#BookReview: Innocent or Guilty? by A.M. Taylor @0neMoreChapter_ #InnocentOrGuilty #damppebbles

innocent or guilty“Is the right person behind bars?

One morning ten years ago, the town of Twin Rivers changed forever when the body of Tyler Washington was found in the woods. Son of the mayor, star of the high school basketball team – his death struck right at the heart of this tight-knit community.

For Olivia Hall, Tyler’s death heralded the start of her own personal nightmare – her twin brother, Ethan, was arrested for Tyler’s murder. Ten years later, Ethan is still in jail. Olivia is convinced he is innocent, and now, a true crime podcast has taken up his case.

As the podcast digs deeper, secrets, lies and shocking revelations are all uncovered. For the first time, Olivia dares to hope that Ethan may be set free. But if he didn’t kill Tyler, who did? And how far will they go to keep their secrets safe?

Perfect for fans of podcasts Serial, Happy Face and The Teacher’s Pet, and TV shows Making a Murderer, Staircase and Dirty John”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Innocent or Guilty? by A.M. Taylor. Innocent or Guilty? was published by One More Chapter on 12th December 2019 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I received a free eARC of Innocent or Guilty? but that has in no way influenced my review.

I do not listen to podcasts (I also don’t listen to audiobooks – I’ve never really managed to get to grips with them). But I love books which feature a true crime podcast at their heart. Sitting here, thinking about the concept, a few favourites immediately spring to mind. Well budge over, favourites, and make some room for Innocent or Guilty? by A.M. Taylor. There’s something very memorable about this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Olivia and Ethan Hall are twins on the brink of starting their college careers when tragedy strikes, rocking the small town of Twin Rivers. A local teenager, Tyler Washington, is murdered. The sudden death of the town’s golden boy hits everyone hard. But when Ethan Hall, Olivia’s unpopular brother, is arrested for the murder, it turns Olivia’s world completely on its head. Ten years later Olivia is a lawyer and Ethan is still in jail. But she’s determined to prove her brother’s innocence, one way or another. So when the producers of a true-crime podcast come knocking, despite her reservations, Olivia decides to take part and revisit the past. But if Ethan is innocent, the question remains, who REALLY killed Tyler Washington…?

Innocent or Guilty? is told in the past, the present and with brilliant snippets of the podcast, which felt so real to me. With the chapters set 10 years ago, the author beautifully builds the characters’ stories, layer by layer, adding more depth as the story progresses. Giving the reader a clear view of the politics and pressures of life in Twin Rivers in the run-up to Tyler’s murder. I really enjoyed the flashback chapters and getting a glimpse into Olivia and Ethan’s past. The present-day chapters are told mainly from Olivia’s perspective and focus on digging for clues to help free her brother. Working with Kat and Ray, the podcast producers, they come up against many brick walls as the residents of Twin Rivers fight to keep the past buried in the past.

Packed to the brim with secrets and deceit, this is one edge of your seat read which I found hard to put down. The author has created a number of well-written peaks and troughs throughout the book, which kept me turning the pages at a steady pace. After finishing Innocent or Guilty?, I immediately purchased Taylor’s debut, Forget Me Not, which I’m really looking forward to reading.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Innocent or Guilty? is a compelling mystery set in small-town America with a modern twist, and I devoured it. Being Mrs Suspicious, I was able to guess what the big twist was going to be from fairly early on in the book, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment one jot! There were plenty of other surprises along the way to keep me on my toes. I am looking forward to reading more from A.M. Taylor. Recommended.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Innocent or Guilty? The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Innocent or Guilty? was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 12th December 2019 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

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Annie May Taylor lives and writes in London. When not making up stories, she writes copy for a living and can most often be found drinking coffee, watching Netflix, and trying to keep up with a never ending TBR pile. She’s been obsessed with mysteries ever since Nancy Drew first walked into her life and would probably have attempted to become a private detective at some point, if only it didn’t involve actually having to talk to people. She has a cat called Domino, ambitions of owning a dog one day, and is as obsessed with My Favorite Murder as you probably are. Writing as A.M. Taylor, her debut psychological thriller Forget Me Not was released by Killer Reads/Harper Collins in October 2018.

#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: Avenge the Dead by Jackie Baldwin @0neMoreChapter_ @KillerReads #AvengetheDead #DIFrankFarrell #damppebbles

Avenge-the-Dead

“Sometimes murder is the only way to get even…

Four friends with dark secrets. One killer out for revenge.

DI Frank Farrell and DS McLeod are tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a defence solicitor’s wife in Dumfries.

It’s been over a year since they left the town after an investigation robbed them of a dear friend. But now they’re back and must find a way to move on.

When the son of another defence solicitor is murdered, a strange tattoo etched on his body, the case takes them into darker, more disturbing territory.

It leads them back into the past – to a horrific fire in a cottage that took a woman’s life, to four friends harbouring dark secrets – and finally to a killer waiting patiently for revenge.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog. I am delighted to be sharing my review of the third book in one of my favourite must-read crime series with you today, Avenge the Dead by Jackie Baldwin. Jackie’s series features ex-priest turned troubled detective, Frank Farrell and the entire series is brilliant! I received a free eARC of Avenge the Dead but that has in no way influenced my review.

Following the traumatic events of book two, Perfect Dead, DI Farrell and DS McLeod (along with DC Thomson) have relocated to Glasgow. Farrell is a mess, with a capital M. Having lost his faith (he’s an ex-priest so that’s kinda major!) and keeping a constant vigil at the bedside of his friend and DCI, John Lind, he turns to alcohol and prescription drugs to get through the day. When a violent murder calls the team back to Dumfries, Farrell is loathed to go. Not only because of the memories but because he doesn’t want to leave Lind’s side. Begrudgingly the team pack up and head back to their own stomping ground to try and solve one of the most frustrating cases they’ve ever had to deal with. Struggling to come up with any suspects or motives for the murder, they’re shocked when a second body is found. The victims are both relatives of a group of defence solicitors, a tight-knit group of friends who go way back. Can Farrell and McLeod discover who the killer is before another life is snuffed out…?

I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth mentioning it again, I LOVE this series. I was so excited to hear a third book was being released. Avenge the Dead can easily be read as a standalone but if you want the full impact of these brilliant books then it’s worth going back to the beginning and starting from book one. I love the way the characters have really grown into themselves over the three books; particularly the wonderful Mhairi McLeod who is always as important to the story as DI Farrell. The way these two characters bounce off each other, their undeniable chemistry, brings a lighter note to an intense and involving case and I can’t get enough of them. In Avenge the Dead, in particular, McLeod often steps up to the plate in Frank’s absence and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her take more of a leading role. Frank, on the other hand, is on a slippery slope having lost his faith and turned to drink and drugs to cope with the events of the last couple of years. He’s lost his way and although I’m normally the first person to cheer when a troubled detective makes an appearance, I feel really sorry for Frank. The departure of his faith has left such a large, gaping hole in his life that he’s just not the man he was. It was fascinating to see this side of him. To see Frank Farrell so dejected and lost was tough. So much so that I hope he finds what is missing in future books in the series.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, yes and yes again. Without a moment’s hesitation, I would. I would recommend the entire series as they’re all great books and if you love detective fiction then Baldwin’s DI Farrell series is a must-read. From the very first page I was hooked, and my curiosity was well and truly piqued! I was there with the team as another possible link crumbled to nothing resulting in another dead-end. I was there with the team at the thrilling conclusion, holding my breath, shaking my head and muttering ‘nooooooooo’ under my breath. I loved this book and I lived this book. I cannot wait for book four in the series. Here’s hoping there are many, many more DI Farrell novels to come in the not too distant future.

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

Avenge the Dead by Jackie Baldwin was published in the UK by One More Chapter on Friday 28th February 2020 and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in April (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

Jackie_01_by_Kim_Ayres

© Kim Ayres

Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead was published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. She later retrained as a hypnotherapist. Married with a grown family, she recently moved from Dumfries to East Lothian.

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 |