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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#BookReview: Silent Victim by Michael Wood @0neMoreChapter_ #SilentVictim #damppebbles

“He took her voice
She took it back

A CENSURED DETECTIVE WITH NO LEADS

DCI Matilda Darke and her team have been restricted under special measures after a series of calamitous scandals nearly brought down the South Yorkshire police force.

A BRUTAL ATTACK WITH NO WITNESSES

Now Matilda is on the trail of another murderer, an expert in avoiding detection with no obvious motive but one obvious method.

A DEPRAVED KILLER WHO LEAVES NO TRACES

When his latest victim survives the attack despite her vocal cords being severed, Matilda is more convinced than ever of the guilt of her key suspect. If only she had a way to prove it…

Silent Victim is an unputdownable crime thriller with twists that will make your jaw drop – perfect for fans of Kathy Reichs and Ann Cleeves.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Silent Victim by Michael Wood. Silent Victim is the tenth book in the DCI Matilda Darke series and is published by One More Chapter in digital format today (that’s Friday 28th October 2022) with the paperback and audiobook to follow in November. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Silent Victim but that has in no way influenced my review.

Regular visitors to the blog will know that crime fiction is by far my favourite genre. I love me a police procedural series with relatable characters, gripping investigations and a few unexpected twists and turns thrown in along the way. Plus, of course, those perfectly placed red herrings to keep the reader guessing. One of the best series out there for fans of detective fiction at the moment is the DCI Matilda Darke series. Darke and her team have been through a hell of a lot in recent years. More than most, I think it would be fair to say. But still, they press on with an unfaltering determination to protect Sheffield, no matter what it takes and no matter what hurdles are put in their way. I am a HUGE fan of this series and I count down the days until the latest instalment hits the shelves. Silent Victim is the tenth book and a cracking addition to a superb, eminently readable series.

What I will say is that this is a series best read in order as so much has happened to the team in the last three or four books that to appreciate the long-running storylines (and there are several) it is best to start with an earlier book. Perhaps book six, or why not go the whole hog and start with the first book. By starting with an earlier book, it gives the reader a chance to fully understand and witness the growth of these characters. There’s a familiarity and closeness between certain members of the cast and it’s a joy to experience their quiet moments. There’s also a lot of humour and warmth, which by starting the series with a later book, I think the reader can easily miss or gloss over. Anyway, enough of the light and fluffy. This is not a light and fluffy book, but I do think it’s important to appreciate the long journey these characters have been on together.

A serial killer and rapist is targeting women in Sheffield. His latest victim is 14-year-old Tilly Hall who miraculously survives the attack, although not in one piece. The killer cuts her throat (no light and fluffy here, no siree!) severing her vocal cords. Tilly wakes in hospital with no voice and hazy memories of what happened to her. DCI Matilda Darke is called back to work following the events of the last book to hunt down the sadistic killer and make sure his reign of terror comes to an abrupt end. With no clues, no discernible motive and very little support from the top, Matilda and her diminished team are in a race against time to find a killer who is escalating with each new attack. Silent Victim is a gripping, compelling read full of everything I love about Michael Wood’s books and I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment of it. The plot is well paced, the characters are perfection, there are lighter moments to counteract the darkness and I was on the edge of my seat as the unnerving finale played out before my eyes.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Silent Victim is a thrilling addition to a superb series and I cannot wait to return to Sheffield next year when the 11th book, Below Ground, is published. The author is never afraid to put his characters through the wringer and from the way Silent Victim ended, there may be trouble ahead for Matilda and the team. I will reiterate though that this is a series best read and enjoyed in order. Get to know the characters, the relationships and what motivates them as individuals as well as a team. It’s a series very much worth investing in. There are always unexpected twists and turns along the way and as a crime fiction fan, these books tick all the boxes for me. Read them. You won’t regret it. Highly recommended.

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

Silent Victim by Michael Wood was published by One More Chapter in the UK on 28th October 2022 and is available in digital format with the paperback and audio 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 |

Michael Wood is a crime writer based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, which is the setting for his thriller series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. He spends his days writing and researching new and inventive ways of killing people off for future DCI Darke novels as well as other projects he has up his sleeve.

