Saturday, 20 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Dead Wife - Sue Fortin


Police have ruled out suspicious circumstances in the investigation into the death of Elizabeth Sinclair, wife of charismatic entrepreneur Harry Sinclair, found drowned in the lake of the family's holiday park.

It's been two years since the Sinclair case closed but when reporter Steph Durham receives a tipoff that could give her the scoop of the year, she's drawn deeper and deeper into the secretive Sinclair family.

Elizabeth's death wasn't a tragic accident.  And the truth will come at a deadly price...

What did I think?

I've read a few Sue Fortin books, so I knew this was going to be a gripping read before I even started it and I'm delighted to say I was not wrong.  I loved the rich and powerful Sinclair family with their deep, dark secrets and Steph's Nancy Drew-like investigation into the death of Elizabeth Sinclair, the wife of middle son, Harry Sinclair.

With flashbacks of Elizabeth Sinclair's life, I found it hard to feel any empathy for her.  She wasn't a very likeable woman; hungry for power and careless with her husband's feelings.  I'm not saying Harry was blameless; if you don't water a plant it will die, but you wouldn't expect your plant to up sticks and plant itself in every garden along the street.  That's my roundabout way of saying Elizabeth was rather promiscuous, but perhaps she was just craving some attention and affection.  We'll never know as she was found drowned in the family lake.  The police ruled out suspicious circumstances, but Elizabeth's mother is sure there is more to this story than meets the eye so she asks Steph to look into it for her.

Steph has a link to the Sinclair case through her parents, but her father is dead and she doesn't get on with her mother.  Steph's relationship with her mother was brilliantly portrayed; I could feel the frostiness in my fingertips as I was reading.  I really liked how this part of the story developed but I can't say any more as it is linked to the main plot.

As Steph secretly investigates Elizabeth's death, the danger levels were ramped up to maximum and I had my heart in my mouth several times.  It felt like the trees had eyes as Steph's movements seemed to be anything but covert and somebody is determined to stop the truth coming out at any cost.  

What a gripping, page-turner!  The Dead Wife is a very intriguing and highly addictive book; with a rich but dysfunctional family at it's core it really would give Dallas a run for its money in the family drama stakes.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Sue Fortin is an award-winning USA Today and an Amazon best-selling author, an international bestseller and has reached #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart. Sue writes mystery, suspense and romance, sometimes combining all three. 

Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband, children and grandchidren.

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Friday, 19 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: Call Me Liar - Colette McBeth

You could say it started with vanity. We believed we were special. But the truth is we were simply vulnerable.
Months after landing their dream job, five brilliant young minds are sent on a remote retreat.
But when one of them disappears, they're forced to question why they were brought there in the first place.
And for the first time in their lives, they realise too much knowledge can be deadly . . .
One of them is lying.
One of them is guilty.
No one is safe.

What did I think?

I have read one of Colette McBeth's books before so I picked up this book based purely on the author's talent.  This dark and dangerous tale certainly kept me riveted as when you get told that 'one of them is lying', you don't know who to believe.  There was steam coming off my internal lie-o-meter as it struggled to keep up with all the twists and turns in this fast-paced book.

It feels very much like MI5 when five graduates are hand-picked to work for a private company that identifies security risks in systems.  There's even secrecy among the graduates as each of them are given a client that they must not discuss, not even with each other.  When main character Libby's clients' secrets are exposed in a newspaper, Libby knows her hands are clean so she's like a dog with a bone as she attempts to identify the mole.

To build bridges, and to attempt to expose the mole, they are taken on a team building retreat as this thriller turns into a horror.  I can't think of anything worse!  Just the thought of team building exercises gives me the creeps; you can accuse me of not being a team player but I work perfectly well in a team without having to take part in paintball or orienteering, thank you very much.  If I wasn't already put off by team building retreats, I most certainly am now after events in Call Me Liar get more twisted.

Told from various viewpoints and with little hints that something bad has happened, I found that I effortlessly whizzed through this book.  Where lies are involved, you can never be sure who is telling the truth so, although I had ideas about what was going on, I could never have guessed the outcome.  

Call Me Liar is an utterly compelling psychological thriller that gave my brain a good workout as it twisted and turned through this riveting story.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Colette McBeth is the critically acclaimed author of psychological thrillers Precious Thing, The Life I Left Behind and An Act of Silence. Colette was a BBC TV News television correspondent for ten years, during which time she covered many major crime stories and worked out of Westminster as a political reporter. She lives on the South Coast with her husband and three children.   

Twitter @colettemcbeth 
Facebook /colettemcbethauthor 

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Saturday, 13 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Butcher (Rub-a-Dub-Dub Book 1) - Nathan Burrows

I have an amazing damppebbles blog tour for you today!  It's time for a bit of dark comedy courtesy of The Butcher by Nathan Burrows.  Scroll down to read my review as part of the blog tour.

She thought it was pork. She was wrong.

The first time hapless food inspector Emily Underwood meets butcher Frank Pinch, he’s not got much at all in his display counters. But what he does have is a rather unusual plan to restock his shelves. The next time they bump into each other, he’s won an award for his sausages but is running out of meat.

Can Frank keep up production of his unusually tasty sausages? Will Emily discover the source of Frank’s award-winning meat? And what will happen the next time she tries to inspect his butcher’s shop?

Book 1 in the Rub-a-Dub-Dub trilogy, this deliciously British dark comedy will change the way you look at sausages forever.

What did I think?

As a non-meat eater and much to the chagrin of my family and friends, I have always referred to sausages as being made of hooves and @rseholes and containing no meat at all, so I was really intrigued when I read the synopsis of The Butcher by Nathan Burrows.  It had me at 'She thought it was pork. She was wrong.'  That has to be the best strapline ever!

In a not too distant future, The Butcher is set in Norwich post-Brexit where we Brits can barely afford to eat as everything is so expensive.  The local butcher, Frank Pinch, and his farmer brother, Tom, are struggling to make a living until the pair stumble upon a recipe for some prize winning sausages.  Suddenly Frank goes from having half-empty shelves to having a queue out of the door; news of his amazing sausages spreads far and wide and he even gets a visit from a red-headed celebrity.  Frank and Tom also get a less welcome visit from recently qualified Food Standards Agency inspector, Emily.  Will they pass the inspection or will Emily find out what is really in Frank's sausages?

The humour is very dark and dry which had me laughing along as I read; I was over three quarters of the way through and just thinking that it wasn't laugh out loud funny when I had a huge laugh out loud moment and had to share what I was laughing at.  As much as it is funny, it's actually a very thought-provoking book as you can never really know exactly what you're eating and it always surprises me when people eat pies simply labelled as 'meat'.  What kind of meat is it?  Cow? Horse? Cat? Man?

With the most unlikely serial killers you will ever come across, The Butcher contains more humour than there is meat in a sausage to make a unique comedy crime novel.  If you have a sense of humour, you will LOVE this book; I can't wait to read book 2, The Baker, especially after the little teaser in the back of The Butcher.  I think this is going to be a brilliant trilogy.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it for only 99p/99c for a limited time from:
Amazon UK 
Amazon US 
Google Books

About the author:

Nathan Burrows is a writer based in Norfolk in the United Kingdom. His debut novel, a legal thriller called 'Blind Justice', was published in March 2018.

He's also the author of a dark comedy trilogy set in Norfolk. The first in the series is 'The Butcher', a deliciously funny story about - amongst other things - sausages. The second in the series is 'The Baker', which features Norfolk's most useless cult. And finally, 'The Candlestick Maker' is about a fitness instructor with a difference.

The next book to be released will be 'Man Down', a return to more traditional thrillers. It's a military story set in Afghanistan which will be released in the Autumn, 2019. Also releasing later in the year is 'Finding Milly', which explores just how far a man will go to find his missing daughter.

Nathan's a keen reader as well as a writer. He occasionally runs marathons, has a Norwich City football club season ticket, and is the proud part-owner of a Daschund puppy called Bertie. 

For more information, visit

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Friday, 12 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: From Inside The House - WD Jackson-Smart

Two victims. Brutally murdered in their own home. Body parts taken.

D.I. Graves is back on the case to face his toughest challenge yet. A case with no motive and no suspect, nothing at all that could explain why someone would kill innocent people in such a way.

Then the next victims are discovered. Another pair of bodies. New body parts taken. Again in their own home.

Someone is breaking into houses across the city at night, leaving horror in their wake. It seems to Graves that this could be two serial killers, working together. But how are they choosing their victims? Is any house in London a target? Is anyone safe?

To make matters worse, a journalist is threatening to cause more harm than good with her obsessive push in covering the story to further her career, and someone is targeting Graves personally, seeking revenge against him in relation to an old case.

Can Graves keep himself safe long enough to stop the serial killers before they strike again?

What did I think?

From Inside The House is the second book in the DI Graves series and having read and loved the first book, The Demons Beneath, I couldn't wait to get stuck into this next instalment.  This story sees victims being killed in pairs and bodies left posed at crime scenes.  The police suspect two serial killers working together, rather intriguingly one is a psychopath and one is a sociopath.

You could read From Inside The House as a standalone but there is a continuation of a storyline from the first book, so I think it's better to read The Demons Beneath first to get the full story.  There are definitely enough details included to make sure that new readers aren't disadvantaged though and you could always read The Demons Beneath afterwards to fill in any blanks.

Graves is such a great name for a homicide detective, especially one who almost vomits at the sight of a dead body.  I love the dynamic he has with his partner, Charlie Palmer, which contrasts with the tenuous relationship he has with his sister.  Graves and his sister were close once until a series of events changed Graves' life forever.  His sister does make an appearance at the end which left me with baited breath for the next book!

Strangely enough, I really liked the annoying journalist character, Kelly Malone.  It just shows what a competitive business journalism is and perhaps explains why reporters do what they do in order to get a story.  Kelly even puts her life at risk to get a story just so she can get one over on her rival at the newspaper.  Obviously, I don't imagine such things happen in real life but reporters are like sharks and once they smell blood they can't do anything else but go in for the kill.

With murder scenes described in amazing detail, From Inside The House is flesh crawling in a gory way as opposed to the supernatural element that spooked me in The Demons Beneath.  As with many second novels in a series, it didn't quite manage to knock the first book off the top spot but I have a feeling that things are about to get really interesting for DI Graves.  From Inside The House is gritty, dark and gruesome and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for book 3.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Thursday, 11 July 2019

The Demons Beneath - WD Jackson-Smart

A detective new to London. A possible serial killer. And a demon?

When a bloody corpse is discovered in a North London park, Detective Inspector Daniel Graves is the man tasked with finding the killer. With no clues and no suspects it seems like a dead end. Then another body turns up and this time it looks like it could be his fault. Has his investigation caused the murderer to strike again? Is he dealing with a serial killer?
As the case gets ever more complicated, a report comes in of another suspicious death but this is nothing like any other Graves has dealt with. All involved are convinced that something supernatural is to blame. A demon. Daniel is no believer but could he be wrong?
With two cases on his shoulders and the truth behind each beyond his grasp, Graves must race against time before both killers, human or otherwise, strike again.

What did I think?

I really enjoyed this book; adding an element of the supernatural makes it a thriller with a difference.  DI Daniel Graves has just moved from Derbyshire to London and boy, has he been thrown in at the deep end; he has two murder cases to investigate, one being linked to the tattoo industry and the other appears to be death by demon.  I do love a bit of unexplained spookiness so I did prefer the demon case over the tattoo one, but I think it made it quite true to life for a detective to be investigating more than one case at a time.

The tattoo case is intriguing but the demon case had me completely riveted; I think you could even make a blockbuster film out of that storyline alone.  Of course the police are looking for a traditional earthly explanation for the death of a person who hired a demonologist to rid their house of the ungodly presence.  Whatever the cause of death, what you can't dispute is the strange goings on in the house that set the tragic chain of events in motion.  I would have liked to investigate this a little further but there's so much going on in the book to capture my attention that it really was an afterthought that I felt the demon story had been left hanging a little.

There are tasty little snippets into Graves' backstory which explain why he became a policeman.  It gives us a good foundation on which I expect his character will grow throughout the series.  I found it a really intriguing characteristic that he's squeamish when he sees a mutilated body - how on earth will he manage to cope in the homicide department?

I always give a book extra marks when it causes me to head off to google something.  In this case it was the 'Enfield haunting' - I had never even heard of it.  Of course I would have only been a child when the actual events took place between 1977 and 1979 but there had been a TV show made about it in 2015 which I haven't seen but now definitely want to.

I just want to say one more thing about the book where I thought that WD Jackson-Smart very cleverly summed up the rise of social media and trolling.  The demonologist turns on her iPad 'Where human beings were just as terrifying as the demons they exorcised'.  Maybe think about it for a second before posting something that would hurt others; you don't want to be in league with a demon after all.

The Demons Beneath is a cracking start to a series; it's fast-paced, intriguing and unique and I can't read to read more DI Graves' investigations.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Rumour - Lesley Kara

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

What did I think?

I've had my eye on The Rumour for a while and my inability to visit the library without coming away with a book meant that I snatched up a copy of The Rumour when I spotted it on the shelves.  I was so eager to read it that I even read the opening chapters as I was travelling home on the metro.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book; with such short chapters it's a quick and easy read so you find yourself rocketing through it at lightning pace.  It's an interesting idea to see how fast a rumour spreads and the lengths that people will go to without a shred of proof.  It really highlighted the mob mentality as the snowball effect of a rumour begins to pick up pace.  What is so scary is that I'm sure it will have happened in real life; I mean it's not as if people are given new identities and sent off to live on a desert island.  They are given a whole new life that could mean they live next door to you or me.  Of course, once they have paid for their crime there's nothing wrong with that if they are a reformed character.

Joanna seems to engage her mouth before her brain and can't stop talking about and spreading the rumour that Sally McGowan, a child killer, is living with a new identity in their home town.  People are determined to find out who it is and everyone comes under suspicion, everyone apart from the one person I suspected and for once, I was right!  This doesn't take anything away from the book and the red herrings laid out within the story; it's not very often that I'm right but I still ended up reading late into the night as I couldn't put the book down.

The Rumour is a fabulous debut by Lesley Kara and I'm as eager to read what she writes next as I was to read her wonderfully twisty debut.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday, 8 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: Then She Vanishes - Claire Douglas

Summer, 1994. Jess and Heather are best friends – the kind of best friends who get detention together, who share everything, and who spend each day of the hazy, endless summer holiday together. Until the fair comes to town – and Heather’s sister Flora goes missing.  

Twenty years later, Heather walks into a suburban home and shoots two people, before turning the gun on herself. 

As she lies in critical condition, Jess, now a journalist, is sent to cover the case. It’s her chance to prove herself after a terrible mistake almost ruined her career, even if it reopens old scars. 

But Heather’s family, once just like her own, doesn’t trust her anymore, and the closer Jess gets to the truth, the clearer it becomes that the scars from twenty years ago never really healed at all.  

As the case puts pressure on everyone involved, facades begin to crack and relationships begin to splinter. What happened to Flora all those years ago? Is someone watching Jess? And what secrets were the sisters hiding?  

What did I think?

I felt rather smug when I was reading Then She Vanishes; I thought I'd worked it all out, you see.  The more I read, the more I was convinced that I was right but then Claire Douglas totally pulled the rug from underneath me!  Well played, Ms Douglas, very well played indeed.

The story starts with a double murder as an elderly mother and her son are shot in their home.  It looks like an open and shut case as the shooter, Heather, is found barely alive after turning the gun on herself.  With no apparent links between Heather and her victims, and therefore no motive, nobody can explain why Heather would commit such a crime.  Local newspaper reporter, Jess, has an advantage over the national reporters who are hounding Heather's family; Jess was best friends with Heather for a while when they were teenagers but they lost touch when Heather's sister, Flora, went missing.  Surely that was a time when Heather needed Jess the most?  Aha! There's obviously more to the Flora story than meets the eye and so begins a gripping and compelling dual storyline.

I was totally riveted with this book; I loved 16 year old Flora Powell's story as she was completely captivated by a young man working at the fair.  Flora's story is not a teenage romance by any means as it quickly takes on a more sinister edge, which results in her disappearance.  The 'now' setting of the story is 2012, 18 years later, and Flora's family still don't know what happened to her back in 1994.  I think that's the worst thing for families of missing persons; the not knowing what happened to them and where the finding of a body would actually bring some closure and peace.  As we find out, this isn't the only tragedy that has struck the Powell family; they have certainly had more than their fair share of heartache.

The character of Jess is very well written; she's a journalist and we often look at them in an unfavourable light for very good reasons, which Jess learned about first hand.  After a murky past, it feels like she is almost trying to reinvent herself and I could really feel the struggle between her personal and professional lives as she investigates her former best friend.  It's a really good conflict to consider; which is more important - doing a good job by reporting all of the facts or protecting a fragile renewed friendship?  I think it would be really difficult to be objective where a friend or loved one is involved but Jess tries to get the balance right and I really admired her for that.

With chapters based on characters' different points of view, you get to experience the story from every angle.  There are a few secrets to uncover and you never know when the next one is going to pop up so this kept me rapidly turning the pages, even though I thought I knew what had happened.  I love being wrong; it's definitely an indication of a good book! 

With this being her fifth novel, I think Claire Douglas is going from strength to strength and she's proving to be a force to be reckoned with in the thriller chart.  Although it's of a slightly slower pace than thrillers I'm used to reading, I really enjoyed Then She Vanishes; it's as mesmerising as the sparkly lights of the fairground and I couldn't put it down.  It gives me great pleasure to award the full 5 stars to Then She Vanishes and name it as a Book Magnet recommended read.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Claire Douglas always wanted to write novels and, after many years of trying to get published, her dream came true when she won the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award in 2013 with THE SISTERS.

Her subsequent novels LOCAL GIRL MISSING, LAST SEEN ALIVE and DO NOT DISTURB all reached the Sunday Times top ten bestsellers list and are published in over fifteen countries. LOCAL GIRL MISSING was the bestselling crime debut of 2018 in Germany. Her fifth thriller, THEN SHE VANISHES is due for release in Ebook end of June 2019 and in paperback August 2019.

You can find Claire on Twitter at @DougieClaire, instagram as clairedouglasauthor or visit her Facebook page clairedouglasauthor.

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