#BookReview: The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh @BooksSphere @EmmaFinnigan #TheLastParty #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

“On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.

His lakeside holiday homes are a success, and he’s generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours. This will be the party to end all parties.

But not everyone is there to celebrate. By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.
On New Year’s Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects.

The tiny community is her home, so the suspects are her neighbours, friends and family – and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.

With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn’t who wanted Rhys dead . . . but who finally killed him.
In a village with this many secrets, a murder is just the beginning.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh. The Last Party is published today (that’s Thursday 4th August 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read a free ARC of The Last Party but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Emma Finnigan for sending me a proof copy.

I read my first Clare Mackintosh novel, the superb Hostage, last year which, incidentally, was published in paperback in June and is well worth picking up if you get the chance…providing you’re not planning on flying anywhere soon! I really enjoyed the author’s writing style, her characterisation and I was keen to read more. So when I was offered a copy of the first book in Mackintosh’s brand new police procedural series, I of course jumped at the chance to read it. Police procedurals are a passion of mine and out of everything, the style of book I return to the most. And I’m so glad I did because The Last Party is a cracking read!

It’s New Year’s Eve and the party is in full swing at The Shore, an exclusive, high-end, lakeside development in Cwm Coed, North Wales. The guests include the wealthy new residents along with several of the less enthusiastic, put-upon locals. The following morning the body of the resort owner, Rhys Lloyd, is found floating in the lake. It’s DC Ffion Morgan’s patch so she takes the case. Ffion has lived in Cwm Coed all her life, it’s her home. She’s aware how much the village resents the development, she’s aware that local boy Rhys has ruffled many feathers over the years. And now he’s dead it’s down to Ffion to dig into her friends and neighbours darkest secrets and discover who killed Rhys Lloyd…

I loved The Last Party! The characters are superb, the plot is well-written and completely absorbing, the setting is beautifully atmospheric. Tick, tick and tick again. I adored DC Ffion Morgan. What an outstanding lead character she is. Gutsy, ballsy and strong. I loved her attitude, her approach to the job, as well as her approach to life in general. I’m a huge fan of a strong female lead character and Mackintosh has well and truly delivered with DC Morgan. As the body was discovered in Mirror Lake, which is right on the border of England and Wales, an English detective is assigned to work with Morgan, something Ffion is quite put out by. When DC Leo Brady of the Cheshire Major Crimes Unit is introduced to DC Morgan you know things aren’t going to be easy for these two. But as time progresses and they learn to work with each other, a rather formidable team is formed. I loved Brady just as much as I loved Morgan. The humour, the chemistry, it was wonderful to watch. Mackintosh’s characters are sublime and I’m a little bit in love.

The plot is well paced and thoroughly gripping. I found myself opting to read The Last Party when there were other things I probably should have been doing (parenting, housework, y’know the sort of thing…). There are lots of clever twists and turns along the way which keep the reader fully immersed in the story. The setting of Cwm Coed with Mirror Lake at its heart and surrounded by mountains is glorious. I could picture the area in my mind’s eye and feel the chill of the mist rolling off the water. Marvellous stuff!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved The Last Party and I hope this is only the start of DC Ffion Morgan’s adventures. Everything about this book worked for me. The plot is incredibly gripping and hugely compelling – I had to know what had happened to Rhys Lloyd and why, the setting is beautifully drawn by the author, and the characters are some of the most memorable I’ve met this year. In fact, I would go as far as saying that something about this book reminded me a little of when I first met M.W. Craven’s Tilly and Poe. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is but I think this series could be something quite special. The first book has certainly left its mark on me and I am excited to read more, that’s for sure! Masterful storytelling, jaw-dropping twists and turns and a cast that I pretty much fell in love with. Highly recommended.

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

The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh was published in the UK by Sphere Books on 4th August 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of New York Times bestseller I LET YOU GO, and Sunday Times bestsellers I SEE YOU, LET ME LIE and AFTER THE END. Translated into forty languages, her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, and have spent a combined total of 50 weeks in the Sunday Times bestseller chart.

Her new thriller, HOSTAGE, comes out in June 2021.

Clare is the patron of the Silver Star Society, an Oxford-based charity which supports the work carried out in the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Silver Star unit, providing special care for mothers with medical complications during pregnancy. Clare lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

#BookReview: No Country for Girls by Emma Styles @BooksSphere #NoCountryForGirls #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

GOLD. THEFT. MURDER.
A ROAD TRIP TO DIE FOR.

Charlie and Nao are strangers from different sides of the tracks. They should never have met, but one devastating incident binds them together forever.

A man is dead and now they are unwilling accomplices in his murder there’s only one thing to do: hit the road in the victim’s twin cab ute, with a bag of stolen gold stashed under the passenger seat.

Suddenly outlaws, Nao and Charlie must make their way across Australia’s remote outback using only their wits to survive. They’ll do whatever it takes to evade capture and escape with their lives . . .

Thelma & Louise for a new generation, No Country for Girls is a gritty, twisty road-trip thriller that follows two young women on the run across the harsh, unforgiving landscape of Australia.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of No Country for Girls by Emma Styles. No Country for Girls is published by Sphere Books today (that’s Thursday 21st July 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of No Country for Girls but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Sphere Books for sending me a proof copy.

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you may be aware that Australian crime fiction is very much a passion of mine and it’s my mission to read it all! So when I saw No Country for Girls mentioned on the socials, I jumped at the chance to read it. It felt a little different to my usual go-to Aussie reads, more of a modern day Thelma and Louise than the police procedurals set in a dusty town I tend to pick up. And what a joy it was!

Charlie and Nao, two teenagers living very different lives, are forced on the run after things go horribly wrong and one of them accidentally kills a man. With a bag full of gold and driving the victim’s stolen ute, they hit the road knowing that if they don’t, there’s a chance they won’t be alive for much longer. But the road ahead is tough. The outback is a very lonely place and it’s clear they’re being tailed. Someone wants the gold, they’ll go to any length to get it and the girls must do whatever it takes to survive…

No Country for Girls is a tense, thrilling read which I very much enjoyed. Charlie and Nao are both likeable characters and I found myself warming to them as the book progressed. However, as much as I liked them, they really weren’t keen on each other! Coming from very different backgrounds, having very different approaches to life and at times a different understanding of their situation, really added to the tension of the story and kept me turning the pages, desperate to find out how things would end for them both. I really enjoyed watching their initial frostiness towards each other thaw a little as the story neared its climax.

The plot moves at a great pace with many ‘hold your breath’ moments along the way and lots of well-written, thrilling action. The locations the girls stopped at along the way were all vividly drawn and I could picture the scenes unfolding in my mind with ease. But the absolute highlight for me was the drama the author captured in one of the final scenes which felt a little Bond-esque to me. OK, it was perhaps a little far-fetched (maybe it wasn’t – I live in a small rural town in the south of England – what do I know about the Australian Outback?!), but I didn’t give a damn! It was exciting, it was something I don’t think I’ve encountered in a novel before and I loved how theatrical it was!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. No Country for Girls is an action packed, high-octane read featuring two great characters you can’t help but like. I loved the setting, it felt authentic and very vivid. I loved the urgency of the writing and the way the tension built almost from the opening chapter. You could feel the characters were in a race against time with the ever-present threat right at their heels. This is an accomplished debut and I look forward to reading more from Styles in the future. All in all, a gripping road trip thriller overflowing with well-written tension which I very much enjoyed. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of No Country for Girls. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

No Country for Girls by Emma Styles was published in the UK by Sphere Books on 21st July 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Emma StylesEmma Styles writes contemporary Australian noir about young women taking on the patriarchy. She grew up on Whadjuk Noongar Country in Perth, Western Australia and now lives in London where she was born. Emma loves a road trip and once sat out a cyclone on the north west coast of WA in a LandCruiser Troop Carrier. She is less afraid of great white sharks than she should be, and hopeless at surfing.

Emma has an MA in crime fiction from the University of East Anglia. Her debut novel, No Country for Girls, won the Little, Brown UEA Crime Fiction Award in 2020 and will be published by Sphere in the UK in July 2022, and by Hachette in Australia and New Zealand in September.

#BookReview: Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay #SevenLies #damppebbles

“It all started with one little lie . . .

Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. They have a lot in common. In their early twenties they both fell in love and married handsome young men.

But Jane never liked Marnie’s husband. He was always so loud and obnoxious, so much larger than life. Which is rather ironic now, of course.

Because if Jane had been honest – if she hadn’t lied – then perhaps her best friend’s husband might still be alive . . .

This is Jane’s opportunity to tell the truth, the question is:
Do you believe her?

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay. Seven Lies was published by Sphere Books on 1st October 2020 and is available in all formats.

Seven Lies first came onto my radar thanks to a crime fiction festival in 2019. I was given a pamphlet which contained the first chapter. I have to admit, I didn’t read it. I’m peculiar in that way – it’s the whole book or nothing at all (surely I can’t be the only one!?). But the cover artwork, the enthusiasm of the publicist and the synopsis of the story stayed with me. So I downloaded a copy as soon as it was published digitally.

Marnie and Jane have been friends forever. Well, since they met at school at the age of 11 but it feels like forever. The bond the girls have is strong, unbreakable, and throughout their teens and into their twenties, they stay firm friends. Both marrying the men of their dreams, the future looks bright. Until it isn’t. Jane has never really liked Marnie’s husband, Charlie. He’s overbearing and unpleasant and a terrible match for Marnie in Jane’s eyes. So when an opportunity arises to change the women’s future, to reignite the close bond they had in school, Jane takes it….

Seven Lies is the slow unravelling of a deeply flawed character which I found compulsive reading. Jane, as we know before we’ve even cracked the cover of this book, is a terrible liar so the reader is immediately on their guard. However, many of the lies, we discover, as they’re drip-fed to us, are so small, so inconsequential that you wonder what harm they could really do? Some are told to save from hurt feelings, some are more targeted. The book is narrated by Jane in a confessional style which hooked me in from the start. I wanted to know who she was speaking to. Who was hearing this outpouring of deceit and what was Jane hoping to achieve by sharing? The reader doesn’t discover who is on the other side of the confessional screen until towards the end of the book but for me, it was quite a shocker. In both choice of character and the intent *shudder*.

I found myself flipping between feeling sorry for Jane, at the tragedy of her own life, and being repulsed by her unhealthy obsession with Marnie, which at times made my skin crawl. She was mesmerising in her madness and I couldn’t tear myself away from her story. I couldn’t decide if the obsessive side of her personality was always present or if grief had driven her to look at things in a different light. There are moments throughout Jane’s story where she doesn’t seem all that concerned about Marnie, but these moments tended to involve her own husband, Jonathan, so my feeling is that grief was the catalyst to her unravelling.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Seven Lies is a beautifully written debut with a destructive friendship at its heart. I was pulled into the life of Jane and Marnie and watched as things went from bad to worse for the pair. If you’re looking for a compulsive character driven tale of obsession and control then you’ll want to give Seven Lies a read. Recommended.

Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay was published in the UK by Sphere on 1st October 2020 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Elizabeth Kay

Elizabeth Kay started her career as an assistant at Penguin Random House. She is now a senior commissioning editor there and is simultaneously pursuing her passion for writing.

She won first prize – in a short story competition judged by Jacqueline Wilson – aged eight, and has been writing ever since. She lives in London and has a first-class degree in English literature.

#BookReview: The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek (trans. by Jamie Lee Searle) #TheNightwalker #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (6/15)

the nightwalker“As a young man, Leon Nader suffered from insomnia. As a nightwalker, he even turned to violence during his nocturnal excursions and had psychiatric treatment for his condition. Eventually, he was convinced he had been cured – but one day, years later, Leon’s wife disappears from their flat under mysterious circumstances. Could it be that his illness has broken out again?

In order to find out how he behaves in his sleep, Leon fits a movement activated camera to his forehead – and when he looks at the video the next morning he makes a discovery that bursts the borders of his imagination. His nocturnal personality goes through a door that is totally unknown to him and descends into the darkness….”

Hello book fans. Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek – translated by Jamie Lee Searle, the sixth book in my #15BooksofSummer challenge.  The Nightwalker was published by Sphere on 28th July 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook formats.  If you’ve been following my blog for some time and you have a very VERY good memory you may remember my husband’s brilliant Christmas gift to me several years ago.  The Nightwalker was one of the books he chose.

