Tag Archives: Rachel Amphlett

Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett

gone to ground

Gone to Ground is the sixth instalment in Rachel Amphlett’s Detective Kay Hunter series, and it’s a series that now feels a bit like revisiting old friends with its wonderful cast of characters.

While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth – a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs.

With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population and a scornful media.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.

Gone to Ground presents a particularly difficult case for Kay as a severed foot is discovered in the Kentish countryside by a group of cyclists.  With no clues as to who it belongs to, where the rest of the body is, or how it got there, Kay and the team face a daunting task, made even more difficult when additional body parts are discovered.  Due to the lack of clues in the case, the investigation grinds to a halt almost before it’s begun, leading to a frustrating time for Kay and her team, and this does make the novel a little slower to start than the others in the series have been, although the pace soon speeds up as they get their first break.

I love the characters in this series, and enjoy finding out a little more about them as the series progresses.  Kay has a fantastic bond with her colleagues, and I love the friendly banter that ensues when the team get together.  Kay is a particularly strong character, and one that I’ve liked since she was first introduced in Scared to Death.  Newly promoted, Kay now has the difficult task of balancing her desire to be out in the field during an investigation with the additional managerial duties (and paperwork) that her new role entails.  It wouldn’t be much of a series if the protagonist was stuck at her desk the whole time, and so she doesn’t let this hold her back from the hands-on investigation.  Another character who is worthy of mention is Adam, Kay’s veterinarian partner.  He plays a minor role in the novels, but I love that he always brings a little bit of his work home with him, and while they aren’t relevant to the story, the creatures he brings home always add a little extra fun to the novel, and Misha the goat is no exception.

As with earlier novels in the series, Amphlett delivers plenty of twists and turns throughout the novel, and, as usual, I had no idea who the culprit was until the big reveal.  This is a great series, with a strong cast of characters, and I recommend it to those who enjoy police procedurals.

Gone to Ground is available to purchase now.  Many thanks to Rachel Amphlett for providing a copy for review.

Gone to Ground is the sixth novel in Amphlett’s Detective Kay Hunter series, and you can find my reviews for the other titles in the series through the following links:

  1. Scared to Death
  2. Will to Live
  3. One to Watch
  4. Hell to Pay
  5. Call to Arms 

Call to Arms by Rachel Amphlett

call to arms

Call to Arms is the fifth book in Rachel Amphlett’s Kay Hunter series, and whilst I said that book 4 – Hell to Pay – was my favourite, I think that Amphlett has surpassed it with this latest instalment.

Loyalty has a price.

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country’s most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation.

DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But, as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.

Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…

Call to Arms presents Hunter in a slightly different light to the previous novels, and I enjoyed the change in atmosphere.  That’s not to say that Hunter is entirely happy, however, despite the fact that, overall, she’s in a better position than in the previous novels.  Hunter has recently returned to work following the events of Hell to Pay and has been assigned “light duties” until she’s fully recovered.  And, with DI Sharp still suspended, she is also covering that role, which means that she has a lot more paperwork to sort out.  For someone as hands on as Hunter is, being desk bound is incredibly frustrating, and she jumps at the chance to look into a cold case that may help with Sharp’s situation.

I thought that the case was absolutely fascinating, and it had all the twists and turns that I’ve come to expect from Amphlett.  Originally deemed an unfortunate accident, it doesn’t take long for Hunter and the team to come across evidence of foul play in the death of Jamie Ingram.  As with previous novels, the case is interesting and unpredictable, and the outcome came as a surprise.  Again, this case was a little different to previous novels, in that Jamie died ten years ago, and, being a cold case, the investigation is made all the more difficult by not being able to contact everyone who was involved at the time.

Call to Arms throws the reader straight into the action, and the pace doesn’t let up until the final page.  Highly recommended, although I do think that you should start at the beginning with Scared to Death to understand Hunter’s background in full.

Call to Arms will be published on 11 March.  Many thanks to Rachel Amphlett for providing a copy for review.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You can see my reviews for the first four novels in the series at the following links:

  1. Scared to Death
  2. Will to Live
  3. One to Watch
  4. Hell to Pay 

Hell to Pay by Rachel Amphlett

hell to pay

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first three titles in Rachel Amphlett’s Kay Hunter series, and this fourth title does not disappoint!

Hell to Pay opens with a car accident.  Not the usual sort of case that DS Kay Hunter would be involved in, except for the body of a young woman found in the boot of the car.

Tracing the vehicle to its owner, Hunter finds herself having to face some old demons as she once again crosses paths with Jozef Dimiri – a well-known criminal masked by legitimate business interests, and the man whose case she was working when evidence went missing, stalling Kay’s career, and affecting her personally as well as professionally.  Is this Kay’s chance to get even?

If you’ve enjoyed the first three novels in this series, you are in for a treat with Hell to Pay.  In this title, the reader gets some answers to what happened on a previous case of Hunter’s where crucial evidence went missing, resulting in Dimiri escaping justice, and which had such disastrous consequences for Kay.  For me, this came at exactly the right time in the series – Amphlett has had three books in which to build up the background and for Kay to do a little investigation on her own – with varying degrees of success – and I’m pleased that the reader now understands who was behind this, and why.  I did perhaps feel that the big reveal was a little rushed, although that may be because I was racing through to find out what happened!

Throughout the series, Amphleet has proved that she can do character brilliantly, and whether it’s the good or the bad guys, they come across as realistic and relatable.  Dimiri was everything he needed to be – an extremely chilling individual who you can imagine coming across as a smooth business man when he needs to, but with few scruples and only his own well-being and bank balance of any concern to him.  A known importer and distributor of drugs, Kay and her team find that they underestimated the extent of Dimiri’s business empire, and some of what goes on is horrifying.  As always, Amphlett handles these darker themes brilliantly, revealing enough to avoid doubt but without being gratuitous.

In my opinion, Hell to Pay is the best book in the series to date.  I felt that Amphlett really upped the tension in this novel, particularly as it’s clear that Dimiri wants to get his hands on Hunter as much as she wants to see him brought to justice.  I also felt that this novel was a little darker in tone, given some of the subject matter, and I really enjoyed it.  I understand that there is a fifth book on the way, and I can’t wait to see the aftermath of this case, and what it means for Kay.

Hell to Pay was published in November, and is available in paperback and digital formats.  Many thanks to Rachel for providing a copy for review.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hell to Pay is the fourth title in Rachel Amphlett’s Detective Kay Hunter series, and you can see my reviews of the first three titles in the series at the following links:

  1. Scared to Death
  2. Will to Live
  3. One to Watch

One to Watch by Rachel Amphlett

one to watch

Last week, I posted my review of Will to Live – the second novel in the DS Kay Hunter series – and today I’m sharing my review of book three in the series, One to Watch.

Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.

Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.

Sophie might have been young, but she had plenty of secrets, and this makes the task of solving her murder all the more difficult for Kay and her team, particularly as those close to her all to seem to have their own secrets as well.  I thought that the plotting in One to Watch was fantastic – this is a complex case, with multiple suspects who might have “dunnit”, and for various reasons.  And I didn’t guess who did it, or why – obviously I had my theories, but the ending did come as a surprise.

One thing that I really liked about this novel was that it was a little different to the first two, in that it involved a single murder, rather than a serial killer.  That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with the first two (there isn’t) but it’s nice when an author surprises you by doing something a little different to what you’re expecting.  And don’t think that a single murder makes this a slower novel – there is still plenty of action, and the twists and turns in the investigation mean that this is just as fast-paced and enjoyable as the first two instalments.

As well as the main investigation, Amphlett also enhances the backstory that has run through the first two novels – that of Hunter’s desire to find out who tampered with evidence in an older case which resulted in a professional standards investigation and the stalling of Hunter’s career.  Whilst I call it a back story, it became more prevalent in this novel, and takes a more sinister turn, and I’m hoping that this escalation means that it will be resolved in the next book in the series, Hell to Pay, which is out in November.

I really do love this series.  I love the characters, and each novel in the series has been brilliantly plotted, combining police procedural with mystery thriller, meaning that whichever of these you prefer, there will be something for you in these novels.  I’m really looking forward to the fourth book in the series, Hell to Pay.

Many thanks to Rachel Amphlett for providing a digital copy of One to Watch.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Will to Live by Rachel Amphlett

will to live

Will to Live is the second novel in the DS Kay Hunter series by Rachel Amphlett, and follows on from Scared to Death.  You can see my review of Scared to Death here, as well as a Q&A with Rachel.  I have to admit that Rachel very kindly sent me a digital copy of Will to Live in March (!), but I’ve only just got around to reading and reviewing it.  Apologies, Rachel!

Reputation is everything.

When a packed commuter train runs over a body on a stretch of track known to locals as ‘Suicide Mile’, it soon transpires that the man was a victim of a calculated murder.

As the investigation evolves and a pattern of murders is uncovered, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter realises the railway’s recent reputation may be the work of a brutal serial killer.

With a backlog of cold cases to investigate and attempting to uncover who is behind a professional vendetta against her, Kay must keep one step ahead of both the killer and her own adversaries.

When a second murder takes place within a week of the first, she realises the killer’s timetable has changed, and she’s running out of time to stop him…

I read the synopsis of Will to Live when Rachel first sent me a copy, but I went in blind having completely forgotten what it was about, and unwittingly started reading this on a long train journey, which made for a slightly surreal experience!

Set a short time after the events in Scared to Death, Will to Live sees Kay Hunter and her team investigating an apparent suicide, which very quickly becomes a murder investigation and a race against time to stop a serial killer in his tracks (sorry) before he kills again.  As if this isn’t enough, Hunter has also begun to investigate a previous case which resulted in her temporary suspension and a professional standards investigation.  Whilst she was exonerated, it has had a lasting impact, not least because one of her superior officers, DCI Larch, no longer trusts her, and has prevented her from being promoted as a result.

I love the characterisation in these novels.  All are detailed sufficiently for their level of involvement, and Kay is a wonderful, complex character that you want to cheer on, and to stand up for when Larch is having a dig at her, which he does whenever he’s in the same room as her.  I also really enjoy the relationship she has with her partner, Adam, and I love the slightly comedic scenes between the two, particularly when he brings his work home with him, which, given he’s a vet, has resulted in some slightly unusual visitors in their house!  I think it’s really refreshing to see that their unusual working hours don’t cause any rifts between them, and to see that they are happy together.

As with Scared to Death, Amphlett has an absolutely killer (pun intended) opening chapter.  It’s incredibly tense, and sets the reader up for an exciting, fast paced read that will leave you wanting more.  Luckily, book 3 – One to Watch – is out now (and I’ll be reviewing it within the next few days) and book 4 – Hell to Pay – is out in November.  As the second novel in the series, this could be read as a standalone, but I do think that you will get more out of it by reading Scared to Death first.  You will have a better understanding of the characters, and whilst the main cases aren’t linked, there is the backstory which flows through both.

Many thanks to Rachel for providing a digital copy, and apologies again that it’s taken me so long to get to it!

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Blog Tour: Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Rachel Amphlett’s latest novel, Scared to Death, which will be published on 6 December.

My review for Scared to Death can be found below, and Rachel very kindly agreed to a Q&A and so I’ll hand you over to Rachel to start the post.


  1. Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I currently live in Brisbane, Australia after emigrating here 11 years ago from the UK. Prior to emigrating, I played guitar in bands, helped run a pub, and worked in local radio as a freelance producer and broadcast assistant. To date, I’ve written eight books with Scared to Death being the latest.

  1. And a little bit about your latest novel, Scared to Death?

Scared to Death introduces Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter, who is clinging onto her career after enduring both personal tragedy and a professional vendetta against her. We meet Kay as she’s thrown into a new case – a kidnapping that appears to have gone wrong, and a teenage girl has died.

As the investigation evolves, Kay becomes convinced that there’s more to the case than she first thought, and her worst fears are realised when a second girl is taken.

  1. Who would you recommend Scared to Death to?

I’d like to think that anyone who enjoys the novels of Robert Bryndza, Angela Marsons, Peter James and Mark Billingham would enjoy Scared to Death. It’s a fast-paced crime thriller, so if you enjoy that element of the crime genre, I’d suggest giving it a go.

  1. Are you planning more Kay Hunter novels?

Definitely. I set out to write Scared to Death with the knowledge that there would be more books featuring Kay Hunter. She’s got some scores to settle yet!

  1. How do you tend to write – after careful planning, or just writing and seeing where the story goes?

I’ve got a really tight process these days for writing. I’ll get an idea going around in my head, and then I’ll scribble that down in a new notebook and keep jotting down basic scenes as they crop up, and then I’ll take that and develop it into an outline of about 30 – 40 key scenes. For each scene, I’ll write a sentence or two about what has to happen in that scene, and then I’ll get stuck in and write.

  1. How long does it usually take you to write a novel?

Scared to Death took me nine weeks to complete the first draft using the above process. After that, there were weeks of editing, but I enjoy that as much as the writing because I keep discovering new things about the characters and story.

  1. What kind of research do you do for your novels, and is it in advance of beginning a new book, or as you’re writing?

I’m lucky in that I have friends serving in the police in the UK and I was recommended a couple of books to read while I was sketching out the plot, so that gave me a good head start.

After that, I concentrated on the story for Scared to Death, and made a note of things I’d have to check as I went along. I got about halfway through the writing process, and then started emailing some experts in the police in the UK and kept writing other scenes while I waited for their responses or sought further clarification.

Of course, the more I write in this series, the more I’m learning, which is another bonus of being an author – I soak it all up!

  1. What sort of novels do you like to read, and who are your favourite authors?

I do love crime thrillers, and this last year I’ve been devouring books by a lot of the Bookouture authors – they’re publishing some awesome titles. I’ve also been catching up on Leigh Russell’s back catalogue.

My favourite authors are Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Val McDermid, Lynda La Plante, and Peter James.

  1. Of your own novels, do you have a favourite?  Or is that like asking someone to pick which of their children is their favourite?

It is a bit, yes!  I do have a soft spot for Look Closer – it’s completely different from my espionage thrillers, and gave me the confidence to write a full crime thriller series. I enjoyed having a character that had to rely on his wiles, not on strength or weapons. I really think that book made me grow as an author.

  1. What are the three best pieces of advice that you’ve ever been given? (Not necessarily writing specific)
  • Learn to type, and learn to pull a pint – you’ll never be out of work (thanks to my late grandmother for this one. She was right!)
  • Pay it forward
  • Keep your next move to yourself

Thanks so much, Rachel – your grandmother sounds like a smart lady! 🙂



Rating: ★★★★☆

Yvonne and Tony Richards return from their holiday to a parent’s worst nightmare – their teenage daughter has been kidnapped.  Hoping for the best, they pay the ransom money and abide by all the kidnapper’s rules, but when they go to collect their daughter from an abandoned building, their worst fears are confirmed.

Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter is assigned to the case, and whilst her colleagues see it as nothing more than a kidnapping gone wrong, she isn’t so sure.

And then another girl goes missing, and it’s a race against time to save her.  Can Hunter and her team get to her before it’s too late?

In Kay Hunter, Amphlett has created a great character.  Strong, determined and willing to stand up for what’s right – she’s the kind of person who will get the job done no matter what.  She has her demons, however, in the form of Detective Chief Inspector Larch who has taken against her following a previous case.  He seems intent on undermining her every step of the way, although Hunter isn’t one to be easily cowed.

One thing I really enjoyed about Scared to Death were the personal scenes when Hunter is with her partner, Adam.  So many novels of this genre have their main character alone / divorced / separated etc. and I thought that it was really nice to see someone in a healthy relationship.  It’s not all perfect, and they’ve been through some hard times prior to this case, but I thought that this was a nice element, and it added warmth and a little humour to what is otherwise quite a dark novel.

Scared to Death is a fast-paced read, and the chapters are short enough that “one more chapter” all too easily becomes three or four!  Extremely well-plotted, this really is a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat as Hunter and her team follow the clues that lead them to the perpetrator and his latest victim.  Due to the nature of the crimes, this is quite a dark story, although the violence is not gratuitous in any way – I thought that it was well handled, but without leaving any room for doubt as to what was going on.

Scared to Death is a wonderful start to a new series, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment featuring Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter.  Whilst all elements of the crime were tied up nicely, there are a few questions outstanding about Kay’s past and the case that has turned DCI Larch against her, and I’d like to see this explored further.

Scared to Death will be published on 6 December 2016.  Many thanks to Rachel for taking part in the Q&A, and for providing a copy of her novel for review.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour: