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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (translated by David Warriner) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 19th September 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

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

Translator Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #Giveaway: The Lingering by SJI Holliday @OrendaBooks #TheLingering #Win

the lingering.jpg“Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Lingering blog tour.  The Lingering is the latest book from SJI Holliday and was published by Orenda Books on 15th November 2018.

To celebrate The Lingering’s release I have a paperback copy up for grabs today.  To be in with a chance of winning a copy all you have to do is pop the name of your favourite spooky book in the comments.  We’ve missed Halloween but that doesn’t matter. Ghost stories work no matter what time of year!

The giveway is open internationally and the winner will be announced shortly after midday on Sunday 25th November (GMT) when the giveaway closes.  The winner will need to provide me with their name and address which I will pass on to the blog tour organiser.  There is no cash alternative.  Good luck everyone!

The Lingering by SJI Holliday was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th November 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio 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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Susi author photo.jpgS.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and
The Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls has been described by David Mark as ‘Dark as a smoker’s lung.’ She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Good Samaritans by Will Carver (@will_carver) @OrendaBooks #GoodSamaritans

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“One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach.

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.

But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…

And someone is watching…

Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Good Samaritans blog tour. Good Samaritans is written by Will Carver and was published by Orenda Books in paperback yesterday.

I’m pretty much a single genre reader. I don’t mind that, it’s my personal choice. I love crime fiction and I’m more than happy to spend my days immersing myself in some brilliant dark stories. But I find that, as time progresses, it takes a really unexpected twist or a different slant to grab my attention and keep it. I often find, whilst reading a book, that I can pretty much guess which direction the plot will go in. That’s why Good Samaritans was such a breath of fresh air. What a book! If the eye-catching cover doesn’t grab you (that gorgeous yellow and blue!), if the tagline doesn’t pique your interest; ‘One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach’. C’mon, you’re intrigued, right? Then let me assure you, the author’s words will certainly demand your attention 100%. The story Carver shares with us is something else, something fresh, something exciting and I loved it!

Shortly after starting this book I realised I had already become heavily invested in the characters’ lives. They’re all a little peculiar but that just made them more appealing to me. They’re human, they’re flawed, they are perfect. I couldn’t stop myself from reading. This was one of those ‘just another chapter’ books and when I was carrying out mundane ‘life stuff’, I was thinking about Seth, Hadley and Maeve. So involved was I in their lives that I had almost forgotten I was reading a suspense novel. That’s when the first shock twist hit. I remember the sharp intake of breath I took, the dizzying realisation of what was happening and the heart-stopping ‘nooooooooooo’ which rang through my mind. From that point on I could predict which direction the story was headed but oh my gosh, I loved it! It really didn’t matter one jot.

The plot is seamless, I was so absorbed in the story I didn’t feel as though I was reading a book (hopefully I’m not the only person this happens to, where you’re so involved you forget what you’re actually doing!). This is a book which will stay with me for a long time to come and I expect it will get a mention on my top 10 of the year. It was so exquisitely different, so utterly refreshing and so dark – I flipping loved it!

I will say one more thing before I sign off. I’m not a lover of sexy scenes in the books I read. Often they seem unnecessary, like the author wants to add an extra *shock* factor by including a few saucy bits here and there. Good Samaritans is quite naughty (it’s doing quite well in the ‘erotica’ section on Amazon as I type). However, I didn’t feel the author was trying to pad the story out, the scenes felt a necessary part of the story and to be honest, I wasn’t the slightest bit offended by them. Saying that, if sexual content is not your thing you may want to give this book a swerve.

Would I recommend this book? Oh yes! I love this book and I want you to read it and love it too. It’s brilliantly done and something quite special. A book which will stay with me. I loved all of the characters and their devious, dark little ways. Will Carver has become an author to watch out for in the future because if this is the quality of work he is producing then oh boy, I want more! Memorable, dark, highly readable and something completely different! Loved it. Want more. Now please….

Five out of five stars.

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

Good Samaritans by Will Carver was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th November 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio 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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Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series (Arrow). He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off.

He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company.

He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: After He Died by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @OrendaBooks #AfterHeDied

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“You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the After He Died blog tour. After He Died is the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Michael J. Malone and is currently available in eBook format with the Orenda Books paperback publishing later this week on Thursday 20th September 2018.

