#BookReview: The Chain by Adrian McKinty @orionbooks @orion_crime @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheChain #DontBreaktheChain #damppebbles

the chain.jpg“VICTIM.
SURVIVOR.
ABDUCTOR.
CRIMINAL.
YOU WILL BECOME EACH ONE.

YOUR PHONE RINGS.

A STRANGER HAS KIDNAPPED YOUR CHILD.

TO FREE THEM YOU MUST ABDUCT SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

YOUR CHILD WILL BE RELEASED WHEN YOUR VICTIM’S PARENTS KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD.

IF ANY OF THESE THINGS DON’T HAPPEN:
YOUR CHILD WILL BE KILLED.”

YOU ARE NOW PART OF THE CHAIN

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Chain by Adrian McKinty blog tour.  I was given a free ARC copy of The Chain but that has in no way influenced my review.  My thanks to Leanne Oliver at Orion Books for being able to read minds and know this was a book I was desperate to get my mitts on and to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite.  This book is a corker.

I spend an awful lot of time on Twitter.  I’m not ashamed of that.  It’s part of being a book blogger and part of the job I do.  There are LOTS of books on Twitter.  It’s a total book-haven with something for everyone.  With that in mind, there are books I see and they don’t interest me (don’t get me wrong, I wish every success to the authors, publishers and everyone else involved – it’s just that I’m a psychological thriller and crime lover and if it doesn’t fall into that category then I let it pass me by).  Then there are the books I see and I know that I HAVE TO READ THEM.  Should I shout that a little louder? I KNOW I HAVE TO READ THEM!  The Chain by Adrian McKinty was one such book.  I saw a GIF.  The deal was done…

How often do you feel like you have a connection with a book before you’ve even read it?  To any of my blogger friends reading this, you may recognise this feeling.  Everyone is talking about a certain book and then the FOMO kicks in and you know you HAVE to read it.  It happens to me a few times a year.  And then the poor book sits on my shelf gathering dust for….well, however long it takes me to remember how much I REALLY wanted to read it.  The ‘gathering dust phase’ didn’t happen with The Chain.  I started reading it the same day it arrived.  I HAD to read this book immediately. I’m not even sure the book was completely out of the envelope before I made a start…

That premise.  How can you resist that premise? I know I couldn’t.  Are chain letters still a thing? I remember receiving a few when I was younger.  They didn’t invoke any kind of fear or compulsion in me.  The only thing they evoked was the desire to chuck the thing in the bin.  But what if the message you received meant your child had been kidnapped?  What if the only way to get your child back was to kidnap another child? And so on and so forth (#DontBreaktheChain).  To save your child you must become a kidnapper and turn another family’s life upside-down causing fear, heartache and untold trauma to so many.  And what if breaking the chain meant your child would die…?

That’s exactly the situation single mum, Rachel finds herself in after allowing her 13-year-old daughter, Kylie, to walk to the bus stop alone.  And there begins Rachel’s nightmare and the start of a compelling, high energy tale about the bad things good people are capable of doing when put under extreme amounts of pressure.  I loved it! It’s got everything you want; likeable and unlikeable characters (actually, the bad guys are pretty despicable characters in all fairness) and a flawless hook that won’t let you go even when you should really be doing ‘life stuff’.  Plus the writing is just wonderful.  Really, really top notch.

I really felt for Rachel but I’m still not sure if I liked her.  I kept wincing as another terrible scenario or choice was forced upon her.  If I could have read the book from behind my hands then I would have done.  Rachel was frequently put into impossible situations and I eagerly watched as she made the only decision she could whilst shaking my head and muttering ‘noooooooo…’ under my breath.  All the time reminding myself that ‘it’s just a book, it’s not real!’.  Exactly how far would YOU go to save your child?

Would I recommend this book? I certainly would.  It’s like nothing else you’ve read before and it will leave its mark on you.  The story is gripping from start to finish and the ending is very satisfying.  I wanted to race through this book yet savour every moment.  I haven’t read a book by Adrian McKinty before but I can guarantee The Chain won’t be the last title I pick up by this author.  A terrifying, edge-of-your-seat read which I highly recommend.  The Chain is going to be massive!

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

The Chain by Adrian McKinty was published in the UK by Orion Books on 9th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstones | BookDepositoryGoodreads |

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about-the-author3

adrian mckinty.jpgAdrian McKinty is a crime novelist from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

His books have won the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, the Ned Kelly Award and the Barry Award. Adrian is also a two time Dagger nominee and shortlistee for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year.

He studied law at Warwick University and philosophy at Oxford University before emigrating to New York City in the mid 90s.