My husband knows me well (thankfully!) and is aware of my love of translated crime fiction, particularly German and Japanese novels.  Sebastian Fitzek is my favourite German author and I have read a number of his translated books (and all before damppebbles.com existed!).  This was quite different though.  It was plodding along at an enjoyable pace without the usual twists and turns I was used to in a Fitzek novel. And then things kinda took an odd turn. I say ‘kinda’, there’s no bones about it, it definitely went off on a tangent I never expected.  I have to confess I was a little lost at points.  But the confusion was sort of fun.  It’s a very clever book and I would love to know how the author managed to construct such a twisty tale – where the ideas came from and how he managed to plot it just so.  I feel the need to draw similarities to Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter in some respects.

Leon is a fascinating character with a long, disturbing history of sleepwalking.  One particular event sent alarm bells ringing for me.  We’ve all heard of the tales (possibly myths) of sleepwalkers committing murder in their sleep.  That’s not quite what happened to Leon but it wasn’t far off.  But he’s had extensive treatment for the condition and his life has improved.  That is until the morning he wakes and his wife has left him.  Fearing his old habits are back with a vengeance Leon straps a motion-activated camera to his head and records his nightly meanderings.  Watching the video back the next morning blows his mind.  Sleeping Leon finds a hidden door, descends a ladder and enters an unknown world.

I’m not going to say anything else about the plot.  All I will do is advise you to pick up a copy of this somewhat mind-blowing book and read it for yourself.  There are many things I’m still trying to get my head around in this novel but I found it immensely interesting that the author has taken something we all do, but know so little about and written this wonderfully odd thriller about it.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But I will suggest picking up other Sebastian Fitzek novels before this one as it felt quite different to his other books and I’m still not 100% sure how I fully feel about it (I finished reading the book in mid-June and I’m writing this review on 31st July!).  I felt a little giddy reading The Nightwalker but ‘good’ giddy.  ‘Something a bit different and verging on out of my comfort zone’ giddy.  Interesting. Very, very interesting.

The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek was published in the UK by Sphere on 28th July 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook formats (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.comWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

Sebastian Fitzek was born in Berlin in 1971. After going to law school and being promoted to LL.D., he decided against a juridical profession for a creative occupation in the media. After the traineeship at a private radio station, he switched to the competition as head of entertainment and became chief editor, later on, thereafter becoming an independent executive consultant and format developer for numerous media companies in Europe. He lives in Berlin and is currently working in the programme management of a major capital radio station.

Author Links: TwitterWebsiteFacebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: It Was Her by Mark Hill (@markhillwriter) @TheCrimeVault @millieseaward #ItWasHer

it was her.jpg“Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.

Did she do it?

Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Poppy. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she sees families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.

Did she kill them?

As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the It Was Her blog tour.  It Was Her is written by ex-blogger and journalist, Mark Hill and was published by Sphere on 17th May 2018.  This is the second book in the DI Ray Drake series.  The first book, His First Lie (originally published as ‘The Two O’Clock Boy’) I thoroughly enjoyed and you can read my review by clicking HERE.

I was really looking forward to being reacquainted with DI Drake and DS Flick Crowley, having enjoyed His First Lie as much as I did.  But before we go any further, a word to the wise.  There’s something really quite special and different about this series and some things, although expertly explained and recapped by the author, work so much better if you read them first hand.  You get that spine-tingling shock factor, that unexpected ‘WOW’ moment that you just can’t get via a recap.  I may get in trouble for saying this but PLEASE read His First Lie first.  It’ll give you goosebumps and you’ll learn exactly who you are dealing with in Ray Drake.  Now don’t get me wrong, Hill has done a terrific job of giving new readers an overview of what happened to Ray as a child but no matter how expert the writing, this is one series that you should experience, from the beginning, yourself.

I’ll climb down off of my soapbox now (more of a biscuit tin really…) and get on with reviewing It Was Her!  DI Ray Drake is a troubled man.  DS Flick Crowley is dealing with her own demons which are all due to Drake, her boss and his troubled past.  I found Flick hard to like in the first book.  It Was Her has completely changed my opinion.  They’re an odd couple, but I really like them.  There’s a wonderful sense of impending doom about the two of them; the knowledge that if either of them says the wrong thing, confides in the wrong person then life could drastically change for both.  They’re bound together by secrets, whether they like it or not.

One of the things I’m growing to love about reading a Mark Hill novel is his flair for writing interesting, well-developed characters.  Although this book is all about DI Drake his supporting cast are solid, believable characters who all contribute to the storyline.  Hill has, however, outdone himself with the toxic Bliss family.  Tatia is the ‘adopted’ (although not through the normal, legal channels) middle sister of the family.  Poppy is the older sister, Joel is the younger brother and Will died at a young age when he fell from a clifftop whilst on holiday with his family.  Tatia was blamed for the ‘accident’ and sent home to an orphanage in Georgia and a life of poverty, abuse and degradation.  The scars run deep and all Tatia wants is a beautiful home of her own and her family reunited.  So much so that breaking and entering doesn’t seem that big-a-deal.  But then the owners of the properties start dying in violent circumstances and Tatia becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation.  Did she do it?  Only DI Drake and DS Crowley can discover the truth…

Every so often throughout the story, there are flashbacks to x number of days or weeks after Will fell from the cliff.  These chapters give the reader a great insight into the workings of the Bliss family and how events have turned out the way they have.  I’m afraid I did my usual and tried to work out whodunit before it was revealed.  I did guess the perpetrator but oh my gosh, that ending was NOT expected!

Would I recommend this book?  I would but do start with His First Lie as it gives you the necessary background.  DI Drake is a fascinating and complex character and it helps to understand his experience and his motivations before reading It Was Her.  Deliciously dark characters, a poisonous middle-class family and a detective inspector with more to hide than most!  Another thoroughly enjoyable read from Mark Hill.

Four out of five stars.

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

It Was Her by Mark Hill was published in the UK by Sphere on 17th May 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

It Was Her blog tour poster.jpg

about the author3

mark-hillI’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR.

But I write now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for clicking.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are oh-so-many ways to do it!

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

#BookReview: The Fourteenth Letter by @claireevans113 | @TheCrimeVault @EllaMatildaB

the fourteenth letter.jpg“A mysterious keepsake, a murdered bride, a legacy of secrets…

One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society.

As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger brandishing a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the tumult, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: ‘I promised I would save you.’

The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client, whom he was never meant to meet. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message: The Finder knows.”

Having read the blurb of The Fourteenth Letter I just knew that I had to read Claire Evans’s debut.  I do enjoy the odd foray into historical crime, I used to read a lot more than I do now and maybe that’s something I need to address.  So to say I was tempted by this title was an understatement.

If you are anything like me, you’ve read the blurb and found it appealing. However, this book has so much more to offer than the simple synopsis above.  So much more which I really wasn’t ready for.  The depth of this story surprised me; it took me places I wasn’t expecting to go and it’s a whole lot darker than it first seems.

I was transported to London in the early 1880s.  The sights, the smells, the dastardly deviants and street urchins; all of which Evans paints so clearly for her reader.  And there I found a character I will not forget for some time, the sublime Savannah Shelton. I may have fallen a little bit in love with the feisty American.  With an appearance which makes her stand out from the crowd, Savannah Shelton was a vision in petticoats, shockingly exposing her ankles for all to see.  A gun-toting, kick-ass woman wanted for murder in the US but with a heart of gold and a desire to protect our somewhat hapless protagonist, William Lamb (it helped he was paying her!).

The author has created a cast of wonderful, eccentric characters all of whom I hope will remain with me for a while.  I grew to like and admire William Lamb as the story progressed.  I found his naivety both charming and a little irksome to start with; a strange mix!  But I watched as, throughout the pages, he transformed from a lamb to man who would sacrifice himself for what he believed in.  There are many other outstanding characters present in this novel for our delectation.  Special mention to DI Harry Treadway who, despite past errors, I was really rooting for. I particularly enjoyed it when Treadway’s investigation collided head-on with Savannah and William’s own personal search for answers.

Would I recommend this book?  I would. This is a multi-layered tale of misguided belief and the search for perfection.  Believe me when I say you will get an awful lot more than you bargained for in picking up a copy of The Fourteenth Letter.  What looks on the outside like an innocuous search to solve the mystery of one woman’s killer will, in its depths, both alarm and entertain you.

Four out of five stars.

