#BookReview: Witness by Caroline Mitchell @AmazonPub #Witness #damppebbles

witness“To Rebecca it was a brave decision that led to her freedom from domestic abuse. To Solomon it was the ultimate betrayal.

It’s been ten years since Rebecca’s testimony saw Solomon locked away. Enough time for the nightmares to recede, the nerves to relax; enough time to rebuild her life and put the past behind her.

Then one day a phone rings in her bedroom—but it’s not her phone. Solomon has been in her home, and has a very simple message for her: for each of the ten years he has spent in jail, Rebecca must witness a crime. And, to make matters worse, she has to choose the victims.

Fail to respond and you get hurt. Talk to the police and you die. Ready to play? You have sixty seconds to decide…

As the crimes grow more severe, the victims closer to home, Rebecca is forced to confront a past she had hoped was gone forever.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be sharing my review of Witness by Caroline Mitchell with you today. Witness was published by Thomas & Mercer on 20th December 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I received a free eARC copy of Witness from NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I loved this book and I’m kicking myself that it’s taken me so long to read it! If you’re a writer or an aspiring writer then give this book a read as it’s a wonderful example of how to write a truly despicable villain. Solomon Kemp made my blood boil and wormed his horrible, manipulative way under my skin. Absolutely brilliant stuff! I’m a fan of Mitchell’s writing and I’ve read a number of her novels (The Silent Twin | Death Note | Sleep Tight | Murder Game | Silent Victim) so I know a Caroline Mitchell novel will always be hugely entertaining with well-written characters and twists and turns galore. Witness was no exception.

Finally escaping her abusive relationship and leaving her ex-fiance to rot in prison, Rebecca is starting to put her life back together. She’s moved to a sleepy town in Wales, changed her appearance and has apprehensively started a new relationship. But her ex, Solomon, is not the kind of man to forget and spends his time locked up plotting and planning his revenge following Rebecca’s testimony. On his release ten years later, Solomon starts to play a game with Rebecca, who is now happily married with a four-year-old daughter. Rebecca is a silent witness to ten terrible crimes – one for each year Solomon spent in prison. She must nominate the victim and then stand and watch as the crime happens before her very eyes. Call the police and she will die. Solomon is in control, just as he likes it! As the crimes increase in seriousness and get closer to home, Rebecca has to confront her past and the secrets she holds, before it’s too late…

I absolutely loved the concept of this book; ten crimes of different severity, the victim decided by our likeable protagonist, a dastardly manipulator pulling all the strings. Wonderful stuff! Mitchell’s writing hooked me in from the get-go and I savoured every minute of this book. When I wasn’t reading it, I wanted to be back in the story.

The story is told from three perspectives; Rebecca in the present, Solomon in the present, and Rebecca’s diary entries before Solomon’s arrest ten years ago. The diary entries are tense reading and certain scenes made me shudder with repulsion. The lengths Solomon goes to to get what he wants is a real eye-opener and Rebecca’s slow demise is heart-breaking. She loses everything, including her freedom and the reader can’t help but feel for this poor woman who is completely trapped within a real-life nightmare.

I really liked Rebecca but I did struggle a little with how easily she accepted the situation and Solomon’s game. She also felt a little naive to me at times but perhaps she had to be for the story to flow as well as it did. I did work out which direction the story was heading from the end of the prologue but I wasn’t 100% sure and the book was so darn entertaining, that I didn’t really care if I was right! Solomon is the stuff nightmares are made of. Controlling, manipulative, deluded and a total bully. I thought he was a perfect creation and so incredibly well-written. I could feel Rebecca’s fear of him, along with Solomon’s hatred and his palpable anger. Marvellous stuff!

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Mitchell has done it again with another chilling page-turner of a book and I can’t wait to read more from this wonderful author. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers then make sure this one goes on the TBR. Thoroughly entertaining, edge of your seat stuff and I loved it! Highly recommended.

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

Witness by Caroline Mitchell was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 20th December 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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caroline mitchellUSA Today and Global #1 Bestselling Thriller Author.

Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time.

Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston trilogy is described as terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers.

