#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart @MichaelJBooks #TheButcherandTheWren #damppebbles


In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him ‘The Butcher’ – and, so far, he’s proved impossible to catch.

With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity’s darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher’s killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice.

And yet, he continues to elude her.

As body after body piles up on Wren’s examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

How far is Wren willing to go to draw the Butcher into the light . . .?
An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining The Butcher and The Wren blog tour. The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart was published by Penguin Michael Joseph on 13th September 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Butcher and The Wren but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Sriya at Penguin Michael Joseph for sending me a proof copy.

Dr Wren Muller is an experienced forensic pathologist used to dealing with the darker, gorier side of life (and death!). When a serial killer with a penchant for experimenting on his victims starts terrorising the streets of Louisiana, Wren is determined to put her vast knowledge of pathology and criminology into catching the killer. A killer the press have dubbed ‘The Butcher’. Working with the New Orleans Police Department, finding ‘The Butcher’ becomes a matter of urgency for Wren and Detective Leroux. Wren’s obsession with catching the killer grows as the body count rises. No one in Louisiana is safe. Each new victim bringing with them a tale of torture and terror. It’s down to Wren to draw the killer out of hiding before another victim meets a horrifying end…

The Butcher and The Wren is a compelling debut thriller which had me turning the pages at a rate of knots keen to discover how things were going to end. I’m a huge fan of the serial killer thriller. It’s one of my ‘must read’ sub-genres under the crime umbrella so I will always jump at the chance to read anything featuring a multiple murderer (yes, I am odd – although with the number of true crime fans these days I am clearly not in the minority anymore!). The Butcher and The Wren promised a great deal, being written by the co-host of a popular true crime podcast who is also a mortuary technician, and I felt it delivered. The author has used her own experiences and knowledge to give the story an authenticity which I very much appreciated.

The plot is well paced and told from both Wren and the killer’s points of view. This dual narrative really drew me into the story and kept me on the edge of my seat, eager to discover what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed the New Orleans setting with the swamplands featuring strongly throughout. I thought the author did an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of the swamps for the reader. There is one scene in particular in the book which gave me chills. It was so atmospheric and dark in tone.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Butcher and The Wren is a wonderfully gory and addictive serial killer thriller which I enjoyed. I found the story compelling and was hooked from start to finish, powering through the book in a couple of sittings. The characters were interesting and I hope, should a sequel be planned, that we get to peel away the layers a little more and dig a little deeper into what makes them tick. Having finished the book, I felt the killer was more defined in their character than Wren, our lead, was. However, I do get the impression there is more to come so there’s plenty of time for that. The Butcher and The Wren is a good, solid, well-written debut thriller and I look forward to reading more from Urquhart in the future. Recommended.

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

The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart was published in the UK by Penguin Michael Joseph on 13th September 2022 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |


Alaina Urquhart is the science-loving co-host of the chart-topping show Morbid: A True Crime Podcast. As an autopsy technician by trade, she offers a unique perspective from deep inside the morgue. Alaina hails from Boston, where she lives with her wonderful husband, John, their three amazing daughters, and a ghost Puggle named Bailey. She is about 75 percent coffee, and truly believes she and Agent Clarice Starling could be friends.

Before writing her first psychological horror novel, she received degrees in criminal justice, psychology, and biology. When she isn’t hosting Morbid, she hosts the Parcast original show Crime Countdown, and a horror movie podcast called Scream!. Her days are usually spent either recording or eviscerating. The way she sees it, when she hangs up her microphone for the day, it’s time to let the dead speak.

#BookReview: The Echo Man by Sam Holland @HarperCollinsUK #TheEchoMan #damppebbles

“The murders have begun…
Across England, a string of murders is taking place. Each different in method, but each horrifying and brutal.

But the killer is just getting started…
Jess Ambrose is plunged into the investigation when her house is set ablaze. With her husband dead and the police pointing at her, she runs. Her only hope is disgraced detective Nate Griffin, who is convinced Jess is innocent.