Author Links:TwitterWebsiteFacebook |

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#BookReview: Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada #MurderInTheCrookedHouse #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (4/15)

murder in the crooked house“By the author of The Tokyo Zodiac Murders – a fiendish Japanese locked room mystery

The Crooked House sits on a snowbound cliff at the remote northern tip of Japan. A curious place to build a house, but even more curious is the house itself – a maze of sloping floors and strange staircases, full of bloodcurdling masks and uncanny dolls. When a guest is found murdered in seemingly impossible circumstances, the police are called. But they are unable to solve the puzzle, and more bizarre deaths follow.

Enter Kiyoshi Mitarai, the renowned sleuth. Surely if anyone can crack these cryptic murders it is him. But you have all the clues too – can you solve the mystery of the murders in The Crooked House first?”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada.  Murder in the Crooked House was written by Soji Shimada and published in Japanese in 1982.  It has since been updated and this translation by Louise Heal Kawai into English was published earlier this year by Pushkin Vertigo.  I received a free eARC of Murder in the Crooked House but this has in no way influenced my review.

I have a bit of a thing for Japanese crime fiction.  There are two standout novels which I always recommend to people.  One of these is The Tokyo Zodiac Murders which is also by Soji Shimada (and also published in English by Pushkin Vertigo).  I LOVED The Tokyo Zodiac Murders which was also Shimada’s debut.  So you can imagine my excitement when I saw Murder in the Crooked House, another locked room mystery, was available on NetGalley.  This was a must-read for me.  So much so, I added it to my #15BooksofSummer list to make sure I got it read sooner rather than later.

I wanted so desperately to love this novel as much as The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.  I certainly enjoyed parts of it and it bears a number of similarities to Shimada’s debut.  But it didn’t captivate me like the first book did.  Once again, you, the reader, are invited to solve the crime.  The clues are all there.  But can you solve the mystery and most importantly HOW the crimes were committed before the somewhat inefficient local detectives do.

I have to confess that towards the last half to a third, I started to lose interest a little and began skim reading sections.  These sections mostly seemed to be the local detectives discussing ANOTHER way the murders ‘could’ have been committed or ANOTHER possible MO they had dreamt up for the house-bound group of suspects.  The story then switches when a familiar detective is brought in to stop the dilly-dallying and make some arrests, Kiyoshi Mitarai from The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.  What I found surprisingly hard at this point was switching from third person to first person.  The entire book is told in third person up until this point.  I struggled to get my head around the change.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of a complex mystery and like to play the part of the detective and you have time on your hands then yes, absolutely, I recommend this book to you.  I’m putting a lot of how I feel about this book down to bad timing.  I should have put it to one side and come back to it at another time when there was less going on in my life.  My love for The Tokyo Zodiac Murders remains strong.  If you are looking for a Japanese mystery to read then I completely and utterly recommend you read The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Murder in the Crooked House.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada (trans. Louise Heal Kawai) was published in the UK by Pushkin Vertigo on 31st January 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesGoodreads |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

soji shimadaBorn in 1948 in Hiroshima prefecture, Soji Shimada has been dubbed the ‘God of Mystery’ by international audiences. A novelist, essayist and short-story writer, he made his literary debut in 1981 with The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, which was shortlisted for the Edogawa Rampo Prize. Blending classical detective fiction with grisly violence and elements of the occult, he has gone on to publish several highly acclaimed series of mystery fiction. He is the author of 100+ works in total. In 2009 Shimada received the prestigious Japan Mystery Literature Award in recognition of his life’s work.

 

 

#BookReview: Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear @ZaffreBooks #StoneColdHeart #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (3/15)

stone cold heart.jpg“A fractured marriage. A silent family. A secret worth killing for.

When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there’s not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him, but can’t – or won’t – give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it.

That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel, and Joseph is arrested for the murder.

Joseph says his wife is setting him up.
His wife says he didn’t do it.
The trail of evidence leads to even more questions . . .

Adulterer. Murderer. Victim. Who would you believe?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear – my third #15BooksofSummer review.  Stone Cold Heart is the second book in the Detective Cat Kinsella series (the first being the brilliant Sweet Little Lies) and it’s published in paperback today! Wishing the author and Zaffre, the publisher, the happiest of publication days.  I received a free eARC of Stone Cold Heart but this has in no way influenced my review.

I loved Sweet Little Lies so I have been eagerly waiting for this follow up novel to appear on my bookshelf. And oh boy, it did not disappoint! Caz Frear’s characters are utterly brilliant.  I fell a little bit in love with Cat Kinsella after reading the first book in the series but now, after book two, I’m totally smitten.  The way Frear writes her characters is so charming and with shedloads of warmth and humour that you can’t help but fall in love.

The team are called in to investigate the murder of 22-year-old, Naomi Lockhart.  Naomi hasn’t been seen since attending a fireworks party held by her boss at her home on Saturday night.  The team struggle to come up with any concrete links.  That is until Cat recognises a familiar face.  Joseph Madden, coffee shop owner and all-round creep.  Madden had cornered Cat earlier in the Summer and after his failed attempts at flirting with her, he confided that his wife was out to get him.  Cat, feeling it was no more than a lover’s tiff, advised Madden to report the incident to his local police station before making her excuses and NEVER volunteering to do the coffee run again!  But now Madden is their only suspect in the murder of Naomi Lockhart despite his repeated claims of innocence.  Will Cat be able to tie together all of the loose ends and make sure a killer is brought to justice…?

I love Cat Kinsella, I think I’ve already made that clear.  But I also love her supporting cast – particularly her DS, Luigi Parnell and her DCI, Kate Steele.  They are a brilliant team and one I want to return to again and again.  Parnell and Steele have a lot of history between them and it shows.  The way they both keep an eye out for newcomer, Cat, is just wonderful to witness.  Frear’s books have so far had brilliant plots to keep the reader gripped but oh boy, her characters are a delight.  It’s not just these three though.  Joseph Madden and his sliminess ooze from the page.  Cat’s father and her ‘uncle’ Frank both play a pivotal role in the book and you’re never really sure how much to trust either of them (definitely don’t trust Frank!).  And Cat’s gorgeous yet exasperated boyfriend, Aiden Doyle, who shows us Cat’s softer, more vulnerable side.  What a superb cast of characters!

This book can be read as a standalone.  However, there are several mentions made of Maryanne Doyle and the focus of the first book in the series, Sweet Little Lies.  The reader isn’t really given any details about this case but those involved are highlighted.  It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the story and if anything it will make you want to read Sweet Little Lies if you haven’t already done so!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Stone Cold Heart and Sweet Little Lies are both strongly recommended by me.  Frear has a way of writing believable characters, people you would want to hang out with at the pub after work (well, some of them anyway!).  I had a great time playing amateur detective with this one and, in the end, got it completely wrong…sort of.  I thoroughly enjoyed this compelling, character-driven police procedural and, if you’re a fan of crime fiction, I suggest you get yourself a copy and meet the brilliant DC Cat Kinsella for yourself.

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

Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 27th June 2019 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.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

caz frear.jpgCaz Frear grew up in Coventry, England, and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the second finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, and when she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

 

#BookReview: Black Summer by M.W. Craven @TheCrimeVault @LittleBrownUK #damppebbles #BlackSummer

black summer.jpg“After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.”

So weirdly, I don’t actually want to write this review.  I don’t want to write this review because once I do, that’s it.  My time with Black Summer has come to an end and I have to live with the fact that it’s going to be another year (I mean, c’mon!  A year??) before I can get my mitts on book 3 in the series, The Curator.  A whole YEAR without Tilly and Poe.

Anyway, I digress.  Black Summer is the second book in M.W. Craven’s Washington Poe series and it’s published in hardcover and eBook today.  Wishing the author and Constable, the publisher, a very happy publication day!  I received a free eARC of Black Summer but this has in no way influenced my review.

Oh.My.Goodness.  I have been waiting some time (…a year, maybe?) for this second Washington Poe novel and it was absolutely outstanding!  I would even go as far as saying it’s better than the brilliant The Puppet Show, which is no mean feat!  I couldn’t put it down, nor did I want to.  Every spare moment, no matter how small, was dedicated to reading this utterly marvellous book.  I am addicted to Tilly and Poe.  You’d be crazy to not get yourself a copy of this book, which can be read as a standalone, but why would you buy just one when you can also immerse yourself in the superb The Puppet Show as well!

The first standout thing about Black Summer is that it’s set within the culinary world and features a notorious three-Michelin starred celebrity chef, Jared Keaton.  I could be completely wrong but this felt like a fresh, new approach to me.  Something a bit different from the norm, which I loved. Keaton was found guilty of murdering his 18-year-old daughter, Elizabeth after Poe took the original investigation in a different direction.  With no body, very little evidence and a hastily washed away puddle of blood which was deemed ‘incompatible with life’ in the Bullace & Sloe kitchens, it came down to Poe’s testimony to put Keaton away for the murder.  But now Keaton’s ‘dead’ daughter has walked into Cumbria’s Alston library and sought out the local police officer.  With the evidence confirming beyond a shadow of a doubt that the woman is Elizabeth and an irrefutable chain of evidence, it’s down to Poe to prove against all odds that his gut was right all those years ago. Jared Keaton is a psychopath.

I love, love, loved Black Summer!  Can’t fault it.  This is exactly the type of crime fiction I want to read; clever, addictive and completely memorable.  Something that sucks you in from start to finish and then leaves you in mourning because it’s over and you want more!  I savoured every single word of this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  So much so that it is destined to be part of my ‘top books of 2019’ list and certainly a strong contender for the top spot!

Tilly and Poe go from strength to strength and their relationship (in the platonic sense – thank goodness!) has moved on since The Puppet Show.  They’re getting comfortable in each others company and it shows.  Tilly is less socially awkward but still a bright shining star in these wonderful books.  Poe is still, well…Poe – which I’m very glad about!  There are lots of brilliantly funny moments in Black Summer which I relished.  Little unexpected comments here and there which really added to my enjoyment of the novel.  Personally, I couldn’t see how Tilly and Poe were going to dig themselves out of this one (and I’m not saying they do, by the way) but it helps to have an uber-intelligent geek at the helm, right?

Would I recommend this book? Ha! You have to ask? Absolutely.  This and The Puppet Show.  Both are absolutely brilliant pieces of crime fiction which readers of the genre cannot afford to miss!  Thrilling from start to finish, I am still suffering from a book hangover a couple of weeks after finishing this one.  Believe the hype, people.  It really is THAT good.  Impossible to put down, totally unmissable and head and shoulders above nearly everything else in the same genre.  Craven has created something incredibly special here and I cannot wait for more from Tilly and Poe.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Black Summer.  The above review is my own, very enthusiastic, unbiased opinion.

Black Summer by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable (Little, Brown) on 20th June 2019 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio 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.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

16473225_743395339158440_999373164873613480_n (1)Although Mike Craven was born in Cumbria in 1968, he grew up in the North East, going to the same school as Newcastle and England centre-forward, Alan Shearer, before running away to join the army. He believes, but has no proof, that his little sister moved into his bedroom before the train had even left the station. He trained for two years as an armourer (that’s gunsmith to you and I) before spending the next ten being paid to travel the world and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.

In 1995, sick of writing postcards and having fun, he decided it might be time to do something a bit more sensible. And it doesn’t get more sensible than doing a law degree. So he did Social Work instead. Two years later, as pimply-faced, naive social worker he started working in Cumbria as a probation officer. Sixteen years, and a few promotions, later he is still there, although as a crime writer, he now has different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

Mike’s first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and will be out on 11th June, published by Caffeine Nights. His collection of short stories featuring Fluke and his colleagues from the Cumbrian Force Major Incident Team, Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything, is out now.

In March 2017 Mike signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown for his new Washington Poe series. The first book, The Puppet Show, was released under his new name, M .W. Craven, in June 2018.

In between joining the army and securing a publishing deal, Mike found time to have a pet crocodile, survive cancer, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He wanted to call him Gimli but was told to grow up. He lives in Carlisle where he tries to leave the house as little as possible and gets annoyed by people who say “it’s too cold to snow” and “watch that swan, its wings can break your arm”.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter |

#BookReview: Scrublands by Chris Hammer @Wildfirebks #Scrublands #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (1/15)

scrublands“In an isolated country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on his congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself.

A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals don’t fit with the accepted version of events.

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking discovery rocks the town. The bodies of two backpackers – missing since the time of the massacre – are found in the scrublands. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is the one in the spotlight.

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to uncover a truth that becomes more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.”

Welcome to the blog today and to my review of my first #15BooksofSummer read for 2019 – Scrublands by Chris Hammer.  Scrublands was published by Wildfire Books in January 2019 and is the author’s debut.

As soon as I saw this book I knew I had to read it.  Scrublands called out to me.  Probably because the blurb and the cover ooze that small town isolation I love so much in my novels.  What I didn’t consider was the setting and I should have (particularly with a book called Scrublands).  I’ve read a number of Australian crime fiction novels in the past and the vast, unrelenting Australian landscape always plays a part.  How can it not? It’s something us Brits just can’t comprehend in some respects.  It’s a character in its own right.  The scrublands surrounding the small town of Riversend are as much a part of this story as Martin, our main character, is.

Journalist, Martin Scarsden, is sent by his editor to Riversend.  A dying Australian country town suffering from a prolonged drought whilst trying to recover after a devastating shooting a year ago.  The perpetrator of the attack was the local priest who, without explanation, callously took the lives of a number of local men.  No one claims to know why the priest opened fire.  Martin has been tasked with getting to know the townsfolk and find out how Riversend is coping one year on from the tragedy.  What becomes perfectly clear to Martin is that some of the residents may know more than they’re letting on.  When a second tragedy strikes and the bodies of two backpackers are found, fingers start pointing back to the priest and his unexplained act of violence one year ago.  Once again Riversend and Martin are thrown into the media spotlight.  But someone is determined to keep the town’s secrets.  No matter what…

This is a slow burn of a novel and I have to be completely honest and confess that at times I was desperate for the story to move on a little faster.  Saying that the slow pace did feel appropriate to the setting.  I don’t think I could move particularly fast in scorching heat without a drop of water either!  This is a complex story with many threads running off in different directions but I found it fairly easy to follow what was going on.

Martin Scarsden is an interesting character and one I didn’t warm to (I’m not sure the reader is supposed to like him though).  His suffering of PTSD which is discussed at several points throughout the book made him a lot more ‘human’ in my eyes.  He suffers from a recurring nightmare where he relives a traumatic incident which spanned a number of days.  Yet beats himself up emotionally for being so ‘weak’ when others have suffered a great deal more.  At other times his desire for a story overrode every interaction and relationship, so I appreciated these more introspective moments.

The writing is beautiful and I was able to picture the scenes Hammer describes quite clearly in my mind.  There is one scene in particular where a fire starts in the scrubland near a small number of houses, destroying everything in its path.  The claustrophobic and disorientating black smoke, the fierce heat of the flames and the terror described by the author are of a cinematic quality.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes.  A close-knit community with secrets they want to keep hidden.  A prying journalist in their midst ready to expose the truth no matter what the ramifications and an unsolved mystery at the very heart of it all.  Recommended.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer was published in the UK by Wildfire Books on 11th July 2019 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.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

chris hammer.jpgChris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than 30 countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

His first book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award.

Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.

Author Links:Facebook |

 

#BookReview: Wilderness by B.E. Jones @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #Wilderness #damppebbles

Wilderness_25.jpegIt’s easy to die out there. It’s easy to kill too.

Two weeks, 1,500 miles, three opportunities for her husband to save his own life.

It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.

Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try to save their marriage. Maybe the roadtrip that they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks, just the two of them, would help heal the wounds.

But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges. Three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.

If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness. And if it’s easy to die, then it’s easy to kill too.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my review of a book which grabbed my attention the moment I set eyes on it.  Wilderness is the latest release from B.E. Jones and was published by Constable (Little, Brown) in ebook format on 4th April 2019.  The paperback is to follow next April.  I received a free eARC of Wilderness but that has in no way influenced my review.

I loved this book.  It’s the first book I’ve read by B.E. Jones but I can safely say that it won’t be the last.  Boy, can this author write a dark and dangerous character!  If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that I am a sucker for characters.  The plot and the setting (which are both brilliant in this novel, by the way)  can be ‘okay’ providing the characters stand tall and leap from the page.  I want living breathing people who make me feel something – that’s not asking too much, is it?  Wilderness is a cracking example of exactly how to write incredible, believable characters and also tick the all-important plot and setting boxes with confidence and flair!  I absolutely loved Liv.  I’m still not entirely sure I was supposed to love her as she’s very much a character on the edge.  But hey, I do like a dark undertone and it’s often the more complex creations who appeal to me more!

Liv and her husband, Will, are living the dream.  Following Will’s promotion, they up-sticks from picturesque Wales and move to the hustle and bustle of New York City.  Everything is perfect…until Liv discovers that her husband has been unfaithful with a colleague.  Will apologies for his error of judgement and promises it will never happen again.  And then it does.  Liv is utterly heartbroken and enraged by the deceit and immediately starts to plan her revenge.  One ‘dream’ holiday to America’s national parks and three chances for Will to prove he’s sorry.  If he fails, well…..sometimes terrible accidents happen in the wilderness, don’t they?

The plot, the characters, the setting, the cover, the blurb – I loved absolutely everything about this book.  It’s very likely it will feature in my top 10 books of the year list in December.  Liv is pushed to her absolute limit  – the repercussions of which were fascinating to watch.  I couldn’t look away as she slowly unravelled before my eyes and I HAD to find out how the story would end.  It’s not often I wish for a happy ending in my books but I was desperate for life to turn out OK for Liv.  Does it? Well, you’ll have to get hold of a copy of Wilderness and find out for yourself.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.  It’s one that shouldn’t be missed and the perfect Summer holiday read partly due to the fabulous setting (maybe not the murders!).  Speaking of the setting, I loved how the author conveyed the stark contrast between the two locations in the US.  You have the wide open space of the national parks versus the built up and somewhat claustrophobic feeling of New York City.  It’s all so beautifully written that you can’t help but ‘live’ the locations with the characters.  An absolute joy to read! Highly recommended.

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

Wilderness by B.E. Jones was published by in the UK by Constable on 4th April and is available in eBook format (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.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

photo of BevBeverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today.

She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Wilderness, her sixth crime novel follows the release of Halfway by Little Brown in 2018.

Bev’s previous releases, Where She Went, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e books.

Author Links: TwitterFacebookInstagramWebsite |

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead Inside by Noelle Holten @KillerReads #DeadInside #damppebbles

46902123_2290495507850861_1185184031919046656_nThe killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Dead Inside blog tour.  Dead Inside is one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2019.  Partly due to the fact the blurb sounds brilliant and partly due to the fact that the author is the fabulous Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie.  I received a free eARC of Dead Inside via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

Dead Inside is the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series set in Staffordshire, and Noelle Holten’s debut.  From the harrowing prologue to the books big reveal, I was on the edge of my seat.  What shines from the pages is the author’s knowledge of her subject matter having worked as a senior probation officer for many years.  I’m guessing that Noelle has probably seen it all!  I also found the probation aspects of the storyline absolutely fascinating as I can’t bring to mind another crime novel that focusses so strongly on this particular part of the criminal justice system.

Following a particularly difficult case involving the apprehension of a serial killer, DC Maggie Jamieson is temporarily transferred to the new Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit (DAHU).  Not long into her first shift she and her colleagues are called to investigate a murder.  The victim is a known offender with a history of violence towards his partners.  The attack seems personal and all avenues need to be investigated so PC Mark Fielding gets in touch with probation officer, Lucy Sherwood.  As the story progressed I found myself focussing less on the police team and more on Lucy.  Lucy lives a double life.  By day she’s a kick-ass probation officer staring down the most hardened criminals.  By night she returns home to her vile, abusive husband who torments her physically and emotionally.  My heart broke for the character.  Trapped because she had convinced herself that staying in the relationship would be the best thing for her husband’s young daughter.  This may be the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series but Maggie isn’t in the spotlight here.  It’s all about Lucy, just as it should be.

The other characters in the book are a good mix of people you warm to and people you instantly loathe (it’s really not hard to loathe the abusers in this book!).  I did struggle a little at times with the characters names as the author has used the names of several book bloggers, people I know in ‘real life’.  I found it difficult to picture the character without seeing the ‘real life’ person.  Holten isn’t the first person to do this – it happens a lot – but the number of names used is far greater in Dead Inside.  I felt I had to try a little harder to visualise someone different in my mind.

The big reveal was a complete shock and one I really didn’t expect.  But I loved it!  It felt so satisfying.  The way the situation was also dealt with by the characters involved was also brilliant.  I loved the total lack of shame or reproach – wonderful stuff!  I was able to guess where another of the big storylines was going but I thoroughly enjoyed the way it played out and knowing what was coming didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  It’s a great start to what promises to be an exciting new series written by an exciting new talent in crime fiction.  The ending of Dead Inside is set up beautifully for book two in the series and I’m already very intrigued.  I can’t wait to get my mitts on a copy.  A compelling read with some fascinating characters at its heart.  Emotional, raw and a complete page-turner.  Recommended.

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

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 31st May 2019 and is available in eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in August (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.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

#DeadInside B L O G T O U R

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screenshot-2018-12-03-at-13-14-311Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Author Links: FacebookTwitterBlogInstagram |

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Whisper Man by Alex North @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 #TheWhisperMan #damppebbles

the whisper man.jpg“If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window…”

Hello bookish friends – welcome to the blog and to my stop on The Whisper Man blog tour.  The Whisper Man by Alex North is set to be published by Michael Joseph in hardcover, audio and eBook formats on 13th June, with the paperback to follow later in the Summer.  Let me tell you now, this is a book you need to get a copy of!  I received a free ARC copy of The Whisper Man but this has in no way influenced my review.

Well, this is an absolutely cracking read and a strong contender for my book of the year!  You know when you see a book and you just know, without any shadow of a doubt, that you’re going to LOVE it.  That happened to me at a crime fiction festival last year when I won a book.  I could choose between this and another title.  A very naughty publicist (who shall remain nameless) talked me into taking a different book against my better judgement and since then I have been hankering after a copy of The Whisper Man.  I haven’t read the other book yet, by the way, and it’s got some awesome reviews.  I was drawn to this one though and should have gone with my gut!