When he’s not writing, Michael is usually moaning about having little sleep and talking about his favourite biscuit on social media. He’s a massive fan of reading crime fiction as he likes to keep an eye on the competition and wondering if he can steal any of their ideas, give the characters a Sheffield accent, and pass them off as his own original creation.
You can find Michael on Facebook and Twitter should you wish to follow his ramblings.

#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.

#BookReview: Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #DogRoseDirt #damppebbles

“What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell

Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.

A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth

Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.

A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams. Dog Rose Dirt is published today (that’s Thursday 22nd July 2021) by Harper Collins and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in 2022. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Dog Rose Dirt but that has in no way influenced my review.

There was no way on this earth I was going to be able to resist this book. The cover is stunning, the title is quite different to everything else out there so it immediately grabbed my attention, and the words ‘serial killer’ had me downloading a copy faster than you could say, well, ‘serial killer’!

Heather Evans receives dreadful news which sends her rushing back to the town, and the house, she grew up in. Her mother, who Heather readily admits she hasn’t really seen or spoken to for a while, has committed suicide. The note she left was confusing. Heather can’t quite believe it’s true but begins the unenviable task of packing up her childhood home. But sifting through the mundane, Heather finds letters going back years between her mild-mannered mother and the notorious serial killer known to all as The Red Wolf, Michael Reave. It makes no sense. But ex-journalist Heather is determined to find out why her mother has been sharing such personal correspondence with a convicted killer for decades. Particularly as the body of a woman has just been found, decorated with flowers, just as Reave used to do with his victims…

Heather’s story and her search for the truth had me glued to the pages throughout this intriguing crime debut. How well do we really know those we’re closest to? Probably not as well as we think! And that’s one of the main hurdles Heather has to cross in the unravelling of her mother’s life. Due to the recent bout of killings, which undeniably have a link to Reave in their similarity, Heather arranges to meet with the Red Wolf. She plans on using her journalistic skills to get the truth about her mother from the killer and discover more about their shared friendship, along with finding out her mother’s state of mind before she took her own life and wrote that strange suicide note. But Michael is intent on only sharing fables and morbid fairy tales which confuse and frustrate Heather, along with the police team investigating the recent murders.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Dog Rose Dirt is a well-written slow burn mystery which I found to be a compelling page turner. Some aspects of the story I guessed from fairly early on. Others I didn’t. This is the author’s debut crime novel but she’s an established writer in a different genre, which shows in the construction of the story and the narrative. Heather isn’t the most appealing of central characters but she had a rawness and a realness about her which I really appreciated. I don’t think you have to fall in love with a lead to become part of their story, I’ve said something along these lines many times before, but I was cheering her on. I wanted her to discover the truth, whatever that would be. I enjoyed Dog Rose Dirt and I would happily read more crime fiction written by this author. I hope there’s more to come. Recommended.

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

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 22nd July 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in 2022 (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

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Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their small ridiculous cat. A fan of pirates and dragons from an early age, these days she writes character-driven fantasy novels with plenty of banter and magic, and dark unsettling thrillers with strong female leads. In 2015 she was nominated for Best Newcomer in the British Fantasy Awards. She is represented by Juliet Mushens of Mushens Entertainment.

The Copper Cat trilogy consists of The Copper Promise, The Iron Ghost and The Silver Tide – all published by Headline in the UK – and the first two books in the trilogy are available in the US and Canada, published by Angry Robot. Both The Iron Ghost and The Silver Tide have also been nominated for British Fantasy Awards, and she is partly responsible for founding the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, a social group that meets in London to celebrate a love of fantasy.

Her second fantasy series, the Winnowing Flame trilogy, kicked off with The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins, and ended with The Poison Song in May 2019. The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins both went on to win the British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel in their respective years. When not cursing herself for writing really long books, she can be found writing advertising copy for books, or selling books. It’s all about books, really.

Her latest novel, Dog Rose Dirt, a thriller, will be published in July 2021 in the UK by HarperCollins, and in the US by Crooked Lane under the title A Dark and Secret Place. It has also sold in Germany, Brazil and Spain. Interests outside of reading and writing include drawing witches, playing video games, and watching cartoons. She has a particular passion for animation and history, and will bore you to death about either if she gets half a chance.

#BookReview: The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters @BooksSphere #TheKillerYouKnow #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the killer you know“I’ll murder three people. And you’ll know it was me . . .

Summer 1997. When Will jokes about becoming a serial killer, his friends just laugh it off. But Adeline can’t help but feel there’s something darker lurking behind his words.

Winter 2015: Years later, Adeline returns to Blythe for a reunion of the old gang – except Will doesn’t show up. Reminiscing about old times, they look up the details of his supposed murder spree. But the mood soon changes when they discover two recent deaths that match.

As the group attempts to track Will down, they realise that he is playing a sinister game that harks back to one they used to play as kids. Only this time there are lives at stake . . .”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my eighteenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters. The Killer You Know was published by Sphere Books on 2nd May 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Killer You Know but that has in no way influenced my review.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. A group of teenage friends gather one night as the end of Summer approaches. One of them, Will, is considered to be the odd kid in the group. So when he makes an off-the-cuff comment about being a serial killer when he’s older, the others are shocked and a little unnerved by his bold statement. When Will fails to turn up to a group reunion many years later, it leaves his friends wondering, could he have carried out the unthinkable? When the friends check the very precise details he gave about the killings, they find reports of a suicide that matches…and then a second death. One report could be classed as a coincidence, but two deaths…? No, there’s no question about it, there’s something suspicious going on. Now all they have to do is find Will, and see for themselves. Particularly as Will threatened a third death, much closer to home…

Set in the late 90s and the present day, this book delivered shedloads of fantastic nostalgia. Now, I admit, I’m a little older than the characters in this book but the 90s were my decade. I loved the trips back in time where the bands of the day were discussed alongside the group’s obsession with movies. Wonderful stuff!

The characters all stood tall each adding something to the story. Their personalities were all very different but when you live in a small village, you’re thrown together with people you perhaps wouldn’t necessarily choose as friends yourself. That added a very interesting group dynamic to the book. They all had their own very defined roles which weren’t necessarily accepted by some members but rather pushed upon them – expected maybe. Leading to tension, rivalry and an undercurrent of bad feeling. It was interesting to watch a group of teenagers who, like many teenagers, think they’re wise beyond their years, deal with some very adult emotions.

Despite my appreciation of the 90s vibe in The Killer You Know, I did prefer the sections set in the present day when the group are trying to track Will down. The mystery of Will’s disappearance, the bubbling undercurrent of not really knowing who to trust anymore and the sense of foreboding made parts of the book a fairly tense read. The author takes time to set the scene, taking the reader back to 1997 and painting a very vivid, thorough picture.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of slow-burn, suspenseful mysteries then you may enjoy The Killer You Know. I felt it could have been a little shorter as I found my attention drifting at times and I wanted something to hook me back in. I was able to guess where the story was going to go, which may not have helped my meandering attention. I also struggled a little with the writing style and had to re-read large sections to grasp what was happening and check I hadn’t missed a key plot point – but that could have just been me having a bad day. A really interesting concept and I would happily read more by this author.

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

The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters was published in the UK by Sphere Books on 2nd May 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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S R Masters studied Philosophy at Girton College, Cambridge. He is a regular contributor to UK short fiction anthology series The Fiction Desk, having won their Writer’s Award for his short story Just Kids. His story Desert Walk was included in Penguin Random House USA’s Press Start to Play collection, published last year, and he continues to have short fiction published in a variety of magazines.

When not writing, Simon works in public health in Oxford, where he lives with his wife, Helen.

The Killer You Know is his first novel.

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

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

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

Three missing women running out of time…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 14th May 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Dead Wrong (1)

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and was a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.

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

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead Inside by Noelle Holten @KillerReads #DeadInside #damppebbles

46902123_2290495507850861_1185184031919046656_nThe killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Dead Inside blog tour.  Dead Inside is one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2019.  Partly due to the fact the blurb sounds brilliant and partly due to the fact that the author is the fabulous Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie.  I received a free eARC of Dead Inside via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

Dead Inside is the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series set in Staffordshire, and Noelle Holten’s debut.  From the harrowing prologue to the books big reveal, I was on the edge of my seat.  What shines from the pages is the author’s knowledge of her subject matter having worked as a senior probation officer for many years.  I’m guessing that Noelle has probably seen it all!  I also found the probation aspects of the storyline absolutely fascinating as I can’t bring to mind another crime novel that focusses so strongly on this particular part of the criminal justice system.

Following a particularly difficult case involving the apprehension of a serial killer, DC Maggie Jamieson is temporarily transferred to the new Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit (DAHU).  Not long into her first shift she and her colleagues are called to investigate a murder.  The victim is a known offender with a history of violence towards his partners.  The attack seems personal and all avenues need to be investigated so PC Mark Fielding gets in touch with probation officer, Lucy Sherwood.  As the story progressed I found myself focussing less on the police team and more on Lucy.  Lucy lives a double life.  By day she’s a kick-ass probation officer staring down the most hardened criminals.  By night she returns home to her vile, abusive husband who torments her physically and emotionally.  My heart broke for the character.  Trapped because she had convinced herself that staying in the relationship would be the best thing for her husband’s young daughter.  This may be the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series but Maggie isn’t in the spotlight here.  It’s all about Lucy, just as it should be.

The other characters in the book are a good mix of people you warm to and people you instantly loathe (it’s really not hard to loathe the abusers in this book!).  I did struggle a little at times with the characters names as the author has used the names of several book bloggers, people I know in ‘real life’.  I found it difficult to picture the character without seeing the ‘real life’ person.  Holten isn’t the first person to do this – it happens a lot – but the number of names used is far greater in Dead Inside.  I felt I had to try a little harder to visualise someone different in my mind.

The big reveal was a complete shock and one I really didn’t expect.  But I loved it!  It felt so satisfying.  The way the situation was also dealt with by the characters involved was also brilliant.  I loved the total lack of shame or reproach – wonderful stuff!  I was able to guess where another of the big storylines was going but I thoroughly enjoyed the way it played out and knowing what was coming didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  It’s a great start to what promises to be an exciting new series written by an exciting new talent in crime fiction.  The ending of Dead Inside is set up beautifully for book two in the series and I’m already very intrigued.  I can’t wait to get my mitts on a copy.  A compelling read with some fascinating characters at its heart.  Emotional, raw and a complete page-turner.  Recommended.

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

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 31st May 2019 and is available in eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in August (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

#DeadInside B L O G T O U R

about-the-author3

screenshot-2018-12-03-at-13-14-311Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Author Links: FacebookTwitterBlogInstagram |

 

 

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

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?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Craftsman blog tour.  Now some of you may be experiencing a spot of deja vu here but fret not, you’re not seeing double.  Yes, I have published my review for the EPIC The Craftsman before but that was to celebrate the release of the book in hardcover.  Now we’re back, still celebrating, but this time it’s for the paperback release.  New cover, same book, still an absolute MUST READ.

So without further ado, here (for the second time) is my review of one of my favourite reads of 2018 (it’s long, so make yourself comfy)…

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 18th October 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

The Craftsman paperback blog tour.jpg

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sharon boltonSharon (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 |

#BookReview: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner @DuttonBooks #UNSUB #20BooksofSummer #DetectiveCaitlinHendrix

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“A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?”

You may be wondering why I haven’t featured a #20BooksofSummer review on damppebbles for a few weeks. It’s because I’m totally failing at the challenge! It’s official, I have lost my reading mojo. Not only that, I have lost my reviewing mojo too. What do you do in times of fading mojo? You find a book you know you will LOVE. Something that will give you that spark back, reignite your passion and put your worries to one side. So that’s exactly what I did.

Except it didn’t work as well as I had planned. Sometimes you just get a feeling about a book; you know you’re going to love it (and I mean LOVE IT!) before you make a start. That’s how I felt about Unsub by Meg Gardiner. It has everything I want from a book; serial killers, a kick ass female lead, blood and gore galore, it’s American – set in gorgeous San Francisco, it’s had some scorching hot reviews and I have coveted it for what feels like a flipping long time. And I really enjoyed it. I just didn’t love it as I had expected to. I truly wanted to love it but I’m going to have to go with ‘I really liked it’ and be satisfied with that. No one’s fault but mine.

Caitlin Hendrix is a woman on a mission to hell. Prolific serial killer, The Prophet, destroyed her family and her father twenty years ago only to seemingly disappear into thin air. Now he’s back and this time his sights are set firmly on newly qualified Caitlin. The body count is rising. Can Caitlin do what her father, Mack, failed to do all those years ago and put a stop to The Prophet’s murderous spree?

I don’t need to tell you that I loved Caitlin Hendrix. That goes without saying. She’s tough, gun-toting and determined to solve the crime. Everything I love in a female protagonist. I also really enjoyed her relationship with her father, which is a cornerstone of the story. There’s blame, there’s guilt and there’s a heck of a lot of anger there. It’s clear Caitlin had a very different childhood from her peers, with a father who was drowning in his failure and gradually falling apart. Not to mention the grisly murder scene photos left out for her to see. I did enjoy the way that despite the unpleasantness of her upbringing, this was obviously the reason she’s the woman she is.

I loved the gory murder scenes, they really appealed to my need for darker fiction. I was a smidge disappointed when The Prophet’s MO was revealed. I hate to say it but I felt it wasn’t a new idea, that maybe it had been done before? I loved the ending. There were two points during the conclusion though where I felt a little let down. A couple of things happened and they felt an ‘odd fit’ for the rest of the story. I expect that it’ll all make perfect sense in book two though (in other words, maybe they were added to the story so there could be a second book..?).

Would I recommend this book? I would, particularly if you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller. I don’t want anyone to get me wrong here. This is a great book, one I really enjoyed and on any other day I would be singing its praises from the hills. I thought it was my missing reading mojo rescue remedy, but it wasn’t (that’s a lot of pressure to put on one book!). I’m probably being a lot more critical in this review than I normally am so my apologies to the author and publisher for that but I was so desperate to love this book and I just feel a little disappointed (in myself). All in all, I love how Gardiner writes, I love her characters and I would pick up the second book in the Unsub series without a moment’s hesitation. I’m just a grump at the moment.

Four out of five stars.

My thanks to Beth at Bibliobeth for sending me a copy of Unsub. I won her blogiversary giveaway where the prize was five books of my choice. Unsub was one of the books I chose.

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Unsub by Meg Gardiner was published by Dutton Books in January 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

#GuestPost: Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) #KayHunter6 #GonetoGround

Gone to Ground Cover MEDIUM WEB“While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth – a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs.

With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.”

It is my absolute pleasure to welcome one of my favourite authors to the blog today to celebrate the publication of Gone to Ground; the sixth novel in her well respected and much-loved detective series.  I am, of course, talking about the wonderful Rachel Amphlett and her utterly compelling Kay Hunter series.  I love this series and will move mountains to make sure I read the latest release as soon as it’s available.  There aren’t many other series I can say that about!  I was thrilled to be able to share my review of Gone to Ground with you all on Sunday but if you missed it, here’s the link again (along with it’s five predecessors):  1. Scared to Death2. Will to Live3. One to Watch4. Hell to Pay5. Call to Arms and 6. Gone to Ground.

To celebrate the release of Gone to Ground I am delighted to welcome Rachel to damppebbles to talk to us about a killer’s motivations:

What might motivate a killer?

As I was writing book six in the Detective Kay Hunter series, Gone to Ground I realised halfway through that the person I thought was the murderer wasn’t, and another character came to light who had a lot more motivation to do the evil deeds I was uncovering.

Motivation is essential to a good police procedural. It doesn’t matter if they’re one of the good guys, or one of the bad guys. Everybody has motive for what they do.

It sounds so simple, but as people we’re a complicated mix of emotions and traits and it’s really important to me as a writer and reader that motives are believable.

Even characters who some might describe as “minor characters” have a motivation that drives them. That person who tells Kay a white lie to protect themselves or casts doubt on another aspect of the investigation to prevent a sordid part of their past being exposed – it’s all motivation.

My antagonist in Gone to Ground is motivated by revenge.

However, although I might start with revenge as a motive, I then delve into that a little further in order to develop the character and make that motivation believable.

Why does our killer seek revenge? What has been done to that character that someone has to die?

Meanwhile, my protagonist, Kay Hunter, is obviously motivated to catch the killer, but she’s also driven by the need to prove herself to her colleagues and to her superiors. She’s in a new role and juggling a lot of other tasks on top of her day-to-day duties and we see her motivations shift as the story unfolds.

I can’t wait to share Gone to Ground with you to see if you can spot the killer – these motivations paint some dark and twisted reasons why someone would be a murderer, and all of them are valid!

Excellent post, thanks so much Rachel.  I have to confess that I wasn’t able to spot the killer, despite having my eagle ‘crime fiction reader’ eyes on the hunt for the culprit from the opening pages!

Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett was published in the UK on 8th July 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook versions (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Rachel’s online bookstore | Goodreads |

about the author3

rachel-2016-2141Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance!

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Amazon Author Page |