#BookReview: Black Widows by Cate Quinn @orionbooks #BlackWidows #damppebbles

“Aged nineteen, devout Rachel marries fundamentalist Mormon, Blake Nelson, and moves to a remote homestead in rural Utah. Isolated and alone, Rachel obeys her husband’s advice to keep sweet and prepare for End of Days.

Soon after their disappointing wedding night, Blake takes his second wife – emotionally-troubled, jailbait, Emily. Though it’s not until the arrival of third wife Tina, a reformed junkie-stripper from Vegas, that the bitter rivalry sets in.

Out in the desert, the only thing the sister-wives have in common is an obsession with their righteous husband. Until, that is, Blake’s body is found, brutally murdered near his favourite fishing spot, his wedding finger missing.

As police dig deeper, it seems a hot-bed of bitter tensions bubble beneath the pious Mormon exterior. Blake’s sister-wives just couldn’t keep sweet. But which was capable of murder?

Inspired by true events, this gripping tale of religious polygamy peeks under the covers of a real-life Mormon fundamentalist cult.”

Hello, a very happy New Year to you and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Black Widows by Cate Quinn. Black Widows was published by Orion Books on 2nd September 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats.

For those of you with an excellent memory you may recall that Black Widows was one of the books I chose for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge last year. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get round to it during the three months of the challenge but I did promise to prioritise the remaining six books. This is the second of those six that I have managed to read and I am so incredibly glad that I did. I loved Black Widows!

Three very different women living in an isolated homestead in the Utah desert; Rachel, Emily and Tina. Cut off from the rest of the world and instructed to keep sweet. Just biding their time and waiting for the End of Days. Bickering, falling out and judging each other. Tensions between the women run deep. Because they’re all married to the same man, Blake Nelson, a fundamentalist Mormon. When Blake’s mutilated body is discovered down by the river, the finger of suspicion points at the wives. Each woman resents her sister-wives, they have their own troubling secrets which they’ll do anything to keep. Including murder…?

Black Widows is a highly compelling, character-driven mystery which drew me in from the first page and didn’t let go until the very last word. I savoured every moment I spent with this book and looked forward to picking it up every evening. The characters are multi-layered and stand tall from the page, each making an individual contribution to the tale. Their past lives are very different but they’ve all suffered trauma of some sorts. Rachel is devout and homely, wholesome and sweet no matter what life throws at her. She’s also the first wife which gives her status over the other two. Emily is young and immature. Very much out of her league. I often felt my heart break for her as she found herself in situations she didn’t know how to handle, often turning to TV crime dramas to help her process events. Tina, the third wife, has street smarts and a whole lot of sass that she’ll use to get what she wants. An ex-Vegas stripper, she’s worldly and will take risks the other wives won’t. The three women are an unlikely team and it’s clear from the outset that they don’t get on. But will being charged of murder change that?

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved Black Widows and I’m so glad it’s my first review of 2023, kicking the year off in style! I enjoyed spending time with the sister-wives. I thought the three very different characters made for fascinating reading. The reader gets to hear from each wife and see the situation from her point of view. What’s clear is that there is very little trust amongst the wives, all believing the others could have killed Blake. But who did? Well, you’ll just have to pick up a copy of Black Widows and find out for yourself! I will say I wasn’t able to guess whodunit so the reveal was quite a shock! A very well-written, original mystery that I fully appreciated from start to finish. If, like me, you’re a fan of a well-crafted, character-driven tale that draws you in and doesn’t let go, then Black Widows is a must read! I cannot wait to read more by this author and have already downloaded a copy of Blood Sisters. Highly recommended.

Black Widows by Cate Quinn was published in the UK by Orion Books on 2nd September 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoyles | Book Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Cate QuinnCate Quinn is a travel and lifestyle journalist for The Times, the Guardian and the Mirror, alongside many magazines. Prior to this, Quinn’s background in historic research won prestigious postgraduate funding from the British Art Council. Quinn pooled these resources, combining historical research with first-hand experiences in far-flung places to create critically acclaimed and bestselling historical fiction.

#BookReview: The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard @CorvusBooks @CapitalCrime1 #TheNothingMan #damppebbles

I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man.
Now I am the woman who is going to catch him…

You’ve just read the opening pages of The Nothing Man, the true crime memoir Eve Black has written about her obsessive search for the man who killed her family nearly two decades ago.

Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle is reading it too, and with each turn of the page his rage grows. Because Jim was – is – the Nothing Man.

The more Jim reads, the more he realises how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard. The Nothing Man was published by Corvus Books on 6th May 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. My copy of The Nothing Man arrived at damppebbles HQ thanks to the brilliant Capital Crime Book Club which I heartily recommend to all crime fiction fans!

Eve Black was the sole survivor of The Nothing Man, a prolific serial killer wreaking havoc in Cork at the turn of the Millennium. Now she’s written a tell-all book about her experience. It’s an instant bestseller and propels both Eve and The Nothing Man back into the spotlight nearly nineteen years after his terror filled reign. Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle happens upon the book one shift and instantly his world is  turned upside down. Because Jim knows everything there is to know about The Nothing Man. Jim IS The Nothing Man. He becomes obsessed with the book and with Eve. Grasping every opportunity he can to sneak a few more chapters. What is clear to aging Jim is that Eve is getting closer to unmasking him. Which can mean only one thing. She must be stopped…

Oh my goodness, I loved The Nothing Man! This is the first book I’ve read by this author but I swear I’ll be reading everything Ryan Howard has written as soon as humanly possible. I loved the story, which was very compelling, I loved the writing style, I even loved how it was formatted and presented to the reader. It’s a book within a book, which you can’t really go wrong with in my opinion! The Nothing Man is a highly original, unnerving, creepy read which I read over the course of one day because I just couldn’t put it down.

I read a lot of crime and in particular serial killer thrillers, which by no means makes me an expert on the subject. Not in the slightest. But I have noticed that when the experts are talking about the psychology of a serial killer their reasons for suddenly stopping can vary. They get caught, they themselves die or they just burn out. And that’s what made The Nothing Man so incredibly fascinating for me. I don’t think I’ve read a book before where the killer just decides that they’ve had enough, they’re too old, or the need to kill has just…gone. Seeing things from Jim’s point of view, this plain, ordinary man who used to be the talk of the town, had my attention 100%. I loved it. He’s a horrible human being, as you would expect, but I found him utterly intriguing.

I really liked Eve Black who is determined to find the man who killed her family, putting herself back in the spotlight to do so. Eve teams up with Detective Inspector Edward Healy who was involved in the original Nothing Man case all those years ago, and together they plough through everything they have, leaving no stone unturned. There must be something the original investigation missed and they’re going to find it. All of the attacks and murders are revisited in Eve’s book which made for riveting reading. I was hooked!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Nothing Man is a compulsive, unsettling and thoroughly intriguing read. A completely different take on the serial killer thriller and I devoured it, captivated by the author’s well-written tale. True crime fans in particular will find something to love within the pages of The Nothing Man. I was gripped from start to finish and savoured every moment I had with this excellent book. And as a result, I look forward to reading more from the author very, very soon. All in all, a cleverly plotted novel unlike anything I’ve read before. Highly recommended.

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard was published by Corvus Books on 6th May 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | WaterstonesFoylesBook Depository | Goodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Catherine Ryan HowardCatherine Ryan Howard is an internationally bestselling crime writer from Cork, Ireland. Her debut novel, DISTRESS SIGNALS, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey/New Blood Dagger. THE LIAR’S GIRL (2018) was shortlisted for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. REWIND (2019) was shortlisted for Irish Crime Novel of the Year and is currently being developed for screen by Clerkenwell Films (Misfits, Lovesick, The End of the F***ing World.) THE NOTHING MAN was a no. 1 Irish Times bestseller and a no. 1 Kindle bestseller (UK) and was shortlisted for Irish Crime Novel of the Year. Her latest novel, 56 DAYS, was published in August 2021. It is a thriller set in lockdown that Catherine wrote while she was in lockdown.

Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida. She still wants to be an astronaut when she grows up.

#BookReview: The Night Shift by Alex Finlay @AriesFiction @HoZ_Books #TheNightShift #damppebbles

“What connects a massacre at a Blockbuster video store in 1999 with the murder of four teenagers fifteen years later?

It’s New Year’s Eve of 1999 when four teenagers working late are attacked at a Blockbuster video store in New Jersey. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, four more teenagers are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive.

In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre, who is forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother of the fugitive accused, who is convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI agent Sarah Keller, who must delve into the secrets of both nights to uncover the truth about the Night Shift Murders…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Night Shift by Alex Finlay. The Night Shift was published by Aries Fiction, part of Head of Zeus, in paperback format on 1st September 2022 and is also available in hardcover, audio and digital formats.

Something about The Night Shift really appealed to me. And I know exactly what it was. This book centres around a massacre which took place in a Blockbuster Video store on New Year’s Eve 1999, followed by a similar event which took place in an ice cream store fifteen years later. Everything you need to know about why I purchased and immediately read a copy of this book is in that previous sentence. Everything! The nostalgia called to me. And I can’t help it but books featuring serial or spree killers really intrigue me. There was no way I was going to let this one pass me by!

New Year’s Eve, 1999. The world holds its breath waiting to see if the dawn of the new millennium will result in untold technological chaos around the world. In Linden, New Jersey, tragedy strikes when the night shift staff of the local Blockbuster Video store are viciously attacked, leaving all but one of them – Ella Monroe – dead. Fifteen years later Ella has trained to become a therapist, helping others deal with trauma. So she’s the perfect person to call when a second attack, this time in a Linden ice cream store, leaves three of the night shift dead, and only one of the teens – Jesse Duvall – alive. The two attacks are so similar it’s hard to believe they’re not connected. But what is the connection? FBI Agent Sarah Keller is determined to uncover the truth…

The Night Shift is a very compelling psychological mystery with excellent characterisation, multiple intriguing points of view and a heart pounding ending. The story is told from three very different perspectives which makes for a riveting read. We have Ella who was the sole survivor of the 1999 Blockbuster attack. Ella is now a therapist helping other victims of trauma come to terms with what has happened to them. She’s also a mess, drinking and partying ’til the early hours whilst her unknowing fiancé is away from home. FBI Agent Sarah Keller is working with the local police force to find a link between the massacre in ’99 and the more recent ice cream parlour attack. I really liked Sarah and would go as far as saying she was my favourite character. However, she’s 8.5 months pregnant with twins and I can’t help but feel that were this not fiction, she wouldn’t be chasing down the bad guys and driving in high speed car chases! It’s also worth mentioning that this is the second (maybe more, I don’t know for sure) appearance Agent Keller has made in one of this author’s books but I didn’t discover that until I’d finished reading. It didn’t make a jot of difference to me. I felt the author told me everything I needed to know. There were no holes in her story. The third point of view is Chris Ford’s, formerly Chris Whitaker. Chris’s older brother, Vincent, was initially arrested for the Blockbuster attack fifteen years ago but the police let him slip through their fingers. Vincent hasn’t been seen since but could he be responsible for this latest attack? Chris is now a lawyer and is determined to find his brother and prove his innocence. The characters are all very well drawn, they’re interesting and really play their part in the story well.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Night Shift is a compelling mystery which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I would pick up another of this author’s books without a moment’s hesitation. In fact, I’ve already added Every Last Fear to my wish list as I’ve been told how good it is by several trusted bloggers. The Night Shift is a well-plotted, well-written tale which had me glued to the pages wondering how things were going to turn out for the characters. And what a magnificent ending! I loved it, every single nail-biting second. Marvellous stuff! The Night Shift was a fantastic introduction to an author I will make a point of reading again. Gripping, compelling and very intriguing. Recommended.

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay was published in the UK by Aries Fiction on 1st September 2022 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Alex FinlayAlex Finlay is the pseudonym of an author who lives in Washington, D.C. His 2021 breakout thriller, Every Last Fear, was an Indie Next pick, a LibraryReads selection, an Amazon Editor’s Best Thriller, as well as a CNN, Newsweek, E!, BuzzFeed, Business Week, Goodreads, Parade, PopSugar, and Reader’s Digest best or most anticipated thriller of the year. Alex’s work has been translated into more than a dozen languages and optioned for film and television.

#R3COMM3ND3D2022 with #Reviewer Me And My Books (@yvonnembee) #MeAndMyBooks #BookRecommendations #publishedin2022 #booktwt #whattoread #damppebbles

Hello and welcome to damppebbles on this, the first Saturday of November 2022. Not only is it the first Saturday of 2022, it’s also day five of #R3COMM3ND3D2022 (as well as being Guy Fawkes Night here in the UK, which I’ll quickly gloss over 😂).  Joining me to share the book love today is the fabulous Yvonne – Me and My Books. I heartily recommend Yvonne’s blog so please make sure you subscribe if you don’t already. I can guarantee you won’t be sorry!

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2022? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers, reviewers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2022. To make things interesting there are a couple of teeny, tiny rules; 1) the book must have FIRST been published in 2022 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes 😉

This is the sixth year of #R3C so things are going to be a smidge different this year. Like last year, there’s a scary deadline involved *shudder*. Unlike last year’s form which closed in December, this year’s form will close A LOT EARLIER. The #R3COMM3ND3D application form will only be open until midday (GMT) on Thursday 10th November. If you would like to take part in #R3C this year (and I would LOVE you to!) then please get your three choices in sooner rather than later. Any posts scheduled for later in November will be brought forward and I will close the series early if I’m not able to fill all of the available dates. The form is at the bottom of this post if you fancy taking part.

Here are the three books Yvonne recommends…

The Darkest Sin (Cesare Aldo Series #2) by D.V. Bishop
This is the 2nd book in the Cesare Aldo series, I am addicted already. A historic fiction crime series set in Florence 1537. There are two investigations, one is a missing man the other a body discovered inside a monastery. These books are brilliant and the second goes into more detail about Aldo. The storyline is complex but there are no issues following it. Atmospheric, dangerous and totally addictive and I cannot wait until the 3rd book is out next year.
Yvonne’s Review of The Darkest Sin

Tick Tock by Simon Mayo
This was such a gripping story that had me addicted. A simple ticking that could be tinnitus but is actually something far worse. If your ears are ticking, then you have caught this deadly plague and you can infect others. I loved the tense drama in this novel and with Covid still going on it was easy to sense the dilemmas and the paranoia. Loved this book.
Yvonne’s Review of Tick Tock

The Empire by Michael Ball
This is a brilliant debut from someone who knows the workings of a theatre. The author has brought the vaudeville days back to life in this 1920s story. A bit of mystery, some rivalries, a dash of romance and all in all an addictive tale.
Yvonne’s Review of The Empire

Thank you so much for taking part in #R3COMM3ND3D this year, Yvonne. Three fantastic choices with three gorgeous covers!

About Yvonne – Me and My Books:
I am a book reader and I share my thoughts on my Blog. As well as reading I adore gardening, what is better than taking a break from the weeding to sit back in the sun and read a chapter or more! Photos of my plants and garden regularly pop into my weekly round-up posts.

Yvonne – Me and My Books Blog and Social Media Links:
Yvonne – Me and My BooksTwitter @yvonnembeeFacebookInstagram @meandmybooks24 |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer, reviewer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/CNhNp5GRcr4XVedh8)

#R3COMM3ND3D2022 with #Author Anne Coates (@Anne_Coates1) #AnneCoates #StageCall #HannahWeybridgeSeries @RedDogTweets #BookRecommendations #publishedin2022 #booktwt #whattoread #damppebbles

It’s Friday, hooray! A very warm welcome to damppebbles and to day four of #R3COMM3ND3D2022. I am thrilled to welcome our first author of the year to the blog today, particularly as I am a huge fan of their books. Joining me today is the fabulous Anne Coates who writes the brilliant Hannah Weybridge Series published by Red Dog Press. There are five excellent books in Anne’s series with the latest, Stage Call, being published earlier this year in January.

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2022? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers, reviewers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2022. To make things interesting there are a couple of teeny, tiny rules; 1) the book must have FIRST been published in 2022 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes 😉

This is the sixth year of #R3C so things are going to be a smidge different this year. Like last year, there’s a scary deadline involved *shudder*. Unlike last year’s form which closed in December, this year’s form will close A LOT EARLIER. The #R3COMM3ND3D application form will only be open until midday (GMT) on Thursday 10th November. If you would like to take part in #R3C this year (and I would LOVE you to!) then please get your three choices in sooner rather than later. Any posts scheduled for later in November will be brought forward and I will close the series early if I’m not able to fill all of the available dates. The form is at the bottom of this post if you fancy taking part.

Here are the three books Anne recommends…

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough
The first person narrative immediately draws you into the plot as Emma’s life unravels just before her fortieth birthday. Successful lawyer, wife and mother is plagued by sleeplessness to such a degree even she is not sure what is real and whom to trust. An amazingly compelling and twisting narrative, with a touch of the supernatural.
Anne’s Review of Insomnia

New Brighton by Helen Trevorrow
New Brighton, a dystopian novel, totally captivated me in its web of intrigue as it explores corruption, reality, sexuality, what it means to be part of a family, a friend, a lover, a sister and motherhood. The intricate plotting is worked like a beautiful piece of lace. There are developing patterns, which only become apparent as you reach the dénouement after some devastating twists.
Anne’s Review of New Brighton

Nothing Else by Louise Beech
Louise Beech explores sisterhood, family relations, loss and grief in a symphony of emotions which is pitch perfect. Beautifully written and heartbreaking at times, Nothing Else is a fabulous and uplifting read.

Thanks so much, Anne. Three cracking choices – one of which I’ve read and enjoyed myself. The other two look brilliant so they’ll be going straight on the wish list!

About Stage Call (Hannah Weybridge #5):
At the Old Vic, one of London’s most iconic theatres, the stage is set for one of our national treasures to tread the boards in a new, sell-out play. Joan Ballantyne, now in her sixties, has attracted a new fan base with her role in an award-winning soap, Chicory Road, and they’ve turned out in force. As the curtain rises, it reveals the strangely still body of the leading lady, slumped in an armchair. The show will not go on…

Still recovering from the attempt on her life, Hannah Weybridge is stunned. She had been collaborating with the actress on her memoir. Now she has to contribute to her obituary. Suicide is suspected, but Hannah, from the little she knows of the woman, is sceptical. As is Joan’s son, the famous TV actor, Leo Hawkins, who implores Hannah to investigate the circumstances of his mother’s mysterious death.

Hannah is drawn into the lives of those who knew Joan. But who can she trust in a world where everyone seems to be playing a part?

Purchase Links: | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

About Anne Coates:
Author of seven nonfiction books, short fiction and the Hannah Weybridge crime thriller series published by Red Dog Press, Anne Coates also reviews for The Arbuturian

Anne’s Website and Social Media Links:
WebsiteTwitter @Anne_Coates1FacebookInstagram @anne_coates1 |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer, reviewer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/CNhNp5GRcr4XVedh8)

#BookReview: The Beresford by Will Carver #TheBeresford @OrendaBooks #damppebbles

“Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.

There’s a routine at The Beresford.

For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.

Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him.

In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.

And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.

Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…

Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Beresford by Will Carver. The Beresford was published by Orenda Books on 22nd July 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats.

I’ve been a fan of Will Carver’s books for a while now so when The Beresford was suggested as one of my ’12 books in 12 months’ reads, I immediately added it to the list. Huge thanks to @NickiRICHARDS7 and @the_sara_post for their recommendations. I thoroughly enjoyed this dark and twisted tale!

Looking for a room on the outskirts of the city? Then look no further! The Beresford is the answer to all your problems. The deposit required to secure your room is so small it’s laughable and the monthly rent certainly won’t be a stretch. You CAN have it all. What’s that…? It sounds too good to be true? That’s because it is! Move into The Beresford and there’s a good chance you won’t be moving out again…

Dark and twisted decadence from the absolute master of all things dark and twisted. The Beresford ensnares the reader from the moment they crack the spine and what a devilishly good read it is! This is not a book for the faint hearted by any stretch of the imagination. Nor is it a book to read over a long period of time as once you pick it up, you ain’t putting it down again. I flew through this book in one day unable to resist the pull it had over me. Glorious!

The characters the reader is introduced to at the start all have a great amount of depth to them and I was really warming to new resident, Blair Conroy, and her blossoming romance with long standing Beresford tenant, Abe Schwartz when the author twisted the tale in the most exquisite way and left me open mouthed (but with the biggest grin on my face). From that point I was officially smitten with this book. I cannot not mention the mysterious yet venerable Mrs May who oversees everything that happens at The Beresford. The all-knowing, all seeing eye of this eerie abode. The other characters in the book are as equally strong as those we first meet and all have a very definite part to play. I felt I really got to know many of them, even if their appearance was only brief.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re a fan of dark and twisted (and twisty!) fiction then you need to get hold of a copy of The Beresford. It’s wicked and disturbing and gloriously dark and everything I want in the books I read. Carver is a master storyteller. One who is not afraid to take his tales places other writers wouldn’t dare and I applaud that. I loved the time I spent at The Beresford. Shocking, darkly humorous and so very compelling from the get-go. I feel bereft now that it’s over. Highly recommended.

The Beresford by Will Carver was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 21st July 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Will CarverWill Carver is the bestselling author of the January Series – Girl 4 (2011), The Two (2012), The Killer Inside (2013), Dead Set (2013) – and the critically acclaimed Detective Pace series, which includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were selected as books of the year in mainstream international press. The books in this series have also been longlisted/shortlisted for the Amazon Readers Independent Voice Award, Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award, Not The Booker Prize and the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award. Will spent his early years living in Germany, but returned at age eleven. He studied theatre and television at King Alfred’s Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition business and lives in Reading with his children.

#BookReview: True Crime Story by Joseph Knox #TrueCrimeStory #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

‘What happens to those girls who go missing? What happens to the Zoe Nolans of the world?’

In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a nineteen-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party taking place in the shared accommodation where she had been living for three months.

She was never seen again.

Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery. Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened in 2011. But where some versions of events overlap, aligning perfectly with one another, others stand in stark contrast, giving rise to troubling inconsistencies.

Shaken by revelations of Zoe’s secret life, and stalked by a figure from the shadows, Evelyn turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help make sense of a case where everyone has something to hide.

Zoe Nolan may be missing presumed dead, but her story is only just beginning”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of True Crime Story by Joseph Knox. True Crime Story was published by Penguin on 17th March 2022 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats.

I have been wanting to read a book by Joseph Knox for a number of years now. I’ve heard only good things about his Aidan Waits novels, a gritty Manchester based thriller series which sounds just my cup of tea! But then True Crime Story hit the shelves and the book world (the book world I inhabit anyway!) went bonkers for it. So, to celebrate the opening of a brand-new shiny Waterstones near where I live, I decided to treat myself to a new book – I picked True Crime Story. Well, that was over a year ago now, but I finally managed to find a gap in my reading schedule to squeeze it in. And what a treat it was!

