Tag Archives: Rachel Amphlett

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: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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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.

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  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! 🙂


 

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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:

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