#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton (@AuthorSJBolton) @TrapezeBooks #TheCraftsman #HeWillComeForYou

the craftsman.jpg“Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago? 
Or is there something much darker at play?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Craftsman blog tour.  The Craftsman is written by Sharon Bolton and was published by Trapeze Books last week, on 3rd May 2018.

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for crime/horror crossover novels, which this most definitely is.  Thanks to social media I saw this book sent to a few lucky early readers at the start of the year and I kid you not, it arrived in its own flipping grave!  How incredible is that?!  I knew there and then that I had to read The Craftsman.  I was pretty much prepared to do ANYTHING to get my hands on a copy (including waiting very calmly and patiently for it to be published!).  So when I was asked to feature on the blog tour, there was no way on this earth that I could say no.

Strangely, and I still can’t quite believe it myself, this is the first book I have read by Sharon Bolton.  I have a copy of Bolton’s Dead Woman Walking on my TBR which I really must get around to.  I loved The Craftsman.  I was immediately drawn into a story that I could not pull myself away from.  Our main character, WPC Florence Lovelady, had my full attention from start to finish and I’m left wanting more.  What an intriguing, fascinating story and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

The book opens with a funeral.  A funeral with a difference as the mourners aren’t there to mourn, they want to prove to themselves that it’s true; Larry Glassbrook is finally dead.  Florence Lovelady, who was heavily involved in the hunt for Glassbrook after he murdered three local teenagers by burying them alive and was key to discovering Glassbrook’s identity, has returned to Sabden in Lancashire to attend the funeral.  Lovelady has been in regular communication with the convicted killer since he was imprisoned.  Glassbrook’s final message, delivered via a short cryptic message, makes Florence wonder whether the arrest, the horrors she experienced all those years ago back in the late sixties, were the doing of Larry Glassbrook or someone much more sinister…

I enjoyed many of the characters in The Craftsman.  But for me, it was ALL about the tough, plucky WPC Florence Lovelady.  It’s the late 1960s and Florence is the first woman to work for the Sabden Police Force.  She’s ‘just a young girl’ in their eyes so is consigned to tea making and typing duties, but she outshines every single other character in the book!  Florence is smart, gutsy and tenacious and tends to run rings around her male colleagues, even when she’s trying not to!  While the men are busy being misogynists, Florence is suggesting filming a re-enactment of the latest victim’s last movements.  While the men are twiddling their thumbs, Florence is creating charts and looking for patterns, searching for the elusive clue to break the case.  Unfortunately, her intelligence, her keen eye and her repeated bouts of good luck put her somewhere she doesn’t want to be.  In the spotlight as one of the main suspects.

Now, this isn’t your everyday serial killer novel.  Nor is it your traditional police procedural.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea because, at the heart of this story, there be witches.  Sabden, where the story is set, is at the foot of Pendle Hill which has a long history of witches and witch trials.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author has taken this long, dark history and used it to grow her character’s experience.  In essence, Florence becomes the focus of a cruel local witch hunt just because she’s more intelligent than her colleagues, more determined, more proactive,…and not a man.

There is so much more I want to tell you about this book.  I could go on for hours telling you about another favourite couple of characters; Daphne and Avril, and the wonderful sparkle they exude.  Oh, and I could tell you how much I enjoyed the main body of the story where the reader is transported to the late sixties (and how I couldn’t help but picture the odd scene from ‘Life on Mars’, the television programme).  This is where you get to meet some of the most misogynistic characters I have ever had the displeasure of encountering in a book.  I wanted to thump most of them.  Thank goodness times have changed!  But if I do continue telling you everything I loved then this will be the longest review I have ever written.  So instead, buy the book and find out the wonders of The Craftsman for yourself.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s creepy, it’s tense and it’s full of witches!  Plus, I don’t know about you, but death by suffocation has always terrified me and I’m a terrible sufferer of claustrophobia.  Which made this book all the more frightening for me.  I loved it.  I love what the author has done with her story and her characters are an absolute delight.  Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 3rd May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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about the author3

sharon bolton.jpegSharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |

Author Image and Bio © https://www.sharonbolton.com/

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (@JoGustawsson) trans. Maxim Jakubowski @OrendaBooks #Keeper #FrenchNoir #RoyandCastells

KEEPER COVER COVER AW.jpeg“Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. 

London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before. 

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? 

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Keeper blog tour which I share with the wonderful The Book Review Cafe.  Keeper is the second book in the Roy & Castells series written by Johana Gustawsson and is published in paperback by Orenda Books later this month (nothing to stop you from grabbing a copy of the eBook now though!).

I read the first book in the series, Block 46 last year.  I really liked it, many others absolutely loved it and it made regular appearances on the ‘top books of 2017’ lists.  Rightly so.  Knowing this added to the pre-read build up for me.  I was excited, expectant and a little apprehensive.

For those new to Gustawsson’s books, they are set in the present day (if you can call 2015 present!) but with a historical twist to them.  The story’s tentacles reach back in time to real-life crimes.  The reader gets to see how the evil of the past affects and manipulates the evil of the present.  It’s a highly original concept, one that I haven’t found elsewhere and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I bow down to those that are able to write convincing fiction, but I grovel on the floor before those that include a fair amount of accurate historical fact (I assume it’s accurate by the way, I am certainly no historian!).  In Block 46 we had the despicable and abhorrent treatment prisoners of war were subjected to by the detestable Nazi’s.  In Keeper, we are plunged into the world of the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.  Now I’m no Ripperologist but Jack the Ripper has always fascinated me.  I’ve read a few books on the subject, some fact and some fiction.  As far as the fictional ones go, this is by far the best.

I adored this book.  Plain and simple.  If Keeper doesn’t make it to my top three books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.  Regular visitors to the blog will be fully aware that I like my crime thrillers a little more on the dark side.  Keeper is one heck of a dark read.  Picture the scene, there I was merrily reading away thinking to myself, ‘yup, it’s another good one – probably four stars at the moment but we’ll see how things go’.  Then all of a sudden Gustawsson stepped things up a notch (or two).  My jaw hit the table and I was utterly smitten with the author’s story.  One of those, ‘WOAH’ moments that I absolutely live for.

Keeper will take you places you never expected.  It’s exactly the kind of novel I want to read and it’s going to stay with me for a very, very long time.  My love for Emily Roy has grown.  She’s such a likeable oddball character.  She does have competition for my affections though as I also really liked intern, Aliénor Lindbergh.  Such an interesting character and I hope we see more of her in the future.  The dynamic between the two characters really worked for me.

I also love the international flavour of Gustawsson’s books.  The reader gets taken on a whirlwind journey from London to Falkenberg in Sweden, and back again.  The characters also bring a welcome international flair to proceedings.  For example, at one point Alexis Castells is having a dreaded ‘meet the parents’ moment (her parents are meeting her partner).  They don’t all speak the same language so some are conversing in English, others in Swedish, her parents are chatting in French and there’s a bit of Spanish thrown in for good measure too.  One of my favourite scenes in the book.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  Strong characters, astonishing twists and really quite perfect.  There’s not a single thing I can think of that I didn’t like, and that’s saying something!  Totally gratifying, deliciously dark and WHAT a thrill-ride.  Yeah, I loved this one.  You really should read Keeper.

Five out of five stars.

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

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (trans. Maxim Jakubowski) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 28th April 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please be aware the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Johana PhotoBorn in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BookReview: The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste (@LucaVeste) @simonschusterUK #TheBoneKeeper

the bone keeper.jpg

“What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?

He’ll slice your flesh.
Your bones he’ll keep.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned.

Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper. Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood. But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone.

The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.”

Look at that cover! That stunning cover plus that incredible sounding blurb made The Bone Keeper a must read for me. This is the third book by author Luca Veste that I have read, previously having devoured book one (Dead Gone) and book two (The Dying Place) in his Murphy and Rossi series (unfortunately both were before the blog so I have no reviews to share. I really MUST find some time to read books three, four and five!).

The Bone Keeper, however, is a cracking standalone and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has its creepy moments and I am a huge fan of the crime/horror crossover which I think this book wants to be. But for me, it fell firmly into the crime thriller category. It certainly packs more of a punch than your average police procedural and I know other reviewers have said how nervous it made them feel, how creepy they found the story but I, unfortunately, didn’t experience it in the same way. I’ve obviously become immune after reading so much horror and crime over the years. Dangit!

DC Louise Henderson is an intriguing character who I instantly liked. There’s something there that others may not necessarily warm to but I really liked her. I also liked her DS, Paul Shipley and the bubbling undercurrent of chemistry between the pair of them. As investigative teams go, Henderson and Shipley could be new favourites.

The story starts with a chilling scene in the woods. The entire premise of this book is set on a myth, renowned in the Merseyside area. If you live in Merseyside, you know all about the Bone Keeper from a young age. And that’s all it is, right? A myth? Maybe. Maybe not. Four kids dare each other to play in local woodlands. Only three return. Years later, a bloodied woman is found wandering the streets. She’s been brutally attacked and is muttering the bone keeper song to herself. DC Louise Henderson is on the case. Henderson and her DS, Paul Shipley are sent to interview the victim once she regains consciousness. Shortly afterwards more bodies are discovered in the woods; strange carvings are discovered on the trees nearby that make Henderson and Shipley doubt this is the work of anyone other than the Bone Keeper. But Louise knows there’s more to this investigation. She fears the woods and wants to stay as far away as possible. What secrets are they hiding? What’s keeping her away?

I found Henderson to be quite mysterious. There are things the reader doesn’t know about her. Hints are laid, here and there but I, for one, never really felt I had the measure of the character until the end of the book. There were MANY things to love but a couple that leapt out at me were; the high number of deaths within the pages (Not normal, I know but hey, that’s me!). This book really satisfied my need for a high body count. Something that has been missing from many of my recent reads. Another thing I absolutely loved was that I could never be 100% sure whether it was someONE in the woods, or someTHING (something not quite human). Brilliantly written and although I didn’t get the sense of creepiness others readers have, I was never quite sure who was killing the lost and lonely souls.

Although I enjoyed this book, it really came alive for me towards the end. What an amazing ending and one I didn’t expect. Veste had convinced me the story was going one way only to totally flip it in a different direction. I LOVED the ending of this book. Dark, malevolent and so wonderfully unexpected. It was a joy to read!

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I hope this is isn’t the last we see of Henderson and Shipley. In fact, let’s get this down on paper (or in print!). Luca Veste, I would love to see more of these characters in a future novel. Particularly if they return in a ‘verging on horror’ investigation. When an author creates a character that is a little bit different, a little bit darker than the rest – well, that makes me sit up and take notice. Surprising, different and very compelling. I really enjoyed The Bone Keeper.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 8th March 2018 and is available in paperback, 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

luca veste

Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Scouse heritage, married with two young daughters, and one of nine children. He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi novels and forthcoming standalone The Bone Keeper. His books have been translated and published in the USA, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland.

Part psychological thriller, part police procedural, the Murphy and Rossi novels take place in the city of Liverpool. Taking in both sides of a contrasting city, they explore the changing landscape of Liverpool and “bad” things which can happen within it.

His first standalone novel – The Bone Keeper – will be published in March 2018 and is a slight departure from the series. Part thriller, part horror, it has been described by as like ‘Silence of the Lambs meets Candyman’.

He was the editor of the Spinetingler Award nominated charity anthology ‘Off The Record’, and co-editor of ‘True Brit Grit’, also an anthology of short stories for charity.

He is a former civil servant, actor, singer and guitarist (although he still picks it up now and again). In his acting days, he appeared as a “background artist” – read: extra – on a number of Brookside and Hollyoaks episodes and also once spent three nights in a black leather mini-skirt and high-heels, in front of an ever-dwindling audience in a Liverpool theatre.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole (@Daniel_P_Cole) @TrapezeBooks

ragdoll.jpg“A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes & Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?”

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole is a book which has been sat on my bookshelf for some time now giving me the eye.  I have been desperate to read this intriguing tale for such a long time, and I have finally managed to do so!  Let’s face it, regular readers of the blog will know that I like my crime fiction with lots of bodies and blood.  In fact, the gorier, the better.  So on hearing that the killer creates a ragdoll made of severed limbs and various other body parts….well, there was no way I could pass this one by!

Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes is a rather notorious figure in the MET.  His career hit an all-time low during the trial of London’s most feared serial killer, The Cremation Killer.  After taking several years to himself Wolf is back in the midst of the action and facing down a new killer.  Except this one has provided a list of the intended victims and the dates they will die, alongside a macabre ragdoll which, coincidentally, points with a long-dead finger to Wolf’s newly leased apartment.  Wolf and his former partner, Detective Emily Baxter are on the case but will they be able to save the victims before it’s too late…?

I really wanted to like both Wolf and Emily Baxter but I’m afraid neither managed to provoke much of a reaction in me, I neither liked them or loathed them.  Out of the two characters, Emily Baxter was the harder to like as she came across as quite needy at times and her desire to be more than colleagues with Wolf was quite stomach churning.  But that’s me, I would happily go without a romantic interest in the books I read for, well, all eternity if I could.  Fawning over a bloke, particularly a bloke like Wolf, made her feel quite cringe-worthy to me.  This may be due to Ragdoll being the first book in the series.  There have been several occasions before where I haven’t like the lead characters in book one, only to warm to them as the series progresses.  I’m excited to see what Cole is planning next, and the good news is we don’t have to wait long.  Hangman, the second Ragdoll book, will be published in March 2018!