And he’s going to shock the world…
Soon, Jess and Griffin discover the unthinkable; this murderer is copying the world’s most notorious serial killers. And now, imitation isn’t enough. The killer dubbed The Echo Man is ready to create his own masterpiece, and it will be more terrifying than anything that has come before…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Echo Man by Sam Holland. The Echo Man is published by HarperCollins next week (that’s Thursday 14th April 2022) and will be available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Echo Man but that has in no way influenced my review.

There was no way on earth I was going to be able to resist this book! Serial killer thrillers are my absolute go-to sub genre and I would happily read nothing but serial killer thrillers all year long if I had the chance. The Echo Man absolutely screamed my name so as soon as I got hold of a copy, I got stuck in. I couldn’t resist!

Jess Ambrose is thrown from her seemingly perfect yet boring life into a terrifying situation when her house burns down. Her husband was trapped in the blaze and didn’t survive but thankfully, Jess was able to rescue her young daughter. With her daughter in intensive care, Jess immediately realises that she is the prime suspect for setting the fire so she makes a run for it. What Jess doesn’t realise is that the fire was set by a serial killer who is carrying out multiple murders, all inspired by some of the worst killers of our time. With the help of disgraced ex-police detective, Nate Griffin, can they work out the twisted killers next move? And stop him before he creates his own deadly masterpiece…?

The Echo Man is one helluva debut which serial killer thriller fans will devour with glee. It’s dark, it’s definitely disturbing and it’s going to fly off the shelves, without a doubt. The concept of this book ticks so many boxes for me. As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the serial killer thriller but bringing real life cases into the story really escalates the plot into something I don’t think I’ve experienced before. I was turning the pages at a rate of knots, keen to discover what dastardly deed would befall the helpless victim next. Which real life case would inspire our killer and would I manage to keep my lunch down for a bit longer! And I don’t jest there, there are some pretty tummy turning scenes in this book so if you’re not of a strong disposition, this may not be the book for you.

The characters are well written and kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t particularly warm to any of them but being a dark and edgy crime thriller, I don’t believe relatable characters are always a necessary requirement. I want my crime fiction characters to shock and surprise me with their actions, be unpredictable yet driven – be it catching a killer or fulfilling their dastardly MO. After all, they’re treading a dangerous line which I, in real life, don’t want to be a part of. Warm and fluffy is NOT an option in crime fiction. I found Nate Griffin the most interesting and compelling of the cast. Following a frenzied attack the previous year which left his wife dead and him badly injured, Nate is now addicted to painkillers and his supply steadily runs out over the course of the book. But that doesn’t stop Nate from wanting to catch the killer, alongside his former colleagues in the force – DCI Cara Elliot and DS Noah Deakin. All of the characters play their part well and make this debut quite the page turner!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Echo Man is a very readable novel which I enjoyed immersing myself in. The writing is excellent, the storyline is well plotted and very compelling. However, I did have a couple of tiny bug bears which interrupted the flow for me a little. The female characters in the book are referred to by their first names. The male characters tend to be referred to by their surnames. It was most noticeable with DCI Cara Elliot, compared with DS Nate Griffin and DS Noah Deakin. She was Cara, they were Griffin and Deakin. The ending also felt a little sudden, almost as though the story wasn’t quite done. It may be there is more to come and if that is the case, that makes sense. But for me, as it stands, I was a little disappointed by the ending. But they are teeny tiny personal quibbles and don’t take away from the fact this is a cracking debut which crime thriller fans should make a point of reading. I truly believe this book is going to be HUGE. Recommended.

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

The Echo Man by Sam Holland was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 14th March 2022 and is available in hardcover, 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 |

Sam HollandHaving always been fascinated with the dark and macabre, Sam Holland’s love of reading was forged in the library through Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Herbert. A self-confessed serial killer nerd, Holland studied psychology at university then spent the next few years working in HR, before quitting for a full-time career in writing. The Echo Man is the result.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Final Child by Fran Dorricott @TitanBooks @lydiagittins #TheFinalChild #damppebbles

“A stunning psychological thriller from the author of After the Eclipse, for readers of Ruth Ware and S.K. Tremeyne.

He won’t forget her…

Erin and her brother Alex were the last children abducted by ‘the Father’, a serial killer who only ever took pairs of siblings. She escaped, but her brother was never seen again. Traumatised, Erin couldn’t remember anything about her ordeal, and the Father was never caught.

Eighteen years later, Erin has done her best to put the past behind her. But then she meets Harriet. Harriet’s young cousins were the Father’s first victims and, haunted by their deaths, she is writing a book about the disappearances and is desperate for an interview with the only survivor. At first, Erin wants nothing to do with her. But then she starts receiving sinister gifts, her house is broken into, and she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After all these years, Erin believed that the Father was gone, but now she begins to wonder if he was only waiting…

A tense and emotive thriller, The Final Child is a powerful tale of a survivor being forced to confront her painful past.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining The Final Child blog tour and sharing my review. The Final Child was published earlier this week on Tuesday 7th September by Titan Books and is available in paperback and digital format. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Final Child but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Lydia at Titan Books for sending me a proof copy.

I admit it, I’m a HUGE fan of the serial killer thriller. Although that may not come as the biggest surprise if you’re a regular visitor to the blog! I tend to gravitate towards books featuring a serial killer, which meant there was no way I was going to be able to resist The Final Child by Fran Dorricott, with its incredibly intriguing blurb and striking cover.

Erin and her brother, Alex, were the last siblings taken by serial killer, the Father, after his reign of terror over families in the mid to late 90s. Sneaking into their rooms at night, the Father would snatch the children whilst their parents slept soundly in the next room. Some of the children’s bodies were found, others were not, leaving grief stricken parents all over the land. Until Erin escaped the clutches of her captor and the Father was not heard from again. With little to no memory of what happened during the time she was held by a killer, Erin has moved on with her life. Choosing to ignore what happened and hiding from the press. But when Erin returns home and discovers an eerie gift waiting for her, she realises that the Father may only have been biding his time…

The Final Child is a gripping, emotive read chock-full of delicious suspense and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Erin is a little stand-offish, a little brusque but I loved her. I think if the same had happened to me, I would also be a little cold. Particularly to the press! Erin is reluctant to talk to anyone about her experience (partly because she remembers so little!) but when writer Harriet, turns up at her mother’s house, with her own personal experience of the Father (her cousins were the first victims) she manages to convince Erin that revisiting the events of 18 years ago may be therapeutic. Fed-up of hiding and avoiding the past, Erin decides to trust Harriet and together, the two of them begin to dig into what really happened the night Erin escaped…

The relationship between Erin and Harriet is very well-written with Erin’s gradual thawing towards Harriet and Harriet’s slow dawning realisation that her feelings towards Erin might be more than just friendship. I loved the whole serial killer aspect of the novel but watching Erin and Harriet’s relationship develop over the course of the book was an unexpected bonus.

The plot is paced perfectly and I was turning the pages late into the night. The majority of the book is told from either Erin or Harriet’s point of view with occasional chapters from other, undefined voices. These chapters give the reader a wonderful sense of unease. Who are these characters and how do they relate to Erin’s story? They really help add to the all-round tension of the book.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Final Child is a gripping, chilling, psychological crime thriller which I very much enjoyed. The characters are well-written and stand tall from the page. The author does a great job of throwing in a number of clever red herrings along the way to make you think one thing whilst taking you off in a different direction. I really enjoyed the way Dorricott made me doubt myself several times along the way! This is the first book I’ve read by this author but based on my experience of The Final Child, it won’t be the last. All in all, a terrific read. Gripping, emotional and packed full of tension. Recommended.

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

The Final Child by Fran Dorricott was published in the UK by Titan Books on 7th September 2021 and is available in paperback 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 |

Fran Dorricott

Fran Dorricott is an author based in Derby, where she lives with her family, two cats, and three dogs (one of whom weighs more than she does). She loves to tell gothic, inclusive stories and drink copious amounts of tea.

Fran is also a bookseller working in the Derby branch of Waterstones, which is secretly just a way for her to fuel her ridiculous book-buying addiction. Her first novel, After the Eclipse, was released in March 2019. The Final Child (Sept 2021) is her second novel.

#BookReview: The Resident by David Jackson @ViperBooks #TheResident #FeartheResident #damppebbles


Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year with you today — The Resident by David Jackson. I am a huge fan of Jackson’s writing, particularly his DS Cody series which you JUST HAVE TO READ! When I heard Jackson was due to release a standalone novel with Viper Books, I knew I had to get my mitts on a copy – by fair means or foul. Thankfully desperate measures were not called for as the lovely folk at Viper Books sent me an early copy. Huge thanks to the publisher for sending me a free ARC of The Resident which has in no way influenced my review.

Your home is your castle. Your safe sanctuary from the rest of the world. But what if it wasn’t? What if someone was living in your loft. And not just anyone, a deranged serial killer. If that’s not got your attention then we need to have words! If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that I’m a die-hard crime fiction fan. I read a lot of crime and that’s just fine because that’s the way I like it. However, I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read from the killer’s point of view. And that’s exactly what makes The Resident a darn special read. This is Thomas’s story.

There are several other elements which make The Resident stand out from other books in the same genre. A large proportion of the dialogue is between Thomas…..and Thomas. Yup, you read that correctly. Thomas is a very damaged soul and we get to see the inner workings of his strained mind. It’s fascinating stuff. I wouldn’t say he has a good side and a bad side (he’s a serial killer for flips sake, it’s ALL bad!) but there’s a definite divide in his thought processes. Evil Thomas….and eviler Thomas perhaps. One side of his personality definitely leads the other into some pretty tricky situations. The other thing I loved about this book is that the setting is quite compact. Thomas manages to find his way into an abandoned house, and from there he heads to the loft space for a bit of nose around. Once he’s in the loft, he realises he can access the other three houses in the row as none of the loft spaces are fully bricked up. From here we’re introduced to the neighbours; elderly Elsie, husband and wife Martyn and Colette Fairbright, and to a lesser extent, Janice and Brian. As you can see, the cast of characters is also quite compact but by gosh, it works a treat! Thomas spies on the neighbours, works out their schedules and invades their homes. He likes to taunt and play with them, make them think they’re losing their minds. Martyn and Colette become the main objects of his attention, partly due to a fascination (obsession?) he develops over Colette. It’s nail-biting stuff as the reader knows that Thomas is just playing with his latest ‘toys’ and a terrifying, blood drenched end at the hands of a serial killer is nigh for the couple.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. This is a fascinating and original take on a serial killer thriller and I loved it! I found myself strangely warming a little to what is a very dark and twisted character. I loved that Thomas was able to form a somewhat odd relationship with one of the other characters in the book and it seemed to be something which, until that point, had been missing in his life. And the ending was superb! The author has absolutely nailed it with that brilliant ending. I love Jackson’s books and this is another brilliant addition to his catalogue. Highly recommended.

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

The Resident by David Jackson was published by Viper Books on 16th July 2020 and is available in hardcover, paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstones | FoylesBook Depository | Goodreads |


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

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BookReview: The Caller by Chris Carter @simonschusterUK #TheCaller #DetectiveRobertHunter #20BooksofSummer

the caller

“After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring. The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward. Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.

Karen is gagged and bound to a chair in her own living room. If Tanya disconnects from the call, if she looks away from the camera, he will come after her next, the deep, raspy, demonic voice at the other end of the line promises her.

As Detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia investigate the threats, they are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear.”

I recently mentioned in another review that I was using the #20BooksofSummer challenge to catch up with a few series which I have fallen behind on. I am utterly ashamed to admit that I am behind in this particular series because of all the books in all the world, this one should have been at the very top of my TBR. I LOVE Chris Carter’s Robert Hunter series with a passion. Whenever anyone asks me for a crime thriller recommendation Chris Carter’s Detective Robert Hunter series is ALWAYS at the top of the list. No matter what, this is the series you must read…but make sure you haven’t eaten beforehand!

I was lucky enough to interview Chris Carter when The Caller was first published last year. Click HERE to witness my fangirling in all its glory!

The Caller is the eighth book in the series and I was thrilled to be reunited with Detective Robert Hunter once again. Things you should know about Hunter….he has an exceptionally high IQ, he has a Ph.D. in Criminal Behaviour Analysis and Biopsychology and he works for the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes (UVC) Unit. Yup, you read that right, the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit (if you read my reviews often then you may be getting some idea why I love this series as I do!). Hunter works alongside Detective Carlos Garcia, the only other member of the UVC, and what a team they are! There is such a strong dynamic between the two characters, they complement each other perfectly.

Hunter and Garcia are only ever called in for the most violent and bizarre murders so when Tanya Kaitlin receives a shocking video call from her best friend, Karen, you know things aren’t going to end well for either of them! When a second victim is discovered following another terrifying video call it blows all of Hunter’s theories out of the water and the UVC are back to square one, struggling to discover the killer’s motivation before they strike again. One thing is for sure and that’s Carter knows how to write a depraved mind. His books tend to be gorier than many of his peers but I just flipping love that! I visibly winced at points in the book and I am always in awe of the new and inventive ways the author comes up with killing his characters off. This book and the others in the series are not for the faint-hearted, you have been warned.

I wasn’t able to spot whodunit but this is a tricky one to do that with (I won’t say any more about that for fear of spoilers). Carter’s books are always page-turners and this one is no different. I found that as I know the lead characters so well, it made The Caller all the more compelling. Is this the best book in the series? I wouldn’t necessarily say it is (that crown belongs to One by One in my opinion) but it’s another stonking addition to a thoroughly magnificent series.

Would I recommend this book? 100%, always. And every other book in the Detective Hunter series too. If you haven’t read any of these books yet then you are truly missing out. They’re edgy, thrilling and utterly compulsive reading. I love them. Chris Carter is my absolute favourite author and having read The Caller I now can’t wait to make a start on book nine, The Gallery of the Dead. I need more Detective Robert Hunter in my life. End of.

Four and a half stars out of five.


The Caller by Chris Carter was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster UK on 27th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

Author photo

Biographies can be an absolute drag, so I won’t bore anyone with a long life story.

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well-known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full-time writer.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook |

#BookReview: Hangman by Daniel Cole (@Daniel_P_Cole) @TrapezeBooks @orion_crime @Lauren_BooksPR

hangman cover.jpg

“A detective with no one to trust
A killer with nothing to lose

18 months after the ‘Ragdoll’ murders, a body is found hanging from Brooklyn Bridge, the word ‘BAIT’ carved into the chest.

In London a copycat killer strikes, branded with the word ‘PUPPET’, forcing DCI Emily Baxter into an uneasy partnership with the detectives on the case, Special Agents Rouche and Curtis.

Each time they trace a suspect, the killer is one step ahead. With the body count rising on both sides of the Atlantic, can they learn to trust each other and identify who is holding the strings before it is too late?”

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Daniel Cole’s debut crime thriller, Ragdoll. I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the inventive ways Cole came up with to kill off a number of the characters. It’s no secret that I like my crime thrillers edging on horror with lots of bodies and lots of blood, so Ragdoll held a lot of appeal for me. The second book in the Ragdoll series, Hangman immediately became a must-read. I just had to see what the author was going to do with his characters next…

And the answer is, he completely ignored his lead protagonist and focussed solely on a supporting member of his cast. Not what you would expect, right? I’ve seen Hangman mentioned in places as Detective Fawkes #2. It really isn’t though. Fawkes hardly features in this novel and I absolutely flipping LOVED it! My one bugbear with Ragdoll was that I felt very little for either Fawkes or his sidekick, Emily Baxter. If anything, Baxter irritated me with her fawning over Fawkes and her (ugh) neediness. Having read Hangman from cover to cover I have completely changed my mind about her. I love the new ‘slightly more damaged than she was before’ Emily Baxter. Her sarcastic manner, her bossiness, her ‘don’t actually give a damn!’ attitude and her secretiveness. I really like this new Baxter and hope she doesn’t change back to her old, puppy dog ways in book three when Fawkes *may* return.

Baxter isn’t the only character I loved in Hangman. I’ve already mentioned that Fawkes isn’t really present. However, Baxter is instructed to work alongside the FBI and CIA as her current investigation spans continents and has links to the famous Ragdoll case she ‘heroically’ solved. Curtis (the FBI agent) and in particular Rouche (the CIA operative) really brought something to the story. We get to see Baxter’s newfound barriers crumble a little as she warms to Rouche. I’m not sure there is any point in the story where she trusts him but I really enjoyed the relationship between the two.

I have to say, I found the story a little far-fetched in some places but in all honesty, I didn’t actually give a hoot as I was utterly captivated by the characters and what was going to happen next. Daniel Cole had my full attention from start to finish and to me, that is more important than a little artistic licence. I also loved the humour Cole has written into the pages of Hangman. This is the first book in a long time that I found myself quietly chuckling along to.

Would I recommend this book? Totally. I loved it. I preferred it to Ragdoll. I loved seeing things from Baxter’s perspective and I hope the *possible* return of Fawkes in book three doesn’t reduce her character to what it was in book one. I would be devastated. So utterly gripping I couldn’t put this book down. I described the need to keep turning the pages of Ragdoll as similar to catnip. Well, the author has done it again but this is super strength catnip! A perfect read for me.

Five out of five stars.

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

Hangman by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 22nd March 2018 and is available hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

daniel cole

Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer, and most recently for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Ragdoll is his first novel. He lives in Bournemouth, England.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) @bookouture

Murder-Game-Kindle (1).jpg“A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead. 

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die… 

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one… 

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Peter James will be hooked by this dark and utterly disturbing thriller, packed with twists until the final page.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to the blog today as I am one of seven blogs kicking off the Murder Game blog blitz.  Make sure you check out these other awesome blogs taking part in day one of the tour; Novel DeelightsMy Chestnut Reading TreeNovel GossipChapter in my LifeI Love Reading and I Dig Books (And Dirt).  And the rest of the blog blitz is shaping up rather nicely, so don’t miss out! 

Murder Game is the third book in the Detective Ruby Preston series written by Caroline Mitchell and published by Bookouture.  I am such a fan of this series and have reviewed both of the previous books on damppebbles in the past (click HERE for my review of book one, Death Note and click HERE for my review of book two, Sleep Tight).  My love for Ruby and her tough guy beau, Nathan is pretty darn strong so there was no way on earth I was going to miss this latest instalment.

The first two books shine so brightly for me because they’re exactly what I enjoy reading; a delusional yet completely different serial killer in each book with a pretty consistent M.O.  The killer knows what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and they’re going to keep on doing it until Ruby and DI Downes catch them.  Perfect!  The reader is introduced to another dark and evil mind in Murder Game but this time there’s a rather sinister twist.  Convicted of six murders, named The Lonely Hearts Killer and stuck behind bars for a few more years, Ruby has the displeasure of meeting Mason Gatley.  It seems their latest offender is basing his crimes on Gatley’s from back in the day (DI Downes was a DC at the time so we’re talking a few years ago!).  I loved the tension Gatley brought to the pages of Murder Game.  What a thoroughly loathsome character but I have to confess to secretly enjoying Ruby’s stand-offs with the vile killer!

What makes this series stand out head and shoulders above others is the relationship between Detective Sergeant Ruby Preston and the love of her life, local gangster, Nathan Crosby.  The chemistry between the two characters really sparks and my reaction to them in the first book really surprised me, especially as romantic relationships don’t really work for me in crime fiction (if I wanted soppy stuff I would read romance – that’s my opinion anyway!).  I felt that chemistry was lacking a little in Murder Game.  It certainly wasn’t as full on or as intense as the first two novels and I missed it.

If I’m honest, I felt the entire Crosby family were a little absent in this latest instalment.  Murder Game focuses more on the investigation rather than the relationships between the characters.  With any other series this would have pleased me no end but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  I wanted more of Nathan’s mother and her inherent dislike of Ruby because she’s a copper.  More of Nathan’s caustic, sadistic brother, Lenny who always lends a vile edge to the story.  I really felt their absence.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  If you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller then you really must read this series because it’s incredibly special and one of my all-time favourites.  I adore Ruby Preston and I adore Mitchell’s writing.

Four out of five stars.

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

Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell was published in the UK by Bookouture on 31st October 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

IMG_6478USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family, parrot and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. Published by Bookouture and Thomas & Mercer, she now writes full time and all her books have become number 1 best sellers in their categories.

Her fast-paced DC Jennifer Knight thrillers carry a hint of the supernatural and are weaved from Caroline’s personal experiences in the police and paranormal.

Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston series is described as “terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers”.

 Caroline also writes psychological thrillers, the most recent, Witness, has been described as “thrilling, tense, exciting, dark and twisted in the best possible way”.

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