Caroline also writes psychological thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim, has been described as ‘brilliantly gripping and deliciously creepy’. Her new DI Amy Winter series is published by Thomas & Mercer.

 

#BookReview: Duplicity by Sibel Hodge @AmazonPub #Duplicity #damppebbles

duplicity.jpg“There are three sides to every story: Yours. Mine. And the truth…

Max and Alissa have a fairy tale life—newlywed, madly in love and enviously rich. Then Max is brutally stabbed to death at their home and Alissa, miraculously, escapes with her life. But why was she spared?

The hunt for the killer begins, uncovering a number of leads—was Max’s incredible wealth the motive? Had his shady business practices finally caught up with him? Or was it a stalker with a dangerous obsession?

Devoted friends rally around gentle, sweet Alissa as she is left to mourn the loss of her husband and pick up her life. But not everyone is who they seem…Deep-rooted jealousies, secrets and twisted love lie just beneath the surface, and not all fairy tales have a happy ending.

Duplicity is a suspenseful thriller from the bestselling author of Look Behind You and Where the Memories Lie.”

Welcome to the blog today and to my review of Duplicity by Sibel Hodge. I’ve decided, seeing as we’re all going to be housebound before long, that I’m going to make a concerted effort to reduce the number of books on my NetGalley shelf. Now, I will be the first to admit that I’m a terrible blogger. I have a NetGalley shelf which is at breaking point because I request too many books and then don’t read them fast enough. Duplicity is one of many books which have been sitting waiting patiently for me. Having read it, I’m now asking why it took me so darn long! I received a free eARC of Duplicity but that has in no way influenced my review.

At its core, Duplicity has a very interesting plot twist which is quite different to everything else I have read over the years. Hodge has put a fresh and different spin on what could be classed, by some people (not saying I’m one of them), as a genre that’s starting to tire a little, maybe become a little samey…? (Not me though, I wouldn’t say that.) I was merrily making my way through this book then BAM! I was knocked sideways and had to pick myself up off the floor. WTF!? There’s not a lot more that I can say on that really. I would hate to ruin this story for other readers as it’s so shocking, so…’WOAH!’… that if you have any kind of inkling as to what’s coming then it could lessen the impact of what I promise will be one of the most memorable twists you’ve read.

So we’ve ascertained that I can’t talk about the plot. So let’s move onto the charact…..oh. Wait. I can’t really say anything about them either. The story is told from two points of view; The Detective, who in this case is DS Carter and The Other One. There’s not a lot I can say about The Other One. This is going to turn into the shortest review I’ve ever written for the blog as there’s so much you need to discover for yourself and I hate spoilers. So here’s what I can tell you….

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Duplicity is a must-read for all psychological thriller fans, particularly if you are looking for something a little bit different. With bucketloads of suspense, it will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Despite being an unreviewable book! This is the first book I’ve read by Hodge but I can guarantee it won’t be the last! It’s easy to see why she has so many dedicated fans who will happily bite your hand off for a copy of one of her books. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

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

Duplicity by Sibel Hodge was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 27th December 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | WaterstonesFoyles | Book DepositoryGoodreads |

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sibel hodge.jpgSibel Hodge is the author of the #1 Bestsellers Look Behind You, Untouchable, Duplicity, Into the Darkness, and Their Last Breath. Her books have sold over one million copies and are international bestsellers in the UK, USA, Australia, France, Canada and Germany. She writes in an eclectic mix of genres, and is a passionate human and animal rights advocate.

Her work has been nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, including the Harry Bowling Prize, the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition, The Romance Reviews’ prize for Best Novel with Romantic Elements and Indie Book Bargains’ Best Indie Book of 2012 in two categories. She was the winner of Best Children’s Book in the 2013 eFestival of Words; nominated for the 2015 BigAl’s Books and Pals Young Adult Readers’ Choice Award; winner of the Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Book from a Series Award in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013; winner of the Readers’ Favorite Young Adult (Coming of Age) Honorable award in 2015; a New Adult finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s International Digital Awards 2015, 2017 International Thriller Writers Award finalist for Best E-book Original Novel, Honorable Mention Award Winner in the USA 2018 Reader’s Choice Awards, winner of the No 1 Best Thriller in the Top Shelf Magazine Indie Book Awards 2018, and Silver Medal Award Winner in the 2019 Readers’ Favorite Thriller – Conspiracy genre! Her novella Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave has been listed as one of the top forty books about human rights by Accredited Online Colleges.