What I absolutely loved and what I have to commend the author on, is the fabulously inventive and original ways in which he killed off a number of the characters.  Reading this book and discovering how the next murder was carried out was like catnip to me.  I had to carry on reading, I became quite feverous wanting to know what ingenious way the killer was going to strike next.  Absolutely blinking brilliant from start to finish and I couldn’t stop reading.  I also enjoyed how Cole linked the past and the present, making sure Wolf was fully aware that he was involved in this process, whether he liked it or not!

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, I would.  This is a must read if you’re a fan of grisly crime fiction (a bit like me really!).  I can’t wait to see where Cole will take his characters next, particularly with that chilling last line of Ragdoll.  Incredibly compelling, highly inventive and full of surprises.  I very much enjoyed Ragdoll.

Four out of five stars.

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 19th October 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (the following Amazon links are affiliate links)
| amazon.co.ukamazon.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 |

Fade To Dead by Tara Moore

51fLCDE9GpL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_“A serial killer, The Director, is on the loose in South London. He’s snatching young women off the street to ‘act’ in his movies. He’s got a type: barely legal, blonde and beautiful.

Newly promoted DI Jessica Wideacre is tasked with heading up the investigation. But with few clues to go on and a rising body count, Jessica begins to fear she isn’t up to the job. Her boss is breathing down her neck. Her marriage is in jeopardy and the pressure is driving her to drink.

Meanwhile, The Director has another victim in his sights. He’s rolled out the red carpet, he s got a killer script, and now he s got his star. It’s a dream role, but not for her.”

When I first read the synopsis of this book I was hooked.  Simple as that.  I had to read it, there were no other options. And I’m so glad I did as this is a totally absorbing serial killer thriller with shed loads of punch.  It’s my kind of book.

Thanks to a killer who calls himself ‘The Director’ the body count in South London is on the rise.  Young girls with a very specific look are being targeted, only to meet a horrific death at the hands of a deranged killer.  Ballsy, newly promoted DI, Jessica Wideacre, is in charge but the clues are few and far between and progress is slow.  The situation is not helped by her DCI keeping a very close eye on her progress and thinking her not up to the job (a man would be much more suited). But Jessica has her own problems; her marriage is on the rocks and her family are THE family from hell!  Can Wideacre and her team piece together the flimsy evidence and stop The Director before the end credits roll on his leading lady..?  (Sorry, cheesy pun. I couldn’t help myself!).

DI Wideacre is a mess.  She’s aggressive, she’s unpopular  and the way she treats her team puts her on the cusp of a disciplinary hearing.  But she’s also driven and determined to get results.  If that makes her even more unpopular then so be it, she doesn’t give a rat’s bottom!  Wideacre is the type of character that I normally adore but for some (still unknown) reason, I didn’t really warm to her.  Saying that, I didn’t dislike her.  It’s just that there were other characters in the book I liked more than our heroine.

Having pondered on this conundrum it for a few minutes, I have come to the conclusion that I liked Wideacre more towards the end of the book when her relationship with arch nemesis and superior officer, DCI Beckwith, started to mellow.  I think throughout the book I was more a part of #TeamBeckwith than #TeamWideacre.

The investigation is slow and the body count is high.  There are lots of red herrings along the way to keep you guessing and I didn’t see the twist coming (that always gets extra points from me).

I enjoyed Tara Moore’s style of writing. The plot progressed well and at a enjoyable pace. Would I recommend this book?  Heck yes.  Even though my relationship with DI Wideacre has started off a little on the tentative side, I hope to read more about Jessica and team in the future.  This is a brilliant start to a great new series.

Four out of five stars.

Thanks to Matthew at Urbane Publications for providing me with a copy of Fade To Dead in exchange for an honest review.

Fade To Dead by Tara Moore was published in the UK by Urbane Publications on 11th May in eBook format and 19th May in paperback format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

Smith & Sons (11)

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Born into a military family in Co. Kildare, Ireland, Tara spent much of her childhood moving around the country, as well as spending a period in the Middle East. During that time, she lived in Damascus and Jerusalem, where the family had a house on the Mount of Olives. For a short while she attended school there, learning rudimentary Arabic. After that, the family moved to Israel, where she attended a convent run by French nuns. At the commencement of the Six Day War, they returned to Ireland and settled in Dublin. She is one of six children. In 1985 she left Dublin for the brighter lights of London and within a year met and married her first husband, a fiery Spanish Moroccan. The marriage produced two sons, but ended in 1999. She relocated to the pretty harbour town of Ramsgate on the East Kent coast in 2005 and, within months, met her second husband, Dr David Moore. They married in Sorrento on 2008.

Although previously published under the pseudonyms Tara Manning and Emily Sage, she did not commence writing full time until 2010, working ‘for her sins’ in a series boring but stable jobs, including insurance, banking, accountancy and law.  Connect with Tara on Twitter via @TaraMoore2.