As soon as I hear Michael J. Malone has a new book coming out, I want a copy! For those of you who are new to damppebbles, Malone’s first Orenda release, A Suitable Lie absolutely blew my socks off (and then some!) back in 2016. It was my book of the year and I still, to this day, recommend it to EVERYONE! Here’s my review if you missed it the first time, and if you haven’t purchased a copy yet, then you MUST! I’m also a massive fan of Malone’s self-published gritty Scottish crime series featuring the ‘rough-around-the-edges’ DI, Ray McBain. Another must read if you haven’t already discovered this series yet. So new Michael J. Malone titles immediately kick the book craving into gear, particularly those published by Orenda Books. I love a gritty police procedural like the McBain series, they’re my bread and butter and Malone excels at writing them. But his novels published via Orenda Books are very different; they’re domestic noir thrillers that set a benchmark so high, others can only dream of achieving what he does. They’re chock full of heart, with real living, breathing characters. And more often than not, they take my breath away. They have so much soul, there’s so much emotion between the pages and the unease the reader feels is really quite glorious.

After He Died is another top-notch domestic thriller from the twisted mind and pen of Michael J. Malone. Another page-turner full of secrets and lies; you never know what to believe! The unease I felt whilst reading was palpable and I very much enjoyed every moment I spent in Paula and Cara’s company. Did I like them? Well…I didn’t hate them. I found myself strongly disliking Thomas from quite early on which was rather unfair of me as he is the ‘he’ who has died. I can’t say I liked Paula or Cara but I was definitely on their side, wanting to solve the mystery, urging them on to discover the truth.

Would I recommend this book? I would. If you want a surefire, guaranteed good read then Michael J. Malone’s After He Died is the book for you. Or any other of Malone’s books actually, they’re all wonderful compulsive reads that I’ve struggled to put down. Malone knows how to write a character; whether it’s someone to love or someone to hate, eliciting that emotion is what is all about and Malone does that with ease and lashings of style. After He Died is bulging with secrets, it has a wonderfully Scottish edge that will appeal to many readers – you feel as though you’re reading something very special. Recommended.

Four stars out of five.

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

After He Died by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books 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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Michael Malone Photo

Michael J Malone is the author of over 200 published poems, two poetry collections, six novels, countless articles and one work of non-fiction.

Formerly a Faber and Faber Regional Sales Manager (Scotland and North England), he has judged and critiqued countless poetry, short story and novel competitions for a variety of organisations, and for a number of years was the Scottish correspondent for Writers’ Forum.

Michael is an experienced workshop leader/ creative writing lecturer to writers’ groups, schools and colleges as well as a personal coach and mentor. He has a Certificate in Life Coaching and studied as a facilitator with The Pacific Institute.

As a freelance editor he has edited and mentored writers in a variety of genres and for traditionally published as well as self-published authors.

He is a regular speaker and chair at book festivals throughout the UK– including Aye Write, Bloody Scotland, Crimefest and Wigtown.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Overkill by Vanda Symon (@vandasymon) @OrendaBooks #Overkill #NewZealandNoir #SamShephard

Overkill Cover  (1).jpegWhen the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.

Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.

To find the murderer … and clear her name.

A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Overkill blog tour.  Overkill by Vanda Symon was published by Orenda Books on 6th September 2018 and is the first in a new crime series featuring PC Sam Shephard.

I have travelled the world thanks to my literary choices over the years; it’s something I love to do.  Reading about a place far from home is always interesting and exciting – a different way of living, different cultures.  Until recently I had not managed to make my bookish way to New Zealand.  Australia, yes.  New Zealand, no.  However, thanks to Overkill I can now add a New Zealand stamp to my literary passport as this delightful piece of crime fiction is set in Mataura.

I am a huge fan of books set in small, close-knit towns.  The claustrophobia, the suspicion, the uncomfortable feeling you get as the characters start to realise that you can’t trust anyone.  The small town feeling Vanda Symon conveys in Overkill is wonderful.  The residents of Mataura have all been mucking along quite nicely together for years.  Then the body of a young mother is discovered in the river; the suicide note left behind confirms she couldn’t face life any more.  But PC Sam Shephard’s gut is telling her differently, something is wrong.  Before long Sam is investigating a murder.  What she doesn’t realise is that she’s the main suspect in her detective colleague’s eyes.  Can Sam solve the murder and clear her name…?

I loved Sam.  She’s so wonderfully human, so normal.  She has a chequered history with the victim’s husband which hangs precariously over her head throughout the entire investigation.  Her conflicted emotions and her self-deprecating manner made her all the more likeable.  I was also very fond of her flatmate and best friend, Maggie who stands by Sam when others don’t.  The writing and the narrative had a wonderful Kiwi flavour to it; it felt very real and I was pleased to see Sam wasn’t dressed up to be something she wasn’t.  She’s tough, resilient and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty.  She certainly needs to be tough as the only police officer stationed in Mataura!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Sam is a very likeable character who will appeal to many readers and Symon’s honest, no-nonsense writing brings her gloriously to life.  If you’re looking for thrills and spills a minute then maybe Overkill isn’t the book for you.  But if you’re wanting a cleverly woven mystery with characters who shine through then it’s well worth a read.  Claustrophobic, delightfully mysterious and a with a fierce female lead you can’t help but like.  I can’t wait to read the next book in the Sam Shephard series!

Four out of five stars.

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

Overkill by Vanda Symon was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 6th September 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio 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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vanda symonVanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.

A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.

As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.

And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.

Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.

When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.

Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |

Biography © http://vandasymon.com/

 

 

#CoverReveal: Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks #LoriAnderson #DeepDirtyTruth

I’m a little bit giddy today. Actually, I’ve been a little bit giddy for the last week or so as I’ve had to keep a secret I have been BURSTING to share with you…

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that one of my very favourite series out there at the moment is the Lori Anderson series written by the incredibly talented Steph Broadribb. I have read (devoured) both of the previous books in the series starting with Deep Down Dead and then followed a year later by Deep Blue Trouble. I LOVE these books and I LOVE Broadribb’s lead, kick-ass bounty hunter Lori Anderson. I may have said in a past review “forget your Wonder Woman. forget your SuperGirl. I want to be Lori Anderson”. Yup, smitten.

Anyway, I am beyond excited to tell you that the third book in the series is due to be released on 5th January 2019, that it’s called DEEP DIRTY TRUTH and I’m (yup, little ole me) going to share the cover and blurb with you today!

We’ll start with the blurb and then have a look at that gorgeous cover:

A price on her head. A secret worth dying for.

Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With North due in court in forty-eight hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.

In this race only the winner gets out alive…

Brimming with tension, high-stakes jeopardy and high-voltage action, and a deep, emotional core, Deep Dirty Truth is an unmissable thriller by one of the freshest and most exciting voices in crime fiction.

Oh.My.Word! How good does that sound?! I’ve started my countdown to publication day; only 182 days to go.

So, without further ado, let’s feast our eyes on that fabulous cover…

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What a stunner! I have so much love for this cover and it ties in beautifully with the others in the series.

WOW! The Lori Anderson series is unmissable; high action thrills but shedloads of heart too. I love it and can’t recommend it highly enough. And don’t forget, you’ve got 182 days to read Deep Down Dead and Deep Blue Trouble before Deep Dirty Truth is released to the world, so no excuses 😉

It’s been such a huge honour to reveal this cover to you today so my thanks to Steph Broadribb and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for asking me to be involved. My pal The Beardy Book Blogger is also taking part in the reveal so pop across and say hello and give him a follow if you’re not already doing so – you’ll thank me for it, I promise!

Deep Dirty Truth will be available to purchase on 5th January 2019 but you can pre-order a copy here from amazon.co.uk.

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Steph Broadribb

As Steph Broadribb I write the Lori Anderson action thriller series for Orenda Books. When researching the books I trained as a Bounty Hunter in California and travelled around the US scouting locations. My debut thriller DEEP DOWN DEAD (2017) was shortlisted for the eDunnit eBook of the Year award, the Dead Good Reader Award for Fearless Female Character, and Dead Good Reader Award for Most Exceptional Debut. The second book in the Lori Anderson series – DEEP BLUE TROUBLE – is out in eBook October 2017 and paperback January 2018.

As Stephanie Marland I write the Starke/Bell psychological police procedural series for Trapeze (Orion). This series draws on my own experience as a blogger and the research I did (when working at a university for my day job) into human behaviour in online groups. The first book – MY LITTLE EYE – comes out in eBook November 2017 and paperback April 2018.

I’m repped by Oli Munson at AM Heath.

I was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire, and most of my working life has been spent between the UK and USA. I’m an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sisters In Crime organisations. I currently live in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses and trying to wrangle an unruly but adorable puppy!

Author Links: | CTG Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

Author biog © https://crimethrillergirl.com/

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty (@Hardisty_Paul) @OrendaBooks #Absolution #ClaymoreStraker

absolution“It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.

Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolutionis a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Absolution blog tour. Absolution is the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series written by author, Paul E. Hardisty and published by Orenda Books. I had the pleasure of reading ‘The Evolution of Fear‘, the second book in this series back in 2016; you can read that review by clicking HERE. I also took part in the blog tour for the third book, ‘Reconciliation for the Dead‘ with a rather stonking guest post.

It’s been a while since I was last acquainted with the dynamic and dangerous Claymore Straker and oh my goodness, it seems so much has happened to him, near him and because of him in the meantime! But then this is Claymore Straker we’re talking about here and he’s no ordinary man. The reader only has to wait until a mere 4% into the book before the action starts and oh boy, it is a shocker! But then I would expect nothing less from the pen of this highly descriptive and thoroughly accomplished author. One of the things I always enjoy about Paul E. Hardisty’s Straker books is that they are intelligent, well-researched works which the reader can sit back and immerse themselves in. As you’re reading you feel that you’re in safe, knowledgeable hands which only adds to the reading experience.

Chapters alternate between letters from Straker’s lover, Rania and life as it happens to Straker. The chapters which narrate Claymore’s journey are high-octane, thrill rides which leave you wondering what could possibly go wrong next. Will Claymore survive the next gun-toting militant he has the unfortunate pleasure of stumbling upon? Well, you’ll have to read the book for yourself and find out.

I loved the letters from Rania. Early on the reader discovers that Rania never intends on sending the letters to Claymore, which makes them all the more candid. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a modern Muslim woman, and how her strong belief system supports her through difficult times, and occasionally takes her life in a direction she would rather it not go. I really felt for Rania on many levels. But above all else, her character appealed to me because I always like a kick-ass female character.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of the thriller novel then yes, absolutely! You must read this book, along with the others in the series. As far as thrillers go, this is the most detailed, intelligent and captivating series out there with a heck of a lot of heart added for good measure!

Four out of five stars.

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

Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook format (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Paul HardistyCanadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

#CaseClosed: #April2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove

Hello my bookish friends and welcome once again to my monthly wrap up post, #CaseClosed! How has your April been? We had a couple of days of fabulous sunshine but then temperatures plummeted back to the UK’s usual arctic conditions (the heating was turned off, and then immediately back on again!). I’ve also been very busy setting up my new business, damppebbles blog tours and feel my reading has taken a bit of a hit because of it. It’s certainly been a quiet month on the blog. But here’s to a better, more productive, warmer May. I have promised lots of reviews during May so you will be hearing from me more often.

I took part in the three blog tours this month:

Two were reviews: My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland & Keeper by Johana Gustawsson, and one stop was a guest post; Our House by Louise Candlish (guest post)

I did manage to read a few other books here and there:
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (for First Monday Crime) | Our House by Louise Candlish | All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson | Anything For Her by G.J. Minett (for First Monday Crime) | Dark Water by Robert Bryndza |

I also hosted a couple of fabulous giveaways (which are now both closed):
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (giveaway) | Hangman by Daniel Cole (giveaway) |

Then there were a few other promotional posts thrown in for good measure:
In For The Kill by Ed James (guest post) | Needle Song by Russell Day (cover reveal) | Needle Song by Russell Day (Free Short Story) |

And then there was the incredible news that damppebbles has been nominated for the Best Book Review Blog at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. By the time this post goes live I expect voting will have closed but, y’know, if you’re at a loose end…..

damppebbles.com nominated for Best Book Review Blog at ABBA’s

That’s it, that’s April at damppebbles HQ. Lots of posts but it didn’t feel very busy, well, not to me.

In other news, Twitter jail has finally won *sigh*. I have had to significantly reduce the number of book posts I share to Twitter, which makes me sad as I always thought the whole point of Twitter was to share the things you love. On the plus side, I haven’t ended up in the slammer now for a few weeks so it does appear to be working.

And that’s it really, except for my BOOK OF THE MONTH (which should come as no surprise!)…

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So, without further ado, my book of April 2018 is…..

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It’s Keeper the second book in the Roy and Castells series written by Johana Gustawsson and published by Orenda Books. With threads from the past and nods to Jack the Ripper, this book blew me away.

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“I adored this book. Plain and simple. If Keeper doesn’t make it to my top three books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me. Regular visitors to the blog will be fully aware that I like my crime thrillers a little more on the dark side. Keeper is one heck of a dark read. Picture the scene, there I was merrily reading away thinking to myself, ‘yup, it’s another good one – probably four stars at the moment but we’ll see how things go’. Then all of a sudden Gustawsson stepped things up a notch (or two). My jaw hit the table and I was utterly smitten with the author’s story. One of those, ‘WOAH’ moments that I absolutely live for.”

“Totally gratifying, deliciously dark and WHAT a thrill-ride. Yeah, I loved this one. You really should read Keeper.”

So there we have it. No big surprise really seeing as I can’t stop talking about Keeper.

And that’s it from me for April.

I hope you all have a wonderful May, full of some absolutely brilliant books and lots of time to relax and read them. See you next month.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (@JoGustawsson) trans. Maxim Jakubowski @OrendaBooks #Keeper #FrenchNoir #RoyandCastells

KEEPER COVER COVER AW.jpeg“Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. 

London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before. 

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? 

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Keeper blog tour which I share with the wonderful The Book Review Cafe.  Keeper is the second book in the Roy & Castells series written by Johana Gustawsson and is published in paperback by Orenda Books later this month (nothing to stop you from grabbing a copy of the eBook now though!).

I read the first book in the series, Block 46 last year.  I really liked it, many others absolutely loved it and it made regular appearances on the ‘top books of 2017’ lists.  Rightly so.  Knowing this added to the pre-read build up for me.  I was excited, expectant and a little apprehensive.

For those new to Gustawsson’s books, they are set in the present day (if you can call 2015 present!) but with a historical twist to them.  The story’s tentacles reach back in time to real-life crimes.  The reader gets to see how the evil of the past affects and manipulates the evil of the present.  It’s a highly original concept, one that I haven’t found elsewhere and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I bow down to those that are able to write convincing fiction, but I grovel on the floor before those that include a fair amount of accurate historical fact (I assume it’s accurate by the way, I am certainly no historian!).  In Block 46 we had the despicable and abhorrent treatment prisoners of war were subjected to by the detestable Nazi’s.  In Keeper, we are plunged into the world of the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.  Now I’m no Ripperologist but Jack the Ripper has always fascinated me.  I’ve read a few books on the subject, some fact and some fiction.  As far as the fictional ones go, this is by far the best.

I adored this book.  Plain and simple.  If Keeper doesn’t make it to my top three books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.  Regular visitors to the blog will be fully aware that I like my crime thrillers a little more on the dark side.  Keeper is one heck of a dark read.  Picture the scene, there I was merrily reading away thinking to myself, ‘yup, it’s another good one – probably four stars at the moment but we’ll see how things go’.  Then all of a sudden Gustawsson stepped things up a notch (or two).  My jaw hit the table and I was utterly smitten with the author’s story.  One of those, ‘WOAH’ moments that I absolutely live for.

Keeper will take you places you never expected.  It’s exactly the kind of novel I want to read and it’s going to stay with me for a very, very long time.  My love for Emily Roy has grown.  She’s such a likeable oddball character.  She does have competition for my affections though as I also really liked intern, Aliénor Lindbergh.  Such an interesting character and I hope we see more of her in the future.  The dynamic between the two characters really worked for me.

I also love the international flavour of Gustawsson’s books.  The reader gets taken on a whirlwind journey from London to Falkenberg in Sweden, and back again.  The characters also bring a welcome international flair to proceedings.  For example, at one point Alexis Castells is having a dreaded ‘meet the parents’ moment (her parents are meeting her partner).  They don’t all speak the same language so some are conversing in English, others in Swedish, her parents are chatting in French and there’s a bit of Spanish thrown in for good measure too.  One of my favourite scenes in the book.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  Strong characters, astonishing twists and really quite perfect.  There’s not a single thing I can think of that I didn’t like, and that’s saying something!  Totally gratifying, deliciously dark and WHAT a thrill-ride.  Yeah, I loved this one.  You really should read Keeper.

Five out of five stars.

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

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (trans. Maxim Jakubowski) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 28th April 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please be aware the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Blue Night by Simone Buchholz (@ohneKlippo) Trans. by Rachel Ward (@FwdTranslations) @OrendaBooks #BlueNight

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“After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble.

However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital – almost every bone in his body broken, a finger cut off, and refusing to speak in anything other than riddles – Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs.

When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived…

Fresh, fiendishly fast-paced and full of devious twists and all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the best noir, Blue Night marks the stunning start of a brilliant new crime series, from one of Germany’s bestselling authors.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop (and the penultimate stop) on the Blue Night blog tour which I share with author and blogger, Nic Parker. Blue Night is the first in a new series from established German crime fiction author, Simone Buchholz and was published by Orenda Books in paperback on 28th February 2018.

If you don’t already know, I am a HUGE fan of German crime fiction. Huge. I seek it out whenever possible (or at least when the TBR isn’t too mountainous). German crime fiction and, strangely, Japanese crime fiction too. I don’t like to follow the herd with your Nordic Noir, oh no – not me (although I do love Nordic Noir as well!)! So when I heard one of my very favourite publishers was about to release a novel written by a German author and translated into English, I had to read it. Orenda Books and German crime fiction – it was like a dream come true for me!

So what did I think? I really enjoyed it. I loved our main protagonist, Chastity Riley. She’s obviously a bit of a tough nut having previously convicted her superior of corruption and blasted the dangly bits from a poor and unfortunate gangster. Having been demoted after her escapades to the Public Prosecutors Office and to the *yawn* role of Victim Protection, Chastity is starting to stagnate. Things start to look up however when she meets a mysterious man in a Hamburg hospital. Granted he’s had nearly every bone in his body broken, he’s missing a finger and he’s not much of a talker but Chastity is intrigued. After all, it’s her job to protect him. Using somewhat unsuitable bribes for a man so close to death, she manages to get the victim talking and before long Chastity is on the case, hunting down a supplier of deadly drugs to the Hamburg area and beyond.

There’s a real unease to this tale which I thoroughly enjoyed. A gritty, hard edge noir which appealed to my darker side. I also liked that Chastity was surrounded by a slightly flawed group of friends who all looked out for one another. Themes of friendship really ran quite deep for me in this novel, and I liked it! But then, Chastity is my kind of protagonist. She’s a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine. Knows her right from her wrong and will do absolutely everything she can to make sure the path to justice is taken. I’m really very excited about this series and look forward to reading more about Chastity Riley in the future.

One thing I will say (actually two things but bear with me!), this is a quicker than average read as there are only 276 pages in the paperback version. The perfect book for a snowy (or sunny if you’re reading this after the cold snap we had at the end of February/beginning of March!) weekend some may say. I initially had a couple of small issues with some of the formatting in this book which left me feeling a little confused at times. It was only a matter of getting used to the characters, their names, the timeframe and the way these short passages are presented to the reader though. By the end of the novel, it wasn’t an issue for me at all.

Would I recommend this book? I would. Particularly if you’ve ever fancied giving German noir a go – I think Blue Night would be the perfect place to start. Gripping, ominous and delightfully edgy. I can’t wait to meet up with Chastity Riley again soon. For a shorter than average novel, it really packs one heck of a punch!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Blue Night. The above review is my own unbiased opinion. My thanks to Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for providing with a review copy.

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz (translated by Rachel Ward) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 28th February 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

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Having always been an avid reader and enjoyed word games and puzzles, I discovered a flair for languages at school and went on to study Modern Languages at the University of East Anglia. I spent my third year working as a language assistant at two grammar schools in Saarbrücken, Germany. During my final year, I realised that I wanted to put these skills and passions to use professionally and applied for UEA’s MA in Literary Translation. Since then, I have been working in Norwich, UK, as a freelance translator of literary and creative writing from German and French to English.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

Rachel Ward bio and image © http://www.forwardtranslations.co.uk/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com