This a wonderfully creepy and dark read which I powered through – probably quicker than anything else I’ve read this year.  There’s a definite horror vibe about it which just added to my overall enjoyment of the book.  But what I loved most were our lead characters, Tom and Jake, who absolutely shone from the pages.  Tom and his 7-year-old son, Jake, don’t have the easiest of relationships.  Rebecca; wife, mother and the glue which held the family together, died suddenly leaving the pair of them to fend for themselves.  Jake discovered his mum’s body slumped at the bottom of the stairs.  Something that would traumatise most adults. He misses his mum terribly and has a new found fear of the stairs.  Which is why Tom decides a fresh start is what they need.  They leave the painful memories and the frightening stairs behind and move to the sleepy village of Featherbank.  But Featherbank has a dark past of its own.  The Whisper Man killed a number of young boys fifteen years ago.  And now another boy has gone missing.  Bewildered by Jake’s behaviour normally, Tom is even more confused when Jake starts acting even stranger…

I absolutely loved this book and will be sending people barmy by recommending it all of the time!  The characters are just superb.  I loved Tom and my heart ached for little Jake (I have kids around the same age) but there are other equally as brilliant characters in this book.  I have to mention DI Pete Willis who I adored.  A man with many regrets and forever searching for the one boy he couldn’t find.  He has a troubled past which he tortures himself with on a daily basis and deals with an addiction which he takes one step at a time.  Then there’s Frank Carter, an evil psychopath who revels in his past as The Whisper Man and who longs to be remembered for what damage he did.  Brilliant, just brilliant!

You need this book in your life.  It’s brilliantly creepy, edgy and chock full of surprises.  I was totally smitten from the moment I read the first page.  The characters are outstanding, the plot hooks you in in a matter of minutes and the writing is just sublime.  Not forgetting the seemingly-quaint yet overwhelmingly sinister setting of Featherbank.  This book has definitely left its mark on me.  I loved it and it’s going to take something extra special to knock it off the top spot.

Would I recommend this book? You have to ask…?!  Most definitely.  It gave me chills and made my heart ache for Tom, Jake and their struggling relationship.  Full of some of the most memorable characters I have ever met in a book – I loved it (do say if I’m repeating myself!).  Completely unforgettable, impossible to put down and absolutely everything I want from a book.  I am in love.

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

The Whisper Man by Alex North was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 13th June 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats with the paperback to follow in August (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.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

Whisper Man Blog Tour Banner

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Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department.

Author Links:Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor @ZaffreBooks #TheDangerousKind #damppebbles #1in100People @Tr4cyF3nt0n

the dangerous kind

“Perfect for fans of Anatomy of A Scandal, He Said/She Said, and Belinda Bauer,The Dangerous Kind is at once a gripping thriller and a stunning portrayal of the monsters that live among us.

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck. These people hide in plain sight, they can be teachers, doctors, holding positions of trust, of power.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.

But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into a web of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the safety of her own family.”

Woah, that was one hell of a ride!

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Dangerous Kind blog tour. The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor and was published in hardback on 16th May 2019 by Zaffre Books. I received a free ARC of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

I need to rewind a little here first. Back in June 2016, a mere six months into my ‘career’ (if I can call it that!) as a book blogger, I was invited to join a blog tour for a debut Bonnier Zaffre author and her book, My Husband’s Son. I wasn’t able to review at the time (although I did at a later date) so offered to host a guest post instead. And what a guest post it was. It nearly broke my poor little WordPress blog. It still, to this day, gets regular hits. Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it before: The Bugaboo in the hall: Does having kids make it harder to be a writer? It’s so heartfelt, so wonderfully honest and I fell a little bit in love with it.

But what a gigantic leap Deborah O’Connor has made from her terrific debut to this, her latest book which is being billed as the thriller of the year. Uncomfortable, unsettling and so incredibly different to what came before. It’s a dark tale and, I’ll be perfectly honest, I found it hard to read at times due to the distressing subject matter but blimey – what a book! The Dangerous Kind is a multi-layered story of modern times and the terrible, destructive things adults can do. A highly emotional read but one which will stay with me for time to come.

Jessamine Gooch is a radio broadcaster who hosts a late night crime show. Potentially Dangerous People takes a retrospective look at past crimes and asks if it was possible to stop the act from being committed. Were there warning signs in the perpetrator’s behaviour? Could measures have been taken to intervene and stop the violence before the atrocity took place? Jessamine is a well-known broadcaster so she isn’t surprised when she is cornered outside Broadcasting House by a fan. Except the fan wants more than an autograph. Her friend, Cassie Scolari, has gone missing. Cassie’s husband has a history of abuse and Marnie is convinced he has something to do with Cassie’s sudden disappearance. Jessamine knows not to get involved, although her curiosity is piqued. She can’t help but wonder what happened to Cassie when life changes dramatically for her. With time on her hands, Jessamine starts to dig into Cassie’s past only to make some startling discoveries. Focussing on her investigation, Jessamine neglects to notice that her own daughter, Sarah, is starting a dangerous relationship of her own…

Chapters are told either in the modern day, in a specific character’s voice, or are flashback chapters set in the early 00s. The flashback chapters, which are mostly narrated by Rowena, are harrowing and the ones I found the most difficult to read. Although my heart broke on several occasions, O’Connor has pitched it just right. I was disgusted by the goings-on, yet I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. However, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The subject matter is distressing but the author has masterfully told her story in a compelling, sympathetic and non-gratuitous way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, O’Connor has made such a massive leap from her debut to The Dangerous Kind. This book gave me shivers and has left its mark on me for a long time to come. Oh, how I wept at one particular scene (I can feel myself welling up just typing this). The Dangerous Kind is an incredibly brave piece of fiction and absolutely devastating. Superb!

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 16th May 2019 and is available in hardback, audio and ebook format (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 |

Deborah O Connor Blogtour FINAL

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deborah o'connor.jpg

Deborah O’Connor read English at Newnham College, Cambridge before going on to become a television producer. Having worked on everything from The Big Breakfast to Big Brother she produced the BAFTA award-winning poetry documentary Off By Heart and is currently the head of factual development at TV production company, CPL.

Born and bred in the North-East of England, she now lives in East London with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #YourDeepestFear #damppebbles

Your Deepest Fear

“‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband.

As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife. Taking the investigation into her own hands, Sara is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected.

For Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted ways imaginable . . .”

The warmest of welcomes to the blog today and to my stop on the Your Deepest Fear blog tour which is also publication day! Wishing David Jackson and the Zaffre team the happiest of publication days. Your Deepest Fear is available to purchase in hardcover and eBook today! I received a free eARC of the book but that has in no way influenced my review.

If you’re new to damppebbles then there is one thing you should know. I LOVE (LOVE, LOVE!) the DS Nathan Cody series from David Jackson. It’s one of my two absolute favourite, must read, OMG there’s a new book coming out – put life on hold, series. I have been a huge fan of Cody and Jackson’s brilliant writing, since the first book. You can check out my reviews of the first three here: A Tapping at My Door, Hope to Die and Don’t Make a Sound.

I’ve given every single book in this series five out of five stars so far, so that’s a lot of pressure on Your Deepest Fear. I won’t keep you in suspense; this is another blinder of a novel which I devoured. And, of course, another cracking five-star read. You just can’t go wrong with the DS Cody series.

I love the relationship between DS Cody and his DC, Megan Webley. The plots Jackson selects for his books are always exciting and total page-turners, but his characters (and I’m including the supporting characters here too) are absolutely outstanding. They live and breathe in my head as Jackson paints the scene for me. Cody and Webley are my absolute favourite fictional crime-fighting duo – without a doubt.

The pair have been through a lot together (including being a couple at one point) and the chemistry between them really adds to the books. I did miss Megan a little in Your Deepest Fear. She was very much present and part of the main storyline but the focus of the novel meant that the interaction between the two wasn’t at the forefront of the story. Flipping heck, this one was Cody’s battle and oh boy, he fought it alone.

And what a battle it was! If you’re new to this series then Your Deepest Fear can be read as a standalone as Jackson provides enough background that new readers should have a good idea of what has gone before. But by coming straight in at book four you will be missing out. Do yourself a favour and just purchase all four books in the series in one hit (it must be payday soon, right?). You can thank me later 😉.  Anyway, I digress.  Cody has a battalion of evil little demons which have been gnawing away at his mental health and hanging over him like a rather unwelcome storm cloud since book one.  I feel Your Deepest Fear is the book readers of this series have been waiting for a while now as Cody is put into some pretty frightening situations and has to face up to the fact that his life will never be the same again.  He also to make some pretty horrific decisions so we get to see the kind of man he really is. I was on the edge of my seat throughout and read with trepidation.  I had everything crossed that Cody would come out of the end of this book in one piece.  Does he? Well, you’ll have to find that out for yourself.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, and all of the other books in the series as well.  If you’re a crime fiction fan then you need these books in your life.  This is another gripping addition to a thoroughly enjoyable, top-notch series.  I would even go as far as saying this is the best book in the series (despite the lack of Megan Webley).  Highly, highly recommended.

I chose to read and review Your Deepest Fear.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 16th May 2019 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (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.ukamazon.comBookDepositoryWaterstonesGoodreads |

David Jackson Blogtour Poster 2

about-the-author3

david jacksonI was a latecomer to fiction writing, having spent most of my adult life producing academic papers and reports. After some limited success entering short story competitions, I submitted the first few chapters of a novel to the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. To my great surprise, the book was not only short-listed but given the Highly Commended accolade, which stimulated the interest of agents and publishers and eventually led to the publication of PARIAH. Since then, I have written several more crime thrillers, the most recent of which are set in my birth city of Liverpool. I still have a day job in Liverpool as a university academic, but now live on the Wirral with my wife, two daughters and a British Shorthair cat called Mr Tumnus.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |