#BookReview: Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan @ZaffreBooks #CutToTheBone #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

cut to the bone“One Missing Girl. Two Million Suspects.

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls.

And she’s missing . . .

But she’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely?

Until the video’s uploaded . . .

Ruby, in the dirt, pleading for her life.

Enter Detective Inspector Kate Riley; the Met’s rising star and the head of a new team of investigators with the best resources money can buy. Among them, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris, the poster boy for multiracial policing. But can Kate wholly trust him – and more importantly, can she trust herself around him?

As hysteria builds amongst the press and Ruby’s millions of fans, Kate and her team are under pressure to get results, and fast, but as they soon discover, the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much darker than anyone could have imagined.

And the videos keep coming . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my ninth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan. Cut to the Bone was published by Twenty7 on 14th July 2016 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Cut to the Bone but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh my goodness, there is so much going on in this book which makes it a wild ride for the reader! And this is a debut, which is quite mind-blowing. Cut to the Bone didn’t have that tentative, first steps feel about it at all. Caan has obviously been perfecting his craft for some time and it really shows in this, his first novel.

Detective Inspector Kate Riley is called in the middle of the night to attend to a missing persons case. The young woman, a popular vlogger called Ruby Day, has only been missing a few hours but her parents are distraught. The call comes from Justin Hope, the Police Crime Commissioner for Westminster, and Kate can’t understand why her team who normally deal with the most heinous of crimes in London, are being involved. Then a video arrives which shows Ruby running for her life. Ruby is in terrible danger and it’s down to DI Riley and her elite team of investigators to find out where the vlogger is, before it’s too late…

The investigation into Ruby’s disappearance is great but what really made this a riveting read for me were the characters and the team dynamics. There are a number of rather repugnant, self-important people in this book who are rubbing alongside the determined, gutsy investigators. Special Operations Executive Unit Three is a no-holds-barred, money-is-no-object elite unit of investigators, headed up by slimy, career-driven, wannabe politician, Justin Hope. He made my skin crawl and I loved it! Reporting directly to Hope is Detective Inspector Kate Riley who, after leaving the US in a bid to escape a very personal threat, has her own problems at home. Initially, the reader isn’t told exactly what happened to Riley in her past to make her move to the UK, nor what her home situation is, but we’re given short, sharp glimpses which made me question what the heck was going on with her.

And then there’s DS Zain Harris who is cocky and arrogant but I couldn’t help but have a soft spot for him. Again, Harris has a traumatic past which is referred to often and given to the reader in dribs and drabs until you have the whole shocking picture. His loyalties don’t necessarily lie with DI Riley, he knowingly steps on the toes of his colleagues proving his tech far outshines theirs, but he proves himself to have a heart and will stop at nothing to solve the case. I wasn’t sure of him to start with but by the end of the book, I was a Harris fan!

The other members of the team felt a more cohesive unit but that’s not surprising because Harris is the new boy, out to prove himself. They’re a solid bunch of well fleshed out characters who each bring something interesting to the table. The plot is well thought out and takes you down numerous avenues of investigation before the team finally start to get somewhere. But that’s police work, right? Always searching for the means, motive and opportunity which will stick!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I really enjoyed Cut to the Bone and the time I spent with Riley and Harris. It’s a dark and edgy police procedural which shows the devastating effects of social media and obsession. Taking you places you won’t initially expect, this hard-hitting debut is one to add to the TBR if you’re a fan of crime fiction. Recommended.

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

Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan was published in the UK by Twenty7 on 14th July 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

20-books

about-the-author3

Alex Caan was born in Manchester, has spent over a decade working in information systems security for a number of government organisations, and is currently specialising in Terrorism Studies. A lifetime passion for writing was sparked by the encouraging words of an English teacher in school, and eventually led to Alex successfully completing an MA in Creative Writing and completing his first novel Cut to the Bone. The sequel, First to Die was published on 14th June 2018.

#BookReview: The Secret by Katerina Diamond @AvonBooksUK #TheSecret #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the secret“Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back – of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets?

As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter.

And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my fifth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Secret by Katerina Diamond. The Secret is the second book in Diamond’s DS Imogen Grey series and was published in all formats by Avon Books on 20th October 2016. I received a free eARC of The Secret but that has in no way influenced my review.

I confess, I’m a terrible book blogger. I read The Teacher (the first book in the DS Grey series) in 2017 and despite really enjoying it, I completely failed to review it. I read it shortly before my first massive reading slump (I can assure you, it was NOT the cause) and then never went back to write down my thoughts. I do regret that, as this series feels elevated from many of the run of the mill police procedurals out there. Diamond has no fear. She’s quite happy to shock and stun her audience with her graphic descriptions and the acts of violence her characters carry out. Which, of course, I absolutely love. I’m a reader who doesn’t shy away from a more brutal crime fiction novel. In fact, I wish more authors were as fearless as Diamond is, and were prepared to push the situations their characters find themselves in a little more.

Having recently returned to work, DS Imogen Grey and her partner, DS Adrian Miles, are tasked with finding a missing woman, Bridget Reid. Bridget was last seen by a hapless bystander half-conscious on the bank of a river after being pursued by two men. Both Grey and Miles know that they’re against the clock and they need to find Bridget soon, before the unthinkable happens. But their investigation grinds to a halt and they struggle to find a direction. As they dig deeper, more and more horrifying secrets are unearthed. Can they find Bridget alive, before it’s too late…?

This book is so much darker than the cover leads you to believe, and I kinda like that. With its grisly opening and it’s fast-paced story, led by a strong and gutsy female lead, it’s hard to not get sucked into this book from the get-go. Whether you’ll end up liking Detective Grey is another matter altogether but I think I’m certainly warming to her. One of the things I remember from reading the first book – The Teacher – was that I liked DS Adrian Miles more than Grey. But the more I get to know this character, the more I like what she’s about.

The story is multi-layered with lots going on to keep your interest. Everybody has a secret to some degree in this novel. There are chapters set in the present which follow the current investigation in Exeter with DS Grey and DS Miles. Then there are chapters set in the past – two years previous – which follow DS Grey and another officer, DS Sam Brown, on a different investigation in Plymouth. The reader discovers so much about Imogen and her past in this book, which I really enjoyed. Then there are some quite harrowing chapters from a young boy throughout the years who is unnamed but we get to follow him as his domineering and violent father carries out his despicable plans.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would but it’s not for the squeamish. There are some pretty grisly scenes in The Secret which I loved! The constant shift from the past to the present was a little disorientating at times, particularly if I had put the book down for a few hours before returning to it. But sitting here cogitating on the novel as a whole, I really enjoyed it and have since been able to piece the different aspects together. All in all, a very entertaining read and I really look forward to catching up with Grey and Miles again soon. Recommended.

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

The Secret by Katerina Diamond was published in the UK by Avon Books on 20th October 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Goodreads | Book Depository |

20-books

about-the-author3

Katerina DiamondKaterina is the author of the Sunday Times Best Selling Exeter based crime thriller series – starting with ‘The Teacher’ and followed by The Secret, The Angel, The Promise and Truth or Die. Katerina is currently working on her seventh novel which is a standalone.

Katerina also runs the facebook book group CRIME SUSPECT with several other crime authors.

Katerina currently lives in East Kent. Katerina was born in Weston-super-Mare and has lived in various places since including Greece, Cyprus, Derby, East London and Exeter. Katerina watches way too much TV.

#BookReview: Blood Lines by Angela Marsons @bookouture #BloodLines #DetectiveKimStone #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

blood lines

“How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?

A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…

A totally gripping thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page to the final, dramatic twist.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. It’s good to see you! Today I am delighted to be sharing my fourth 20 Books of Summer review with you and it’s for Blood Lines by Angela Marsons. Blood Lines is the fifth book in the absolutely excellent Detective Kim Stone series, it was published by Bookouture on 4th November 2016 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Blood Lines but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’m ashamed to admit that the Detective Kim Stone series by the incredibly talented Angela Marsons is another crime fiction series I’ve fallen behind with. (I’ve also discovered, which has thrown a rather massive spanner in the works, that I’ve managed to miss a book out 😲. Not a problem, it can be rectified, but…doh! I have an awful lot of catching up to do anyway as currently, there are 12 books in the series!) It’s been a while since I last spent time with Kim and the team but reading Blood Lines was like catching up with old friends you haven’t seen for years. It felt as though no time had passed and I was straight back into the heart of the investigation with this small but elite team.

Kim and her team are called to investigate a brutal murder carried out by a cold-blooded, professional killer. The body of a highly considered social worker is found in her car with a single, precise stab wound to the chest. Why someone would kill Deanna Brightman is anyone’s guess. But then a second body is discovered and despite the same kill method, the victims are polar opposites. This time the victim is a young drug addict. What connects these two women? Kim and the team are baffled and desperately search for a sliver of a clue to help piece together who would commit such an atrocious crime on two such different individuals. But Kim is distracted. Having received a letter from her nemesis, the despicable Dr Alexandra Thorne, Kim’s attention isn’t 100% on the investigation. Will the team discover what connects the victims, before it’s too late…?

Holy moly, there’s a lot going on in this book! Not only does Detective Kim Stone have to deal with a tricky murder investigation, there’s the very dark and ominous threat of Kim’s arch-enemy, the absolutely brilliant and dastardly Alex Thorne, to contend with as well. Thorne is locked up tight in Drake Hall Prison but that doesn’t stop her evil, meddling ways – no siree! She’s such a brilliantly written character who not only gets under Kim’s skin, but the reader’s skin as well. I loved the chapters where Kim visits Thorne in prison. There’s so much power play and manipulation between the two women and I found myself getting totally lost in Marsons’ words and characters.

The investigation in Blood Lines is really interesting and I struggled, along with the team, to see what the connection between the victims was. I was, of course, playing amateur sleuth but I’m delighted to say I failed miserably and the big reveal was a complete surprise. I felt the reader discovered a lot more about Kim in this book, which I personally, really enjoyed. Reference has been made to her traumatic childhood in previous novels and her intense hatred of her mother, but the reader finds out so much more in Blood Lines than we’ve been party to in past novels. I’ve always been fond of Detective Kim Stone but I really respect and admire the character more having read this book.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Even though I’ve only read up to book five (minus one in the middle somewhere….😬) I would heartily recommend this entire series. Marsons is an incredibly talented writer and this is such a clever and accomplished series. There’s always a twist in the tale, an extra surprise thrown in to take your breath away and I love that about Marsons’s books. Edgy, compelling reading which is 100% entertaining from start to finish. Highly recommended.

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

Blood Lines by Angela Marsons was published in the UK by Bookouture on 4th November 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

20-books

about-the-author3

Angela Marsons

Angela Marsons is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of the DI Kim Stone series and her books have sold more than 4 million in 5 years.

She lives in Worcestershire with her partner and their 2 cheeky Golden Retrievers.

#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 |

about-the-author3

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 |

about-the-author3

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 |

about-the-author3

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 |

about-the-author3

susie steiner.jpg

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

about-the-author3

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.

20-books

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 |

about the author3

rod reynolds.jpg

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 |