#BookReview: The Embalmer by Alison Belsham @TrapezeBooks #TheEmbalmer #damppebbles

the embalmer“Has the ancient Egyptian cult of immortality resurfaced in Brighton?

When a freshly-mummified body is discovered at the Brighton Museum of Natural History, Detective Francis Sullivan is at a loss to identify the desiccated woman. But as Egyptian burial jars of body parts with cryptic messages attached start appearing, he realises he has a serial killer on his hands. Revenge, obsession and an ancient religion form a potent mix, unleashing a wave of terror throughout the city. Caught in a race against time while battling his own demons, Francis must fight to uncover the true identity of the Embalmer before it’s too late…”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Embalmer by Alison Belsham. The Embalmer is the third book in the Mullins and Sullivan Series and is published today (that’s 12th November 2020) by Trapeze Books in hardcover, digital and audio formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Embalmer but that has in no way influenced my review.

I really enjoy this brilliant detective series with a twist, and I look forward to each new book being published. I was excited to get my mitts on a copy of book three, The Embalmer, which I started as soon as it arrived on my Kindle (having recently read and reviewed the second book in the series, Her Last Breath, which was still very fresh in my mind).

DI Francis Sullivan is on the hunt for a psychopathic serial killer on the streets of Brighton. Discovering a mummified body and canopic jars containing human organs in the local Natural History Museum, DI Sullivan and his team have their work cut out to try and find their killer. But as the body count rises, it becomes clear that the killers motives are very personal indeed…

The Embalmer is another great addition to this wonderful series which not only features a young Detective Inspector out to prove himself but also a headstrong and fiery tattoo artist who can’t seem to avoid trouble, Marni Mullins. I love how this series is a little different to everything else available out there. All of the cases investigated so far by DI Sullivan have involved tattoos, to some degree or another (including this latest instalment). Personally, for me, that gives the series a bit of an edge. I will say however, that this is a series best read from the start. Previous cases are mentioned which could give a little too much away if you’re reading them out of order, and by starting with the first book you can see for yourself how the relationships develop between Belsham’s characters.

Sullivan’s frustration at not making progress in the case and watching the body count rise keeps the reader turning the pages from start to finish. I have a rather large soft spot for Sullivan and I really wanted him to succeed (whilst hoping there would be a few more grisly deaths on the cards – go figure!). Whilst Sullivan has problems of his own, Marni Mullins is also up to her neck in it. I really enjoyed how the two stories ran alongside each other. Marni Mullins was less involved in the investigation this time but that’s only because she has her hands full with her own disastrous life and those in it. I’ll be interested to see what the future holds for Marni.

The team around DI Sullivan continues to be a strong one. Which makes this the perfect time to mention new character, DC Gavin Albright, who is a very welcome addition. Sullivan’s Detective Sergeant, Rory Mackay, is still biting at his heels after he was looked over for promotion and Sullivan was appointed DI. There is a lot of tension there which I hope continues to bubble under the surface. And I won’t even bother mentioning one of the most loathsome characters I have met in a fictional setting (DCI Martin Bradshaw, if you’re wondering) Such a brilliantly written, despicable character. Grr!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would happily recommend The Embalmer along with the first two books in this series (starting with The Tattoo Thief if you can). I really enjoyed being back in Brighton with the team again. Belsham isn’t afraid to put her characters through the wringer and I flipping love that. With a tense and gripping finale this is another brilliant page turner from an author I will always read. Recommended.

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

The Embalmer by Alison Belsham was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 12th November 2020 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 | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

alison belshamAlison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. After signing with agent Jenny Brown, The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham @TrapezeBooks #HerLastBreath #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

her last breath“A gripping new detective series set in Brighton for readers who enjoy Peter James’ Roy Grace series.

When a young woman is attacked and left fighting to survive in hospital, the police are pulled into a race against time to save her life. But just 24 hours later, she dies and a deadly tattoo is discovered on her body.

And when another young woman disappears, Detective Francis Sullivan and his team fear a serial killer walks the streets of Brighton.

His team identify a suspect, Alex Mullins, son of Francis’s lover, Marni. Can Francis forget their shared past and save the next victim before it is too late?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles! Today I am delighted to be sharing my twelfth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham. Her Last Breath is the second book in the Detective Sullivan Thriller Series, was published by Trapeze Books on 6th February 2020 and is available in most formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Her Last Breath but that has in no way influenced my review.

I read The Tattoo Thief, the author’s debut, back in 2018 and really enjoyed it. It was a dark read with a really interesting, different lead detective. So I was keen to get stuck into Her Last Breath and oh boy, I loved it. The Tattoo Thief was good but Her Last Breath is an absolute corker!

A young woman is savagely attacked and left with horrific wounds on a beach in Brighton. The woman, Tash Brady, is the girlfriend of Alex Mullins – son of local tattoo artist Marni Mullins, who is still recovering from her recent run-in with the Tattoo Thief. Marni does the only thing she can think of to help Tash and that’s call a man she hoped to never see again, DI Francis Sullivan. Sullivan and the team are put on the case but days later, Tash tragically dies. Shortly after Tash’s death, another young woman is attacked. Her wounds match those of the first victim and Sullivan fears the worst. They have a serial killer on their hands. And one clear suspect – Marni’s son, Alex…

What a page-turner! I enjoyed the first book but found it hard to warm to the characters. That was not the case in Her Last Breath. I adored Marni’s complete faith in her son’s innocence and her dogged determination to prove it. Sullivan has matured and grown into his role and even though he has moments of doubt, he stands tall and leads the team from the front. DS Rory Mackay is still biting at his heels and wants Sullivan’s job, which he feels should be his anyway, but Sullivan’s increased confidence and leadership keeps him at bay. Other members of the team are equally as strong as Sullivan and Mackay, and add to the gripping storyline.

Killer tattoos. I mean, how fantastic is that?! This is the type of plot I devour. Something a little different, something that I haven’t seen before, something to keep me on the edge of my seat – which is exactly what Her Last Breath did. With many of the team focussing all of their resources on one suspect, looking to pin something – anything (!) – on Alex, they’re not looking at the bigger picture, which results in a second woman being attacked. Sullivan senses that Alex isn’t their man, but he’s got to prove it and find out who is. I loved the intense race against time to find the killer. The way the author makes you question Alex’s innocence. The heart-stopping, claustrophobic ending set in one of the most revolting locations I’ve ever read in a book was so brilliantly written – I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved Her Last Breath and I’m eagerly waiting for book three so I can be reunited with Sullivan and Marni again. And, of course, find out how tattoos will feature in the plot! I would strongly recommend that you read The Tattoo Thief first before Her Last Breath, as the case in the first book is mentioned and referred to often with lots of spoilers. Going in with some knowledge of past happenings will help. Her Last Breath is a gritty, captivating police procedural with a difference and I loved every minute I spent in Brighton with the team. Gripping, engaging and absolutely riveting. Highly recommended.

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

Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 6th February 2020 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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about-the-author3

alison belshamAlison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. After signing with agent Jenny Brown, The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Needle Song by Russell Day (@rfdaze) @fahrenheitpress #NeedleSongBook

needle song“Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband. 

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.”

It is my great pleasure to be one of two blogs closing down the Needle Song blog tour today.  Needle Song is the first full novel from debut author Russell Day and is available to purchase now having been published by Fahrenheit Press in April 2018.

Needle Song is something quite special.  What you see isn’t quite what you get but it’s done in such a glorious way that it really doesn’t matter.  What struck me the most about this book is the quality of the characters.  Now I’m a reader who loves a story that centres around its characters, so Needle Song was a real pleasure for me to read.  I also like those characters to be different, a little odd maybe and with appealing quirks.  Once again, Needle Song ticks all the boxes.

When Chris Rudjer is arrested for the murder of his new girlfriend’s husband, tattoo shop owner and psychology graduate Doc Slidesmith and his somewhat unenthusiastic sidekick, Yakky, leap to his aide.  Armed with a love of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and a loaded deck of tarot cards, Doc and Yakky poke where the police fear to tread – all in the name of saving their mate from a life in prison.  After all, Chris looks the most likely suspect in the murder.  But Doc knows better.  Doc knows that man mountain Chris would never hurt a fly (unless provoked!) and it’s down to him (and the slightly dubious Yakky) to prove it!

I loved Doc Slidemsith, but Yakky stole my heart.  The story is told from his perspective so the reader gets to see and feel what he’s experiencing.  The moments when Doc suddenly pronounced his latest theory and Yakky’s obvious underwhelmed reaction to the reveal was just wonderful.  Very reminiscent in a lot of ways to one of my favourite movies ‘Without a Clue’.  Just brilliant!

I was compelled to keep turning the pages and was engrossed in the investigation from start to finish.  I admit that I was a little disappointed with the ‘whodunit’ but I was delighted that Doc was able to uncover the mystery in such a dramatic and flamboyant style.  Miss Marple would have been proud of him!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I don’t want to say this book is delightful as that makes it sound twee (it’s not twee; voodoo, tattoos, bikers, blood spill, murder, suicide and shotguns under the floorboards…) but that’s the first word I think of when I think of Needle Song.  It was a joy to read, a delight!  It breaks down genre barriers with the wonderful Christie-esque mystery but the modern day, darker setting makes it so different to everything else.  Needle Song blurs the lines and I really enjoyed it.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of Needle Song.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Needle Song by Russell Day was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 28th April 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Fahrenheit Press online shop | Goodreads |

about the author3

Russell Day (1)Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s always been a miserable bastard.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |