#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten @0neMoreChapter_ @BOTBSPublicity #DeadWrong #damppebbles

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“The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…

DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller.

Three missing women running out of time…

They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life.

The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…

But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town.

Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find.

Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…”

Hello bookish friends and welcome to a brand new week on damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the blog tour to celebrate the paperback release of the second book in Noelle Holten’s DC Maggie Jamieson series, Dead Wrong. Dead Wrong was published by One More Chapter in paperback format on Thursday 14th May 2020 (it’s also available in digital format and audiobook, if that’s more your thing). I received a free digital copy of the book via NetGalley which has in no way influenced my review.

I read Holten’s debut – Dead Inside – last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I was excited to get my mitts on the second book in the series and catch up with the tenacious DC Jamieson once again. This time she’s back on home soil and reunited with her Major and Organised Crime Department colleagues at Stafford Police Station. Leaving behind the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Team she was seconded to in Dead Inside, Maggie is thrown straight in the deep end when the severed remains of a woman are discovered. But these remains instantly throw the biggest case and arrest in Maggie’s career into question. For these are the remains of Lorraine Rugman, one of the three victims notorious serial killer, Bill Raven, confessed to killing several years ago. Forensics confirm that Lorraine’s murder was recent — so why did Raven confess to the killings in the first place when it’s clear he wasn’t responsible? Who killed Lorraine, and can they be stopped before they kill again…?

Dead Wrong is a twisty cat and mouse police procedural and I was hooked from start to finish. The story revolves around whether convicted serial killer, Bill Raven, is actually a serial killer and whether he should have been convicted (by our dogged and determined detective constable, of course!) of the crimes he confessed to. Maggie knows the truth and there’s no way she’s going to let Raven walk free. But the rest of the team are looking at things from a different angle and analysing the little evidence they have, which frustrates Maggie no end. The plot is so well thought out and once again Holten totally flummoxed me as I didn’t have a clue where the story was going.

The team spend a large proportion of time chasing their tails, pondering the very little evidence they have and telling Maggie to stop being so obsessed with Raven and his mind games. I loved this as it allowed more of the characters’ personalities to shine through. We get to see a lot more of Maggie in this second book but one character does not a police procedural make. The other characters are just as important and they all add something to the story, no matter how fleeting their appearance. I really warmed to DI Abigail Rutherford and found her a strong and formidable personality (if a little tetchy at times, but I love tetchy!). I hope we see a lot more of her in future.

I think the standout character for me in the novel though is Bill Raven who likes nothing more than playing clever mind games and tormenting poor Maggie at every given opportunity. Winding her up and watching her burn whilst her colleagues shake their heads in dismay at her ever-so-slightly obsessive behaviour. As a reader you know he’s bad news, but you can’t help but doubt whether he’s part of the killings. After all, he’s been locked up in prison for a couple of years now. It doesn’t make any sense!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a well-written, tense and gritty crime novel. I’m particularly looking forward to reading the third book in the series following the brilliantly shocking twist at the end of Dead Wrong. I certainly didn’t see that one coming!! If you haven’t read the first book in the series then fret not, Dead Wrong can easily be read as a standalone. Holten is definitely one to watch. Recommended.

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

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 14th May 2020 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 | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Noelle 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 was 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, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.

Dead Inside is her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Instagram |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Paper Soldiers by Mark Pettinger (@m_pettinger) @cobaltdinosaur #PaperSoldiers #damppebbles

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“The streets of Greater Manchester are awash with drugs and weapons, and the gangs that control this multi-million pound business will stop at nothing to protect and grow their business. The Dolsen family are one such gang.

When the head of a rival Yardie gang is found brutally murdered, revenge attacks were always likely to follow, and gang members were unlikely to be the only ones hurt.

DCI Priest teams up with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA); but they soon admit to conflicting objectives which may unravel their alliance, and prove to it be more of a hindrance than a help.

Was DCI Priest was about to undertake his most challenging investigation to date?”

Hello and welcome to another damppebbles takeover by me, Ryan. I’m back (but not in a ‘The Shining’ type way!). Every now and again Emma talks about a book that she is organising a tour for and I’m intrigued! It sounds interesting and that is exactly what happened with Paper Soldiers by Mark Pettinger! Something about the blurb said ‘read me!’ so I asked very nicely and here I am! I received a free digital copy of Paper Soldiers but that has in no way influenced my review.

So after an all-action blurb featuring guns, drugs, murder and gangs, did the book live up its summary? Absolutely! DCI Priest is a fantastic curmudgeonly, dry humoured and intelligent lead detective consumed in a tough investigation. The team around him form a strong cast. Stephens and Simkins have fantastic interplay, with the right level of support and point-scoring off each other that you would expect from a team that has bonded together over a period of time. The added realism of junior officers trying to impress, or displaying incompetence, really added to the atmosphere that Pettinger develops. I should say I have not read the first two books in the series – The Decalogue or Tick Tock Time’s up – but that didn’t stop me loving this novel, and left me wanting to read more!

When a gang leader is discovered murdered, the police quickly come to realise this isn’t going to be a stand-alone killing. They are sure the murder will lead to revenge killings and they expect there will be in-fighting as the gang finds its new leader. Calling in experts to bring the team (and reader) up to speed on drug gangs in the Manchester area, the team soon realise that this could go on a lot longer than anyone wants. A couple getting gunned down on the streets of their city is just part of the growing body count, and no-one wants to talk to the Police. So it’s uphill all the way for Priest and his team!

I mentioned that Priest is a curmudgeon but he is also sarcastic and not afraid to get into peoples faces and push his team hard to solve the cases and end the bloodshed. I would love to go back and read more about Priest so expect to visit books 1 and 2 soon, especially to find out if Priest has always been this sarcastic and cynical! The interplay between SOCA and Priest’s team adds a definite friction to the proceedings as both teams are keen to gain the results they want and neither wants the other to interfere too much! I liked this aspect of the book as it gave an added tension to a number of scenes and leads to some well-placed twists.

If you put together well-written characters, an excellent storyline, enough blood to keep even damppebbles happy – you get Paper Soldiers. I give this cracking novel an easy 5 stars and look forward to reading more about DCI Priest’s adventures soon.

Paper Soldiers by Mark Pettinger was published in the UK on 16th March 2020 and is available in digital format (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 | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Mark Pettinger

Mark Pettinger is a crime fiction writer of the DCI Priest novels. His debut The Decalogue entered the Amazon Bestseller Top 100 list in December 2015, and the Top 10 on the sub-genre of ‘police procedurals’.

Mark was born in a maternity ward attached to RAF Manston in Kent. His father was in the Royal Air Force, and for the first few years of his life, he lived on a number of RAF bases on the east coast of the UK with his parents and sister. Skip forward a few years; now married and with children he lives in a small village in East Yorkshire.

Fitting his writing around his ‘day job’; Mark’s writing pattern is somewhat sporadic, and he writes when he can, which currently is in hotel rooms / foyer, or in an airport lounge trying to keep one eye on the departure board to ensure he doesn’t miss his flight!

Mark’s interest in the murky world of crime started a number of years ago when he was attracted to reading true crime. He became fascinated with the exploits of the Yorkshire Ripper, Dennis Nilsen, John Wayne Gacy, Andrei Chikatilo etc. An avid reader of many genre’s, but his attention turned to favouring crime fiction; and his reading list includes Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Lynda La Plante, Jo Nesbo, and latterly CJ Tudor (for something just that little bit special).

Mark has openly credited Ian Rankin as the primary inspiration for not only stirring his interest in reading crime fiction, but also ‘picking up the pen’.

Mark has published two hugely successful crime fiction novels: The Decalogue in 2012, and Tick Tock, Time’s Up in 2015. Long overdue, critics have noted, Mark published the third instalment in the DCI Priest series Paper Soldiers in March 2020.

Next on his list is a standalone crime thriller, due for publication in summer 2021.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Broken Steel by Stuart Field (@StuartField14) @NextChapterPB @cobaltdinosaur #BrokenSteel #NextChapterPub #damppebbles

Broken-Steel-2-Main-File“After ten years in prison for his wife’s murder, Brian Armstrong is free.

When a freak accident with the prison transport gives him and two others an opportunity to escape, they seize it. With revenge in his heart, Brian disappears into the storm-filled city. After an ex-schoolteacher is found dead, Detective John Steel is brought in to investigate.

