I’m going on a Blog Break! PLUS a look at some exceptional reads of 2017…


Given the title of this post I can’t imagine it would take Sherlock Holmes to deduce its content! Yes, I’m planning to divert my attention away from Little Bookness Lane for a while.

Due to existing commitments with my day job, and also after experiencing some minor (but majorly annoying) health problems, it’s my intention to take an extended blog vacation. 

Although today is the start of my official blog and Twitter holiday it goes without saying that I’ll still be reading and visiting Goodreads from time to time, I just won’t be excavating the caverns of my already depleted brain to try and forge something vaguely resembling a blog review! 

Talking of reviews, you can read my thoughts here for the final ARC on my TBR that has been waiting to make its appearance on the blog. I’ve also contacted as many publishers as I can think of to divert possible #bookmail away from my shelves (never expected, but hugely appreciated). Have no fear, all reviews will be posted to Amazon UK on their respective publication dates as promised. 

As for all those marvellous books sitting on my own TBR pile?  Well, I’ve got all the time in the world… 


I honestly can’t thank everyone enough for their kindness and generous support since starting this little blog back on 1st March 2015. I have been granted early access to some amazing titles and “met” some smashing people along the way.

I’d love to mention people individually but I’m afraid I’ll miss someone out! So big hugs to every reader, blogger, sharer, re-tweeter, follower, visitor, publisher and author. THANK YOU xxx


It’s been a wonderful year for great books already. So, before I 🎵 pack up my troubles in my tote book bag 🎵 I’d like to share a few of my exceptional reads of 2017. The ‘chosen ones’ have either been published or simply discovered this year and I have no hesitation in hugging recommending them to everyone I meet.

Here goes – in no particular order 


Published by Penguin / Fig Tree on 26th January 2017

Swimming Lessons has  a distinctive grace – the enchanting quality of such exquisite writing is nothing short of an emotional ambush. It’s so tragically beautiful, flawless, magnificent even, I’m confident that when the cover is closed all of the words must huddle together in the dark to comfort each other.”

(Click on the cover to read my full review)



DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb

Published by Orenda on 5th January 2017 [Paperback]

“Seriously, how outrageously good is Deep Down Dead?! It buzzes with an intensity that’s so feverish by the time I’d finished reading I’d forgotten how to blink….

What. A. Ride.”

(Click on the cover to read my review)




GREATEST HITS by Laura Barnett

Published by W&N Books (Orion) on 15th June 2017

“It’s confirmed. Laura Barnett is a storytelling virtuoso, and I feel blessed to have Greatest Hits sitting on my bookshelf. This glorious melody of words and lyrics will take you by the heart and walk you through a sublime pilgrimage to heal a soul.”

(Click on the cover to read my review)




THE SONG OF THE STORK by Stephan Collishaw

Published by Legend Press on 1st March 2017

“Distinctive, memorable and poignant. How such a slim volume can pack this much emotional punch, I have no idea. Its vivid, life-shattering horrors seized a little more of my heart with every passing chapter.”

(Click on the cover to read my review)




THE NIGHT BROTHER by Rosie Garland

Published by The Borough Press on 1st August 2017

“Once again I find myself lost in the reverie of Rosie Garland’s exquisite writing. Extraordinarily enchanting, The Night Brother’s emotional bounty caresses each page to boldly pursue the trials that can divide and conquer…

All that remains is for me to offer a thunderous round of applause for what is simply an expressive, breath-taking wonder.”

(Click on the cover to read my review)


THE RED NOTEBOOK by Antoine Laurain

Published by Gallic Books on 2nd March 2015 [Read in 2017]

The Red Notebook is a thoroughly delightful and uplifting book and I could have happily have spent more time in its company. Wonderful!”

(Click on the cover to read my review)





SOCKPUPPET by Matthew Blakstad

Published by Hodder Books on 26th January 2017 [Paperback]

“I consumed this addictive book in one deliriously awesome sitting, it was that good.”

(Click on the cover to read my review)






Published by PanMacmillan on 1st June 2017 [Paperback]

“Feel the partisans’ breath on your neck, the boot of an SS guard, and the rattle of the window panes as an underestimated opponent grows near – then feel the impression The Constant Soldier will leave on you.  


(Click on the cover to read my review)



BROADCAST by Liam Brown

Published by Legend Press on 15th September 2017

“A streaming theatre without the prospect of an intermission becomes mind-cabaret for the masses, an innovation giving new meaning to the phrase ‘airing’ your thoughts.

Not only is this book highly imaginative, it’s also one of my favourite reads this year.”

(Click on the cover to read my review)




BLAME by Paul Read

Published by Legend Press on 15th April 2017

Blame opens the door to the agony of life and invites its caustic and destructive challenges in. It’s so astutely written that have no hesitation in highly recommending it.”

(Click on the cover to read my review)





Published by Michael Joseph in January 2018

Reviewed today

The Chalk Man is highly compelling, the ordeals utterly convincing, and its delivery so captivating I was going nowhere until I had drained the words from every page.

It’s awesome, and then some.”

(Click on the cover to read my review)



And here they are – the reads that have taken the spotlight in 2017 (so far!)…

Well folks, all that remains is for me to wish you an endless menu of delicious books that you can devour in one glorious sitting.

Enjoy the ride read!


A change to my blogging habits…

Hi folks,

This is just a quick post to say that I’m not going to be online as much as I like to be – not that I think for one second I’ll to be missed or anything(!), I just thought it would be courteous to tell the people whose blogs I follow, and vice versa, about the necessary changes to my existing blogging habits.

Firstly, as my day job has gone bananas I’ve reached the stage where there’s only so much I can physically shoe horn into 24 hours.

To keep things as flexible as possible I’ve already made subtle changes behind the scenes of the blog:

  1. I participated in my last blog tour on 8th May and I will not be involved in any more for the foreseeable. This in itself is such a relief as I’m not tied to a specific day to read by and post on.
  2. I have also been declining more delicious sounding books than I have accepted for quite some time now. The few I have accepted have a decent breathing space between receipt and publication date.

These little things alone have certainly helped and my existing blogging ‘commitments’ are well on track. In fact they are better than I thought as I can happily report I have 101% feedback on Netgalley (no, me neither!). The next few posts are prepared and ready to go and just under a handful of physical review books remain so something must be working, but sadly not everything… 

I already try to minimise the time I spend online due to a long-term issue with my neck/back. Combine this with the increased demands at work and I’m afraid I’m feeling even more decrepit than I usually do!

I hate to admit defeat but I’m really struggling to catch up with everyone’s posts when I return home each day. Who can resist a nosy at what’s everyone’s been reading? I know I can’t! But as it’s unlikely that my current circumstances will change overnight something else must, and therefore a reluctant compromise is called for…

For now, my plan is to gently apply the brakes rather than slam them on – so I’ll be around, just not as often. If all goes well [cue hysterical laughter] I’m hoping to continue to publish a couple of reviews a week and enjoy and share your posts on those days too. I’ll tackle any notifications via email, Twitter or the Blog where required.

While we’re on the subject of sharing, and if anyone is still conscious at this point, I can’t thank you enough for generously taking time out of your own busy day to stroll down Little Bookness Lane – I’m incredibly grateful to you.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

See you very, very soon…

Wendy  xx

It’s Little Bookness Lane’s 2nd Blog Birthday!

Thank you to everyone for their lovely comments and to those who entered the giveaway to celebrate the blog’s 2nd birthday!  The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified.

You can see what the lovely Keeper Of Pages received as her prize by clicking here !


Hello everyone,

Today is the 1st of March 2017 and that means Little Bookness Lane is officially TWO YEARS OLD! 

If you’re not too busy I would love for you to help me celebrate. I have a virtual cake for everybody, a very real bookish giveaway, but most importantly MAHOOSIVE THANKS to ALL of you for the generosity of your shares, likes, comments and everything.

Thank you so much for stopping by, today and always. x

Wendy sig 2nd-blog-birthday-giveaway

To celebrate my blog’s 2nd birthday I would like to give one existing Twitter or Blog follower the chance to win all of the brand new treats below. I do hope someone can offer them a home…

I’m afraid it’s UK only this time due to postage costs (sorry about that, folks) x.



If you’d like to enter this giveaway just let me know by doing one of the following:

~ Leave a random comment below,

~ Email me at littlebookness [at] gmail.com,

~ Tweet me @BooknessLane


Giveaway is UK ONLY due to postage costs (once again, sorry folks).

Only EXISTING Twitter or Blog followers are eligible.

Closes on Sunday 5th March 2017 at 6 p.m.

One winner will be chosen at random and contacted shortly afterwards for their postal address.


Oh, I almost forgot – I promised everyone virtual cake, didn’t I?

Don’t forget to make a wish!!!


It’s publication day for ‘Swimming Lessons’ by Claire Fuller – So here’s a #Giveaway to celebrate!




swimming-lessons-by-claire-fullerIn case you hadn’t guessed from the MAHOOSIVE hint in the title of this post, Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller is published TODAY!

During November 2016 I had the privilege of reviewing an ARC for this title and it surpassed all of my expectations – my review is here.

As Swimming Lessons is easily one of the most wonderful books sitting on my shelf it would be my pleasure to offer someone else the opportunity to own a copy too.

So, here are the details of a little giveaway



To be in with a chance of winning a brand new hardback copy of Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller, courtesy of Little Bookness Lane:

  • Just get in touch to let me know that you’d like your name thrown in the hat – either comment below, tweet #SwimmingLessons @BooknessLane, or send an email to littlebookness@gmail.com


  • This giveaway is open to followers of Little Bookness Lane (via Twitter or this blog).
  • Open Internationally – providing the Book Depository ships to your country please feel free to enter!
  • Entries will be accepted up to midnight on Friday, 27th January 2017.
  • One winner will be chosen at random and contacted shortly after the closing date for a postal address, so the Book Depository can ship their prize!

Oh, and should you need convincing why you need Swimming Lessons in your life the book summary is below…


The second novel from the author of Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize and was a 2016 Richard and Judy Book Club Pick.

‘Gil Coleman looked down from the window and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.’

Gil’s wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years.

A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or did she leave? And do the letters hidden within Gil’s books hold the answer to the truth behind his marriage, a truth hidden from everyone including his own children? 

Click here to see the hardback in all its glory…


Blog Tour – Watch Me by Angela Clarke: #writingtips and a book #giveaway ! #AreYouWatching?

WELCOME to today’s stop for the Watch Me blog tour where you will find details of Angela Clarke’s new book, writing tips from the talented lady herself, PLUS a superb giveaway!


Firstly, THE BOOK! Isn’t it a stunner?!


Watch Me was published on 12th January 2017 in Kindle and Paperback.

You can buy a copy HERE.


‘Fast-paced and full of excitement…It kept me gripped.’


The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.


‘Creepy, clever and unnerving,’ C. L. Taylor
‘Heart-pounding suspense…’ Sharon Bolton




Angela Clarke has kindly provided this excellent ‘writing tips’ YouTube video – keep your eyes peeled for more throughout the blog tour!


How would you like to win a paperback copy of Watch Me by Angela Clarke…



…a SIGNED COPY of Bones in the Nest (second in the Sean Denton series) by Helen Cadbury


Book Summary for Bones in the Nest: The Chasebridge Killer is out; racial tension is rising and the mutilated body of a young Muslim man is found in the stairwell of a tower block in Doncaster. As he gets drawn into the case, Sean Denton’s family life and police job become dangerously entwined. Meanwhile a young woman is trying to piece her life back together on release from prison, but someone is out there; someone who will never let her forget what she’s done.


  • Please share this blog post on Twitter to spread the word about Watch Me –  just make sure you tag @BooknessLane in your tweet!
  • Giveaway is UK only.
  • Closes at Midnight on Sunday, 15th January 2017.
  • One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries and will be contacted shortly after the closing date.
  • The winner’s  address will be passed to Avon Books who will arrange for this wonderful book prize to be posted.


Each stop on the Watch Me blog tour will host new writing tips, reviews, and giveaways galore, so be sure to follow it EVERY DAY!!  #AreYouWatching?


Happy Christmas to you and all the best for 2017!

Well folks, this is me officially signing off for the Christmas holidays.

Forgive me if I’m not around much during the next few days as I’m attempting to make the most of things by treating myself to a short blog break, which I do believe is my first one since launching Little Bookness Lane.

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2017,

Hope you have a good ‘un!

Wendy sig


(Image courtesy of Pinterest – Bow is blogger’s own.)

Aaaand the award for my TOP TEN READS OF 2016 goes to…

Hi, everybody! 

Hasn’t 2016 unearthed some splendid reads? Goodreads tells me I’ve read over 100 of them and SO MANY were special for one reason or another, making it incredibly difficult to choose the ones that will sneak into my ‘top ten’.

Well, I’ve been keeping a list and checkin’ it twice, and you’re gonna find out which book held me in its vice (sorry folks, that’s just appalling). Anyway, I’ve decided the only way I can do this is  to ruthlessly whittle down any 5 stars I’ve awarded to titles published in 2016 and select those that have continued to hold my attention looong after closing the cover.

Okay then. Here we go, in no particular order other than their chronological appearance on the Blog


By Monica Wood

Reviewed on:  7th March 2016  

Publication date:  4th April 2016

I was lucky enough to win a Goodreads giveaway for this book which features a special little boy. He has a profound effect on those around him, including an elderly lady and her Guinness Book of World Records challenge…

One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

Review snippet:

“This exceptionally bewitching marvel of book is itself one-in-a-million.

Every word, every phrase, every dialogue exchange with its acute sense of timing throughout, gives new definition to the word perfection. When I’d finished reading I was reluctant to close the cover, as I wanted to hold onto the story just that little bit longer.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .




By Ralph Spurrier

Reviewed on:  18th March 2016  

Publication date:  4th April 2016

Hookline Books asked if I’d like to review this book and generously provided a paperback copy. I had no idea at the time how utterly gripping it would be with its most unusual and totally unexpected plotline where the accused, an experienced hangman, and an old pre-execution diarised account of events collide. This book deserves more attention.

A coin for the hangmanReview snippet:

“One small spark creates a historically disturbing, yet incredibly absorbing work of fiction. It has a morbid beauty as it is written in an entirely believable manner, which left me engrossed until the early hours to see if justice was indeed ever served.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .





By Caroline Barry

Reviewed on:  21st March 2016 (As my stop on the Blog Tour)

Publication date:  17th March 2016

With a review copy provided by Black & White Publishing wrapped in a sheet of mysterious historical newspaper depicting an evilness that roams the streets of Dublin, I was intrigued before I started reading! I can only hope there will be more to come from the perfectly drawn characters of Merriment O’Grady, Solomon Fish and little Janey Mack in the future. It was a pleasure being part of the Blog Tour too.

The Dolocher Kindle Cover

Review snippet:

“It’s perfectly suspenseful, grisly in all the right places, and has characters with personalities that leap from the page. It’s a seriously epic read, in every magnificent sense.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .





By William Thacker

Reviewed on:  12th May 2016

Publication date:  16th May 2016

Aaah, The Legend 100 Club. A paradise of quirky and thought provoking reads is organised by Legend Press and is one of THE best things I have taken part in during 2016. Each book is gratefully received and one I will treasure for their ability to hold me in their grip, every single time. Lingua Franca is no exception, as renaming towns in of the UK with well known sponsored brand names leads to an unexpected turn of events…

Lingua Franca Kindle CoverReview snippet:

Lingua Franca is absurdly original. This stunning book uses the power of words to make or break the world of farcical logic. One particular man’s world, to be precise.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .




By Beth Lewis

Reviewed on:  27th June 2016

Publication date:  30th June 2016

The narration is superb in this dystopian / crime fusion where Elka discovers concerning  things about her guardian, The Trapper. It has the most astounding ‘voice’. Heck, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Humongous thanks to The Borough Press and the Fiction Pub Team for the review copy – I ADORED this.

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis - Kindle CoverReview snippet:

“I’ve read some good books, and some great books. The Wolf Road surpasses both of those descriptions. This isn’t just a book, it’s an experience.

The Wolf Road is a unrelenting journey of discovery in a place where the truth is as harsh as the elements … I sensed every shadow, heard the snap of every twig, and saw Elka’s misty breath rising in the cold air as she speaks of her expedition into unchartered territory.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .



By Liam Brown

Reviewed on:  14th June 2016 (As my stop on the Blog Tour)

Publication date:  13th June 2016

Another Legend 100 Club read (feel a trend starting?!). To say I was overjoyed to be kicking off Liam Brown’s blog tour back in June would be an understatement, as I have book love galore for Wild Life! This incredible treasure has been described loosely as ‘Lord of the Flies for adults’. Can’t argue with that.

Wild Life by Liam Brown - Kindle CoverReview snippet:

“It takes an enormous talent to place the peculiarities of fictional characters on trial and make you believe in each every one of them, for better or for much, MUCH worse…

…with it’s wicked brilliance, sharp pace and darkly satirical delivery I can safely say it’s one of those books I could happily read again tomorrow, as it sits superbly in a class of its own.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .



By Agnes Ravatn

Reviewed on:  1st September 2016

Publication date:  1st September 2016 (Paperback)

This haunting offering arrived courtesy of Orenda Books and the atmosphere can only be described as intense. Minimal characters. Maximum impact. Highly recommended.

the-bird-tribunalReview snippet:

The Bird Tribunal is heaving with a detached dreamlike quality that edges under your skin and lingers there causing time to stand absolutely still. My only wish would be that there was some way I could unread the pages so I could have the pleasure of devouring them all over again. “

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .


By P I Paris

Reviewed on:  14th September 2016

Publication date:  8th September 2016

Black and White Publishing strikes again with the simple brilliance that is Casting Off, a book that earns its tag line of ‘The Feel Good Book of the Year’ a thousand times over. Take a care home for the elderly, an adult chat line, and a assortment of quirky personalities and you get a perfectly crafted tale of humour and camaraderie set in the Scottish Highlands.

Casting Office by P I Paris - kindle CoverReview snippet:

“What a wonderfully spirited story that proves there is life after youth.

This uplifting, mischievous, and brilliantly written tale is one that has left a huge impression on me, for ALL the right reasons.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .





By Chris Whitaker

Reviewed on:  22nd September 2016

Publication date:  8th September 2016

Wow, wow, and thrice wow! When a surprise review copy dropped through my letterbox courtesy of Bonnier Zaffre I didn’t know just how jaw droppingly good this would be. A child goes missing, a mother is distraught, the police chief takes of the town’s grief, and that damned clown… It’s pretty awesome – yes, all of it!

Tall Oaks by Chris WhitakerReview snippet:

Tall Oaks is an evolving tragedy with an uncompromising moody vibe and remarkable quick wit.  Its sharp writing and snappy dialogue channel the undertow of deception to absolute perfection.

Make no mistake, it’s a THUMPINGLY good read.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .




By Jean-Paul Diderlaurent

Reviewed on:  21st November 2016

Publication date:  10th March 2016 [Paperback]

I saw this one day when I was trundling around Waterstones and decided to buy a copy as I looked like the perfect, lighter alternative to my usual ‘the end of the world is nigh’ reads. Saving fragments of books destined for destruction by ‘The Thing’, a machine that pulps redundant reading material to be recycled, Monsieur Vignolles improves his fellow commuter’s rail journey each morning by reading aloud from fragmented pages that have survived ‘The Thing’s’ jaws, and opens the door to possibilities he hadn’t considered. Ah, just sublime.

the-reader-on-the-6-27Review snippet:

“By immersing myself in The Reader on the 6.27 I found a little corner of the world where words, either spoken or written, bridge the gap between loneliness and hope. For the briefest moment it can be the most rewarding experience there is.

With its quirky humour giving a second chance to everything that is thought to be lost, The  Reader on the 6.27 is a pure delight.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .



By Fiona Cummins

Reviewed on:  14th November 2016

Publication date:  26th January 2017

I count myself as lucky as hell to have been selected to receive a limited edition ARC for this one courtesy of the author and Pan Macmillan. It’s a crime thriller worthy of all the praise heaped upon it. Yep, excellent storytelling drums atmosphere into every chapter, and as the book summary goes: He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.


