#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Homes by J.B. Mylet @ViperBooks #TheHomes #damppebbles

“There were good people in The Homes. But there were also some very, very bad ones…

A thousand unwanted children live in The Homes, a village of orphans in the Scottish Lowlands on the outskirts of Glasgow. Lesley was six before she learned that most children live with their parents. Now Lesley is twelve, and she and her best friend Jonesy live in Cottage 5, Jonesy the irrepressible spirit to Lesley’s quiet thoughtfulness.

Life is often cruel at The Homes, and suddenly it becomes much crueller. A child is found murdered. Then another. With the police unable to catch the killer, Lesley and Jonesy decide to take the matter into their own hands. But unwanted children are easy victims, and they are both in terrible danger…
Inspired by a true story, and introducing readers to the unforgettable voice of young orphan Lesley, The Homes is a moving and lyrical thriller, perfect for readers of Val McDermid, Chris Whitaker, Jane Casey and Denise Mina.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining The Homes blog tour. The Homes by J.B. Mylet will be published by Viper Books later this week (that’s Thursday 26th May 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Homes but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Rosie at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

Lesley and Jonesy are twelve-year-old best friends who have been abandoned by their parents. They’re unloved. They live in the Homes, a purpose built village in Scotland, alongside nearly 800 other orphaned and abandoned children. Life is tough. Beatings are common. But it’s the only life they know. When one of the older teenage girls is found dead, it’s the most exciting and interesting thing to have ever happened at the Homes. But when a second girl is killed, realisation dawns on the children. There’s a killer loose targeting the young female population of the Homes and any of the girls could be next. Lesley and Jonesy don’t want to die so they take it upon themselves to try and solve the murders. But the more they dig and poke around, pointing fingers at the staff, the closer to danger they get…

Oh my word, this book! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from The Homes but what I got was a brilliantly written mystery featuring some of the most memorable characters I’ve met, alongside a bit of an education about the Quarriers Homes and how life was for the children who lived there.

Lesley is such a wonderful character. We meet her as she’s just about to face up to bully Glenda McAdam and it’s immediately clear to the reader that Lesley is very much out of her depth. She’s a clever girl and brawling, particularly with the powerhouse that is Glenda, is not something she wants to do. Egged on by best pal Jonesy, she knows the only way to get Glenda off her back is to stand up to her. And that’s exactly what she does. This opening chapter provides the reader with everything they need to know about Lesley. It’s a beautiful introduction to a character who will stay in your heart long after you’ve finished reading.

The Homes is very much Lesley’s story. Her life, her friends, how she copes with being one of only four children from the Homes who attends the grammar school, the relentless teasing and bullying she gets for being smart, her weekly meetings with Eadie, the on-call psychologist, her interactions with her strict houseparents – Mr & Mrs Paterson – and the other girls who share a room with her, and it’s an absolutely fascinating, highly compelling tale. I was completely smitten with Lesley’s story. Her life isn’t perfect but she has routine and stability, and it’s all she knows.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Homes is a well-written and compelling tale which I was drawn into from the moment I met Lesley. I adored spending time in her world and I now feel a little bereft having finished the book. I couldn’t for the life of me work out whodunit so when the reveal did happen, I was shocked. I also really, really enjoyed that the author has used local dialect throughout the book to tell the story – lots of deids and heids and cannaes – which really added to the authenticity of the story. I read the entire book with a Scottish accent! Emotional, devastating at times, and with a well-plotted mystery at its heart, The Homes is a must read for readers who like strong character-driven tales. Highly recommended.

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

The Homes by J.B. Mylet was published in the UK by Viper Books on 26th May 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 |

J.B. MyletJ.B. Mylet was inspired to write The Homes based on the stories his mother told him about her childhood. She grew up in the infamous Quarrier’s Homes in Scotland in the 1960s, along with a thousand other orphaned or unwanted children, and did not realise that children were supposed to live with their parents until she was seven. He felt this was a story that needed to be told. He lives in London.

#BookReview: Sundial by Catriona Ward @ViperBooks @ThePigeonholeHQ #Sundial #damppebbles

You can’t escape the desert. You can’t escape Sundial.

Rob fears for her daughters. For Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. For Annie, because of what Callie might do to her. Rob sees a darkness in Callie that reminds her of the family she left behind. She decides to take Callie back to Sundial, her childhood home deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is afraid of her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely. To tell her secrets about her past that both disturb and excite her. And Callie is beginning to wonder if only one of them will leave Sundial alive…

A gripping gothic masterpiece from the bestselling and award-winning author of THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET, SUNDIAL is a must-read for fans of GIRL A and SHARP OBJECTS.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Sundial by Catriona Ward. Sundial was published by Viper Books on 10th March 2022 and is 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 Sundial but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to The Pigeonhole for providing me with a copy.

The Last House on Needless Street was, without a doubt, one of the biggest books of 2021. It’s been shortlisted for awards, the rights have been sold all over the world, it topped the charts, it featured on several TV book clubs, the film rights have been optioned and most importantly of all (in my opinion, anyway) it was the joint winner of #R3COMM3ND3D2021. It’s HUGE and rightly so. So it goes without saying that the latest release from Ward and Viper Books was going to be a must read for many. Myself included. I could not wait to read this book!

Rob and Irving have two beautiful daughters, rewarding teaching careers, they live in a good neighbourhood and take the utmost care of their house. Life, on the outside, looks perfect for the Cussens family. But Rob knows the truth. There’s something about her eldest daughter, Callie, which puts her on edge. To the point where she feels her other daughter, Annie, isn’t safe. When the proof arrives, Rob makes the decision to move Callie as far away from her sibling as possible for a few days and drives to her family home of Sundial in the Mojave Desert. In the isolation of the desert, surrounded by painful, difficult memories and the ghosts of her family, Rob will have to make the hardest decision she’s ever made….

Dark and disturbing, Sundial was an absolute dream to read. I adored every unsettling moment I spent amongst the pages of this exquisite novel. The author is a master at writing highly complex, utterly intriguing, yet deeply flawed characters who, over time, reveal their true selves, and it makes for compulsive reading. I adored Rob. It’s clear from the moment she and Callie arrive at Sundial that her past, and her family, were very different to the norm. Dysfunctional is an understatement! The more the reader discovers, the more shocking things become. I’m loathe to say too much in fear of giving something away that I shouldn’t. There are so many well-plotted layers to this novel that each chapter brings a new revelation. Something to twist and shape what you thought into something new and different which makes for a thrilling, unpredictable reading experience.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Sundial is highly original, darkly compelling and totally twisted (in the best way possible). The pressure really was on for the author following the huge success of The Last House on Needless Street but by George, she’s gone and done it again! Sundial is a very different beast to its predecessor but I think I preferred it ever so slightly. Both books are superb but I think this one, for me, takes the edge. The setting is very well drawn, I could feel the heat of the Mojave Desert blistering my skin. The characters have real depth and I felt as though they were living and breathing in front of me. The plot flowed beautifully, keeping me within the pages and occupying my thoughts when I wasn’t reading. Addictive, uncomfortable at times but truly stunning in concept and delivery. Psychological horror at its absolute finest and this book firmly puts Ward on my ‘must read’ author list. I’m excited to see what Catriona Ward delivers next! Highly recommended.

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

Sundial by Catriona Ward was published in the UK by Viper Books on 10th 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Catriona WardCATRIONA WARD was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.

Stephen King praised her latest gothic thriller, saying: ‘The buzz building around Catriona Ward’s THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET is real. I’ve read it and was blown away. It’s a true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end. Haven’t read anything this exciting since GONE GIRL.’ THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET is published 2021 by Viper (UK) and Tor Nightfire (USA).

Her next book, SUNDIAL will be published by Nightfire (US) and Viper (UK) in March 2022.

Ward’s second novel LITTLE EVE won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award, as well as the August Derleth Prize at the British Fantasy Awards, and was a Guardian best book of 2018. LITTLE EVE will be published in the US by Tor Nightfire in October 2022.

Ward’s debut RAWBLOOD also won the 2016 August Derleth, making her the only woman to have won the prize twice. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. ‘The Pier at Ardentinny’ was shortlisted for the ALCS Tom Gallon Trust Award organised by the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London and Devon.

#BookReview: Begars Abbey by V.L. Valentine @ViperBooks #BegarsAbbey #damppebbles

“A dark house filled with darker secrets…

Winter 1954, and in a dilapidated apartment in Brooklyn, Sam Cooper realises that she has nothing left. Her mother is dead, she has no prospects, and she cannot afford the rent. But as she goes through her mother’s things, Sam finds a stack of hidden letters that reveal a family and an inheritance that she never knew she had, three thousand miles away in Yorkshire.

Begars Abbey is a crumbling pile, inhabited only by Lady Cooper, Sam’s ailing grandmother, and a handful of servants. Sam cannot understand why her mother kept its very existence a secret, but her newly discovered diaries offer a glimpse of a young girl growing increasingly terrified. As is Sam herself.

Built on the foundations of an old convent, Begars moves and sings with the biting wind. Her grandmother cannot speak, and a shadowy woman moves along the corridors at night. There are dark places in the hidden tunnels beneath Begars. And they will not give up their secrets easily…

A chilling read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night, Begars Abbey is a must-read for fans of Laura Purcell and W.C. Ryan.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Begars Abbey by V.L. Valentine. Begars Abbey is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 28th April 2022) and is available in hardcover and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Begars Abbey but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Therese at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

Following the death of her mother, Vera, Sam Cooper comes to realise that she has nothing left. She’s barely existing, she has no money and her Brooklyn apartment is crumbling around her. Whilst clearing out her mother’s belongings, Sam discovers a stack of telegrams her mother failed to mention. The telegrams reveal a family and a substantial inheritance several thousand miles away in Yorkshire. Sam is desperate to connect and find out why her mother would rather live in squalor, struggling to put food on the table each day, than ask her family for help. But on arrival in Yorkshire, Sam’s expectations are dashed. Begars Abbey is a crumbling ruin of a house, run by a strange housekeeper and a number of incompetent staff. Sam’s grandmother, Lady Cooper, is wheelchair bound and unable to utter a word after several strokes. There’s something not quite right about the house. So when Sam discovers her mother’s teenage diaries, she’s determined to discover what secrets Begars Abbey holds…

Begars Abbey is a thoroughly enjoyable, dark, chilling gothic mystery. I’ve been living on the edge recently and not reading the blurb of a book before I make a start on it so I went into Begars Abbey almost blind. Yes, it is clear from the cover that it’s a gothic tale but that’s as much as I knew. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that our story starts in Brooklyn in the 1950s! Sam is a fantastic character – well rounded, likeable and quite ballsy, which I really appreciated. I warmed to her instantly, despite the chill of the New York air already giving me goosebumps! I really enjoyed meeting Sam and finding more out about her relationship with her mother.

After a long journey across the Atlantic Ocean Sam’s arrival in England falls flat, with her pre-arranged escort nowhere in sight and the icy bitterness of the Liverpool docks providing the reader with even more chills. But with the help of the family’s solicitor, Alec Bell, Sam is whisked to her ancestral home. The supporting characters in the novel are all well-written and absolutely fascinating. I found Alec to be wonderfully frustrating whilst the eccentric but endlessly loyal Mrs Pritchett was unpredictable and unnerving – superb characterisation.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re a fan of gothic mysteries, or just well-written mysteries full stop, then I heartily recommend Begars Abbey. Dark, creepy and compelling, I flew through this book in a few short sittings and would gladly read more by this author. Wonderful imagery, marvellous characters and lots of surprises in store for the reader. Recommended.

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

Begars Abbey by V.L. Valentine was published in the UK by Viper Books on 28th April 2022 and is available in hardcover 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 |

V.L. ValentineV.L. Valentine is a senior science editor at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., where she has led award-winning coverage of global disease outbreaks including Ebola and the Zika virus. She has a master’s in the history of medicine from University College London and her non-fiction work has been published by NPR, The New York Times, The Smithsonian Channel and Science Magazine. The Plague Letters is her first novel.

#BookReview: The Burning Boy by Nicola White @ViperBooks #TheBurningBoy #damppebbles

“A dead police officer. A murder that no-one wants to solve…

Dublin, 1986. The murder of an off-duty officer in Phoenix Park should have brought down the full power of the Dublin police force. But Kieran Lynch was found in a notorious gay cruising ground, so even as the press revels in the scandal, some of the Murder Squad are reluctant to investigate.

Only Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine are determined to search out the difficult truth, walking the streets of nighttime Dublin to find Kieran’s lovers and friends. But Gina has her own secret that means she must withhold vital evidence. When a fire rips through Temple Bar and another man is killed, she must decide what price she is willing to pay to find a murderer.

A gripping mystery that will keep you hooked until the final page, perfect for readers of Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Tana French and Adrian McKinty.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Burning Boy by Nicola White. The Burning Boy is the third book in the Detective Vincent Swan series and was published by Viper Books on 20th January 2022. I chose to read and review a free copy of The Burning Boy but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me a finished copy.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second book in White’s Dublin based detective series, The Rosary Garden, around this time last year. So I was delighted when an unexpected copy of book three in the trilogy, The Burning Boy, landed on the doormat at damppebbles HQ a few weeks ago. Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine really left their mark on me last January so I was keen to be reunited with them and see what tricky new case they had been tasked to solve.

A man’s badly beaten body is found barely alive in a Dublin park. He’s hanging onto life by a thread and that thread is starting to fray. He’s whisked to hospital where he’s identified as Kieran Lynch, a Garda in the local force. Instead of the immediate outcry you would expect from the Garda officers at one of their own nearly being killed, all that surfaces is indifference at the attack. Because Kieran’s badly beaten body was found in a notorious gay hook-up spot and no one, neither his friends nor his colleagues, want to be associated with him. Not even when the hunt for Kieran’s attacker turns into a hunt for his killer. Which means it’s down to Detective Vincent Swan and Detective Gina Considine to fight for their fallen colleague and find out who killed Kieran, and why…

Swan and Considine are a marvellous pairing and I enjoyed spending time with them once again. Both characters have their own secrets and hidden heartache to contend with in The Burning Boy which I felt helped me get to know them better. Coming into this third book I was aware of Swan’s situation, which the author builds on extremely well – fleshing out Swan’s loneliness until my heart broke a little for him – but I was fascinated to find out more about Gina Considine. I don’t feel I really got to know what made her tick in the second book, The Rosary Garden, so I was delighted to discover she plays a key role in this latest instalment.

I love White’s Dublin of the 1980s. It’s funny because I forgot the series is set in the past and I was part way through the book before some key word or phrase reminded me that this isn’t contemporary crime fiction at all. But a beautifully written, vivid historical mystery. The plotline centres around the gay scene in Dublin in the mid-80s. A time when it was illegal to be homosexual, although the Garda – in terms of the book at least – turned a blind eye. There’s tension between the Garda and the gay community throughout the novel. Many of the views are of the time but it all adds up to a very enjoyable reading experience.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Burning Boy is a well-written and intriguing mystery. The pace can be a little slow at times but there is plenty for the reader to get their teeth into, which I appreciated. I feel as though I’m starting to really get to know these characters now so I hope there is more to come (although only time will tell). I loved the ending of this book. It was so unexpected and so utterly devastating – my jaw was on the floor. All in all, another well plotted, well written mystery from a talented author. Recommended.

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

The Burning Boy by Nicola White was published in the UK by Viper Books on 20th January 2022 and is available in paperback 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 |

Nicola White grew up in Ireland and New York and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. She lived in London and Belfast before moving to Glasgow to work as a contemporary art curator, moving on to produce arts documentaries for BBC radio and television.

In 2008 she won the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writer Award, and began to publish short stories in a range of journals, anthologies and for broadcast on Radio 4. In 2012 she was Leverhulme Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University.

Her novel, In the Rosary Garden, won the Dundee International Book prize and was shortlisted for the 2014 Deanston (now McIlvanny) Prize. It was selected as one of the four best debuts by Val McDermid ‘New Blood’ panel at the Harrogate crime festival and was one of the Glasgow Herald’s 2014 ‘books of the year’.

She publishes non-fiction with The Dublin Review and has contributed essays to numerous visual art publications, such as the National Galleries of Scotland’s 2014 ‘Generation Reader’.

Nicola currently splits her time between Glasgow and the Highlands, which means she lives mostly on the A9.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker @ViperBooks #NastyLittleCuts #damppebbles

WHO WILL SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There’s a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it’s not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises.

Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she’s become, or why she lets him hurt her.

Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can’t forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children’s lives are at stake…

A powerful exploration of a relationship built on passion, poisoned by secrets and violence. Perfect for readers of Blood Orange and Big Little Lies.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the Nasty Little Cuts blog tour. Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker will be published on 24th February 2022 in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later in the year. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Nasty Little Cuts but that has in no way influenced my review.

I have been waiting with baited breath for the release of Nasty Little Cuts since reading Tina Baker’s debut, Call Me Mummy, last year. Call Me Mummy left its mark on me thanks to the dastardly Mummy and her pursuit of perfection, no matter what the cost. Baker excels at characterisation (which, for me, is as important as plot in a book) so I was excited to get stuck in to Nasty Little Cuts so I could become acquainted with her latest creations, Debs and Marc. Once again the author forensically examines her characters in beautiful, often deeply uncomfortable detail.

Debs awakens with a start knowing immediately that something is terribly wrong. She creeps downstairs to find a man in her kitchen. In his hand he holds a knife. She blinks again and realises it’s not a stranger, it’s her husband, Marc. How have they gone from a happy, passionate marriage to the point where they no longer really know or trust each other? Debs knows one thing for sure. She and the children are in great danger. Who will make it through the night…?

Nasty Little Cuts is a powerful, emotive read which grips from the opening lines and doesn’t let go until you’ve closed the final page. A harrowing, brutal story of a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. I want to say at this point that I don’t think a title has ever fitted a novel as well as this one does. Every time I see the cover I think to myself, ‘that is so clever, so completely spot on!’. A bit of an aside and not something I normally comment on but hey, it’s pretty darn perfect! Because that’s what life with Debs and Marc has become. Over the course of their marriage, things have happened, things have been said, some on purpose, some not so much, which have hurt both parties. But they all add up and the result is catastrophic.

This is not an easy read. It will make you feel uncomfortable but I was completely smitten with the way Baker holds her reader’s attention, pulling you in the depths of the disaster. Bit by bit, piece by piece. The story is told in the present day, as Debs and Marc face up to each other across the kitchen and in the shadow of the big, pink fridge, and in the past. The reader gets a detailed insight in the couple’s past, peeling away the layers and seeing the traumas they’ve faced – pre and post marriage. The timeline isn’t linear and jumps about, going from 15 years ago to 6 months ago to 2 years ago and beyond, which I was concerned would be a smidge confusing but it wasn’t at all. Because the events of the past lead the reader to the here and now. It’s done exceptionally well. Each slight doing more damage than the last.

The characters are exquisite. I love them all a little for being so deeply flawed but I also loathe them all a little too. Apart from the children, Dolly and Pat-Pat. Once again Baker has written the children in such a way that it’s impossible to not feel affection for these helpless, unwilling victims. Dolly, being the older of the two children, steals the show on several occasions (particularly with her RuPaul catchphrases and sassiness) providing a little light in a very dark and disturbing story.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Nasty Little Cuts is a hugely compelling unravelling of a marriage gone wrong. It’s pretty bleak and brutal at times. I don’t feel the author has held back at all, which I am grateful for, as it’s a shocking tale told in glorious, unflinching technicolour. A toxic relationship at breaking point, fuelled by the past and heading towards catastrophe. Will it be for everyone? I’m not sure, but if you’re a fan of domestic suspense done INCREDIBLY WELL then yes, you must read this book! A gutsy, brave story from an author who is now on my ‘must read’ list. Deliciously dark, disturbing and oh so good! Highly recommended.

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

Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker was published by Viper Books on 24th February 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later in the year (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 |

Tina BakerTina Baker, the daughter of a window cleaner and fairground traveller, worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years and is probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. After so many hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she got off it and won Celebrity Fit Club. She now avoids writing-induced DVT by working as a Fitness Instructor.

Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel, inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to become a mother. Despite the grief of that, she’s not stolen a child – so far. But she does rescue cats, whether they want to be rescued or not.

#BookReview: The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett @ViperBooks #TheTwyfordCode #damppebbles

“It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…

Perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Alex Pavesi and S.J. Bennett, The Twyford Code will keep you up puzzling late into the night.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett. The Twyford Code is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 13th January 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Twyford Code but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me an early proof copy.

When making a list of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year, it was no secret that The Twyford Code was at the very top, the very pinnacle, of that list. Hallett’s debut, The Appeal, completely blew me away with its clever plotting, completely original format and captivating mystery when I read it twelve or so months ago. I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on more of this talented authors work. Would the story and characters be as absorbing? Would the format be as interesting and unique? Would the mystery be as satisfying? Yes, yes and yes! The Twyford Code was an absolute ‘must-read’ for me and what a complete and utter joy it was from start to finish.

Schoolboy Steven Smith finds a battered copy of an old book on the bus one day which he takes into his remedial English class only for it to be confiscated by his teacher, Miss Isles. Despite it being outdated and officially banned, Miss Isles begins to read aloud the story written by disgraced children’s author Edith Twyford. The class are enraptured by the tale. But then Miss Isles notices annotations and strange markings in the margins, which she believes is secret code. It becomes somewhat of an obsession for the group, ending in an ill-fated trip to the coast and Twyford’s old stomping ground. Fast forward many years and Steven is fresh out of prison. Having recently met his son for the first time and armed with his son’s old mobile phone, Steven sets out to solve the mystery of the Twyford Code and finish what Miss Isles started all those years ago…

There is so much I want to say about this book, so much TO say about The Twyford Code. The author has absolutely gone and done it again with another beautifully crafted and intricate mystery which I fell head over heels in love with. First of all, the characters are sublime. Hallett is an expert at getting under the skin of people and making her creations feel incredibly lifelike. They have flaws, they have weaknesses but you can’t help but feel fondness towards them. This was my experience of Steven Smith. He’s not a bad bloke but he made a few dodgy decisions along the way, probably not helped by a tough upbringing. But my heart went out to him. A thoroughly intriguing character with hidden depths. I was glad he was my guide throughout the twists and the turns of the Twyford Code.

If you’ve read The Appeal then you will be aware that this author likes to spice things up for her readers by throwing away tradition and taking a completely different approach to her storytelling. In The Appeal the story was told through emails, texts and WhatsApp messages. In The Twyford Code we have audio files which have been converted to text via transcription software. Sometimes it’s spot on. Other times…it’s not. Which makes for thoroughly entertaining reading. I was a little worried initially that I would be slow to make the connections needed, work out what was being said. But I shouldn’t have worried as I was in very safe hands. Before long the words were flowing and the misinterpretations and notations in the text were as normal as normal can be. What a skill to come up with something so clever and then make sure it works across the board. Absolutely marvellous!

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Janice Hallett has once again engaged, amazed and enthralled this reader and I cannot (CANNOT) wait to see what she comes up with next. Beautifully complex, utterly absorbing and an experience from start to finish. I loved the mystery, I loved the characters and I loved the way the book swept me away to another world. There is something very special about this author’s books and I urge you, if you’re a fan of a well-written mystery, to do everything you can to get hold of copies. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett was published in the UK by Viper Books on 13th January 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year (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 |

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandiwe Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel.

#BookReview: Five Minds by Guy Morpuss @ViperBooks #FiveMinds #damppebbles

“SHARING A BODY CAN BE MURDER

The Earth’s spiralling population has finally been controlled. Lifespans are limited to eighty years, except for those who make an extreme choice: to become a commune. Five minds sharing one body, each living for four hours at a time. But with a combined lifespan of nearly 150 years.

Alex, Kate, Mike, Sierra and Ben have already spent twenty-five years together in what was once Mike’s body, their frequent personality clashes leading to endless bickering, countless arguments, and getting themselves stranded on a Russian Artic freighter. Wanting to buy upgrades for their next host body, they decide to travel to a Death Park where time can be gambled like money. But things go very wrong when Kate accepts a dangerous offer, and one of them disappears.

Someone is trying to kill off members of the commune. But why? Is one of them responsible? Or is an outsider playing a deadly game? It’s hard enough to catch a murderer. It’s almost impossible when you might be sharing a body with them…

This brilliant murder mystery blends classic crime with speculative fiction in a stunning debut.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Five Minds by Guy Morpuss. Five Minds was published by Viper Books yesterday (that’s Thursday 2nd September 2021) 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 Five Minds but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

Speculative fiction with a cracking, cleverly woven mystery to boot! Who could resist? Not me, that’s for sure. I haven’t dabbled in a lot of speculative fiction in the past but what I had read has been delightfully mind-bending and from the masters of the genre. Five Minds is no exception. Five Minds proves that Morpuss is up there with the greats. As my daughter would say…Mind. Blown 🤯

In a bid to reduce the ever-growing population of the earth, measures are put in place where at 17 years old you need to decide how you’re going to live the rest of your life. But also, when you’re going to die. The choices are simple: become a hedonist, play hard and die young at 41-42. Become a worker, work all of your life and drop down dead of exhaustion…at some point. Become an android, have your mind moved to an artificial body and die around 79-80. Or, the least popular option of all, become part of a commune. Five minds in one body, each taking 4 hours of the day as their own. Choose a host and then, 25 years later, choose another. But live for 141-142 years. That’s the decision Kate, Alex, Sierra, Mike and Ben make. From the moment they meet, it’s clear there are tensions amongst the group. When Kate makes a risky decision without consulting the others, strange things start to happen and one of the five disappears. Is someone out to kill the commune, or is the threat much closer to home…?

There are so many things to love about Five Minds. The author has set the action in a ‘death park’. The dark and dingy death parks are where the desperate gather to earn a few more years by eliminating (permanently) their competitor/s in a game of skill, strength or smarts. I loved the setting. It felt grubby and somewhere only those at the end of their tether go in a last ditch attempt to survive just a little bit longer (only to be killed in their first game!).

The characters, despite sharing the one body, all stand tall from the page. I was concerned, at points, that it may get a little confusing but that’s not the case at all. Kate was my favourite of the ‘minds’. She seemed to have her head screwed on (😂) and be the driving force, which I liked. I also really liked Sierra for her dark and dangerous edge. I shouldn’t. She’s a terrible person who does some pretty heinous, unforgivable things but I liked the juxtaposition between her and Kate. I felt they were opposite ends of the spectrum. Five Minds is very easy to read, either in one sitting or over the course of several. All I know is that I was always keen to return to this strange and inventive world.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Five Minds is like nothing I have read before and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I spent with it. Cleverly plotted and beautifully thought out. The author’s imagination is clearly off the scale and I loved being part of this strange, new world. A pacey, intelligent story with a clever, twisty mystery at its heart. Effortlessly crossing genres, this speculative fiction murder mystery is a must read! I look forward to reading more genre-bending fiction from Mr Morpuss in the future. Recommended.

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

Five Minds by Guy Morpuss was published in the UK by Viper Books on 2nd September 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year (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 |

Guy Morpuss

Guy is a London-based barrister whose cases have featured drug-taking cyclists, dead Formula 1 champions and aspiring cemetery owners.

His favourite books involve taking a twist on reality, and playing with the consequences. Which led to his debut novel, FIVE MINDS, about five people sharing one body – possibly with a murderer.

His second novel, BLACK LAKE, will be published in 2022.

He is currently working on his third novel, HIGHLIGHTS.

Guy lives near Farnham, England, with his wife and two sons. When not writing he can usually be found walking or running in the Surrey Hills.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Rule by David Jackson @ViperBooks #TheRule #FollowTheRule #damppebbles

“MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS
HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…

Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants pie and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.

Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.

Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…

Because they’ll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Rule by David Jackson. The Rule is published by Viper Books tomorrow (that’s Thursday 1st July 2021) and is available in hardcover and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read a free ARC of The Rule but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy and for inviting me to join the blog tour.

I am a HUGE fan of David Jackson’s writing and I always look forward to a new book from this author. Jackson knows how to tell a compelling story and his characters leap off the page at the reader. His latest release, The Rule, is no exception. Well defined characters, who I felt an instant bond with, are thrown into a pulse pounding story of survival and keeping one step ahead. I loved The Rule.

The Timpson family live in a small flat in an undesirable area but dad, Scott, has dreams of moving his family away from the gangs of lads who gather in the lobby and the overpowering smell of urine in the communal lift. The Timpson’s make the best of the life they have, living by one very important rule. When Daniel accidentally breaks the rule, the Timpson family decide to do whatever it takes to protect their son. Even if it involves murder…

Daniel is such a wonderful character who I instantly warmed to. Before any of the action actually kicked off I was feeling apprehensive about what was to come and protective towards him. Scott and Gemma’s love for their son shines from the page and I knew this was a family I would root for until the end. And what an end! From one terrible decision, the story unfolds at a blistering pace and captivates the reader from beginning to end. I couldn’t look away as life spiralled out of control for these gentle people as both sides of the law come knocking at their door.

Not only does the reader get to see things from the Timpson’s perspective but we also get inside the mind of the detective in charge of the case, Detective Inspector Hannah Washington, as the spotlight on her intensifies and she struggles to find a lead. I thought all of the characters in the book were brilliantly written, you really get a feel for what makes them tick.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Rule is an absorbing piece of fiction with well-crafted characters and an engaging plot. Jackson has done it again, without a doubt. If you’re a crime fiction fan and you haven’t read one of this author’s books before then that really must change. An emotional and gripping story which hooked me in from the get-go. I continue to be a HUGE fan of this author’s work and I can’t wait to see what Jackson comes up with next! Recommended.

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

The Rule by David Jackson was published in the UK by Viper Books on 1st July 2021 and is available in hardcover 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 |

David Jackson is the author of nine crime novels, including the bestseller Cry Baby and the standalone The Resident. When not murdering fictional people, David spends his days as a university academic in his home city of Liverpool. He lives on the Wirral with his wife and two daughters. Find him @Author_Dave.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BookReview: You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll @ViperBooks #YouHadItComing #damppebbles

“WOULD YOU SAVE THE MAN
WHO DESTROYED YOUR LIFE?

When paramedic Megan Lowe is called to the scene of an attempted murder, all she can do is try to save the victim. But as the man is lifted onto a stretcher, she realises she knows him. She despises him. Why should she save his life when he destroyed hers?

Jess Foster is on her way home when she receives a text from Megan. Once best friends, the two women haven’t been close for years, not since the night when they were just the teenage girls whom no-one believed; whose reputations were ruined. All Jess can think is, you had it coming.

Now Megan and Jess are at the centre of a murder investigation. But what secrets are they hiding? Can they trust one another? And who really is the victim?

Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Lucy Foley and Lisa Hall, You Had It Coming is a thrilling tale of suspense and dark secrets.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll. You Had It Coming is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 13th May 2021) and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of You Had It Coming but that has in no way influenced my review.

I couldn’t resist this book when I saw it pop up on NetGalley. That striking cover and the blurb grabbed my attention. I haven’t read any other books by this author before so I was excited to make a start.

Megan Lowe, an experienced paramedic, is called to attend a shooting. On arrival the victim, William Newson, is unconscious and bleeding out quickly. Megan and her partner, Lucas, do everything they can for their patient. It’s only when they’re loading him into the ambulance that Megan gets a really good look at the man whose life is hanging on by a thread. And recognises him as the one who ruined her life. Megan contacts Jess and shares the shocking news. She’s stunned to hear her ex-friend’s bitter, angry words. Surely she couldn’t have anything to do with William’s attack? Before long, both woman are thrown deep into a murder investigation where everyone is a suspect. Everyone had a motive. After all, William had it coming…

I really enjoyed You Had It Coming and devoured it in the space of a few days. The story is told from three view points: Megan, Jess and Detective Sergeant Bridget Kennedy. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Bridget about the ongoing, ever-widening search for the killer. Bridget came across as an intelligent, dedicated officer but she appeared a little out of her depth whilst trying to reduce the very large list of suspects. Only to add a few more names as new characters were introduced and new links were discovered. I thought the author did an excellent job of making Bridget seem very human. Every avenue has to be investigated to find the truth and Bridget did just that. I loved her determination and doggedness.

Megan and Jess were also very well-written characters. I could feel their pain as the past was once again dug up and gone over with a fine tooth comb. I empathised with both woman as they found themselves slap bang in the middle of a murder investigation as prime suspects. I wanted them both to be innocent but the author cleverly makes you doubt everyone. After all, revenge is a dish best served cold. I thought the author dealt sensitively with the subject matter and the far reaching devastation caused that night.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. You Had It Coming is an intriguing mystery that hooked me in from the get-go. I loved the Australian setting, the characters were all multi-layered and interesting individuals and the plot kept me turning the pages. I was able to work out whodunit in the first half of the book but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment. The air of suspicion created by the author amongst family and friends is wonderful. Trust no one. I thoroughly enjoyed You Had It Coming and would happily read more. So much so, I’ve downloaded another of Carroll’s novels which I hope to make a start on soon. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of You Had It Coming. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll was published in the UK by Viper Books on 13th May 2021 and is available in paperback 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 |

B.M. Carroll (also known as Ber Carroll) was born in Blarney, a small village in Ireland. The third child of six, reading was her favourite pastime (and still is!). Ber moved to Sydney in 1995 and spent her early career working in finance. Her work colleagues were speechless when she revealed that she had written a novel that was soon to be published. Ber now writes full-time and is the author of ten novels. Over the last few years, Ber’s writing has become darker and more suspenseful (probably reflecting her state of mind). Her most recent novels The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy, Who We Were, and You Had It Coming (May/June 2021) are published under B.M. Carroll.

You can find out more about Ber by visiting her website http://www.bercarroll.com
or by checking out her Facebook page

#BookReview: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave @ViperBooks #TheLastThingHeToldMe #damppebbles

“IT WAS THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME: PROTECT HER

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his new wife, Hannah: protect her. Hannah knows exactly who Owen needs her to protect – his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. And who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As her increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, his boss is arrested for fraud and the police start questioning her, Hannah realises that her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey might hold the key to discovering Owen’s true identity, and why he disappeared. Together they set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realise that their lives will never be the same again…

A beautiful and thrilling mystery, perfect for readers of Lianne Moriarty and Celeste Ng.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. The Last Thing He Told Me will be published by Viper Books tomorrow (that’s Tuesday 4th May 2021) and will be available in hardcover and audio formats, with the ebook publishing next week and the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Last Thing He Told Me. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy.

After an unexpected whirlwind romance, Hannah Hall and Owen Michaels have married. Hannah has left her life in New York City and moved into Owen’s house boat in Sausalito, Northern California, to start building a life together. Except there’s one problem. Owen’s sixteen year old daughter, Bailey, is not a fan of her new stepmother and she’s not afraid to make her feelings known. Hannah is desperate for some kind of connection with the teenager but no matter what she does, Bailey shows no sign of softening. And then Owen disappears leaving only a note: ‘PROTECT HER’. His boss is arrested for fraud and fingers are beginning to point in Owen’s direction. Hannah is repeatedly questioned about her husband’s whereabouts, but she knows nothing. Who is Owen really? Does Bailey’s childhood hold the key to figuring out where he’s vanished to? And how well do we really know the people we’re closest to…?

The Last Thing He Told Me is a beautifully written mystery which captivates the reader from the start. Hannah and Owen live an almost idyllic existence and I was enchanted by their lives. I particularly liked Hannah who, despite her own parental traumas, seemed keen to be there for an uncommunicative and stroppy teen no matter what was thrown at  her. There are some wonderful moments of interaction between Hannah and Bailey scattered throughout the book, many of which gave me a warm glow. The return plane journey being one of my favourites.

I loved that the book didn’t go in a direction I was expecting. The unravelling of Owen’s past was very compelling reading and I was always keen to return to the book and find out what juicy titbit Hannah and Bailey had discovered and how it would link to the next reveal. The suspense the author conveys is palpable and I was on the edge of my seat throughout, asking myself ‘who is this man and why would he leave his wife and daughter alone?’. All is revealed to the reader and it is completely unexpected.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re looking for an intriguing mystery laden with bucket loads of suspense and family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me fits the bill perfectly. I was captivated by Hannah and Bailey’s hunt for the truth. It’s an emotional and beautifully written novel about sacrifice and what makes a parent. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Last Thing He Told Me. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave was published in the UK by Viper Books 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Laura DaveLaura Dave is the bestselling author of several critically acclaimed novels including Eight Hundred Grapes and The First Husband. Her work has been published in eighteen countries, and five of her novels, including The Last Thing he Told Me, have been optioned for film and television. She resides in Santa Monica, California.

Her new novel, The Last Thing He Told Me, will be released on May 4th, 2021.