For Sibel’s latest book releases, giveaways and gossip, sign up to her newsletter at http://www.sibelhodge.com/contact-followme.php.

#BookReview: All Fall Down by Tom Bale @bookouture #AllFallDown #damppebbles

all fall down.jpg“You tried to save a life. Now you’re fighting to save your own.

It’s the perfect Sunday. Summer sunshine, a barbecue with the kids. 
But a knock on the garden gate and two words, ‘HELP ME’, changes everything.

When loving parents Rob and Wendy Turner let a dying man into their home, and do their best to help him, they think pure chance led him to their house. But soon their lives are threatened in ways they could never have imagined … and then the first anonymous letter arrives, forcing them to question all they know. 

Someone is watching.
Someone is waiting.
They will stop at nothing.

Rob and Wendy will do anything to keep their family safe, but their children Georgia, Josh and Evan are teenagers now, with their own hidden lives. 

Everyone has secrets, but how can you save your family, if you don’t really know them?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles.  I am delighted to be reviewing the tense and twisty All Fall Down by Tom Bale today.  All Fall Down was published by Bookouture in September 2016 and is available in paperback, ebook and audio formats.  I received a free eARC of this book via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I read and reviewed Tom Bale’s See How They Run shortly after starting my blog over three years ago and rather enjoyed it.  All Fall Down had a lot to live up to and I am delighted to confirm that it didn’t disappoint at all.  In fact, it surpassed my expectations with jaw-dropping scene after jaw-dropping scene as the story reached its climax.  I love Bale’s books in that respect.  His characters are so beautifully, brilliantly normal but they somehow end up in the most terrifying, heart-stopping scenarios.

Rob and Wendy Turner and two of their three teenage children are spending a sunny Summer afternoon in the garden enjoying a Barbecue.  Pretty normal, right? Until someone starts banging on their fence, pleading to be let in.  Their gut reaction is to help so they fling the gate open only for a badly beaten man to stagger into their garden.  They try their best to save him with their basic first aid skills but he dies.  What they believe was a chance encounter turns out to be anything but.  What secrets are the family hiding?  And could they be deadly…?

I thoroughly enjoyed All Fall Down.  The plot is gripping and moves at a good pace to keep the reader turning the pages.  The characters are superb and you feel as though you’re living the nightmare with the Turner family.  The story took off in directions I never expected and for that, I loved this book.  There were so many highlights.  There were also a number of uncomfortable moments which made my skin crawl, all brilliantly written.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would.  If you like to read about extraordinary things happening to normal people then you will love All Fall Down.  The only quibble I had was that the end felt a little drawn out.  I would have liked everything tied up a little quicker but that’s just me.  All in all, a compelling page-turner of a family thriller which kept me spellbound from start to finish.

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

All Fall Down by Tom Bale was published in the UK by Bookouture on 1st September 2016 and is available in paperback, audio 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.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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tom bale.jpgTom Bale worked in a variety of jobs (and also had a demanding spell as a househusband) before realising his lifelong ambition to be a full-time writer. He is the author of nine novels including the bestsellers SEE HOW THEY RUN and ALL FALL DOWN. His latest book, ONE DARK NIGHT, is available now. A keen cyclist and sea swimmer, he lives in Brighton.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebook |

#BookReview: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner @BoroughPress #MissingPresumed #damppebbles

missing presumed.jpg

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. Missing, Presumed was published by The Borough Press in 2016. I received a free eARC of this book via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

Erin Kelly describes this book as beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more. Missing, Presumed feels quite different to other books in the genre. Steiner presents a pretty bleak story but with such style and eloquence that you can’t help but be captivated. This is a slow burn police procedural with a less than perfect detective set in a wintery Cambridgeshire. There was a heck of a lot of buzz about this book when it was first published so I knew I just had to read a copy and find out more. I’m very glad I did.