Review snippet:

“There is a distinctive, malevolent streak in Rattle that is not to be missed. It’s the kind of book that cackles with delight as it confidently struts passed the realm of crime thriller and into a territory where only the darkest mind can thrive, ominously gathering pace with the rustle of every page turn.”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .




By Claire Fuller

Reviewed on:  28th November 2016

Publication date:  26th January 2017

After reading and reviewing my own copy of Claire Fuller’s debut (Our Endless Numbered Days) waaay back in 2015 I was incredibly humbled to be asked if I’d like to read an ARC of her new book, Swimming Lessons. It was such a wonderful opportunity as I have fallen in love with this author’s writing.

Swimming Lessons carries the tag line ‘Gil Coleman looked down from the window and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below…’ which is a superb catalyst for everything that is to follow. It’s perfection, pure and simple. 

swimming-lessons-by-claire-fullerReview snippet:

Swimming Lessons has  a distinctive grace – the enchanting quality of such exquisite writing is nothing short of an emotional ambush.

Every raw and touching detail harvested from the Coleman’s turbulent lives is delicately mined with finesse, making Swimming Lessons quite possibly the most perfect book I have had the privilege of holding this year [2016].”

You can read my full review here .

Or you can BUY THE BOOK .



And here they all are one last time. The top ten books that have taken centre stage for me in 2016:


There’s just one last thing, if I may. I can’t sign off this post without saying how truly grateful I am for the generosity of every publisher, author, blogger, reader, and especially to everyone that has helped to share these amazing books around the Twittersphere. And to anyone who spreads the word on Facebook or elsewhere (where I don’t hang out) – huge thanks to you too, it’s ALWAYS appreciated!

All the best,

Wendy sig




BLOG TOUR – STOP PRESS MURDER by Peter Bartram: Extract, Review and FREE Novella!


Today I’m delighted to welcome author Peter Bartram to Little Bookness Lane as part of his Stop Press Murder blog tour.

Peter has kindly provided an extract of his new Crampton of the Chronicle Mystery starring crime correspondent, Colin Crampton.

My review for Stop Press Murder follows this extract, and you can discover more about this new book and the author at the end of this post – PLUS you can download a free novella too!

Stop Press Murder Extract

An extract from Stop Press Murder, a Crampton of the Chronicle Mystery

by Peter Bartram

The mystery of Milady’s Bath Night began with a riddle and ended with a tragedy.

I was sitting at my desk in the newsroom at the Brighton Evening Chronicle, weighing up the pros and cons of putting brown sauce on my breakfast bacon sandwich, when my telephone rang.

I lifted the receiver and said: “Colin Crampton, crime correspondent.”

A man’s voice with a deep rustic drawl, which reminded me of haystacks and summer meadows, said: “If I mentioned the word ‘bunch’ what would be the first thing that came into your mind?”

I said: “Roses, as in ‘bunch of’. Red for the love of your life. Yellow to welcome home a long-lost friend. White for your grandmother’s coffin.”

“You’re not even close. Try again.”

“Girls’ hair – as in ‘tied in bunches’. Tidy when she’s ten. Tempting when she’s twenty.”

“That doesn’t count. I said ‘bunch’, singular.”

“In that case, I can offer you a bunch of fives. As in the fingers in a fist – to give you a smack in the mouth.”

Haystack voice said: “Tsk. It doesn’t pay to get tetchy with a police officer.”

The man offering me advice – and possibly a story – was Ted Wilson. He was a detective inspector in Brighton Police Force. And one of the few ‘tecs I trusted in the town. The rest of them spent more time looking for the main chance than for clues. Put it this way: if they were drinking in the same pub you wouldn’t leave your loose change on the bar.

I said: “What have you got for me? Am I going to be yelling hold the front page?”

He said: “Possibly. It’s certainly bad news.”

“The best kind.”

“You’re a cynical bastard. When I have to deliver the hard word most people don’t want to know. They’d rather shoot the messenger.”

I said: “If journalists shot the messenger they’d have to go out and find their own stories.”

He said: “You won’t have any difficulty finding this one. There’s been a killing on Palace Pier.”

I laughed. “Don’t tell me someone finally landed the jackpot on that one-armed bandit in the amusement arcade.”

“This wasn’t a three-cherries-in-a-row kind of killing. It’s a blood-on-the-floor job.”

I reached for my notebook. Flicked it open. Grabbed a pencil.

“You mean murder? I asked.


“When did this happen?”

“Some time last night after the pier closed. But it wasn’t discovered until this morning. And there’s a bizarre touch.”

“Which is?”

“The body was discovered in the coconut shy.”

“And hence your riddle about ‘bunch’. You were thinking of the song I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.”


“As sung by Danny Kaye. And played endlessly on the Billy Cotton Band Show.”

Wilson chuckled. “I’d say, ‘Give the man a coconut’, if it wasn’t in bad taste.”

“Why’s that?”

“The victim was killed by a blow to the head with one.”

I scribbled a shorthand note. “Male or female?” I asked.

“Coconuts don’t have a sex.”

“The victim.”

“Male, I gather.”

“Why, ‘I gather’?”

Wilson said: “I wish I knew more. But I’ve been frozen out of this case. Tomkins has taken it.”

That wasn’t good news. Detective Superintendent Alec Tomkins hadn’t liked me since I’d run a story about a cigarette-smuggling ring he’d arrested. The three smugglers had been acquitted at Lewes Assizes when the defence pointed out that the police were unable to account for all the contraband ciggies they claimed they’d seized.

I’d written that Tomkins’ case had “gone up in smoke”. He’d accused me of insinuating the lads at the cop shop had been treating themselves to duty-free drags from the evidence. Tomkins had blustered about a writ for libel. But the chief constable made it clear he wasn’t funding a lengthy court case out of the police budget.

Instead, Tomkins settled for nurturing a life-long hatred of me.

“That explains why I didn’t know about it,” I said.

“There’s more,” Wilson said. “I’ve just heard that Tomkins tipped off Houghton more than an hour ago.”

That was worse news. Jim Houghton was my opposite number on the Evening Argus, the other paper in town. By now, he’d be at the scene of the crime with Tomkins. The two would be laughing themselves silly over the right royal stuffing they were giving me.

I said: “Thanks for the tip-off, Ted.”

“Sorry I couldn’t do it earlier. Needed to get out of the office to make this call. You’ll know why.”

The phone went dead.

I replaced the receiver with mixed feelings.

What Ted told me was enough for two paragraphs for the Midday Special edition’s “news in brief”. But Houghton would have a front-page lead in the Argus.

As soon as my news editor Frank Figgis saw the midday Argus, he’d want to know why I’d been scooped. He wouldn’t be interested in hearing that Houghton had been given an inside track by Tomkins.

Figgis wouldn’t sack me. It would be worse than that. He’d think up some creative revenge – like making me sit through endless meetings of the crime-prevention committee at the Town Hall.

Or he’d book me as the guest speaker on the “ethics of the press” at the Women’s Institute in an inaccessible Sussex village.

Or he’d make me interview a retired police-dog handler with bad breath and dandruff.

Or the dog.

To avoid any of those horrors, I had to find an angle on the story that outpaced the Argus in time for our Afternoon Extra edition. That meant I had three hours to turn the story around.

I grabbed my notebook and headed for the door.

The bacon sandwich would have to wait.

Stop Press Murder: a Crampton of the Chronicle Mystery by Peter Bartram is published by Roundfire Books.

Stop Press Murder My Review


My love for the Crampton of the Chronicle Mysteries was sparked by Headline Murder in 2015. Two novellas and another novel later and still this series never fails to entertain and amuse.

Stop Press Murder continues the journalistic adventures of a newshound who is looking to impress his editor with next big scoop for the crime section of the Evening Chronicle in 1960’s Brighton.

It’s not easy to conjure an all singing, all dancing crime headline out of thin air when nothing of any notable interest appears to be happening. That is, unless your name’s Crampton. Colin Crampton. The man possesses an almost rabid journalistic gift for sniffing out the obscure. Frequently this means he takes risks by presenting an outrageous headline before his theories can be backed up which leaves him in some pretty awkward predicaments, providing oodles of entertainment for the reader.

This time, when he senses an unrelated murder on the pier and a recent theft could be connected, he finds he’s on the receiving end of a fair amount of jibes from the rival paper to discredit him. His ‘unnamed police source’ is none too happy with him either, as like a dog with a bone Colin goes above and beyond to prove there’s more to a saucy film called Milady’s Bath Night going missing from the Palace Pier and a night watchman being attacked some days later in the coconut shy with a very odd choice of weapon.

Despite his natural drive to unearth the truth no matter how deep its buried, Crampton is an exceedingly likeable reporter. He has the cheek of the devil and a keen sense of humour, although the investigative journalist that lives within can’t be tamed at times and tests the resolve of even his strongest allies! This time round he hasn’t even got the long suffering support of his Aussi girlfriend, Shirley, who has gone walkabout to contemplate the future – is she the love of his life, or is he already married to his job…

That particular question may not seem to be the most pressing of Colin’s problems presently, as there are plenty of others forming a queue to get his attention covering a multitude of unsavoury crimes, the steely gaze of an ice cold marchioness, a spy in the newsroom, or his landlady with whom he flouts every rule possible. When things look like they’ll turning ugly, he turns on the Crampton charm. There’s never a dull moment things keep buzzing along nicely indeed!

Whether he’s casually conversing with snooty aristocrats or just a bloke down the greasy spoon, Colin follows the story wherever it may take him which often leads him straight into the path of imminent danger as he uncovers people’s secrets that have been hidden for very good reason. To catch that killer headline Colin sets some very careful traps before he reaches the crescendo of this jauntily plotted mystery.

This entertainingly baffling ‘step back in time’ crime caper is ripe with a variety of situations and subtle innuendos that will no doubt raise a few chuckles. An old school investigative approach is very much alive and kicking in these days of classic telephone boxes and little MGB’s, making Stop Press Murder an absolute delight to read.

(Oh, and can be enjoyed as a standalone, should you wish.)

Rating:  5/5

(My thanks to the author for providing a copy of his new book in exchange for an unbiased review. It was a lovely surprise not only see that a snippet from my review for Headline Murder had been quoted but to find Peter had generously signed this paperback copy, which I will treasure.)

Stop Press Murder Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

FIRST, the saucy film of a nude woman bathing is stolen from a What the Butler Saw machine on Brighton’s Palace Pier. NEXT, the piers night-watchman is murdered – his body found in the coconut shy. COLIN CRAMPTON, ace reporter on the Evening Chronicle, senses a scoop when he’s the only journalist to discover a link between the two crimes. HE UNCOVERS a 50-year feud between twin sisters – one a screen siren from the days of silent movies, the other the haughty wife of an aristocrat. BUT COLIN’S investigation spirals out of control – as he RISKS HIS LIFE to land the biggest story of his career. Stop Press Murder, a Swinging Sixties mystery, has more twists and turns than a country lane. It will keep you guessing – and laughing – right to the last page.


The Crampton of the Chronicle Mysteries…

Crampton of the Chronicle Mystery series

Stop Press Murder Author Profile

Author Peter BartramPeter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime series – which features crime reporter Colin Crampton in 1960s Brighton. Peter has done most things in journalism from door-stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s interviewed cabinet ministers and crooks – at least the crooks usually answer the questions, he says. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700 feet down a coal mine and a courtier’s chambers at Buckingham Palace. (The former is easier to get into but at least you don’t have to wear a hat with a lamp on it in the latter.)

Peter wrote 21 non-fiction books, including five ghost-written, in areas such as biography, current affairs and how-to titles, before turning to crime – and penning Headline Murder, the first novel in the Crampton series. As an appetiser for the main course, there is a selection of Crampton of the Chronicle short stories at http://www.colincrampton.com. Peter is a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.


Stop Press Murder Free NovellaMICL-cover-web

Read Murder in Capital LettersFOR FREE!

Murder in Capital Letters, a Crampton of the Chronicle novella, is free to download for your kindle or other e-reader at:


SHOT TWICE!: Brighton antiques dealer Freddie Hollingbourne-Smith is murdered in his workshop – and crime reporter Colin Crampton is first on the scene.

TOO MANY SUSPECTS: Colin discovers plenty had reason to kill Freddie… like thwarted beauty queen Julie Appleyard, his jilted mistress… snooty toff Sir Tunnicliffe Hogg, his persecuted neighbour… devious hard-man Harry Spittlefield, his cheated partner… not to mention fiery and passionate Isabella, his betrayed ex-wife.

CRYPTIC CLUE: Colin must puzzle out the mystery left by a small pile of printers’ type – all in capital letters – before he can finger the killer.

THE CLIMAX EXPLODES: on the famous train, the Brighton Belle. With Colin’s feisty Australian girlfriend Shirley at his side, the laughs are never far from the clues as the pair hunt down the murderer.


Stop Press Murder Blog Banner

Blog Tour – S5 Uncovered: Guest post ‘The Inspiration’ by author James Durose- Rayner

S5 Uncovered Cover

Today, Little Bookness Lane is ‘host to a guest post’ kindly provided by author James Durose-Rayner, as part of the blog tour for his new book, S5 Uncovered.

S5 Uncovered was published on 19th July 2016 and is available to purchase here. You can also discover more about the man himself and his book at the end of this post:

S5 - Guest Post

By James Durose-Rayner

The Inspiration

I have or had great friends – when I say great friends, I really mean it – and if you are a writer, I find it is always best to write what you know.


  1. A high-ranking policeman in South Yorkshire Police who was working within the city of Sheffield. He had also been under investigation by the IPCC as he’d had a man die in custody. Am I still in contact with him? No. He is currently ‘on the run’ with another mans wife. That bit isn’t in the book.
  2. His life was nothing short of a train wreck. He and his out-of-control wife (she was psychotic and possessed on-the-edge characteristics) drank heavily and he he’d had to leave Sheffield due a series of circumstances outside of the police force – his wife being caught on CCTV throwing a brick through the patio window was one of the reasons.
  3. A career criminal (1) in Sheffield.
  4. I initially got to know him in 2002 – and rather strangely through my accountant. I was owed £48,000 from various parties – the biggest amount being £9,000, and by going through the corporate judicial system I knew that I would never get it back. I therefore sent him to get it back. Draw your own conclusion how that worked out. A shite debt collector but a great story – but it’s definitely not in the book.
  5. A career criminal (2) is the younger brother of career criminal (1) and had just been remanded in HMP Doncaster and was awaiting sentencing on a charge of malicious wounding to cause GBH – section 18.
  6. For the record he was badly advised, went on the run, didn’t do his groundwork, had a rubbish defence and got 8 and ½ years. Did he deserve it? Read the book and draw your own conclusions.
  7. A career criminal (3) originated from Sheffield and was a Special Forces soldier serving in Afghanistan and The Middle East who when on leave – moonlighted within Sheffield’s criminal underworld.
  8. Is he still around? He served time in prison and now owns a protection company and female escort service in south London. Possibly one of the nicest people you could ever meet.
  9. A local authority housing officer whose married life, again was nothing short of a train wreck. He’s had three relationships since and is still no further on in life.
  10. I’ve used one of his many characters in every one of my books and if I wrote his biography – no-one would believe it. An extremely complex individual.
  11. He was and still is something of a sexual deviant and control freak, who liked nothing better than feeling like he was losing control – when in fact all the time it was him who was in control. His wife had a strange family – the mother, grandmother and uncle were all diagnosed with schizophrenia. An idiot? Yes. A criminal? Not really. Is he still married? Definitely not.
  12. The Tattooist. A gay, loud-mouthed extrovert from the Pitsmoor area of the city who was a major link with several fractions of north Sheffield’s underworld – especially the rival gangs in the city’s so-called ‘Postcode Wars’.
  13. Contrary to public belief – most of the serious criminals – especially those who deal in violence don’t really drink, therefore they need some form of ‘meeting place’. His studios were exactly that. A criminal? Minor. Is he still around? He is – but in another part of the city.
  14. An Asian businessman who ran an insurance agents and money laundering operation and who was well-connected to the Asian element of Sheffield’s underworld – mainly drugs.
  15. A career criminal? Minor.
  16. The owner of a dog meat factory with a dysfunctional family who was extremely well-connected to Sheffield and who has sadly recently died. Was he a criminal? Again, not really.
  17. A car dealer that currently resides in the north of Sheffield.
  18. An extremely well-connected, womanising, fast-talking, wheeler-dealing motor mouth with a through-the-roof IQ. A criminal? Very much so.
  19. There is one missing as he isn’t a friend.

S5 - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Authoright PR)

S5 Uncovered CoverBased around a series of true events.

The BBC’s current affairs programme ‘Panorama’ undertook a sixty minute documentary / exposé surrounding an elite government task force that went undercover in Sheffield over a period of twelve months.

Their remit was to use the Proceeds of Crime Act to fill up the police federations coffers using illegally gained intelligence, on one hand overlooking – and in some cases encouraging – major criminal activity such as murder, kidnap and torture; whilst on the other, surreptitiously acquiring pre-bargained guilty pleas from defendants then reneging on deals, which culminated in some of the heaviest sentences ever handed out in the UK. But the programme was never aired.


S5 - Author Profile

James Durose-Rayner has over twenty years’ experience in journalism. He is a member of the Writer’s Guild and the editor of NATM, the UK’s leading specialist civil engineering journal. His writing has been featured in over 210 magazines and his debut indie-novel, S63: Made in Thurnscoe, published in 2001, received positive reviews. In 2015, I Am Sam (Clink Street Publishing) and itv Seven (New Generation Publishing) followed to more affirmative acclaim. Durose-Rayner currently divides his time between the UK and Cyprus.


Thanks for stopping by. You can also visit the other blogs on the tour by following the schedule below.

All the best,

Wendy sigJames Durose-Rayner_Banner SMALL

Blog Tour: Unreliable narrators – A guest post by ‘Under the Harrow’ author Flynn Berry

Under the Harrow blog tour Twitter graphic

I’m delighted to welcome author Flynn Berry to Little Bookness Lane today as part of her Under the Harrow blog tour where she’ll be sharing her pick of some of the best unreliable narrators with us.

You can discover more about the author and her book in just a little while, but right now Flynn has kindly prepared this fascinating guest post…

Under the Harrow GUEST POST

Unreliable Narrators

by Flynn Berry

My novel, Under the Harrow, is about a woman, Nora, investigating her sister’s murder. As the police inquiry unravels, Nora becomes obsessive and reckless. Some of my favorite books have unreliable narrators, who are duplicitous, volatile, and thrilling.

Tom Ripley in Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley isn’t exactly an unreliable narrator. He’s quite direct. By the time Tom invites Dickie for a boat ride, we know exactly what he plans to do. “In each motor-boat, Tom noticed, was a round weight of cement attached to a line, for anchoring the boat.” He wants Dickie Greenleaf’s life, and, as with all great unreliable narrators, it’s easy to believe he somehow deserves it more: “Tom had an ecstatic moment when he thought of all the pleasures that lay before him now with Dickie’s money, other beds, tables, seas, ships, suitcases, shirts, years of freedom, years of pleasure.”

The way Tom sheds his old identity is bizarrely, perversely inspiring. He changes his voice, his expression, his posture, his handwriting. And, wonderfully, he excises all the parts of himself he dislikes, like his dullness and shyness. Reading it made me marvel at how much people can transform themselves, out of a longing to be someone different, or out of rage. It seemed somehow miraculous. “It was Paris,” says Tom. “Wonderful to sit in a famous café, and to think of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow being Dickie Greenleaf!”

Under the Harrow Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Publication date:  14th June 2016   

Format:  Ebook

Under The Harrow by Flynn Berry - Kindle CoverWhen Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.



Under the Harrow Author Profile

Flynn Berry Author Photograph

Flynn Berry is a graduate of the Michener Centre and has been awarded a Yaddo residency. She graduated from Brown University. Under the Harrow is her first novel.

She is represented by Emily Forland at Brandt & Hochman. The editor of Under the Harrow is Lindsey Schwoeri at Penguin.



Huge thanks to Flynn Berry for taking the time to write this guest post and also to Rebecca Gray for organising the tour, which stops with Victoria Goldman at Off-The-Shelf Books tomorrow!

Wendy sig