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

The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans was published in the UK by Sphere (Little,Brown Group) on 21st September 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

claire evans.jpg

Author bio (c) https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9780751566383

Claire Evans is an established business specialist in the UK television industry. After finishing her law degree, she qualified as an accountant, but realising her mistake quickly ran away to work at the National Theatre before finally landing a job at the BBC. Once there, she rose through the ranks to head up operations and business affairs across the TV commissioning teams. In drama, she led the BBC’s commercial relationships with the Independent production sector and a wide range of international co-producers and distributors.

She left the BBC in 2013 to pursue her writing career. Since then she has advised a number of drama and film production companies, most recently working on The Honourable Woman and Doctor Foster. She is also now the Chief Operating Officer at Two Brothers Pictures Ltd, the company set up by Harry and Jack Williams, the creators of The Missing.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Sister by Louise Jensen (@Fab_fiction) @thecrimevault @bookouture

the sister.jpg‘I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me …’

“Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear that there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie … Or was there?”

It gives me great pleasure to wish the incredibly talented Louise Jensen the happiest of publication days.  Today, Louise’s debut The Sister is published in paperback by Sphere (Little, Brown).  It’s an astonishingly good read and I heartily recommend you do EVERYTHING you can to get a copy.  Congratulations Louise ❤.

Here’s my five-star review from August 2016 just to prove how much I love this book (and to convince you to purchase a copy if you haven’t already done so!).

my review2

This is a psychological thriller and a half!  Huge congratulations to the author, Louise Jensen, as this is her debut novel, what an achievement!  No pressure Louise but you’ve set the bar incredibly high for yourself!

Grace and Charlie are childhood best friends.  On her first day at her new school Grace encounters a classroom bully who is immediately put in his place by the forthright Charlie.  From there builds an unbreakable friendship, BFF together forever.  But, six years after burying their precious memory box, Charlie is dead.  Grace finds it impossible to cope with the grief, pushing everyone away and gradually falling to pieces.  In a bid to help her accept Charlie’s death she decides to find Charlie’s wayward father.  It’s something Charlie always wanted to do herself and it feels the right thing for Grace to do.  That’s when the mysterious Anna walks into Grace’s life.  Anna claims to be Charlie’s half sister but before long she has ensconced herself firmly in Grace’s life.  Grace is overjoyed, she finally has a link to Charlie again.  Or does she…?

Wowsers!  This is a stonking, heart-stopping read and I loved it.  I couldn’t put it down (I refused to put it down more like!).  I loved Louise’s style and I wanted to keep reading, no matter what else was happening around me.  The story was so engaging that I became transfixed with Grace’s tale, wanting to discover what strange occurrence was going to happen next.

I didn’t really warm to any of the characters, except for Grace’s grandfather who was just lovely.  Grace was a little too needy for me.  Charlie would probably be my favourite but she’s only present for a small percentage of the novel so I’m not sure she counts.  As for Dan, Grace’s boyfriend, he needs to man up, grr!  Anna is just sinister with a capital S and thinking about her makes me shudder.  I didn’t want to like any of this lot though, that’s part of the appeal of a psychological thriller.  What’s the point in having likable characters?

The plot moves at an enjoyable pace.  There are twists and turns along the way which keep you on the edge of your seat.  It’s pretty darn perfect, in my opinion.

Would I recommend this book?  Oh yes, without a doubt.  It’s a creepy tale of when good intentions turn bad.  It had my heart racing and I didn’t want to stop reading for anything.  A fabulous debut and I cannot wait to see what Louise Jensen has in store for us next.

Five out of five stars.

The Sister by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 24th August 2017 and is available in paperback format.  Previously published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

 

Louise Jensen is a No. 1 bestselling author of psychological thrillers. Her debut novel ‘The Sister,’ was published by Bookouture (Hachette) in July 2016 and reached No. 1 in the UK where it stayed for over 5 weeks, and it also hit No. 1 on the Canadian Amazon chart, No.1 in Apple’s iBooks and is listed as a USA Today Bestseller. It was the 6th biggest selling book on Amazon in 2016. Due to The Sister’s phenomenal success it will be republished by Sphere (Little, Brown Book Group) on August 24th 2017 and be available in all good bookshops.

‘The Sister’ is a book about a grieving girl who thought there was nothing as frightening as being alone – she was wrong.

‘The Gift’ Louise’s second book, was published in December and within a week of release gave Louise her second No. 1 in 2016 both in the UK, where it stayed for over a 5 weeks, was No. 1 in  Canada and is also a USA Today Bestseller. In Amazon’s half-year trends report The Gift is reported as the 3rd biggest selling ebook in the UK in 2017.

‘The Gift’ is a book about a perfect daughter and how a secret is eating her family alive…

‘The Surrogate’ is Louise’s third novel and is due for publication on September 27th 2017 and is available to preorder now.

‘The Surrogate – is a book about everything you have, she wants. ‘You know that feeling? 

When you want something so badly, you’d kill for it?’

To date Louise has sold over 750,000 books and her novels have been sold for translation in sixteen territories. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise also writes flash fiction, and features and articles for both magazines and online publications. Louise specialises in writing about mindfulness, chronic pain and mental health.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BookReview: His First Lie by Mark Hill (@markhillwriter) @TheCrimeVault #HisFirstLie

his first lie.jpg“One night changed their lives

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.”

When I first heard about this book, I knew that I had to read it.  Not only is the author, Mark Hill, a brilliant book blogger (well, once upon a time before he wrote a cracking novel!) but oh my gosh, THAT blurb!  That blurb feels like it was written for me.  There was also a fabulous .gif doing the rounds, which caught my eye too (I do love a .gif).  I felt this book was destined for my TBR.

DI Ray Drake’s past is coming back to haunt him.  People he knew as a child are being horrifically killed along with their partners and children.  It can’t be something to do with Ray though, can it?  Whilst investigating the murder of ex-associate, Kenny, it comes to light that he was in the process of writing his memoirs, an exposé of his time at the ill fated Longacre children’s home.  DI Drake is only supervising the case though, newly promoted DS Flick Crowley is in charge and Ray is determined that his secret will never see the light of day.  And he’s prepared to do whatever it takes…

From the opening chapters you feel that there is something….amiss about DI Ray Drake. There is no reason to dislike this man but you can feel he has deeply buried secrets and boy, you want to know what they are!  He gets under your skin.  Then he starts to behave inappropriately for a DI and your brain goes into overdrive; ‘what is going on with this fella?’ you find yourself asking.  He is a brilliantly written character and I take my hat off to Mark Hill.  I became quite obsessed with trying to work out what was going on with Ray, what his thing was and maybe even a little obsessed with Ray, himself!

DS Flick Crowley didn’t have the same draw as DI Drake did for me.  I liked her, and I can see her being a favourite of many other readers, but I think I was so totally smitten with DI Drake that Flick wasn’t really on my radar.  I hope there is a second book as she may be one of those characters that, for me, needs time to grow and develop.  There were two other characters in His First Lie who won my heart; Elliot and Connor.  Connor is a complete enigma, the cool kid at the home who beats up the bullies but stands up and says I was wrong when the moment requires.  And the bully turned family man, Elliot.  How I absolutely loved Elliot.

The plot is very clever.  This book felt fresh to me; something different that I haven’t encountered before.  There’s not a lot else I can say about the plot without giving away spoilers but just let me say that it’s quite an intricate storyline.  I’m afraid I managed to work out who the killer was but it’s a habit of mine now to look for the killer (I really need to stop doing this and just enjoy the book!).  It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the book and to be honest, there are much bigger twists than the reveal of the killer for the reader to concentrate on.

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would.  In fact, this is a book that all crime fiction fans should read as it’s quite different to other detective novels.  Not only do you have a cracking whodunit story but you also have a cast of brilliantly written characters that make reading this book a joy.  I was so captivated with what Ray’s secret could be and oh my, it’s a corker!  And to think this a debut – I can’t wait to see what else Mark Hill has in store for us.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of His First Lie.

His First Lie by Mark Hill was published in the UK by Sphere on 22nd September 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Sphere Books |

Smith & Sons (11)

mark-hill

Mark Hill is a London-based full-time writer of novels and scripts. Formerly he was a journalist and a producer at BBC Radio 2 across a range of major daytime shows and projects. He has won two Sony Gold Awards.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |