#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.

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#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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks

DEEP BUE TROUBLE final cover.jpg“Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking.

Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free.

Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

Breathlessly paced, and bursting with high-voltage action and edge-of-your-seat jeopardy, Deep Blue Trouble is the unmissable next instalment featuring one of the most memorable and fearless female characters in crime fiction.”

It is my GREAT pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Deep Blue Trouble blog tour which I share with the fabulous Helen Giles over at Life of a Nerdish Mum.  Please make sure you drop by Helen’s fabulous blog and say ‘hello’ after you’re done here.

Deep Blue Trouble is the second book in the Lori Anderson series written by one of my favourite authors, Steph Broadribb.  The first book in the series, Deep Down Dead made a BIG impression on me last year and you can read my review by clicking HERE.  Deep Down Dead also featured highly on my top ten books of 2017 post.  It’s true, I flipping love Lori Anderson.  This is one of those reviews where you hope everything you say does the book justice.  Fingers crossed…

Of all the books to be published in 2018, Deep Blue Trouble was the one I was really excited about.  Deep Down Dead (Lori Anderson book #1) left such a lasting impression on me that I could not wait to be reacquainted with Lori, her daughter Dakota and her brooding, ‘slightly’ gorgeous mentor/lover, JT.  For those new to this series, Lori Anderson is a kick-ass bounty hunter based in Florida.  She’s tough, she had to be.  Life has thrown a lot of sh!t Lori’s way (excuse the expletive but there’s no other way of putting it!).  Her young daughter is in remission, but there’s always a chance the cancer could return. And, to top off her run of bad luck, JT has been arrested following their last action-packed adventure together.  Lori is under an extreme amount of pressure and boy, does she know it!  When FBI agent Alex Monroe offers Lori a way to free JT from prison (and certain death, one way or another) she begrudgingly takes it.  Having put her daughter in imminent danger previously, Lori leaves Dakota at camp and heads to California in search of Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher.  What she doesn’t expect is a myriad of dead ends, confusing leads and false sightings in ‘bounty hunter hostile’ Mexico.  Can Lori discover where Fletcher is hiding, what he is hiding and with the help of whom before it’s too late…?

Fabulous!  As crime fiction goes this is another wonderfully engaging, thrilling, action-packed read from the pen of Steph Broadribb.  I was hooked from page one and unable to put this book down.  I love everything about Lori, she’s kick-ass through and through. She has a relatable, softer side when it comes to all matters concerning her young daughter, and she carries a flipping TASER!  What more could you want?  What I thoroughly enjoyed this time around was the chemistry and the friction brought about by the inclusion of Californian bounty hunter, Dex McGregor.  Lori has to work with Dex on the instruction of Alex Monroe.  But Dex works very differently to Lori – Dex is a team player but Lori is her own, one woman team.  The tension was palpable, the suspicion high.  Brilliantly constructed by Broadribb.

One of my very favourite things about this series is how deliciously American the narrative is.  I am such a big fan of American crime fiction but Broadribb manages to make me believe more than many other home-grown American writers (Broadribb is British by the way, but has worked in the US).

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  And whilst you’re there make sure you pick up a copy of Deep Down Dead too.  Deep Blue Trouble will work as a standalone but why not read the first book in the series whilst you’re at it.  I promise you won’t regret it.  I said this time last year that, “For me, this is the book that every other book has to beat this year to become my favourite read of 2017.  It’s early days but Deep Down Dead is a long way in the lead at the moment (and we’re not even done with January yet!)”.  Well, the same applies this year.  As things stand at present, Deep Blue Trouble is the book every other book has to beat to be my ‘book of 2018’.  As crime writers go, you can’t get better than Steph Broadribb.  Perfect!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Deep Blue Trouble.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 5th January 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Steph Broadribb.jpegSteph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.

Author Links: Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hydra by Matt Wesolowski (@ConcreteKraken) @OrendaBooks

Hydra LATEST COVER .jpg“One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess… Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.”

It is my pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Hydra blog tour which I share with one of my very favourite bookish people, the incredible Liz over at Liz Loves Books.  If you haven’t discovered Liz’s blog yet then you must!  Hydra is the second book from the pen of author Matt Wesolowski to be published by Orenda Books.  Wesolowski’s Orenda debut, Six Stories, absolutely blew my mind last year and took it’s place proudly on my top ten (*mumble, mumble* may have been twelve) books of the year.  If you need a reminder, or if you missed my review the first time then please click HERE.  I think it’s fair to say I LOVED Six Stories.

So I was strangely apprehensive (and of course, excited!) starting Hydra.  I knew before turning the first page that the story was in a similar vein to Six Stories.  If you haven’t experienced the incredible Six Stories (you really should get yourself a copy) then let me explain.  Six Stories is a series of podcasts hosted by Scott King.  King rakes over cold cases – not to necessarily solve the mystery but to encourage new discussion and debate.  King provides his listeners with the details of a particular case but from six different standpoints.  Six different viewpoints all bringing that little bit of extra information to the front, fleshing it out for his listeners.

The focus of King’s latest investigation is the Macleod Massacre of 2014.  If there’s one way for a book to get its hook into me then that is to mention a blood-soaked spree.  I know, I’m strange.  But I’ve never shied away from the fact that I like blood, guts and gore in my books.  The reader gets so much more than that though (and it really isn’t all that gory, I promise).  This is not a book about solving a murder case – we know ‘whodunnit’ and it was Arla Macleod – it’s all about the WHY.  Why did Arla kill her family that day?  Why did she change so dramatically?  What was the cause?  And if like me, you don’t see the incredibly clever twist coming then I can guarantee it will be a revelation.  Wow!

If there is one thing Wesolowski excels at, it’s giving his reader chills.  Hydra, like its predecessor, did an excellent job of making me feel nervous and apprehensive.  The author is a master at creating a scene and dropping you slap, bang right in the action.  You live the moment with the characters which for me added extra eerieness and I was completely absorbed in the moment.  Nothing else mattered.  Incredibly atmospheric, perfectly eerie, I absolutely loved Hydra.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely, without a doubt.  Wesolowski is one of my very favourite authors.  He writes in a totally different, exciting and original way and I love to read his books.  I will say this though, Hydra is absolutely brilliant but I did prefer Six Stories.  There are many reviewers out there saying that this book is Wesolowski’s best yet, but I have to disagree.  It’s still better than MANY other books I have read in the past 12 months but Six Stories will always have a special place in my heart.  In fact, if you’re picking up a copy of Hydra then add a copy of Six Stories whilst you’re at it.  You won’t regret it.

An easy five out of five stars.

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

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th January 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Matt W Picture 1 (1).jpgMatt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories edited by @medwardsbooks @the_cwa @OrendaBooks

CWA_Cover_Image.jpg“Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour blog tour.  When an email arrived in my inbox headed ‘CWA Anthology blog tour’, well, my heart skipped a beat.  It’s the kind of invitation that this little crime blogger was made for.  I didn’t hesitate in replying with a big, fat ‘YES PLEASE’.  I just had to be a part of this tour.

I am a fan of short story collections and anthologies.  I enjoy the variety, the way the author has to make their point in a significantly reduced number of words and still make it interesting and believable.  I love that anthologies give the reader the opportunity to dip in and out as they choose.  In particular, I love THIS collection of worldly crime stories.  So much so that I would go as far as saying this is the best collection I have read for some time.

When it comes to reviewing an anthology I’m always in two minds.  Do I review each story individually or the book as a whole?  I normally end up reviewing the book rather than the individual works, after all, who wants to read a 2500 word book review?!  I’m going to stick to form and review the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour as a whole.  However, I would like to say that it would be very easy to review each story individually.  In other collections, I have tended to find one or two stories where I wouldn’t know what to say.  That would not be the case with the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour, which is truly a magnificent collection of crime fiction.

Editor and contributor, Martin Edwards, introduces the book to the reader explaining how the participating writers were given the Mystery Tour theme with many interesting and different interpretations.  Then we are thrown head first into the first offering, written by Ann Cleeves and titled ‘The Queen of Mystery’.  I loved this story and thought it was a chilling yet elegant way to start the collection.  It made me want to read more, I wanted to know whether the high standard shown by Cleeves could be backed up by her fellow contributing writers.  And it could, it was.

If I listed every story I enjoyed then I would be basically giving you the contents page!  And I’m sure you don’t need me to do that.  ‘Accounting for Murder’ by Christine Poulson demonstrated a very different way of telling a crime story which I found incredibly interesting.  At points, I wondered how the tale was going to be tied up but it was done well and felt strangely satisfying.  My absolute favourite story in the entire book was written by William Ryan and is titled ‘The Spoils‘.  The tale of a woman wronged and how deadly that can be – absolutely marvellous!

One of the other benefits of reading an anthology, and I find this quite often in the crime genre, is that writers who produce a series tend to include a short story featuring their main character.  I was delighted to meet Ed James’s Detective Scott Cullen for the first time in ‘Travel is Dangerous’, having wanted to read James’s work for some time now.  The same with Vaseem Khan’s Inspector Chopra in ‘Bombay Brigadoon’.  Not only are these short stories very satisfying for existing fans but they work as excellent taster pieces for new readers.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  I could go on for hours telling you about the cleverly crafted tales, about the obvious love and devotion the writers have for their craft.  I could include how much I, personally, appreciate crime writers and want to thank each and every one of them for the hours of enjoyment they give us readers (me!).  I could, but I won’t today because I’ve gone on long enough already!  Maybe I’ll save that for another time.

I love international crime so this was pretty much the perfect read for me.  Chock-full of GREAT stories, written by some remarkably talented people and the perfect Christmas gift for the crime fiction fan in your life.  This is a must-read book.  Don’t miss out!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for asking me to join the tour and providing me with a review copy.

CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th November 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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#BlogTour | #Giveaway: Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl @OrendaBooks #OsloDetectives #NordicNoir

Faithless cover (1).jpg“Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back … and this time, it’s personal…

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her … and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again.

Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, Faithless is a breath-taking and atmospheric page-turner that marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Faithless blog tour.  I do love a bit of Nordic Noir and this new crime thriller from Kjella Ola Dahl is so far proving to be a hit amongst book bloggers and reviewers.  It’s published by the wonderful Orenda Books on 15th April 2017 so get those pre-orders in now.

To celebrate the release of Faithless I have a paperback copy of the book to giveaway to one of you lovely people.  All you need to do is click the rafflecopter link below and follow the instructions.

This giveaway is open internationally and not limited to the UK.  Giveaway will close at midnight (BST) on Saturday 8th April and the winner will be selected at random.  There is no cash alternative.  I will contact the winner and request their mailing address which will then be passed onto Orenda Books so the prize can be sent.  Failure to provide your mailing address will result in you forfeiting the prize and a new winner will be selected. I hope that’s clear.  All you need to do now is get clicking:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th April 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Deadly Game by Matt Johnson (@Matt_Johnson_UK) @OrendaBooks

Deadly Game cover.jpeg“Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.”

‘Utterly compelling and dripping with authenticity. This summer’s must-read thriller’ J S Law, author of Tenacity • ‘Nothing is clear-cut in a gripping labyrinthine plot, which – despite thrills and spills aplenty – never falls short of believable’ David Young, author of Stasi Child • ‘Terse, tense and vivid writing. Matt Johnson is a brilliant new name in the world of thrillers’ Peter James

FOR FANS OF Lee Child, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Brad Thor and Vince Flynn

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Deadly Game blog tour which I share with the very lovely Karen over at My Reading Corner.  Karen’s blog is one of my very favourites so please give her a follow, if you don’t already.

Deadly Game is the second book in the Robert Finlay series, is written by author Matt Johnson and published by the lovely folk at Orenda Books.  To celebrate it’s publication on 15th March 2017 I have a fabulous guest post from Matt Johnson to share with you (I do love a guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Matt…

Matt Johnson – a day in the life

As I looked forward to my retirement, I anticipated easy going days in front of the fire reading a book, time to pursue hobbies and catching up on those little jobs that I never seem to find the time to complete. I didn’t anticipate that I might start a new career.

When I sat down to have a go at writing a book, I really did think ‘How hard can it be?’ That shows how little I knew. With the book complete and, to my satisfaction, self-published, I sat back to enjoy the pocket money that appeared each month in my bank account. Then, everything changed. A published author read the book, his agent got in touch. I went up to London for ‘a chat’.

And now, two years later I have two books published by Orenda and a third in creation. I’ve been to festivals, events and book signings. I’ve given talks and have now been signed up – by the same agency representing Idris Elba – to do more public speaking. This is no longer the retirement I foresaw.

That said, I’m not complaining. Although I feel a little like a novice surfer riding a perfect wave that might crash down at any moment in an explosion of froth, I’m enjoying the ride. But my routine, well that has certainly changed.

Being a cop, I was used to being self-motivated and disciplined. Just as well, as it’s something you have to be when you spend your writing life on your own with only the dogs and your ‘imaginary friends’ for company. I never have been particularly good in the mornings – 6am starts in the Met were always a struggle – so I tend to start my day at about 8.

Almost without exception I start with a brew. It’s a habit that started in the military and continued in the police. Forty years later, it’s not going to change. Then, after a shower it’s out with the dogs, whatever the weather. I really enjoy walking, it clears the mind and sets you up for the day. If I have a plot idea to mull over or an idea comes to me I use the digital recorder that I normally carry. If I forget it, I fret until I can write as soon as I return home.

Working days start with email and social media. I like to clear this first so that once I start to write, I can continue without interruption. Writing can take many forms, sometimes it’s a talk, or an article. Other times it may be something such as a media campaign. It’s not always what I should be focusing on – the next book.

If I’m not in a frame of mind to write, I read. Not just books, I research on the net, read social media and read magazines.

Once writing, I hope to get into the groove. By that I mean the state of mind I believe all authors experience where you are away in this fictional world of your own creation, struggling to get the words down as fast as your imagination is forming them. When this happens, I lose track of time and woe betide anyone who telephones or calls at the house – I hate breaking off.

I tend to do my best creative work into the evenings, which means I don’t watch a great deal of television. I might break off for the news, or Match of the Day, but little else. Food? Well, that can be something of a luxury. I enjoy cooking, and a love eating. But managing the time to think about cooking? Now, that’s a much harder proposition. And, as the evening wears on, if I realise there won’t be enough time to explore the story thread I am working on, I write notes, an aide memoire to picking the story up the next day.

To write, I use an old pc. I sit at an oak desk – also old – on my favourite chair, also old. A bit like me, really. I swear if typewriters were capable of saving your work I would still be using one. I two-finger type, so not very fast and not terribly accurate. As a result, I have to do a lot of re-reading. But, that’s one thing I have learned – first drafts don’t need to be perfect, they just have to be written.

***

Brilliant post, thank you Matt.  Always interesting to see how an author organises their time and motivates themselves to write.

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Matt2016.jpegMatt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski (@ConcreteKraken) @OrendaBooks

SIX STORIES BF AW.indd“1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Six Stories blog tour which I share with the lovely Inge over at The Belgian Reviewer.  I am absolutely delighted because I CANNOT wait to talk to you about this book!  To say I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement. Now, Matt Wesolowski is a new author to me but I heard about this book towards the end of last year and instantly knew that I had to read it.  Matt’s background is predominantly in the horror genre so I knew this was going to be something special and by golly, it certainly was!

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that chilled me to the core.  I couldn’t, but I can now.  Six Stories took me to the edge and I absolutely flipping loved it.  I even felt the need to tweet about this book and see how others were finding it:

Ah, that need to discuss a book you’re loving.  I don’t think I’ve done that before.  I was thrilled to see a good number of replies from fellow bloggers and reviewers all saying how utterly absorbing and chilling they found this book.

I can’t begin to explain what it is about Six Stories that makes it such a sublime read (but I’m going to give it a go anyway!).  First off Matt Wesolowski is a master of unease.  He creates it and shapes it beautifully.  Normal, everyday people going about normal, everyday things…only for something completely unexpected to be added to the mix, something shocking.  You never know whether it’s safe to start breathing normally again or whether you should be bracing yourself for the next unexpected twist.  It’s almost impossible to know what to believe.  The evidence is all laid out before you, so that should be it right? Believe what you want to believe, I can’t tell you what’s right and what’s….well, read Six Stories for yourself and experience the book.  You won’t regret it.

I absolutely loved the format of this book which is completely different to anything else I have read of late.  The ‘witness’ podcasts are fascinating and incredibly easy to read which meant I stormed through this book, despite wanting to make each minute count.  I loved the conversational style of the podcasts and was looking for new clues in each statement.  I’m not sure I found any but I was certainly looking.  In between the podcast chapters are chapters relating to the experience and emotions of Harry Saint Clement-Ramsay who found the decaying corpse of Tom Jeffries one year after his disappearance.  Some chapters are in the past and explain why he and his upper class pals were out roaming Scarclaw Fell in the dead of night with dogs and lamps.  Others are in the present and detail Harry’s thoughts and feelings since the initial broadcast of the first podcast.  I felt these chapters really added to the story and were necessary – giving that extra vital background information.

I felt truly scared at points and heartily commend Matt Wesolowski for his use of tension.  The plot doesn’t really slow at any point and keeps you teetering on the edge.  I couldn’t get enough of this book and I can guarantee that I will read it again in the future (one of those rare books that gets a second read!).  Well, that’s if I can forget about Nanna Wrack in the meantime.  Creepiness at it’s very best!

Would I recommend this book?  Six Stories is my current favourite read of the year so far and it’s going to take an awful lot to knock it from it’s top spot.  It’s so different, so utterly unique that it deserves to be read by all crime thriller fans (and horror fans too!).  You’ll be missing out if you don’t pre-order this book today.  Go on, you know you want to.  Otherwise Nanna Wrack may pay you a visit….

Five out of five stars.

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

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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image001 (1)Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

Author Links:Orenda Books | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Cursed by Thomas Enger (@EngerThomas) @OrendaBooks

9781910633649.jpg“What secret would you kill to protect? When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

Today I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Cursed blog tour.  Cursed is written by Thomas Enger and is the fourth book in the Henning Juul series (but the first one I have read which should come as no surprise to regular visitors!).  I do love nordic noir and have previously indulged in the literary delights of Gunnar Staalesen, Agnes Ravatn and other talented Scandinavian authors.  So with this in mind, I was excited to read Cursed.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Thomas Enger has created a mesmerising tale which draws you in from the opening pages and keeps you glued to the story throughout; all the way to the thrilling conclusion. And what a way to end a novel!  I’m already champing at the bit for book five in the series.

My heart really went out to Henning Juul who I immediately liked.  Henning isn’t your usual crime thriller hero as he’s an investigative crime journalist and not a harried detective.  It was a refreshing change for me to be reading a novel which wasn’t set in the midst of a major police investigation.  The relationship between Henning and his ex-wife, Nora Klemetsen broke my heart at times.  And the tragedy suffered by the estranged couple I found a hard read.  Henning’s all-consuming desire to discover who was responsible for his young son’s death had me riveted and cheering him on from the comfort of my sofa.  Particularly with the introduction of Nora’s new partner, Iver and their earth shattering news.

There are many different threads to the story and it’s hard at times to see how they will all come together.  But come together they do in an explosive finale.  The pictures painted by the author are so clear that you can’t but help feel you’re there, living the action with them.

I loved the different characters of the Hellberg family.  Each one individual and each with their own secrets.  But how far are they prepared to go to keep those secrets?  Well, you’ll have to read Cursed for yourself and find out!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you’re anything like me and love to read books where at the centre of the crime you find a wealthy, secretive and controlling family then you will love Cursed.  Fantastic, believable characters…some you will love, some you will loathe.  Beautifully atmospheric, completely gripping and full of intrigue. Orenda Books, you have another gem of a novel on your shelf and I can’t wait for book five.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Cursed.  My thanks to Orenda Books for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Cursed by Thomas Enger (translated by Kari Dickson) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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(c) Ingrid Basso

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called THE EVIL LEGACY, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Author Links: Website | Twitter |