#BookReview: The Drift by C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks #TheDrift #damppebbles

Survival can be murder . . .

Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. Evacuated from a secluded boarding school during a snowstorm, her coach careered off the road, trapping her with a handful of survivors.

Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She’s in a cable car stranded high above snowy mountains, with five strangers and no memory of how they got on board.

Carter is gazing out of the window of an isolated ski chalet that he and his companions call home. As their generator begins to waver in the storm, the threat of something lurking in the chalet’s depths looms larger.

Outside, the storm rages. Inside each group, a killer lurks.

But who?

And will anyone make it out alive? . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Drift by C.J. Tudor. The Drift was published by Penguin Michael Joseph last week (that’s Thursday 19th January 2023) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read a free eARC of The Drift but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am such a HUGE fan of C.J. Tudor’s books. I have read and loved every single one since the author’s phenomenal debut, The Chalk Man, hit bookshelves in 2018. C.J. can do no wrong in my eyes with every thrilling new book going beyond my *ahem* very high expectations (eek, the pressure!). You just cannot go wrong with a book by this author and this latest release proves that, in abundance! The Drift is thoroughly captivating with clever storytelling and intricate plotting. Another tense and addictive addition to Tudor’s catalogue of work!

Normally at this point I would give you my take on the blurb. But this is a very difficult book to summarise due to just how darn clever it is. So I’ll just refer you to the publisher’s blurb which is waaaaay better than anything I could write and tells you a lot of what you need to know. The Drift is an apocalyptic/dystopian horror thriller set in the not so distant future following the outbreak of a virus which has killed billions. In this hell-like new world the reader is introduced to three main characters, each in a unique, snow-bound setting. Hannah is one of the survivors of a coach crash. The coach was heading to The Retreat. Then there’s Meg who is stranded in a cable car, on its way to The Retreat. And finally Carter, who is a resident at The Retreat. The reader visits each setting and gets to know what makes the three main characters tick. There’s plenty of backstory, plenty of insight into their current predicaments and plenty of interesting developments along the way. Meaning all three leads felt fully fleshed out and totally believable. Their situations also felt scarily plausible, which is a very frightening thing to say! Is that due to living in a post-pandemic world ourselves? I do wonder. Whilst not all of the main characters were particularly likeable I did find myself gradually warming to the two women. But there was a feeling that I couldn’t shake that I wasn’t seeing the whole picture…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved The Drift and know it is going to be one of my top books of the year come December. It’s a chilling, atmospheric read where the author has once again excelled at drawing the reader in and immersing them in a thoroughly riveting, nigh impossible-to-put-down thriller. With well placed touches of horror throughout, sky high tension and thrills aplenty, The Drift will no doubt become a bestseller. And deservedly so! It’s one of those ‘one more chapter’ books where you can’t and don’t want to stop reading but promise yourself ‘just one more chapter’ before realising it’s 3am and you need to go to work in a few hours! Chock-full of perfectly written suspense and with a killer twist in the tale, it was everything I was hoping for and so much more. C.J. Tudor knocks it out of the park every time. I said it before and I’ll say it again, Tudor can do no wrong in my eyes. A perfectly plotted tale of survival against the odds with a beautifully written overarching sense of dread and impending doom which I couldn’t get enough of. I loved every single second of The Drift. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Drift. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Drift by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Penguin Michael Joseph on 19th January 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

C. J. Tudor lives in Sussex, England with her partner and daughter.

Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voiceover and dog-walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.

#BookReview: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett @ViperBooks #TheMysteriousCaseoftheAlpertonAngels #AlpertonAngels #TheAlpertonAngels #damppebbles

Open the safe deposit box.
Inside you will find research material for a true crime book.
You must read the documents, then make a decision.
Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 19th January 2023) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later in the year. I chose to read a free ARC of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Rosie at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

A new book by Janice Hallett is a very exciting prospect indeed. The author has given the mystery genre a flipping good shake in the last few years with her mesmerising plots and different style of delivery. If you’re not sure what I mean by ‘different style of delivery’ then please allow me to explain. All three of Hallett’s books, The AppealThe Twyford Code and now, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, have been told through the use of written communication. So letters, emails, transcripts, social media messaging etc. It provides a completely different experience for the reader, it’s so skilfully executed and I love what Hallett is doing. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is a novel I have been looking forward to with bated breath for nearly a year now (since finishing The Twyford Code) and it delivered on every count…and many, many more. Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be a very enthusiastic review!

Upon opening the book the reader is given a task. In your hand you hold a key. The key opens a safety deposit box. Inside that box you will find comprehensive research material for a true crime book about the notorious Alperton Angels. You’re asked to read everything and make a decision: 1) return the documents to the box and lose the key so it can never be opened again, or 2) take the documents to the police. What will you do?

True crime writer, Amanda Bailey, is looking for something completely different to cover. When her agent suggests a book about the heart breaking case of the Alperton Angels from 2003, Amanda is sold. The baby that was involved in the case (and was considered by the cult members to be the anti-Christ) is about to turn eighteen and can finally talk about the experience. What a scoop that would be! But Amanda is not alone in her search for the baby. Oliver Menzies, an ex-colleague she has a strong dislike of, is also searching for the Alperton baby. Forced to work together, they begin to realise that memories are fragile and often, people recall events very differently. Every avenue they turn down leads to a dead end. Every hint or clue they’re given turns out to be a dud. Someone somewhere must know something and Amanda will do whatever it takes to discover the truth…

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is sublime in concept, execution and delivery. Utterly intriguing, highly original and impossible to put down. Yes, this book IS responsible for the dark circles under my eyes and yes, it’s because I chose reading over sleep! I find there’s not a lot of choice to be had when the book is this bloody good! As with previous books, I quickly became comfortable with the different style the story is presented in, powering through the pages, unable to tear myself away. Once again, I appreciated the comprehensive list of characters near the front of the book disguised as an ‘interview wish list’ but found myself not referring to it so much this time around. There was no need as I was able to bring to mind all of the characters with ease, their relationships to one another and their place in the story. Which brings me around nicely to talk about the characters. Amanda is a career driven woman who I often felt pushed others feelings aside for her own personal gain. Saying that, she can’t be all that bad as her ex-assistant, Ellie Cooper, the woman tasked with typing up her audio transcripts, seems to have a real soft spot for her. Ellie was my favourite character in the book. Which is a strange thing to say as she really isn’t involved in any of the action. Ellie does however add her own personal thoughts and observations to Amanda’s transcripts and there was a real warmth and fondness to her words which I very much enjoyed. Ellie also brings a touch of humour. I don’t know how Janice Hallett does it though. How do you give the reader a real sense of your characters when all you have to make them come to life are a few emails and WhatsApp messages? It blows my mind. Janice, you’re a genius!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. One million times over. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is devilishly good (geddit? 😉). I’m a huge fan of books featuring cults and their enigmatic leaders so I was always going to love The Alperton Angels. I just didn’t realise how much. It’s an utterly intriguing story delivered by a master storyteller in their superb trademark style and I LOVED it. Hugely creative, totally addictive and beautifully intricate. You need this book in your life (and why not pick up the author’s first two books whilst you’re there?!). Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett was published in the UK by Viper Books on 19th January 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and cowrote the feature film Retreat.

#BookReview: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix @TitanBooks #HowtoSellaHauntedHouse #damppebbles

Your past and your family can haunt you like nothing else… A hilarious and terrifying new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Final Girl Support Group.

When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn’t want to leave her daughter with her ex and fly to Charleston. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. She doesn’t want to learn how to live without the two people who knew and loved her best in the world.

Mostly, she doesn’t want to deal with her brother, Mark, who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. But she’ll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market.

Some houses don’t want to be sold, and their home has other plans for both of them…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix. How to Sell a Haunted House is published by Titan Books today (that’s Tuesday 17th January 2023) and is available in hardcover and digital formats. I chose to read a free eARC of How to Sell a Haunted House but that has in no way influenced my review.

This time last year I was aware of horror author Grady Hendrix but I hadn’t read any of their books. And then I picked up a copy of The Final Girl Support Group and, oh boy, I was officially smitten. Now I have a collection of Grady Hendrix books on the bookshelf that I’m merrily working my way through (look out for my review of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires coming to the blog soon!). It’s safe to say the publication of a new GH book has quickly become one of my yearly reading highlights. All in the space of a few months! So it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to read How to Sell a Haunted House. And I loved every creepy, phobia inducing minute of it!

Single parent, Louise, receives a call from her brother, Mark, informing her that their parents have died in a tragic accident. Louise is devastated but reluctantly packs a bag, leaves her five year old daughter, Poppy, with her ex and heads to Charleston to take control of matters. But on arrival it becomes clear to Louise that Mark is planning on doing things his own way. Including sidelining his sister at every turn. He’s planned the funeral and now all that’s left to do is clear out the family home so it can be sold to the highest bidder. Mark wants no fuss or sentimentality. But Louise feels differently. She wants to honour the memory of her parents, taking time to sort and clear their possessions. The house contains a lifetime of memories. And dolls. Dolls that seem to turn up in the most unlikely of places. As do her mother’s homemade puppets. Louise and Mark may be hoping for a quick sale but the house has a different idea altogether…

How to Sell a Haunted House is an utterly compelling, thoroughly creepy read with exquisite characterisation which I found nigh impossible to be parted from for any length of time. I was so drawn into Louise and Mark’s story. I felt desperately sorry for Louise who seemed to be overlooked in favour of her younger sibling throughout their childhood, only for adult Mark to throw his toys out of the pram at the most inappropriate moment. My blood pressure rose as Mark did everything in his power to usurp his big sister. Removing any and all power she held at a time when emotions were raw and relationships were incredibly fragile. But, of course, it’s only as the reader progresses through the book that we get to really understand these beautifully crafted siblings and see what lurks beneath the surface.

Out of all of the horror tropes one of the scariest, for me, is the creepy ass doll. Only mildly creepier is the haunted puppet. There’s not much in it really but the puppet is definitely the more sinister of the two. And How to Sell a Haunted House proves my point in abundance. Hendrix has literally created a monster. Part of me wanted to hide in the wardrobe from the malevolence of nasty little Pupkin. But I couldn’t put the book down! I was completely immersed in the horror that was happening before me and I loved every chilling moment.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. How to Sell a Haunted House is my favourite Grady Hendrix novel so far, but I don’t think you can go wrong in picking up one of this author’s books. Everything I have read to date has been thoroughly entertaining, a whole lot of fun, perfectly pitched and pretty darn memorable. I do think, at times, the pace moved a little slower than in previous books but that’s never a problem, providing the characters speak to me. And they certainly did! I was swept away by the author’s clever storytelling to a world of stuffed squirrels and invisible dogs and weirdly, I didn’t want to leave. All in all, How to Sell a Haunted House is a winner for me. I loved the characters, I loved what the author put the characters through and I loved that it was all just a little bit bonkers, in the best way possible. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of How to Sell a Haunted House. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix was published in the UK by Titan Books on 17th January 2023 and is available in hardcover 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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Grady HendrixGrady Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which is like Beaches meets The Exorcist, only it’s set in the Eighties. He’s also the author of We Sold Our SoulsThe Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, and Final Girl Support Group!

He’s also the jerk behind the Stoker award-winning Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the 70’s and 80’s horror paperback boom, which contains more information about Nazi leprechauns, killer babies, and evil cats than you probably need.

And he’s the screenwriter behind Mohawk, which is probably the only horror movie about the War of 1812 and Satanic Panic.

#BookReview: The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis #TheShards #damppebbles

“LA, 1981. Buckley College in heat. 17-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends, even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle. Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equalled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with The Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence.

Can he trust his friends – or his own mind – to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, Bret spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between The Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.

Gripping, sly, suspenseful, deeply haunting and often darkly funny, The Shards is a mesmerizing fusing of fact and fiction that brilliantly explores the emotional fabric of Bret’s life at 17 – sex and jealousy, obsession and murderous rage.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis. The Shards is published by Swift Press tomorrow (that’s Tuesday 17th January 2023) and will be available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read a free ARC of The Shards but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Rachel at Swift Press for sending me a proof copy.

The Shards is Bret Easton Ellis’s first book in thirteen years, which is something I personally find quite exciting. I must admit that I have read only one of his previous books and that’s the highly controversial American Psycho. Have you read it? What did you think? As a reader of dark fiction and someone who’s read some REALLY unsettling works, American Psycho left me feeling uncomfortable. But isn’t that one of the main points of literature? To make the reader feel something? Following my experience with American Psycho I felt my time with this author wasn’t done. I wanted to read more. Which is why when offered a review copy, I bit the publisher’s hand off.

It’s 1981 and Bret is starting his senior year at exclusive Buckley College, a private school for the children of LA’s elite. Bret knows what he’s going to do with his life when he graduates and that’s become a writer. But until then, he and his friends are going to make the best of their last year under the influence of alcohol, cocaine and quaaludes. When a new kid joins their senior class, he’s welcomed into Bret’s friendship group. But Bret is suspicious. Why would anyone transfer to a different school for their senior year? What is Robert Mallory hiding? As Robert ingratiates himself into the group Bret struggles to convince his friends that they need to be wary of him. Elsewhere in LA a serial killer is at large. Dubbed The Trawler, the killer is targeting young women. But Bret is the only person aware of the horror happening on their doorstep. No one else in his senior class seems to care or even be aware of the danger. As Bret begins to piece together a timeline, a startling coincidence becomes clear. Could Robert Mallory and The Trawler be connected…?

The Shards is an unsettling piece of metafiction presenting itself as a semi-autobiographical novel and it works very well. Throughout the entire book I questioned exactly how much was true and how much was fiction. I even ended up Googling a couple of names because my curiosity became too much to bear! The characters are interesting. Particularly Bret who throughout the book tries to hide his sexuality from his friends whilst having numerous very explicit, secret encounters with a number of men. All while trying to deter his overly needy girlfriend, Debbie, who won’t leave him alone for more than a few hours. The tension between Bret and Robert Mallory builds beautifully over the course of the book to an explosive, unforgettable ending which I loved every moment of. It just takes the reader a long time to get there so this is very much a novel you need to invest in.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. But please be aware that this book is not for the faint hearted. It’s explicit in both violence and sexual content (along with drug and alcohol use) and won’t be for everyone. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the novel. Is Robert Mallory The Trawler? Or has Bret’s over-active writer’s imagination connected dots that aren’t actually there. The ending of the book was sublime. Vivid, expertly written tension that claws you in and refuses to let go. But at over 600 pages I do feel the book was too long and often repetitive. I have since discovered that The Shards was initially released as a podcast which now makes some of the repetitive sections make more sense. One other tiny bugbear I had with the book were the driving scenes. Bret likes to drive a lot and every road he happens down is mentioned. I’m a Brit with no knowledge or emotional connection to LA so these scenes got a little old fairly quickly for me. However, I loved the overall 80s nostalgia along with the references to music and movies of the time. I felt they really rooted the story in it’s historical setting. The mystery was intriguing and kept me turning the pages (all 608 of them to be precise!) and I will definitely be reading more by this author in the future. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Shards. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis was published in the UK by Swift Press on 17th January 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Bret Easton EllisBret Easton Ellis is an American author. He is considered to be one of the major Generation X authors and was regarded as one of the so-called literary Brat Pack, which also included Tama Janowitz and Jay McInerney. He has called himself a moralist, although he has often been pegged as a nihilist. His characters are generally young vacuous people, who are aware of their depravity but choose to enjoy it. The novels are also linked by common, recurring characters, and dystopic locales (such as Los Angeles and New York).

#BookReview: Devil’s Way by Robert Bryndza #DevilsWay #damppebbles

“THE TRUTH HIDES IN THE DARK

When Private Investigator Kate Marshall is rushed to hospital after being pulled into a riptide current in the sea, the near-death experience leaves her shaken. During her recovery, she befriends Jean, an elderly lady on the same ward. Jean tells the harrowing story of how her three-year-old grandson, Charlie, went missing eleven years ago during a camping trip on Dartmoor.

By the time Kate is well enough to go home, she’s agreed to take on the case, but when Kate and her trusty sidekick Tristan start to look at the events of that fateful night, they discover that Jean has a dark past that could have put Charlie in jeopardy.

Was Charlie abducted? Or did he fall into Devil’s Way? A rushing river that vanishes into a gorge close to where they were camping.

When Kate and Tristan discover that a social worker who flagged concerns about Jean and her daughter was found brutally murdered shortly after Charlie vanished, it makes them question everything they thought they knew about the family…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Devil’s Way by Robert Bryndza. Devil’s Way is the fourth book in the Kate Marshall Thriller Series, is published by Raven Street Publishing today (that’s Thursday 12th January 2023) and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read a free ARC of Devil’s Way but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Raven Street Publishing for sending me a finished copy.

I am a HUGE fan of Robert Bryndza’s writing and his Erika Foster series. I have a full-blown girl crush on Erika, and the arrival of the seventh book after a small wait was one of the highlights of my year in 2022. However, and I am hanging my head in utter shame here, until recently I hadn’t had an opportunity to pick up any of Bryndza’s Kate Marshall novels. I know. Fan girl fail of epic proportions, right? But I have now righted that wrong, phew. Devil’s Way was my introduction to Kate and Tristan and I loved every single second of it.

Recovering in hospital from a riptide which nearly killed her, Kate Marshall starts to chat to Jean, the elderly woman in the next bed. Jean shares a heart breaking tale of a family holiday gone horribly wrong. Camping on the moors one evening with her daughter, her daughter’s partner and their young son, Jean, who was sharing a tent with young Charlie, became distracted for a few moments allowing Charlie to disappear. Eleven years later and Charlie is still missing. The devastation caused in that one moment tore the family apart and still consumes Jean’s thoughts. Realising Kate is a private detective Jean asks her to investigate Charlie’s disappearance. Still recovering from nearly drowning, Kate agrees. As Kate and Tristan start to investigate it becomes clear that Jean has a dark past. Could she be the reason Charlie vanished? Or did Devil’s Way, a fast flowing river near to where they were camping, wash Charlie away…?

Devil’s Way is a skilfully written, immersive, slow burn mystery which I thoroughly enjoyed. This was my first introduction to the character of Kate Marshall and it’s safe to say, I cannot wait to be reunited with her. So much so, I now have all three earlier books on the TBR waiting for me. I will be interested to see if Kate’s traumatic past, which is referred to in Devil’s Way a couple of times, is covered in depth in one of the earlier books. I am so intrigued and I want to know everything that’s happened to this woman! What I will say, being a crime fiction reader and having an unspoken rule about not starting a series part-way through (normally!), I found this book so easy and straight forward to dive into, not knowing anything that’s happened to these characters before. Often, when starting a series part-way through, I feel quite lost. Events are referred to that you know nothing about. Relationships are discussed and it can get confusing. Who? What? Where? Huh? That was definitely not the case here. This is the most standalone-part-of-a-series novel I can remember reading. Ever. It’s incredibly well done and I commend the author on making it easy for the reader to pick up and just enjoy. If you haven’t read this series before then please don’t worry. Devil’s Way works incredibly well as a standalone. But I guarantee you’ll be doing the same as me and adding the first three books to your TBR when you reach the end!

Eleven years is a long time. Evidence gets lost. Memories change, sometimes changing altogether and witnesses are no longer around to talk to. Kate and her assistant, Tristan, struggle to make head way on the case. Not helped by Kate’s slow recovery following her near drowning. I was completely immersed in the lives of the characters and the investigation as a whole. As each stone was unturned, I became more gripped. The book is beautifully paced keeping the reader fully within the pages of the story, desperate to discover what happened to Charlie. As it’s a cold case, it does move at a more sedate pace in parts, but for me, I love that gradual unravelling which the author has done so well here. And of course, being a Robert Bryndza novel, there are perfectly placed moments of high tension which had me holding my breath. Marvellous stuff!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved Devil’s Way and I cannot wait to read the first three books in the series as soon as humanly possible. This is such a well-written mystery with superb characterisation and the most breath-taking setting which the author brings to life with ease. I loved everything about Devil’s Way and will be recommending it to everyone. Yes, it’s the fourth book in the series but it absolutely DOES work without having read the others. Robert Bryndza remains one of my favourite authors and I’m very excited about the author’s first standalone psychological thriller, Fear the Silence, which is hitting bookshelves this Summer! All in all, an eminently readable, thoroughly enjoyable, completely gripping and atmospheric cold case investigation featuring a new favourite character. Nice to have a private detective at the helm for a refreshing change of scene. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Devil’s Way by Robert Bryndza. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Devil’s Way by Robert Bryndza was published in the UK by Raven Street Publishing on 12th January 2023 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 DepositoryGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Robert Bryndza is best known for his page-turning crime and thriller novels, which have sold over five million copies. His crime debut, The Girl in the Ice was released in February 2016, introducing Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster. Within five months it sold one million copies, reaching number one in the Amazon UK, USA and Australian charts. To date, The Girl in the Ice has sold over 1.5 million copies in the English language and has been sold into translation in 29 countries. It was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller (2016), the Grand prix des lectrices de Elle in France (2018), and it won two reader voted awards, The Thrillzone Awards best debut thriller in The Netherlands (2018) and The Dead Good Papercut Award for best page turner at the Harrogate Crime Festival (2016).

Robert has released a further five novels in the Erika Foster series, The Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath, Cold Blood and Deadly Secrets, all of which have been global bestsellers, and in 2017 Last Breath was a Goodreads Choice Award nominee for Mystery and Thriller. Fatal Witness, the seventh Erika Foster novel, has just been published.

Most recently, Robert created a new crime thriller series based around the central character Kate Marshall, a police officer turned private detective. The first book, Nine Elms, was an Amazon USA #1 bestseller and an Amazon UK top five bestseller, and the series has been sold into translation in 18 countries. The second book in the series is the global bestselling, Shadow Sands and the third book is, Darkness Falls.

Robert was born in Lowestoft, on the east coast of England. He studied at Aberystwyth University, and the Guildford School of Acting, and was an actor for several years, but didn’t find success until he took a play he’d written to the Edinburgh Festival. This led to the decision to change career and start writing. He self-published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels, before switching to writing crime. Robert lives with his husband in Slovakia, and is lucky enough to write full-time.

#BookReview: Dead Man’s Creek by Chris Hammer @Wildfirebks #DeadMansCreek #damppebbles

“Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her hometown, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, her arrival provoking an unwelcome and threatening response from the small-town community. As more bodies are discovered, and she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her, Nell realises that finding the truth could prove more difficult – and dangerous – than she’d ever expected.

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more treacherous her path becomes. Can she survive to root out the truth, and what price will she have to pay for it?

Gripping and atmospheric, Dead Man’s Creek is a stunning multi-layered thriller from Chris Hammer, the award-winning author of Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year Scrublands (2019) and Times Crime Book of the Month Opal Country (January 2022).”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Dead Man’s Creek by Chris Hammer. Dead Man’s Creek is published by Wildfire Books today (that’s Thursday 5th January 2023) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in the Summer. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Dead Man’s Creek but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Caitlin at Wildfire Books for sending me a finished copy.

I am a huge fan of Australian crime fiction and Chris Hammer has rapidly become a favourite author of mine. So when I heard a new book was on the horizon I, of course, jumped at the chance to read it. Something you can always guarantee with a book by this author is that the story will be intelligent, beautifully plotted and gripping to the end, the setting will be vivid and by the conclusion you will believe the characters are living, breathing people. What more could a reader ask for?

Newly promoted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns with senior Detective Ivan Lucic to her hometown to investigate what appears to be a cold case. Nell finds it difficult to understand the rationale for their involvement in Tulong. They are homicide detectives after all and the bones that have been unearthed appear to be decades old. It’s hardly the exciting first case she was hoping for! However, Nell’s connection to the area and her knowledge of those that live there means she’s able to access information that otherwise wouldn’t be so forthcoming. As Nell digs into what happened to the body buried under the dam in the Murray River, startling new information comes to light about the past and present, putting Nell in increasing danger. Because for Nell Buchanan, this investigation is very close to home…

Dead Man’s Creek is a riveting and intricate crime novel that’s both beautifully plotted and totally immersive. The reader can’t help but be pulled into the book by the author’s skilful storytelling and once you’re in, there’s no way you’re going to want to leave. Everything about Dead Man’s Creek is pitched perfectly. The characters are multi-layered and fascinating from start to finish. Over the course of the two books featuring Nell Buchanan I have really warmed to her character. As said in my opening paragraph, these characters – and Nell in particular – feel very real to me. The reader really gets to know the bones of her in this novel as the story is set both in the past and the present, revolving to a large degree around the Waters/Buchanan family. Because of this there are a quite a few supporting characters to get your head around and relationships to remember. But I found I was soon able to bring to mind the relationship between characters and a brief backstory. But Nell ultimately shines through with her dogged determination to get the case solved and uncover any previous wrongdoing. No matter what the cost…

The story is set in both the past and the present and I really appreciated the information the author provides about Australia’s part in the Second World War. It was fascinating to read about the impact of conflict on the country, something I’m ashamed to say I know nothing about. The book is well paced and draws the reader in, keeping you glued to the pages (all 469 of them!). If the thought of a longer novel is something you find daunting then believe me when I say it’s well worth investing in Dead Man’s Creek. It’s a compelling, tense and immersive read which flew by in the blink of eye.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Dead Man’s Creek is a superb follow up to Opal County, Nell and Ivan Lucic’s first adventure. Dead Man’s Creek stands perfectly well on its own so there’s no need to read Opal Country first but I heartily recommend both books. Why not pick up both and really get to know Ivan and Nell? Add in the Martin Scarsden series too which starts with Scrublands. I am always impressed with how incredibly vivid the author’s settings are. They’re a living, breathing part of the storyline alongside the very lifelike characters.  Chris Hammer is a favourite author of mine for good reason. A superb sense of place, totally believable characters and a plot that won’t let you go until you’ve read the final word. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Dead Man’s Creek. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Dead Man’s Creek by Chris Hammer was published in the UK by Wildfire Books on 5th January 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 shopdamppebbles bookshop.org shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

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

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

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