeks earlier had seduced her at her own Bachelorette party…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson. Every Vow You Break is published today (that’s Thursday 18th March 2021) by Faber Books and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Every Vow You Break but that has in no way influenced my review.

I LOVE Peter Swanson’s novels. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! He’s a favourite author of mine and picking up his latest release for the first time is one of the highlights of my year. His books are chock full of delicious suspense and always have a wicked twist in their tale. I heartily recommend ALL of his books – particularly The Kind Worth Killing and the absolutely stunning Rules for Perfect Murders which made it onto my ‘best books EVER’ list after being published last year.

Abigail Baskin is getting married! She’s all loved up (sort of) and heading off to California for her hen party (Bachelorette party for any US readers!) with a group of friends to let her hair down and wave goodbye to singledom. Following a night of delicious food and good wine, Abigail starts to chat with Scottie, a good-looking and charming divorcee. One thing leads to another, the wine flows and they end up in bed together. Abigail realises her mistake and hurries home to husband-to-be, Bruce, wracked with guilt, determined to forget it ever happened and make their marriage work. Until she starts to see Scottie everywhere she turns; in New York, at her wedding and most shockingly of all, Scottie is a fellow guest at the exclusive resort Bruce has chosen as their honeymoon destination. Why is Scottie following Abigail? What’s his agenda and will his presence on Heart Pond Island result in Abigail’s perfect life crashing down around her…?

This is a fantastic slow burn suspense novel which I found very readable. Swanson takes time and care to paint a picture of Abigail and Bruce’s lives together. You get to know Abigail particularly well and what makes her tick, before the author blows the couple’s worlds apart. When the bomb is dropped, OMG, it’s a big un! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough – I had to find out how things were going to end. I was gripped and loving every second of my reading experience.

I grew to like Abigail over the course of the novel. I will admit I wasn’t an instant fan but my judgement was based more on her indiscretion and my own personal feelings about cheating on a partner. I was hoping she would get her comeuppance. However, I quickly changed my mind as the story progressed. Oh boy, did I change my mind!!

I did have one tiny niggle about this book and you’re probably going to think I’m crazy! The use of the word ‘pond’. To me, as a Brit, a pond is a small, stagnant body of water. Probably infested with frogs, algae and water slugs (are they a thing?). In Every Vow You Break, characters are swimming and sailing on the pond which seemed to me to be vast. Isn’t that a lake? Perhaps it’s a UK vs US thing. Anyway, my point is, the use of the word jarred me a little every time it was used as what I pictured in my own mind didn’t seem to match with what the book was telling me. Maybe I’m just odd. Maybe I have no knowledge whatsoever of ponds and I should just shut up now…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Every Vow You Break is a great addition to Swanson’s back catalogue. The author remains one of my absolute favourites and I’m already looking forward to his next book. Every Vow You Break has a very interesting twist which drew me in to the story. At times I was on the edge of my seat, at other times I was furious with the characters. My blood was boiling. All in all, another brilliant reading experience from the master of suspense. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Every Vow You Break. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber Books on 18th March 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Peter Swanson is the author of seven novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Every Vow You Break. His books have been translated into over 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Appeal by Janice Hallett @ViperBooks #TheAppeal #damppebbles

the appeal“IN A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS
SOMEONE WAS MURDERED.

SOMEONE WENT TO PRISON.

AND EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.

CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH?

Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death.

Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed.

Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered.

Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?

The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists, and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of the utterly captivating The Appeal by Janice Hallett. The Appeal is published by Viper Books today (that’s 14th January 2021) and is available in hardcover and digital formats, with the paperback to follow in the Summer. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Appeal but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early proof of the book.

The Appeal is quite a feat! Writing and publishing a book doesn’t strike me as a simple thing to do (more like a mammoth, complicated one) and I give massive kudos to anyone who achieves it. Authors, you have my everlasting respect. But to write THIS book…WOW! The Appeal is like nothing I’ve read before and, if the fascinating yet unusual format catches on, I don’t think another author will be able to achieve the heady heights of sheer brilliance Hallett has reached in this, her debut. It’s very early in the year to be saying this but, if you only listen to one of my book recommendations this year, please, please, please make it this one. Get yourself a copy of The Appeal.

Normally at this point in a damppebbles review I would give my take on the plot. However, The Appeal is a very different reading experience and everything you need to know is written in the blurb. I started this book without a clue what to expect. I hadn’t looked the book up online, I hadn’t read the back or the inside cover. And from the opening introduction, I was intrigued. A murder, you say? Someone possibly wrongly convicted? Sounds pretty ‘normal fare’ for us crime fiction readers so far, right? But then it starts to get really interesting. The book, the story, is told using emails, reports, messenger transcripts and other digital forms of communication. All of it. From start to finish. It’s a brilliant achievement and I take my hat off to the author. To tell such an intricate story with so much detail in this format must have taken one heck of a lot of work and planning. The cherry on the top is that you, the reader, are tasked with solving the case. The evidence is laid before you and you need to read between the lines, spot the hidden truths in amongst the recovered conversations. The Appeal is something very special and I devoured it.

The book is set around an amateur dramatics group called The Fairway Players. Quite early on we’re given a list of those who make up the Players, which made my heart sink a little as there are quite a few names (along with their ages and their relationship to other members of the group). My ageing brain isn’t as quick or as capable as it used to be. So at this point, I did something I don’t normally do. I put a page marker in my copy of the book so I could refer back to the list if I needed to. Including the list so early in the book is a masterstroke. It’s then repeated later on as well which I think really helped cement who everyone is. Before long I was reading the email conversations between Hallett’s wonderfully written characters quickly and with ease.

And what a group of characters they are! The author has created an absorbing character study that shows exactly how ‘human’ humans can be. Flawed, deceitful, selfish and secretive. Unendingly loyal and protective. The email exchanges between these people are both fascinating and uncomfortable at times. You see scenarios from different points of view. Situations are ever so slightly changed in their retelling so the author of the email looks a little bit better than they would have done otherwise. One character’s desperation is utterly cringeworthy and, oh my gosh, the way they speak to each other…. Well, I was astounded! I felt on edge reading these exchanges, I wanted to know more as it was clear we were cleverly being drip-fed information bit by bit. What was going on behind the scenes, what secrets were we not party to? I loved it. Everything about The Appeal worked for me.

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would, yes. I’ve barely scratched the surface of The Appeal in this review. I’ve not mentioned Roderick Tanner QC, Femi or Charlotte. I’ve not mentioned the fundraising drive to raise money for Poppy’s Appeal. I’ve not mentioned that there are no traditional chapters in this book (which I found a little mind bending until I got used to the format). And I’ve also not mentioned that you don’t find out who has been murdered until around two-thirds of the way through the book. Nor who has been put in prison for the crime.

The Appeal is a very clever, all-consuming novel which I struggled to put down. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about the characters. For the duration of my time with this book, I was 100% in its pages and now I’ve finished it, I feel a little bereft. For the record, I failed to work out whodunit. I spent a large proportion of the book hoping the author was actually going to tell us who the culprit was as I was flummoxed and if it was down to me, the appeal wouldn’t have been solved. I may not have solved the case but I had a few suspicions about a few other things and I was right about those so not all is lost. An absolutely outstanding piece of clever, brilliantly written crime fiction that deserves all the awards. I savoured every single moment I had with The Appeal. This is a book you need on your reading list. This is a book everyone is going to be talking about and oh boy, does it deserve it. Compelling and utterly irresistible. Highly recommended.

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

The Appeal by Janice Hallett was published in the UK by Viper Books on 14th January 2021 and is available in hardcover and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

janice hallettJanice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel.

#BookReview: Yesterday by Felicia Yap @Wildfirebks #Yesterday #damppebbles

yesterdayToday, the police are at your door.

They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

You can’t recall what he did that day, because you only remember yesterday.

You rely on your diary to tell you where you’ve been, who you love and what you’ve done.

So, can you trust the police?
Can you trust your husband?
Can you trust yourself?”

Hello and welcome to the blog! I have a brand new review to share with you today and it’s for Yesterday by Felicia Yap. Yesterday was published by Wildfire Books on 12th July 2018 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of Yesterday but that has in no way influenced my review.

Well this little beauty gave me a lot more than I was bargaining for! First thing to say is that Yesterday would make a cracking book club read (having absolutely no experience, or real knowledge, of book clubs myself!). It raises so many interesting and thought-provoking questions. A very compelling mystery from start to finish.

Claire Evans is a Mono. She and her husband, Mark, live in a world where memories don’t last. You can either remember just yesterday, like Claire, or if you’re like Mark and a Duo, you can remember two days ago. The rest of society is the same as the Evans’. They’re nothing special. Humankind has no memory. Every day they record that day’s events in their electronic diary. They learn ‘Facts’ to make sure some things are never forgotten. Duos are superior. Monos are treated as inferior. Their brains aren’t as advanced as the Duos. That’s just life.

One day a woman is found drowned in the River Cam. Before long the Police are on the Evans’ doorstep asking Mark questions, as the woman, it turns out, was his lover. Claire is devastated. There has always been a divide between them. Not helped by the fact he’s a Duo and she’s a Mono. Mixed marriages aren’t the norm. The lead Detective, Hans Richardson, has Mark pegged as the prime suspect. Now all he has to do is prove it. But how can Claire help her husband and prove he’s innocent when she really can’t remember…

I thoroughly enjoyed Yesterday. It was a fascinating read which hooked me in from early on and didn’t let go until the final word. I was expecting a novel about a woman who perhaps, because of trauma or a medical condition, had a memory issue. What I got was a gripping mystery set in a different world where discrimination is rife and every character you meet is most definitely an unreliable narrator. I enjoyed the amount of thought and attention to detail Yap has put into her ‘world’. The affect a very short memory has on the characters is utterly fascinating. I enjoyed seeing what they believed life would be like if you *could* remember everything that has happened to you throughout your life. How none of them would wish a full memory on not even their worst enemy. The devastation, destruction and the growth of evil such a thing could create, to them, was unimaginable.

I enjoyed spending time with Hans Richardson as he attempted to solve the case of the woman’s murder in one day. It’s not the most surprising of outcomes but there are a few twists in the tale along the way. The final twist felt a little (a teeny, tiny, smidge-like) too far-fetched for me but if you can’t break the boundaries in fiction, when can you?

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Yesterday gave me so much more than I was expecting and I really enjoyed it. The discrimination shown to the Mono race had my blood boiling at times and I wanted to chuck my Kindle across the room. A well-written, imaginative, emotive, character-driven novel which made me think. I would certainly read more by this author. Recommended.

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

Yesterday by Felicia Yap was published in the UK by Wildfire Books on 12th July 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

felicia yapFelicia Yap is the author of Future Perfect (published spring 2021) and Yesterday. She has been a cell biologist, a war historian, a university lecturer, a technology journalist, a theatre critic, a flea-market trader and a catwalk model. Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @FeliciaMYap

#BookReview: Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh @orionbooks @orion_crime #FiftyFifty #damppebbles

fifty fiftyTwo sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?

Hello and welcome bookish friend to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh with you. Fifty-Fifty is the fifth book in the Eddie Flynn series and was published by Orion Books on 3rd September 2020. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Fifty-Fifty but that has in no way influenced my review.

Coming to a series part-way through can be tricky. I’ve only read Fifty-Fifty and the previous book, Thirteen, in the Eddie Flynn series. Not once while reading these books have I ever felt lost, or that everyone else (everyone who has read the series from the start) knows something I don’t. That’s a tricky thing to accomplish when you’re five books into a series so kudos to the author. I absolutely loved Thirteen which is a very clever, well-plotted novel. So I was keen to find out if the author could follow it up with something equally as impressive. He has.

Two sisters on trial for the brutal murder of their father. Both women claim their innocence and accuse the other of the barbaric crime. Both called 911 within minutes of each other claiming to be terrified of the other and fearful for her own life. One is telling the truth. The other is a cold blooded killer and manipulator with a hidden dark side. It’s down to Flynn and his team to tear the sister’s lives apart and find the killer…

What a page-turner! This is an assured, clever legal thriller that ticks all the boxes. I don’t tend to read many legal thrillers (although there has been a bit of a spike recently) but when they’re this good, I ask myself why! The author is a master story-teller and this is one series crime fans cannot ignore.

It’s very difficult to talk about the plot of Fifty-Fifty as there’s a good chance I’ll say something I shouldn’t and give the game away. So I won’t. Except to say it’s gripping, thrilling and full of doubt. I decided who the guilty party was quite early on, only to change my mind, again and again and again. Cavanagh is very adept at the art of misdirection and red herrings, and I loved it!

The returning characters are all great (I do have a soft spot for Judge Harry Ford, and now Clarence) but special mention to Kate Brooks who is the new kid on the block and out to make her name. Whilst Eddie represents Sofia, Kate represents the other sister, Alexandra. You can’t help but feel for Kate who throws herself in at the deep end making a stand against her misogynistic, sexist, truly revolting senior partner. And she really has thrown herself in deep. First solo case and you’re against Eddie Flynn. Ouch.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. This and the brilliant Thirteen (which still remains my favourite Cavanagh book but only because of the unforgettable bad guy!). I love Flynn’s character and I will happily, gladly read this series for as long as it continues. I will also be going back to the beginning to check out where it all began. How could I not? Fifty Fifty is a terrific book. Highly readable, totally engrossing and I want more Flynn! Recommended.

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

Fifty-Fifty by Steven Cavanagh was published in the UK by Orion Books on 3rd September 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

What's Your First Draft Like? – Steve CavanaghSteve Cavanagh is the bestselling author of the Eddie Flynn novels and standalone thrillers. In 2018 he won the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger for crime novel of the year. All of his novels have either been nominated for awards, or have won awards internationally.

He is a practicing lawyer, and was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he still lives.  Together with Luca Veste, Steve hosts the popular comedy lit podcast Two Crime Writers And A Microphone.

Author Links:TwitterWebsiteFacebook  | Instagram |

Author bio © https://www.stevecavanaghauthor.com/