The circumstances are mysterious – just the way Steel likes it. His partner Samantha McCall is convinced the timing between the escape and the death of the teacher are more than coincidence. As they start to investigate, the case becomes more complex than they could have ever imagined. With time running out, can they find the killer and bring him to justice?”

Hello! Emma has kindly passed the reviewing baton over to me today so that I can share my thoughts on Broken Steel by Stuart Field with you. I received a free eARC of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

When a bus carrying convicted criminals crashes on it’s way to court, it is not surprising that some make the break for freedom. But they then have a choice, lie low to avoid being caught or settle some old scores. So when people associated with the cases of the escapees start turning up dead, there is a big puzzle for Steel and McCall to solve.

This is my first book in the Steel series. There is clearly a fascinating backstory to this character but the book can still happily be read as a standalone. Steel is the classic ‘riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a puzzle and served with a side of mystery’ for us to have so little insight into the thinking of one of the main characters is a fascinating read. His partner, Samantha McCall, is much more transparent giving this partnership of contrasts an easy to understand character and a conundrum! Steel is impressive in that he contains many of the generalisations for lead characters but feels head and shoulders above many of his peers as a well formed character. Whether he is looking for answers in traditional ways or serving up his own form of justice, he comes across as consistent and focussed on solving the crimes. McCall brings her own perspective and insight into the investigation and takes decisive actions in the investigation rather than being dismissed to the role of trusty sidekick.

The story was strong and well written and Stuart Field avoids the temptation of making it all action. The scenes around the desk at the station, as the police search for clues, were as intriguing as the action scenes were immersive. The balance of action and mystery was so well made with the book feeling at home in both the ‘action thriller’ and ‘crime’ genre.

There are certainly twists in the book, red herrings and well drawn characters on both sides of the law. Who can be trusted, and who will betray Steel and McCall, keeps the reader on their toes throughout this novel.

Will I be reading more Steel? I hope so! I would happily recommend this book to anyone looking for an entertaining, well written and intriguing crime action thriller, and will be keeping my eye out to read more in the future.

Broken Steel by Stuart Field was published in the UK by Next Chapter Publishing on 26th February 2020 and is available in paperback 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 | amazon.comGoodreads |

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Stuart FieldStuart Field was born in the UK, in the West Midlands. He spent his early years in the army, seeing service in all the known (and some unknown) hotspots around the world. He now lives in Germany with his wife Ani. When not engaged in highly confidential security work, he writes thrillers which perhaps mimic his life-experience more than the reader would like to believe.

#BookReview: Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica (translated by Sarah Moses) @PushkinPress #TenderIsTheFlesh #damppebbles

tender is the flesh.jpg“It all happened so quickly. First, animals became infected with the virus and their meat became poisonous. Then, governments initiated the Transition. Now, ‘special meat’ – human meat – is legal.

Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans only no one calls them that. He works with numbers, consignments, processing. One day, he’s given a gift to seal a deal: a specimen of the finest quality. He leaves her in his barn, tied up, a problem to be disposed of later.

But the specimen haunts Marcos. Her trembling body, her eyes that watch him, that seem to understand. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost – and what might still be saved…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am thrilled to be sharing my review of one of the most hypnotic books I have read in a long, long time with you. I saw Tender is the Flesh mentioned a couple of times on Twitter and it instantly got it’s (meat) hooks into me. I couldn’t help myself and pre-ordered the book immediately. This is the type of fiction I love; brutal, powerful and thought-provoking.

I should probably mention at this point that I read this book as soon as it was published (a few months ago) and the fact that a virus infects the World’s animals seemed, at the time, to be nothing more than fiction. Anything involving a virus these days has a slightly different…perspective (?) to it, but I know I would still have read this book and still loved it as much as I do. Because it’s a bloody awesome book and if you’ve got a strong stomach and like the darker side of fiction then this is a must read!

So the big question here is…would you? Would you eat human flesh if that was the only available meat for you to consume? It’s unthinkable, right? Tender is the Flesh makes the reader ask themselves some pretty hefty questions and looks at the situation from some very interesting angles. To put things into context, the humans on the menu aren’t like you or I. They’re bred, farmed and processed the same way livestock is. They’re nameless, they’re nothing but protein. But….but…but…they’re still people, right? And that’s the brilliant hook which this stonking piece of fiction rests on. It’s absolutely impossible to comprehend. But that’s exactly what pulled me into the pages of this incredible book.