DS Manon Bradshaw made this book shine for me. On the verge of hitting the big ‘four-oh’ Manon is determined to find a husband (I’m sure a committed partner would be enough in all honesty, lol!). She’s fed up with her life and feeling so lonely, so turns to internet dating to find Mister Right. Only finding Mister Very Wrong, Mister Oh No and Mister You Must Be Joking! Falling asleep every night to the crackle and hiss of her ‘borrowed’ police scanner. When Edith Hind is reported missing Manon is one of the first to hear the report over her scanner, and it’s only around the corner so she gets dressed and heads out into the chilly night. What she finds is a scene that causes some concern; the coats in the hallway are disturbed, the front door is open, Edith’s phone and keys have been left behind and there are a few ominous looking blood spots in the kitchen. An investigation to find missing Edith is launched led by Manon’s Major Incident Team but they’re aware time is running out. When it’s revealed the missing woman is the daughter of Lord Ian Hind, physician to the Queen and is good friends with the Home Secretary, the team know the case is going to be big news. Can Manon and the team find the missing woman before it’s too late…?

The book is written from multiple viewpoints which include Edith’s mother, Miriam, Manon and a wonderful colleague of Manon’s, DC Davy Walker. I loved Davy – what a nice young chap! Manon’s DI, Harriet Harper, is also a great character I loved the relationship between the two of them. I didn’t like any of the Hinds who all come across as pompous, self-serving, self-entitled fools. Even the devastated Miriam failed to stir any sympathy within me. The other character I loved was Fly, a young boy who, having lost his brother, is taken under Manon’s wing. Their relationship absolutely blossoms and it’s a joy to watch.

The investigation was slow going and at times I would have liked things to happen a little quicker. The reveal was quite a shocker but I relished it. It was very satisfying and I wouldn’t have wanted the book to end any other way with hindsight.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It’s beautifully written and a wonderful character driven novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by Susie Steiner. An intriguing mystery with a wonderfully flawed lead character who I hope to see a lot more of in the future.

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

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner was published in the UK by The Borough Press on 25th August 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio 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 | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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Susie grew up in north London, studied English at university and trained as a journalist. She worked in newspapers for 20 years, 11 of them on staff at The Guardian. Her first novel, Homecoming, was published by Faber & Faber to critical acclaim in 2013. Her second, Missing, Presumed was a Sunday Times bestseller which introduced detective Manon Bradshaw. It was a Richard & Judy book club pick and has sold 250,000 copies to date in the UK. Missing, Presumed was selected as one of the Guardian’s, Wall Street Journal’s and NPR’s standout books of 2016. It was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year 2017. Persons Unknown, the sequel to Missing, Presumed, is her third novel – also a Richard & Judy book club pick and also long-listed for the Theakstons. The third in the Manon trilogy is called Loss of Life and is due out in May 2020. Susie has written extensively about losing her eyesight to Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is registered fully blind and lives in London with her husband and two children.

Author image and biog © http://www.susiesteiner.co.uk/

Author Images: | Website | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek (trans. by Jamie Lee Searle) #TheNightwalker #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (6/15)

the nightwalker“As a young man, Leon Nader suffered from insomnia. As a nightwalker, he even turned to violence during his nocturnal excursions and had psychiatric treatment for his condition. Eventually, he was convinced he had been cured – but one day, years later, Leon’s wife disappears from their flat under mysterious circumstances. Could it be that his illness has broken out again?

In order to find out how he behaves in his sleep, Leon fits a movement activated camera to his forehead – and when he looks at the video the next morning he makes a discovery that bursts the borders of his imagination. His nocturnal personality goes through a door that is totally unknown to him and descends into the darkness….”

Hello book fans. Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek – translated by Jamie Lee Searle, the sixth book in my #15BooksofSummer challenge.  The Nightwalker was published by Sphere on 28th July 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook formats.  If you’ve been following my blog for some time and you have a very VERY good memory you may remember my husband’s brilliant Christmas gift to me several years ago.  The Nightwalker was one of the books he chose.

My husband knows me well (thankfully!) and is aware of my love of translated crime fiction, particularly German and Japanese novels.  Sebastian Fitzek is my favourite German author and I have read a number of his translated books (and all before damppebbles.com existed!).  This was quite different though.  It was plodding along at an enjoyable pace without the usual twists and turns I was used to in a Fitzek novel. And then things kinda took an odd turn. I say ‘kinda’, there’s no bones about it, it definitely went off on a tangent I never expected.  I have to confess I was a little lost at points.  But the confusion was sort of fun.  It’s a very clever book and I would love to know how the author managed to construct such a twisty tale – where the ideas came from and how he managed to plot it just so.  I feel the need to draw similarities to Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter in some respects.

Leon is a fascinating character with a long, disturbing history of sleepwalking.  One particular event sent alarm bells ringing for me.  We’ve all heard of the tales (possibly myths) of sleepwalkers committing murder in their sleep.  That’s not quite what happened to Leon but it wasn’t far off.  But he’s had extensive treatment for the condition and his life has improved.  That is until the morning he wakes and his wife has left him.  Fearing his old habits are back with a vengeance Leon straps a motion-activated camera to his head and records his nightly meanderings.  Watching the video back the next morning blows his mind.  Sleeping Leon finds a hidden door, descends a ladder and enters an unknown world.

I’m not going to say anything else about the plot.  All I will do is advise you to pick up a copy of this somewhat mind-blowing book and read it for yourself.  There are many things I’m still trying to get my head around in this novel but I found it immensely interesting that the author has taken something we all do, but know so little about and written this wonderfully odd thriller about it.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But I will suggest picking up other Sebastian Fitzek novels before this one as it felt quite different to his other books and I’m still not 100% sure how I fully feel about it (I finished reading the book in mid-June and I’m writing this review on 31st July!).  I felt a little giddy reading The Nightwalker but ‘good’ giddy.  ‘Something a bit different and verging on out of my comfort zone’ giddy.  Interesting. Very, very interesting.

The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek was published in the UK by Sphere on 28th July 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio 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.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

15 books of summer

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Sebastian Fitzek was born in Berlin in 1971. After going to law school and being promoted to LL.D., he decided against a juridical profession for a creative occupation in the media. After the traineeship at a private radio station, he switched to the competition as head of entertainment and became chief editor, later on, thereafter becoming an independent executive consultant and format developer for numerous media companies in Europe. He lives in Berlin and is currently working in the programme management of a major capital radio station.

Author Links: TwitterWebsiteFacebook |

#BookReview: The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds (@Rod_WR) @FaberBooks @1stMondayCrime #CharlieYates #TheDarkInside #20BooksofSummer

the dark inside

“1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.

But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre.”

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!? There I was, merrily reading my way through Rod Reynolds’s brilliant debut The Dark Inside, one of my #20BooksofSummer, when I received an email from the fabulous First Monday team. Turns out Rod Reynolds is moderating the September panel after it’s Summer break. How perfect is that?! It was meant to be. Not only do you get my review of this wonderful book, I can also tell you all about September’s First Monday panel as well, AND I’m another book down in my #20BooksofSummer challenge. Result!

It’s 1946 and journalist Charlie Yates is on a slippery slope to losing his job. His boss doesn’t like him and wants rid. So he sends him to Texarkana on a hopeless mission to investigate and report on a number of murders. Charlie’s not happy, he knows he’s on a fool’s errand. Who in New York, where he’s based, is going to care about a couple of murders in Texarkana? But as he starts to dig deeper into the lives of Texarkana’s hostile residents Charlie realises that, actually, he cares – particularly as the number of victims mounts and someone he knows is suffering. But Charlie is no detective, and he’s hated by his Texarkana colleagues and the local law enforcement departments. With everything against him, will Charlie succeed where others are failing time and time again…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I don’t read a lot of historical crime but this is by far the best I have read for some time. I have a love of Americana in general but particularly crime fiction set in small-town America, so I found The Dark Inside a compelling and engrossing read. Although I should say that I am conflicted here because although the setting had a wonderful, ominous, claustrophobic, small-town feel to it I don’t actually know if Texarkana is small (having never been to that part of the US). With it’s crossing of state lines – partly in Texas, partly in Arkansas – it certainly feels, now that I’m away from the book, a vast and foreboding area.

Charlie Yates is a very appealing character. Despite his flaws, his dogged determination to stop the murders and find out what secrets Texarkana and its tight-lipped community held, put me firmly in his corner. Although he’s not entirely spurred on by a desperate need to fight crime; his motivations come in a more womanly form. Yates manages to surround himself with some dark and devious characters, many of whom I had at some point pinned down as the murderer. However, there was one character I would have put money on being involved. Whether they are or not is for me to know and for you to find out!

Would I recommend this book? I would. This is the first book in the Charlie Yates series and the author’s debut. Which makes this assured mystery with its wonderful setting and cast of despicable characters all the more impressive. I cannot wait to read Black Night Falling now, the next in the series. Devilishly clever, utterly consuming and wonderfully dark. A really terrific piece of historical crime fiction.

Four and a half stars out of five.

Rod Reynolds will be moderating the September First Monday Crime panel on Monday 3rd September 2018. Rod will be appearing alongside Clare Mackintosh, Beth Lewis Lucy Atkins and Vicky Newham. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 3rd September at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

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The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds was published in the UK by Faber Books on 7th April 2016 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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After a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, Rod Reynolds took City University’s two-year MA in crime writing, where he started The Dark Inside, his first Charlie Yates mystery. This was followed by the second book in the series, Black Night Falling, in 2016. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: Valentina by S.E. Lynes (@SELynesAuthor) @bookouture #Valentina #mustread

valentina.jpg“When city girl Shona moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, she believes that all that lies ahead for her family is happiness.

But with Mikey working long hours away from home, the frightening isolation of the Scottish countryside begins to get to Shona. She feels lonely and trapped.

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. Valentina enters Shona’s life like a whirlwind, bringing excitement and spontaneity to replace boredom and fear.

Now Shona has the perfect home, the perfect man, and the perfect new best friend – or does she?

As Shona’s fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood outside becomes the least of her fears…”

I’ve recently returned home from my holiday in North Wales.  We had a wonderful time but oh boy, there was ZERO wifi.  I spent just over a week completely offline (it was tough!).  When I returned I discovered that one of my all-time favourite books had been republished by the mighty Bookouture, yay!  The incredible Valentina by S.E. Lynes has been given a fabulous make-over.  So what better opportunity to repost my review and make sure YOU get yourself a copy of this incredible book.  Here’s my review from June 2016…

This is an exceptional novel.  There is something truly wonderful and special about it.  It’s fair to say I loved this book.  It sent chills down my spine and I couldn’t put it down.  This is S E Lynes debut and I am so excited to see what else she has in store for us.

Shona and Mikey are madly in love and expecting their first little bundle of joy. Being a responsible father-to-be Mikey finds himself a job working on the oil rigs off the coast of Scotland.  Shona begrudgingly packs up her old life and her job, says goodbye to her friends and family and follows Mikey to deepest, darkest Aberdeenshire.  It’s OK though, she has the most beautiful house to spend her days in.  Mikey’s work rota means that he’s away two weeks out of four so it’s not long before loneliness starts to creep in.  She has Isla, her baby daughter, but babies aren’t all that good at conversation!

Thankfully she meets spirited Valentina.  She’s full of life, charismatic and Shona’s saviour.  But how well does Shona really know Valentina?  Is she the answer to her prayers, or the epitome of her nightmares….?

I love how Shona is written.  A few chapters into the book and I felt I was sat in the pub chatting to a friend.  That’s how well S E Lynes has written her, she became real to me.  As I progressed through the book I wanted everything to turn out well for Shona.  Does it? Well, you’ll have to read Valentina and find out for yourself.

The plot is so very clever and quite intricate.  It was a joy to read this book and I struggled to focus on anything else as it had my full attention.  When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the characters and wondering what was going to happen next.  I even explained the plot to my husband (I don’t think he could work out why I was explaining it to him) but it was because I wanted to talk about the book with someone!  It really gets under your skin.

This is a dark story about loneliness and what we accept to be the truth.  The one thing I will say, I was a touch disappointed by the closing chapters. I wanted a little more ‘omph’ but I still loved the story and the authors style.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  A very deserving five out of five stars from me.  It’s dark, totally compelling and full of shady characters.  There’s a sense of foreboding you get from the very beginning which stays with you until the very end. Completely enticing, once you start reading you will struggle to stop.  I loved it!  As I said earlier, if this is the first offering from S E Lynes, I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next.

In answer to my pondering, S.E. Lynes had two other stonking novels up her sleeve (Mother and The Pact) with a fourth (The Proposal) due to be published in September!  I am delighted to have an eARC of The Proposal on my Kindle so look out for a review (plus a fantastic #damppebblestakeover post from the author herself!) coming your way soon.

Valentina by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 13th August 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

S E Lynes Author PhotoAfter graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#CaseClosed: #June2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove #20BooksofSummer

Hello my bookish friends. You nearly caught me out there, I was convinced Sunday was the last day of June! It’s currently Friday evening and I had sat down to a lovely chilled glass of wine after a busy week, only for the penny to drop – and cue one chilled out Emma dashing from the sofa ‘a là comedy moment stylee’ and flinging open the laptop. It’s true, I could have left posting until Sunday but that’s not how these things work and I would have been waaaaaay too twitchy. But it’s OK, everything is OK…phew!

A very warm welcome to June’s #CaseClosed post and for the first time, a #20BooksofSummer update. June has been an odd month at damppebbles HQ. I’ve been reading like crazy but the blog has been relatively quiet. I’ve even read two books this month that I haven’t (shock, horror!) reviewed. What has happened to me?!

During June I took part in five blog tours:

Four posts were reviews:
When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith | Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin | The Date by Louise Jensen | After He’s Gone by Jane Isaac |

And one was a guest post:
A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni |

I also managed a number of other reviews and posts:
Rubicon by Ian Patrick (book review) | Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett (cover reveal) | The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (book review) | The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond (book review) | Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge (book review) | The Caller by Chris Carter (book review) |

Plus I can’t forget to include the two books I have chosen not to review; a short collection from a well-known author and a crime thriller.

Here’s how my #20BooksofSummer list currently looks:
The Rule of Fear by Luke Delaney
The White Road by Sarah Lotz
Unsub by Meg Gardiner
Watching Edie by Camilla Way
The Dark Inside (Charlie Yates #1) by Rod Reynolds
The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
The Nightstalker by Sebastian Fitzek
Perfect Remains by Helen Fields
Rattle by Fiona Cummins
Sirens (Aiden Waits #1) by Joseph Knox
The Caller (Detective Robert Hunter #8) by Chris Carter
Heartman by M.P. Wright
Hide and Seek (DI Helen Grace #6) by M.J. Arlidge
Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Normal by Graeme Cameron
Blood City by Douglas Skelton
Cut To The Bone by Alex Caan
Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Not off to the best start but I hope to improve on that during July. I have a couple of books coming up that I would like to get reviewed for publication day, along with ONE blog tour read. Yup, just the one. Nothing scheduled for August at the moment so I’m feeling positive – I CAN DO THIS!

damppebbles blog tours has the MOST exciting week ahead. I have organised four absolutely cracking blog tours next week; three starting on Monday and one starting on Thursday. If you’re not already on my blogger database then please do sign up. And if you’re a crime author looking to promote your book then maybe I can help ➡️ damppebbles blog tours.

Which leaves only one thing left to do.

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My book of the month for June is…….

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The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven

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“I have a bit of a thing for serial killer novels. They’re my favourite, particularly if they are a smidge on the gory side as well (which this book is). I also thoroughly enjoy books which make you think the plot is heading one way and then totally flips things over and makes you gasp in surprise when you end up somewhere you didn’t expect (which again, this book did). Another thing I love is a cast of well-written, individual, stand out characters who all add something to the story (yup, that’s The Puppet Show). I loved this book.

“Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely. If you’re a fan of crime fiction, if you can stomach a drop of blood or a pool of melted human fat (OK, it is a little grisly in places and you may need a slightly stronger stomach than I’ve alluded to in this paragraph, but for me I loved the gruesome touches to this book. Plus the author provides a wealth of information about burns and the effect of fire on a human body) then you will enjoy this well-written, engrossing crime thriller. I struggled to put it down and I’m left wanting more Washington Poe and more Tilly Bradshaw. I can’t wait for the next instalment.”

So there we have it! I can’t wait to find out what my book of July will be (although I do have a sneaking suspicion. I won’t say any more at this point!). That’s it from me for this month. Make sure you join me on Friday 6th July as I have a rather fabulous cover reveal to share with you. It’s an Orenda Books book, it’s written by Steph Broadribb and it features a certain bounty hunter (girl crush swoon!). Don’t miss it!

#BookReview: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge @MichaelJBooks #DIHelenGrace #HideandSeek #20BooksofSummer

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“Prison is no place for a detective
Helen Grace was one of the country’s best police investigators.
Now she’s behind bars with the killers she caught.

Framed for murder
She knows there is only way out:
stay alive until her trial and somehow prove her innocence.

Locked up with a killer
But when a mutilated body is found in the cell next door,
Helen fears her days are numbered.

A murderer is on the loose.  And she must find them.  Before she’s next . . .”

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog you may be aware that I am a MASSIVE fan of a strong, kick-ass female lead character. Particularly police officers; senior female coppers are one of my favourite hooks when it comes to crime fiction. So when I decided to take on the 20 Books of Summer challenge it seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up with a few of my favourite detectives and with a number of series that I have unfortunately unwittingly fallen behind on.

DI Helen Grace has always been a firm favourite of mine. Hide and Seek is the sixth book in the DI Helen Grace series and my new favourite. Despite reading book five in the series, Little Boy Blue over two years ago, the plot and that breathtaking ending have been playing on my mind. Yes, it’s true, I have spent the last two years wondering about the general health and well-being of a fictional character! Book blogger problems taken to a whole new level, maybe?!

If you’re new to this series let me tell you, it is incredibly difficult to start this review as anything I say, anything I hint at could be (is) a massive spoiler regarding a previous book (the massive spoiler is also mentioned in the blurb so don’t look 🙈)! I will be as vague as possible and hope you don’t mind. Helen Grace finds herself somewhere no copper wants to be, in an environment as hostile as they come. I could make a couple of witty puns about a fall from ‘Grace’ but I won’t torture you, dear reader. I have been champing at the bit to find out what was going to happen to our battered and bruised hero and all I can say is wow, just WOW! I loved the environment Arlidge has immersed his lead character in, I really enjoyed the motley cast of characters she met on her journey into the pits of Hell and I’m sorry, I’m going to say it, I loved Helen’s fall from ‘Grace’, dangit!

Whilst Helen is otherwise engaged, her right-hand woman the tenacious DS Charlie Brooks, is out trying to right a few wrongs. The two plots run seamlessly alongside one another and I was compelled to keep turning the pages, flitting between the two investigations at breakneck speed. I had a fair idea of whodunit from early on in the book but I was completely wrong. The author has added some very believable red herrings which I fell for; hook, line and sinker.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s true – this is my favourite DI Helen Grace adventure so far. However, I’m not sure this book will work all that well as a standalone. There is a heck of a lot of history that won’t necessarily make sense to readers starting with Hide and Seek. My advice would be to start at the beginning and get to know Helen Grace from book one. I guarantee you will fall head over heels in love with her, just like I did. Oh, and don’t read the blurb. It gives far too much away in my opinion 😉

Four and a half stars out of five.

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Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 29th December 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including the prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and Silent Witness. Arlidge also pilots original crime series for both UK and US networks. In 2015 his audio exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a Number One bestseller.

His first thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek, and Love Me Not.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and bio © https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/m-j-arlidge/96806/

#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.