Zoe Nolan, new to Manchester University alongside her twin sister Kim, disappears one December evening in 2011 without a trace. Seven years later aspiring author Evelyn Mitchell decides to write a book about Zoe’s disappearance, turning to bestselling author Joseph Knox (yes, THAT Joseph Knox – the guy with his name on the cover!) for help and advice. Evelyn manages to interview most of Zoe’s friends and family, slowly piecing together the mystery surrounding Zoe’s disappearance. What she is told from those who knew Zoe best rings true. Their stories, their points of view are the same. But Evelyn can’t ignore the startling differences she also discovers. Will Evelyn, with the help of Joseph, be able to solve the mystery of Zoe’s disappearance before it’s too late…

In True Crime Story the author strives to give the reader the feeling that this is an actual true crime story. And he does. In spades. I finished reading this book several weeks ago and despite knowing this is 100% fiction, I still can’t shake the belief that it’s not in some way real. When I was a few chapters into the novel, I found myself googling Zoe Nolan, just in case someone by that name had ever gone missing. I’ve read other novels with a fictional true crime angle before but in my mind they’ve been just that, fictional. There was something about the way the author has written this story, perhaps immersing himself in the narrative in such a strong way, that totally worked for me. I know it’s not real but oh my gosh, it felt so true to life. The way the characters behave and act, their flaws and their idiosyncrasies, their relationships. I believed every single word.

The story is told using written and verbal transcripts collected by Evelyn Mitchell and sent to Joseph Knox for his thoughts, feelings and input. There are quite a few characters involved in the story – Zoe’s sister, her parents, her university friends, teaching staff and those investigating what happened in an official capacity. They all get to share their observations of Zoe (and each other!) in the lead up to the night of her disappearance. The book is presented in quite a different way that I can’t recall seeing before. There’s very little spoken dialogue as each character’s account is delivered to the reader as it was put to Evelyn. There’s no discussion, no sharing of ideas. She doesn’t ask questions or interrupt their memories. I know many readers don’t like a lot of dialogue between characters in their novels, that there can be a point where there’s too much and it detracts from the story, but I think I need that interaction. So much so that I did on occasion find myself drifting away from the story a little.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you enjoy well-written mysteries and you’re looking for something very different to the norm then True Crime Story is a must read. It’s a highly original, intelligent story delivered in such a way that it’s hard to forget. I would LOVE to listen to the audiobook version as I think that could be a slightly different experience, in a strange, inexplicable way. The author has done a masterful job in making his plot, his characters and the Manchester of the book totally believable, which I take my hat off to. I can only imagine the amount of work which went into plotting and planning Zoe’s story. What I do know for sure is that I am excited to read more by Knox and my copy of ‘Sirens’ will be moving to the top of the terrifying TBR as soon as possible. Recommended.

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 17th March 2022 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |

Joseph Knox

Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke-On-Trent and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively.

Sirens, his debut novel, was a Sunday Times bestseller, and his work has now been translated into 18 languages.

The Sleepwalker, his third novel, was released in July, 2019.

#BookReview: The Island by C.L. Taylor @HQstories #TheIsland #damppebbles

Welcome to The Island.

Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality.

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Island by C.L. Taylor. The Island was published by HQ Young Adult on 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats.

I had a bit of a break in my planned reading so I turned to my own groaning bookshelves for inspiration. It’s true, there are a LOT of books all vying for attention on my shelves but The Island by C.L. Taylor easily won out. I’m really enjoying YA fiction at the moment (in the form of thrillers, mysteries and horror) and I’ve read a number of this author’s adult books so I was very keen to get stuck into The Island, the author’s second YA thriller.

Six teens are heading out on the holiday of a lifetime to Thailand. Their parents, who met at an antenatal class seventeen years ago and have always stayed in touch, get together once a year for a holiday. This year they’re upping the ante thanks to Jefferson’s dad who is hiring an isolated island and guide to celebrate his son’s 17th birthday. Whilst the parents relax in the lap of luxury, their kids will be skinning rabbits and building shelters. But once they arrive on the island things start to go wrong. Their guide dies suddenly and the boat is rendered useless when they discover the starter cord has been cut. And then their worst nightmares really start coming true. Long held phobias start manifesting themselves. Someone on the island knows what terrifies the teens the most and they’re going to do everything they can to make their lives a living hell…

The Island is a very engaging, very readable novel which I enjoyed. The story is told from two points of view – Jessie’s and Danny’s. I really liked Jessie from the moment I met her. Recent events hang heavy over her head and she’s clearly still grieving following the horrific death of her older brother. Since her last holiday with the group she’s changed and feels more on the periphery. She refuses to discuss what happened to her sibling and the others don’t ask or offer support so a lot is left to bubble beneath the surface. She’s unpredictable and perhaps a little reckless at times, changed by events but more than anything, she needs someone to talk to. Jessie’s character is very well written as I felt her pain and her angst. The other characters in the book – Jefferson, Milo, Meg, Honor (and of course, Danny who I’ve already mentioned) – are interesting and well-drawn. They play their parts well and help move the story along.

The plot is fast paced and gripping, with something always happening to hold the reader’s attention. I enjoyed the isolation the author creates and the way tension builds throughout the story. I did feel the numerous mentions of help only being one week away (when their parents realise their children haven’t returned to the hotel) did dampen the tension a little bit, but only a smidge. After all, there’s still the risk that not all six teens will make it out alive (no spoilers here). I’m afraid I was able to guess whodunit fairly early on and each new clue only cemented my suspicions further. However, I will say I am NOT the target audience for this book, I DO read a lot of thrillers AND I’m always on the lookout for whodunit, no matter what book I’m reading.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re looking for a well-written, engaging YA thriller then The Island is it. The author is skilled at writing interesting, complex characters which this book once again proves. I didn’t like all of them. At times one in particular made my blood boil, but they were my camp mates for the two days it took me to read The Island and I did (mostly) enjoy spending time with them. Well-paced, well written and a book I’m keen for my kids to read when they’re old enough to. A gripping and emotional YA thriller which I recommend.

The Island by C.L. Taylor was published in the UK by HQ Young Adult on 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

C.L. TaylorC.L. Taylor is an award winning Sunday Times bestselling author of nine gripping psychological thrillers including SLEEP, a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for autumn 2019. Her books are not a series and can be read in any order:

2014 – THE ACCIDENT / Before I Wake (U.S.)
2015 – THE LIE
2016 – THE MISSING
2017 – THE ESCAPE
2018 – THE FEAR
2019 – SLEEP
2020 – STRANGERS
2021 – HER LAST HOLIDAY
2022 – THE GUILTY COUPLE

She has also written two Young Adult thrillers, THE TREATMENT and THE ISLAND.

C.L. Taylor’s books have sold in excess of a million copies, been number one on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play and have been translated into over 25 languages and optioned for TV.

Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014. She lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

#BookReview: Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi #EightDetectives #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules.

In the 1930s, Grant McAllister, a mathematics professor turned author, worked them out, hiding their secrets in a book of crime stories.

Then Grant disappeared.

Julia Hart has finally tracked him down. She wants to know what happened to him.

But she’s about to discover that a good mystery can be murder to solve . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi. Eight Detectives was published by Penguin Books on 5th August 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose Eight Detectives as one of my ‘20 Books of Summer reads as I’ve been keen to make a start on since it arrived at damppebbles HQ last year. It’s also part of my ’12 books in 12 months challenge’.

As a side note to the ’20 Books of Summer Challenge’, today is officially the last day of the challenge and I’ve only managed to read 14 of my selected books. Which is a bit pants, in my opinion. I’ll post an official end of challenge post soon with the very disappointing facts and figures. However, what I will say is that I will be reviewing all of the 14 books I’ve read, I just won’t manage to do so within the challenge window.  So look out for ‘20 Books’ reviews coming your way over the next few months and into 2023 😲 (I know it’s not quite within the rules but hey, what can you do…?? 😂🙈)

Editor Julia Hart has been tasked with tracking down an elusive professor of mathematics turned author to discuss republishing his self-published novel ‘The White Murders’. Grant McAllister wrote a research paper titled ‘The Permutations of Detective Fiction’ which examined the mathematical structure of murder mysteries. From there ‘The White Murders’ was born. But the book, featuring seven short stories, each containing one of McAllister’s rules, was not successful. Which is why Julia has been tasked with locating McAllister on a remote Mediterranean island and convincing him to update and republish the work with her publisher, Blood Type Books. But on arrival at the island, Julia discovers there is more than one mystery to solve…

Eight Detectives is a complex, clever, assuredly written debut perfect for fans of the golden age of crime. The reader is presented with seven short stories, all of which feature one aspect of McAllister’s mathematical observations, the rules he believes are required in a murder mystery. Now, if you’re anything like me and mathematics is not your thing, then please don’t worry. The rules are fairly basic principles, for example, you need at least two suspects otherwise it’s not a murder mystery. Well, yes. How many victims can you have in a murder mystery? As many as you see fit. Following the first short story the reader is introduced to the two main characters in the book, Julia and Grant. This pattern continues for the entire novel; short story followed by analysis/discussion between writer and editor. These conversations were the sections I looked forward to the most, particularly as they tie everything together. They were very intriguing, I wanted to know more about the characters – particularly the elusive and mysterious professor. I think the author deserves an award for the amount of work and planning that’s gone into Eight Detectives. I don’t think this could have been an easy book to write with so many individual, standalone short stories, all within the same 1930s time period but all very different. With the overarching storyline of Julia and Grant keeping everything together.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of the golden age of crime, prefer a slower pace to your books or like a novel which makes you think then yes, I think you will enjoy Eight Detectives. This book received a lot of hype when it was first published but for me it fell a little short. I do feel I’m in the minority though. My favourite story in the book was the clear nod to Agatha Christie. I also enjoyed the first story set in Spain, the other stories I struggle to remember. There are some lovely twists and turns as the reader approaches the end of the book, several surprises which made me smile but I can’t help feeling that it just missed the mark for me. A great concept, cleverly written with interesting characters which I would recommend to fans of the golden age of crime.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 5th August 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

ImageAlex Pavesi lives in London, where he writes full time. He previously worked as a software engineer and before that obtained a PhD in Mathematics. He enjoys puzzles, long walks and recreational lock picking. Eight Detectives is his first book.

#BookReview: The Collective by Alison Gaylin @orionbooks #TheCollective #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

How far would a mother go to right a wrong?

Camille Gardener is a grieving and angry mother who, fives years after her daughter’s death, is obsessed with the man she believes to be responsible.

Because Camille wants revenge.
Enter: the Collective.

A group of women who desire justice above all else.

A group of women who enact revenge on the men who have wronged them.

But as Camille gets more involved in the group she must decide whether these women are the heroes or the villains.

And if she chooses wrong, will she ever get out alive?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Collective by Alison Gaylin. The Collective is published by Orion Books in paperback format today (that’s Thursday 11th August 2022) and is also available in audio and digital formats.

I am a huge fan of Alison Gaylin’s books (also written under A.L. Gaylin), The Collective being the fourth of her standalone thrillers which I’ve read. And in all honesty, if I wasn’t already a fan, there would be no way on this earth that I would be able to resist the pull of this book! That striking red cover with the silhouettes, that utterly intriguing tagline on the US version (it’s ‘no killer goes unpunished’ if you haven’t already seen it) and that ‘grab you by the throat’ blurb. Getting hold of a copy of this book became a priority!

Camille Gardener is a woman consumed by grief following the death of her 15-year-old daughter, Emily, five years earlier. She blames high achieving college student Harris Blanchard for Emily’s death but Harris is the college’s golden boy and has never been held to account. When Camille is approached by a stranger and given information about a Facebook group called Niobe for grieving mothers, she signs up. But the group is different to others she’s joined in the past. Their anger matches her own, the women openly discuss the most horrific deaths they can imagine for those they feel are responsible for their child’s death. But Niobe is only the start. Before long Camille is introduced to the Collective and things start to spiral out of control. Camille has been accepted into the Collective, but there’s a good chance she won’t make it out alive…

The Collective is so GOOD! Gaylin has once again produced an absolute page turner of a novel which I found near impossible to put down. Camille is a fascinating character and I watched, open mouthed, as she dug herself deeper and deeper into what felt like an inescapable hole. My heart was in my mouth and I was on the edge of my seat wondering how far things were going to go for the character. The more I read, the more I liked her. The more I read, the more I needed to know about the Collective. Gaylin has written such a brilliantly addictive thriller and I flew through the pages, desperate to find out where the author was going to take this misguided, grief-stricken woman. And oh my gosh, what a perfect ending.

The book is set around the Hudson Valley and I really enjoyed Gaylin’s vivid descriptions of the area. The setting felt like a complete contrast to the dark events unfolding before me on the page. Proof that terrible things can happen to nice, normal people. And terrible is a pretty massive understatement when it comes to some of the grisly ways the members of the group fantasise about killing off those responsible for their children’s deaths. Oh my goodness, you wouldn’t want to cross any of those moms!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Collective is an utterly captivating, highly addictive read which hooked me in from the opening pages and didn’t let go until the shocking end. Such a thrilling plot, skilfully executed, featuring terrific characters and jaw-dropping twists. The Collective demonstrates how raw, how powerful, how completely destructive one woman’s grief can be when fed. It’s certainly a dark read but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride! Full of suspense, secrets and overflowing with revenge. Gaylin has done it again and I remain a huge fan. Highly recommended.

The Collective by Alison Gaylin was published in the UK by Orion Books on 4th August 2022 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Alison Gaylin is the Edgar and Shamus award-winning author of 12 books and many short stories. A USA Today and international bestseller, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.