Marcos works at the local processing plant. The reader discovers that after so many years of watching and partaking in horrifically violent acts that Marcos has become somewhat desensitised to the brutality of it all. He’s a heavily flawed character, having recently separated from his wife, but I found myself warming to him as the story progressed. When an illegal gift on a Female FGP (First General Pure) is delivered to his house, he doesn’t know what to do with it (her!).

This really is an eye opener of a book and I devoured it (pun intended). I was nearing the end of the novel and I couldn’t for the life of me work out where the author was going to take things, how it was all going to be wrapped up. But it’s absolutely perfect and as a result, this book will stay with me for a long time to come. I expect it will feature in my top books of the year list.

Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely, but it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s savage, brave, unsettling and utterly unflinching fiction at it’s very best. The way the ‘special meat’ is treated is inhumane and stomach churning and makes me question the way livestock is treated. Vegetarianism could be the way forward for me following this novel! If you’re looking for a book which is dark, disturbing and wholly involving then this is it. Bazterrica does not spare her reader and I absolutely loved it! Highly recommended. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Tender Is The Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica was published in the UK by Pushkin Press on 6th February 2020 and is available in digital format. Paperback copies are available via Waterstones, Foyles and Book Depository (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | WaterstonesFoyles | Book DepositoryGoodreads |

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Agustina Bazterrica is an Argentinian novelist and short-story writer. She is a central figure in the Buenos Aires literary scene, co-curating the event series ‘Siga al Conejo Blanco’ and coordinating reading workshops. She has received several awards for her writing, most notably the prestigious Premio Clarín Novela for her second novel, Tender is the Flesh, which has sold in eight languages.

#BookReview: After Dark by Dominic Nolan @headlinepg @RosieMargesson @1stMondayCrime #AfterDark #damppebbles

After Dark.jpg“PEOPLE ARE BORN. MONSTERS ARE MADE.

A girl held captive her entire life

After a shocking discovery, the police must unravel a mystery that horrifies the nation.

A detective condemned as a criminal

Violently abducted while searching for a missing woman, D.S. Abigail Boone suffered retrograde amnesia – remembering nothing of her previous life. Defying the law to hunt those responsible, she now languishes behind bars.

A monster hiding in the shadows

In desperation, police turn to Boone – who fears a connection to the disappearance of a child three decades earlier…and a mysterious underworld figure whose name is spoken only in whispers. Freed from prison, what will Boone sacrifice – and who must she become – to uncover the terrifying truth?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of After Dark, the second book in Dominic Nolan’s Abigail Boone series. Had life been ‘normal’ then today would have been May’s First Monday get-together in London, which Dom was due to appear at. But life is a little upside down at the moment so instead you’ll have to make do with my ramblings about Dom’s latest book instead (it’s brilliant!). I received a free copy of After Dark but that has in no way influenced my review.

Wow, this is some book! Gritty and unflinching, I was drawn into Boone’s world from the get-go. With a brilliantly brutal prologue, if, like me, you go into After Dark wondering what to expect from former-Detective Abigail Boone, then the scene is swiftly set. I was instantly hooked and I wanted to find out more. Now I should probably mention at this point that I haven’t read the first book in the series, Past Life but I really want to. I wanted to read it before a copy of After Dark landed in my mitts, as I had heard good things (really, really good things!) from fellow crime readers. After Dark can be read as a standalone but I think it would be beneficial to start at the beginning and follow Boone’s story from the beginning. Boone’s situation is laid clearly before the reader by the very talented Nolan but I felt as though I was missing out, like I’d arrived a little late to the party. Could just be my overexuberant sense of FOMO though!

Former Detective Abigail Boone is a masterpiece, a stand-out character among her crime-fighting peers. If you’re a regular reader of crime fiction then I can assure you that you’ve not met anyone like Boone before. Boone suffers from retrograde amnesia following an accident which could have killed her. The first chunk of her life not even a distant memory. Just a big fat blank. The accident, the consequences and everything Boone lost (and in some strange ways, gained) is touched upon in the novel. Turning her back on the Force, Boone opts to dish out her own brand of justice and it’s compelling reading. Gung-ho, violent, reckless and not for the faint hearted, Boone takes the reader on an intense and thrilling ride, and I loved it!

The story is split between the past (four or five years ago) and the present. It’s a beautifully detailed and intricate tale, but I found I had to concentrate a little more to keep tabs on where in time we were. The reason for that could be something to do with not reading Past Life first, meaning I wasn’t familiar enough with the characters and what had gone before (as previously mentioned – this will be rectified, I will be reading Past Life).

I haven’t even begun to tell you about the plot yet. There really is so much to say about this brilliant book but I’ll try and keep it brief. When a young girl is found wandering the back lanes  of Kent on her own, looking malnourished and abused, DI Barbara Bowen (who is glorious!) is called in. This is the main storyline which runs through the book. The abuse the girl has been subjected to is horrific, inhuman and the stuff the very worst nightmares are made of. The author doesn’t go into detail but the abuse is discussed among the characters, conclusions are drawn and the over-riding subject matter of the book is what happened to the poor girl and the search for the monster who destroyed her. Boone is ‘sprung’ from prison early (it’s all very legal and above board) by DI Bowen in an attempt to help catch the predator, evil incarnate.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. But I think it’s worth getting a copy of Past Life and starting there so you can appreciate every brilliant moment of After Dark to it’s fullest. I need more Boone in my life. Gritty, dark, intelligent crime fiction at it’s best. Something a bit different and I flipping loved it! Nolan is definitely an author to watch out for. I’m really, really excited to see what the future holds.

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

After Dark by Dominic Nolan was published in the UK by Headline Books on 5th March 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in July (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 | BookDepositoryGoodreads |

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dominic-nolan.jpgDominic Nolan is a British author, known for the Abigail Boone series of crime novels.

 

#BookReview: Afraid Of The Light – Crime Fiction Anthology in aid of the Samaritans | #AfraidOfTheLight #Samaritans #damppebbles @NolanDom

afriad of the light.jpg“Some people are scared of the dark. But it’s the light that exposes the secrets.

A young boy with nightmares faces up to his demons. A deathbed confession turns the world on its axis. A five-year-old watches his parents bury a body in the garden. A soldier returns from the war to find the horror isn’t yet over.

Afraid Of The Light brings the imagination of fourteen bestselling crime writers together in a collection that will keep you up all night. From a deadly campfire game to a holiday gone wrong, to an AI assistant with a motive and a love affair that can only end in murder, this is a gripping, twisty set of stories to send a shiver down your spine.

“The stories are wildly entertaining in their own right, but they also address the concerns and fears we all feel: isolation and loneliness; guilt and grief; justice and punishment. And perhaps most importantly of all: redemption and hope.” — Alex North”

Hello my bookish friends and welcome to Friday on damppebbles. I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review of a very special book with you today. It’s no secret that I spend my life on Twitter. I think I may have mentioned that before. So when I saw a tweet from brilliant author, Clare Empson, asking for crime fiction bloggers (that’s me!) to read a hot new crime anthology – featuring 14 bestselling authors and with a foreword by Alex North – all in aid of the Samaritans, I couldn’t resist the call! I wanted ‘in’. And oh my goodness, I’m so glad I did! This is a gripping collection of shorts from some of the best writers out there and I couldn’t put it down. I received a free eARC of Afraid Of The Light but that has in no way influenced my review. (But I’ve since purchased a copy because it’s only 99p at the moment and all proceeds go to the Samaritans.)

I do enjoy a short story collection. They’re easy to read alongside a full length novel, and rarely do I finish one in one sitting. That was my plan when reading Afraid Of The Light. To dip in and out of the book over the course of a week or so. That was the plan. The plan was deeply flawed. Little did I know, when I picked this book up on a lazy Saturday afternoon during lockdown, that it was absolutely impossible to put down and I’d have it read in a few hours. This is an absolutely brilliant and engaging collection of devilish stories from some of the best crime writers out there. Some I’ve read before, some whose books are on my TBR and some I’ve wanted to read for a while.

I won’t pick a favourite as that’s actually really hard to do (because they’re all excellent) but standout reads for me were Adam Southward’s ARE YOU LISTENING?, which is the first story in the book and sets a high benchmark along with the tone for the rest of the collection. Dominic Nolan’s DADDY DEAREST, which had me wondering where the story was going only to drop a pretty hefty bombshell. And Heather Critchlow’s DROWNING IN DEBT,  which has the most wonderfully satisfying ending. Other firm favourites include; SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Robert Scragg, which leads the reader down one path only to provide the most beautiful and well written twist. This one left me reeling a little! Jo Furniss’s TO EVIL OR NOT TO EVIL shows us a futuristic world where your thoughts and feelings are on display to all and it’s not only the people in your life you need to watch.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. I thoroughly enjoyed Afraid Of The Light and will be recommending it to everyone. There’s not a single dud in the collection and I couldn’t help but lose myself in this wonderful book. All of the stories offer something new and if you haven’t read any of the contributing authors work before, then here’s a perfect opportunity to get a sampler AND make a small donation to a wonderful charity which does so much for so many. Highly recommended.

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

Afraid Of The Light was published in the UK on 21st April 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats: | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comGoodreads |

CONTRIBUTORS
Are you Listening? – Adam Southward
Daddy Dearest – Dominic Nolan
Deathbed, Beth Dead – Elle Croft
Loveable Alan Atcliffe – S R Masters
Sleep Time – Phoebe Morgan
Coming Home – N J Mackay
Sausage Fingers – Victoria Selman
Just a Game – Rachael Blok
Drowning in Debt – Heather Critchlow
To Evil or Not to Evil – Jo Furniss
Sheep’s Clothing – Robert Scragg
Frantic – Clare Empson
Planting Nan – James Delargy
Shadow – Kate Simants

All author royalties from the sale of this anthology will be donated to the Samaritans.

Samaritans is a charity working across the UK and Ireland to reduce the number of people who take their own lives and help people who are struggling to cope with how they’re feeling or with life’s challenges. When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year.

You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit http://www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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#BlogTour | #BookSpotlight: Art and Soul by Claire Huston (@ClaraVal) @rararesources #ArtandSoul #damppebbles

Hello bookish friends and welcome to a brand new week on damppebbles. Today I am delighted to have something a little different for you. Here at damppebbles HQ we like to focus our attention on the darker side of fiction. You may have noticed! However, I am thrilled to be taking part in the Art and Soul blog tour today. Art and Soul is a heart-warming and uplifting romance novel written by the fabulous Claire Huston. Claire is not only a brilliant debut author, she’s also a fantastic blogger who shares her bookish thoughts and mouth watering bakes on her blog. If you don’t already follow Claire then that needs to change!

As part of the blog tour celebrations I am delighted to be sharing a book spotlight with you today. Let’s find out more about Art and Soul…

Layout 1A heart-warming, uplifting romance served with a generous slice of cake. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Cathy Kelly.

There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…

Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.

So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.

Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?

What do you think? Sounds good, doesn’t it? Art and Soul by Claire Huston was published by Goldcrest Books on 23rd April 2020. At the time of publishing this post, it’s only 99p to download on Amazon so don’t miss out!

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Claire Huston author photo 2020My name’s Claire Huston (pronounced as in “Houston, we have a problem”).

My debut novel – an uplifting contemporary romance – is out now in ebook and paperback. You can read more about that in Art and Soul (or head straight over to Amazon to buy it now!)

I live in the Midlands, UK, with my husband and two children. I work as a Spanish-English translator and when I’m not struggling to write, I try to read, bake, and generally keep chaos at bay.

I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.

If you’d like to get in touch, please use the contact form below or leave a message down in the comments. You can also find me on TwitterGoodreadsFacebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

#CoverReveal: Midtown Huckster (Alex Cohen #3) by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski #MidtownHuckster #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

Hello my bookish friends. I hope you’re keeping well at this strange time. I have a brilliant cover reveal for you today and it’s for a series I LOVE! I am delighted to be sharing the cover of MIDTOWN HUCKSTER with you, which is book three in the fantastic Alex Cohen Series written by Leopold Borstinski. I have read and enjoyed the first two books – The Bowery Slugger and East Side Hustler – so cannot wait to get my mitts on MIDTOWN HUCKSTER.

Before I reveal the gorgeous cover (which fits perfectly with the first two books in the series), here’s the blurb:

Can you keep your gelt and freedom when the cops have enough evidence to take you down?

1930s Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen runs Murder Inc for Lucky Luciano. After the death of Prohibition he must find a new way to make money, just as the cops are baying at his heels. When Luciano goes down for racketeering, Alex loses his protection and is arrested for tax evasion-he must decide between saving his skin and ratting out his friends.

If he chooses prison time then his gang will fall apart and he will end up with nothing. If he squeals then he will have to flee the city he loves and the family he once adored. What would you do in a world where nobody can be trusted and you have everything to lose?

The third book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical noir novel, which plunges you deep into the early days of narcotics trafficking and the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction delivers a fix to every reader like heroin from a needle.

I cannot wait to travel to 1930s New York with Alex and find out what dastardly deeds he and his gang are getting up to. If you’re new to the Alex Cohen Series then each book covers a decade in Alex’s life, starting with his landing on the shores of America in The Bowery Slugger. They’re well worth a read and I highly recommend them.

So let’s have a look at that cover…

3 Midtown Huckster High Res 1930

I love it! Look how fantastic the three covers look together 😍

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MIDTOWN HUCKSTER will be published by Sobriety Press on 16th July 2020. Pre-order your copy of the book NOW (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.ukamazon.com |

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FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen @canelo_co #TheCloserYouGet #damppebbles

the closer you get“Is a marriage worth saving – whatever the cost?

Ruby didn’t plan to have an affair. She doesn’t love her husband, but wouldn’t set out to steal someone else’s. Yet when she met Harry they simply couldn’t keep apart. Now, she’s brave enough to leave her marital home and start again, and so is Harry. Or so she thinks.

Waiting at a hotel for her lover to arrive, Ruby realises she has made a mistake. Harry won’t come. He will never leave his wife.

What Ruby hasn’t worked out is that someone else knows all about the affair. They have been watching Ruby’s every move. They are determined to punish her. And they are even closer than she thinks…

Don’t miss this taut and gripping novel packed with edge-of-your-seat tension and a tale of love that goes badly wrong, perfect for fans of Shalini Boland and Lisa Hall.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen as part of the blog tour. The Closer You Get was published in digital format on 21st April 2020 by Canelo. I received a free digital eARC which has in no way influenced my review.

If you’re looking for a character-driven domestic suspense novel to get your teeth into, then look no further, dear reader. You have found it. What a cracking book this is! I have to be honest and confess to not reading many domestic thrillers of late. I seem to be leaning back towards my first love, crime and serial killer fiction, so reading The Closer You Get reminded me exactly how good the genre is, how devilish and despicable the characters can be and how I should really be reading A LOT more.

Ruby is a very relatable character and I warmed to her almost immediately. Despite the fact she’s out the door, with her bags packed, when we first meet her. Leaving her husband of ten-plus years for another man. It’s quite clear to the reader though that there’s something else going on here. Something which we haven’t yet been made party to. After, very decently I think, waiting for Tom to return home, explaining that she’s been unhappy for a while now, and departing the marital home, she heads to a local hotel to wait for her new love, Harry, to join her. But he doesn’t show. So she waits some more. And he still doesn’t show. Your heart sinks for Ruby. You can imagine the anguish she’s going through, the realisation as it dawns on her that something isn’t right. Ruby is alone, heart-broken and homeless. But then strange things start happening to her. It seems someone else knows her secret and is going to make her pay…

It’s not often I write an expletive in my notes whilst reading a book. But I did as I read The Closer You Get. I’m not going to reveal the word but looking back at my notes now, I wouldn’t change a thing! There are some characters in this book who will really get under your skin and make you want to scream. Manipulative, controlling and detestable people who the author has written so very well. You can’t help but hate them! They made the book for me. I  couldn’t wait to see what terrible event was going to befall poor Ruby next.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a gripping domestic suspense thriller and I was hooked from the first page. The ending is very satisfying and exactly what I hoped for. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and I will definitely be reading more from Mary Torjussen in the future.

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

The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen was published in the UK by Canelo on 21st April 2020 and is available in digital format (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 | Goodreads |

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Mary_Torjussen_Author_PhotoMary Torjussen has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and worked for several years as a teacher. She is the author of two novels, Gone Without a Trace and The Girl I Used to Be, and her new novel will be published in 2020. She writes dark, gripping thrillers and her debut novel, published in several international territories, has been optioned for television by Ecosse Productions.

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Into Darkness by T.J. Brearton (@BreartonTJ) #InkubatorBooks #IntoDarkness #damppebbles

draft1-2020-0351-Garret-Ryan-(for-T.J“They have been judged. The verdict – guilty. The sentence – death.

Two beautiful young women are found strangled, their bodies meticulously washed and groomed. The only thing they have in common – both worked as reporters for local TV stations. 

A coincidence? Or something more sinister?

Rookie Special Agent Shannon Ames is assigned to the case and soon impresses with her brilliant intuition and startling ability to think outside the box. 

But as Shannon takes a more prominent role in the investigation, she finds herself drawn into a deadly dance with a master of deception, a serial killer whose victims all work in media – journalists, influencers, reporters. 

Shannon’s superiors are convinced it’s part of some grand attack on the free press, but she has a hunch these killings are much more targeted. And she follows that hunch – straight into the heart of darkness…

Into Darkness is a gripping mystery thriller that will keep you up all night as it races towards its shocking conclusion. Perfect for fans of David Baldacci, Robert Dugoni and Lisa Regan.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be taking part in the Into Darkness blog tour and sharing my review of the cracking first book in the Shannon Ames Thriller Series. Into Darkness is written by T.J. Brearton and was published by Inkubator Books on Sunday 12th April 2020. I received a free eARC of Into Darkness but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’ve been wanting to read a book by T.J. Brearton for some time now. He’s an author I see mentioned often on blogs and in bookish Facebook groups. I even have a couple of his books on the terrifying TBR, but y’know…time and all that (#bookwormproblems). So when the opportunity arose to read Into Darkness, the first book in a brand new series from one of my favourite publishers, I just couldn’t say no. And what a cracking read it is! There’s nothing I love more in my crime fiction than a kick-ass female lead (and a serial killer, got to love a serial killer….🤷). Shannon Ames is something else and I absolutely loved her (the book also features a serial killer so win/win!).

Shannon is a rookie FBI Agent stationed in NYC. She’s smart, gutsy and she’s come a long way from her humble beginnings as a farm girl in The Adirondacks. Still grieving the loss of her brother, which left the relationship between Shannon and her mother strained, she arrives at Williamsburg’s 90th precinct ready to help the NYPD investigate the disappearance of Monica Forbes. Monica is a local television news reporter and is the second reporter to have gone missing. The first, Eva Diaz, was found wrapped in black bin bags and slung over a fence after being meticulously washed by her killer. Time is running out for Monica and you just know that the situation isn’t going to end well. As the death toll starts to rise, with more and more media personalities and influencers falling victim to a sadistic killer, Shannon’s colleagues jump to some startling conclusions. But Shannon has her own ideas and it’s down to her to stop the killer, no matter what it takes…

Shannon is feisty and spirited and I loved her. I also absolutely adored NYPD detective, Luis Caldoza. The chemistry between Ames and Caldoza is wonderful to read and their obvious spark really added something to the story for me. The pacing in this book is fantastic. The reader is carried along as the action takes place on the page with beautifully written peaks and troughs. There are some absolute heart-stopping moments and for me, one moment in particular made me gasp out loud. I really liked where the author took the story and the motive he gave his killer for carrying out his horrific deeds. It was fascinating to watch the story unfold.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would and I look forward to reading the second book in the Shannon Ames Series soon. If you’re looking for a new crime thriller series to follow then I heartily suggest you give this one a go. It’s a thrilling roller-coaster ride of a read and Shannon is a really likeable protagonist and someone the reader can get behind. Recommended.

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

Into Darkness by T.J. Brearton was published in the UK by Inkubator Books on 12th April 2020 and is available in paperback 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 | amazon.comGoodreads |

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brearton author photo 500x500T.J. Brearton’s books have reached half a million readers around the world and have topped the Amazon charts in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. A graduate of the New York Film Academy in Manhattan, Brearton first worked in film before focusing on novels. His books are visually descriptive with sharp dialog and underdog heroes. When not writing, Brearton does whatever his wife and three children tell him to do. They live happily in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate, New York. Yes, there are bears in the Adirondacks. But it’s really quite beautiful when you’re not running for your life.

T.J. is the author of Dead Gone and many other crime thrillers. INTO DARKNESS will be his first novel published with Inkubator Books.