#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.

20-books

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 |

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#BookReview: Our House by Louise Candlish (@louise_candlish) @simonschusterUK #OurHouse #DomesticSuspense

9781471168031 (3)“FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.”

I was kindly invited to take part in the blog tour for Our House by Jess at Simon & Schuster, and if you were around over the weekend you would have seen a brilliant guest post on the blog written by the author, Louise Candlish.  When Jess approached me about the tour, I didn’t think I would be able to fit a review in.  But, in the end, I just couldn’t help myself!  (And I know I promised you that review on Monday but I’m afraid life got in the way a little, as it does to all of us sometimes.)

I did, however, finish reading Our House over the weekend and I’m still feeling a number of the unsettling emotions it has left me with.  Now don’t get me wrong, this is a GREAT book but flipping heck, it made me really quite uncomfortable at times.  It’s a strange one (a good strange one).  I struggled to put it down but at the same time, I didn’t want to pick it again once I had put it down.  Isn’t that a weird thing to say?!  I knew things were only going to get worse for the Lawson family and whilst I was seriously intrigued by their situation, at points, I wasn’t sure I wanted to witness them.  It was like I wanted to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible.  Gosh, I hope I’m making some sort of sense here.  It felt a little like slowing down to gawp as you pass a road traffic accident, a little ghoulish…

Fi returns home after a romantic break with her new man to find a young couple moving into their family home.  There is no mistake about it; the funds have been transferred and the names on the deeds have been changed.  Fi’s beloved family home is no longer hers.  But this is the first she’s heard about it.  Fi would never even consider selling their house; it was meant to be passed down to her boys.  It was their inheritance.  To complicate matters Fi’s estranged husband, Bram is missing.  He’s not picking up his phone.  No one has seen hide nor hair of him.  What’s going on?  How could this happen?  Are Fi and Bram the victims of some complex property fraud, or is the source of the crime much closer to home than anyone imagines…

The way Candlish has told the story is exceptional.  We meet Fi as she discovers the horrible truth, her home is no longer her own.  The reader watches from the shadows as she argues and debates with the new owners, urging them to understand what a terrible mistake this must all be.  But it has to be true, the paperwork says so, as does the missing two million pounds.  Which takes us to ‘The Victim‘, a Podcast that “tells the true story of a crime directly in the words of the victim. ‘The Victim’ is not an investigation, but a privileged insight into an innocent person’s suffering.”  [taken from Louise Candlish’s website].  These sections are where we get to see the real Fi; her naivety, her good nature, her gullibility and her strong love and devotion to her two sons.  The reader also gets to hear Bram’s side of the story which doesn’t make for a pleasant read.  Bram is an idiot.  He’s probably King Idiot actually!  I wanted to thump him at times and, truth be told, I also wanted to give him a big cuddle and tell him it would be alright in the end (that really isn’t a spoiler by the way!).  Bram’s devotion to his boys, if nothing else, melted my heart.  The dawning realisation of what was happening to him and what the repercussions of that was tough going at times.

Before I turn this into the longest review I have ever written, I want to talk briefly about the end of this book.  I was warned about a big twist and it really is quite devastating as books go.  It wasn’t a WOW moment for me though, I found myself inhaling sharply and then slumping in a heap.  If at any point in the book, you feel any kind of fondness or warmth for the characters, I expect you may feel the same.  Several days later and I’m still turning over the story of Fi and Bram in my mind.  I wish it had ended differently for them, but the ending was perfect.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s quite different to many other domestic suspense novels I have read over the years.  It’s a triumphant step up for a genre that I often feel can be quite samey.  Full of emotion, probably more than I could handle at times, and totally devastating in places.  With characters that leap off the page at you and with situations you could easily find yourself in, Our House is a must read.

Four out of five stars.

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

Our House by Louise Candlish was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018 and is available in 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

Louise CandlishLouise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Swimming Pool (2016) and The Sudden Departure of the Frasers (2015), Her new novel Our House, will be published in April 2018 by Simon & Schuster in the UK and in August 2018 by Berkley in the US.

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers has been optioned for TV by Hartswood Films.

Besides books, the things Louise likes best are: coffee; TV (so much TV, too much, probably); cats and dogs; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; soup; Vanity Fair magazine; ‘Book at Bedtime’; lasagne; heavy metal; ‘The Archers’; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar).

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

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Our House by Louise Candlish (@Louise_Candlish) @simonschusterUK @jessbarratt88 #OurHouse

9781471168031 (3).jpg

“FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Our House blog tour. Our House is the thirteenth novel from the pen of author, Louise Candlish, and was published by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018. Now, Louise Candlish is a new author to me (yes, I know what you’re thinking; thirteen books – how is that possible?!) but I am currently reading Our House and oh my gosh, what a thoroughly enjoyable read it is! The characters leap off the page at you, I’ve had many ‘OMG, NO!!’ moments and I cannot wait to see what the shocking twist is that EVERYONE is talking about (I don’t have a clue what it could be, by the way!).

The review is most definitely coming to the blog (pop back on Monday) but today, to celebrate the publication of Our House, I have a fantastic guest post from the author to share with you. Louise has chosen to tell us about the five books which inspired Our House. So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Louise…

Five books that inspired Our House
Louise Candlish

Capital by John Lanchester
I’m a huge fan of this book and was deep in Our House when the BBC dramatisation aired. The double-fronted house that causes all the trouble for Fi and Bram in Our House is not dissimilar to the one Roger and Arabella Yount live in in Capital – grand enough for south London, yes, but having accrued a value its builders could never have dreamed of. ‘The houses had become so valuable…and so expensive…that they had become central actors in their own right.’ Insane and terrifying.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Pretty much every thriller since 2012 owes a debt to Gillian Flynn’s smash hit, and the element that excited me was the husband and wife narratorial double act. Mainly the husband: Nick’s is the strongest voice, and the cheekiest – he even tips us off to his own untruths (‘that was my fifth lie to the police’). I see Bram as the key narrator of Our House. Because Fi is in the dark, the reader often knows more than she does and therefore the bond with Bram is stronger. That’s if he’s telling the truth, of course.

Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
Just about any Agatha Christie could be said to have inspired my writing, because she’s been a favourite since childhood, but I’ve chosen Peril at End House for its property and inheritance themes (there’s even a re-mortgaging). As one of the characters remarks, ‘I always knew something bad would happen in this house’. I also think this is a fantastic title, one of her best. ‘Peril’ is a great word.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
I love every word Sarah Waters writes, every corner of every south London interior she creates. I live quite close to Champion Hill, where the house in The Paying Guests is set. Rooms must be let to Mr and Mrs Barber ‘if the house were to be kept going’ and there are so many dramatic possibilities in the idea of our hanging on to our home, whatever it takes. In Our House, Bram and Fi are separating and neither has a hope of buying the other out. They must share it – a plan that leads to tragedy.

The Wimbledon Poisoner by Nigel Williams
The south London suburb in Our House has a fictitious name – Alder Rise – but local readers will probably recognise its real-life equivalents. It’s definitely not Wimbledon, I can tell you that, and in any case SW19 already has a story of suburban murder and mishap that none of us can top. The opening of The Wimbledon Poisoner is a tour de force: Henry Farr decides he wants to kill his wife, remarking, ‘Being a convicted murderer had the edge on being a solicitor’. Savagery in the suburbs – and that’s just the humour.

Thank you for joining me today, Louise and for giving us a sneak peek into your inspiration for the fantastic Our House.

Our House by Louise Candlish was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster (UK) on 5th April 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Our House blog tour.jpg

about the author3

Louise Candlish.jpg

Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Swimming Pool (2016) and The Sudden Departure of the Frasers (2015), Her new novel Our House, will be published in April 2018 by Simon & Schuster in the UK and in August 2018 by Berkley in the US.

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers has been optioned for TV by Hartswood Films.

Besides books, the things Louise likes best are: coffee; TV (so much TV, too much, probably); cats and dogs; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; soup; Vanity Fair magazine; ‘Book at Bedtime’; lasagne; heavy metal; ‘The Archers’; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar).

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

#AuthorInterview: Chris Carter, author of The Caller @simonschusterUK @JamieCriswell

the caller.jpg“Be careful before answering your next call. It could be the beginning of your worst nightmare.

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.
   
Detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia 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 love being a book blogger.  Absolutely flipping love it.  You’re reading your books, writing your reviews, then one day a lovely PR person drops you an email.  It happens on a fairly frequent basis and I always count myself lucky.  But when that PR person is from Simon & Schuster and they are asking you to interview CHRIS CARTER…..well!  Yup, that’s what I said, THE CHRIS CARTER.

To celebrate the paperback publication of the latest Robert Hunter novel, The Caller I was given the opportunity to ask Chris a few questions, which he has kindly answered for our delectation.  So, without further ado, let’s get this show on the road…

***

DP: I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as I have such a treat in store (it’s a treat for me too!).  Today I am thrilled (and a little bit giddy) to welcome Chris Carter to the blog!  Chris is by far my favourite author and his Robert Hunter series is always the first collection of books I recommend. 

First of all Chris, welcome and thank you very much for joining me today.  If you could please introduce yourself and tell us a little about Robert Hunter.

CC: My name is Chris Carter.  I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school at the early age of 16, I moved to the USA where I studied Psychology with specialization in Criminal Behavior. 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 Behavior 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 glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of well-established artists.

I left the music business a few years ago to write full time.  I now live in London and have written eight novels – The Crucifix Killer, The Executioner, The Night Stalker, The Death Sculptor, One By One, An Evil Mind and I Am Death, The Caller.  My ninth novel – The Gallery of the Dead will be published in February 2018.

In a nutshell, Robert Hunter is a criminal behavior psychologist turned detective for the Robbery Homicide Division of the LAPD.  Though, inside the LAPD, Hunter has a much more specialized task.  He’s the head of the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit.  A special unit that deals solely with homicides where the perpetrator has made a point of utilizing overwhelming sadism and brutality against his/her victims.

DP: Your books are known for being a little gorier than other crime fiction titles.  Have you ever been asked to tone down the amount of blood spilt and/or the suffering? Or vice versa, of course!

CC: No I’ve never been asked to tone it down.  Actually, I was the one who asked if I should tone it down.  None of my first five novels were picked up in the USA, and the reason I kept on being given was that my novels were too violent for the American market. (Yes, you read it right – too violent for the American market) .  My editors in the UK told me never to tone it down 🙂

DP: If the Hunter series had its own soundtrack, who would you choose to play the title track? And would you insist on joining in and playing guitar?

CC: Wow, great question.  If I could choose – Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, A Perfect Circle or Nine Inch Nails.  And yes, I would love to jam with any of them.

DP: Out of the eight books and one novella in the Hunter series, which is your favourite?  Who do you consider to be your best bad guy?

CC: I really don’t have a favourite novel out of the series. I put so much effort into all of them, but I do have the ones that I had a lot of fun writing.  Out of those, my first novel – The Crucifix Killer – I had a great time writing because there was no pressure and I was writing for fun.  I really had no ambitions of getting it published when I started writing it.  That alone makes writing fun, not a job.

The villain I had most fun writing was Lucien Folter from An Evil Mind.  I guess I went nuts on him.  And he’s coming back.

DP: I expect you’ve been asked this question before but can you tell us a little more about your writing process.  Where you get your ideas from, do you plan or are you a pantser? Do you have half-finished stories scattered around your writing space?

CC: I’m definitely not a plotter.  All of my stories are very organic. My main problem is that I never have a whole story in my head when I start writing.  I usually only have the basic idea for the main plot, so as I am starting a new novel I have no “how’s, why’s or who’s” really.  Most of that develops as I write.  Even Hunter, I did not have the entire character in my head when I finished The Crucifix Killer.  I discovered more and more things about him as I progressed through the series.

All the half finished stories I have are in my head.  I never write anything down, except when I start writing a novel.  I really do have zero notes.  Everything stays in my head.

DP: Which authors books do you like to read?  Is there one author who inspired you from an early age?

CC: The truth is that I don’t really have a favourite writer and I was not inspired to write by anyone.  I never even thought about being a writer until I had a dream about a story, which turned out to be The Crucifix Killer, my first novel.  I do respect every single author out there, because this is a tough job, I just don’t have a favourite one.

No author has inspired me to write.  The truth is that I had never planned on writing a book.  I never thought about a career in writing and I never spent any time thinking up stories or developing characters in my head that I would one day want to write about.  My submersion into the world of books – writing books that is – came out of a dream I had back in 2007.

I used to love reading Frederick Forsyth.

DP: I always enjoy the wonderful plot twists and inventive ways you have of killing victims, how do you make sure your books stay one step ahead of others in the same genre?

CC: I am always looking for different ideas.  Sometimes I will read something on a newspaper, or see something in a movie or on the streets, or hear something on the radio that will sparkle some new idea in my brain.  I then usually add to it to come up with something a little different.  I also do a lot of research, especially medieval torturing.  A lot of mad ideas can come from that.

DP: What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

CC: Probably The Analyst by John Katzenbach

DP: Would it be a dream come true to have the series made into a movie (or televised) or something that you’re not really worried about? If they did make, Robert Hunter: The Movie who would play Hunter and who would play Garcia?

CC: I would love to have one of my novels made into a film, or even the whole series into a series, but unfortunately it’s not up to me.  A movie studio needs to have enough interest in one of my books to option it for a movie.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I do live in hope.

As to who would play Hunter and Garcia, I really have no idea.  I guess I will cross that bridge when and if I get there. 🙂

DP: What character traits do you share with Robert Hunter?  In other words, how much of Hunter is Chris Carter?

CC: I do share a few.  Being a loner, being into rock music, the debilitating insomnia, single malt Scotch whisky, ex-criminal psychologist, being quite a calm person, good listener, but he is definitely fictitious.  My outer ego, maybe.

DP: On the back of the previous question, what don’t you like about Robert Hunter?

CC: The fact that he is fictitious. He would’ve been a good friend and probably helped me out in a variety of scenarios.

DP: Does the Hunter series have an end date for you?

CC: There’s none planned.  Just like my agent keeps on telling me – as long as readers want to read Hunter stories, keep on writing them.

DP: And finally, what question do you wish I had asked, but didn’t (and what’s the answer?!)

CC: Actually there’s nothing else I can think of.  All of them, great questions.  Thank you so much. 🙂

***

My most heartfelt thanks to Chris Carter for joining me today and allowing me to have a total #fangirl moment.  I’m thrilled we got the heads up on The Gallery of the Dead being published in February 2018.  I can’t wait!!!  My thanks to Jamie Criswell at Simon & Schuster for making this interview possible.

The Caller by Chris Carter (Robert Hunter #8) was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 27th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

Author photo.jpgBiographies 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 |