I am absolutely delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Will To Live by Rachel Amphlett, the second book in the DS Kay Hunter series. I’ll be sharing my review with you in just a moment, but first here are the all important bookish bits.
The Official Book Blurb
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…
Got to be honest here – after the heart thumping opening to Scared to Death, I didn’t think it would be possible to top it. How could Rachel Amphlett possibly recreate such a tense situation or match the growing panic that you could feel emanating from each and every page? Well – you’ll have to read Will To Live to find out the answer to that one because, trust me, she did. The opening of this book is dynamite and I loved it.
Damn. Might have given myself a way a little too early in the review there… Ah well. **Spoiler Alert** – This review is going to be a tad on the positive side. And that’s the last and only spoiler you’re going to get from me today so you’re safe to read on.
What a book. Picking up a short time after we left Kay and the team at the end of Scared to Death, she is still trying to find out the truth behind the incident which has cast doubt upon her reliability, led to an irreparable breakdown in her trust of her colleagues and effectively stalled her career. The need to find answers plays constantly on her mind and leads to some real conflict throughout the novel, putting people who Kay cares about at risk as someone sends a very personal message to her to stop digging. But this private investigation, however important, is still secondary to the central theme of the book. The apparent suicides of several men on a notorious stretch of railway in Kent.
I say apparent because, as you can already see from the blurb, at least one of these deaths is not quite as cut and dried as it first appears. After a witness informs them that the victim had changed his mind shortly before his death, and as a result of the crime scene investigators findings, Kay and her team take a closer look at some older cases which leads them to a pretty startling discovery. It then falls to Kay to find out what is really going on and put a stop to it before there are any more deaths. Lord knows commute times are long enough in the South East without unnecessary bodies on the track holding the trains up, and with DCI Larch as against Kay as ever, she finds herself under pressure from all sides. Which is okay because we like pressure and conflict. It makes for good reading.
The pacing in the book is spot on. Moving from the steady pace of an investigation – interviews, postmortem, the agonising wait for forensic evidence – to the more hectic final showdown with the perpetrator, at which point the narrative hurtled along with the break neck speed of an East Coast London to Edinburgh express train, Amphlett creates the perfect balance. I found myself sucked into the story, happily propelled through each page and every second of the action. There wasn’t a moment that I wasn’t engaged, such is the beauty of the writing here. While the author touches on some very emotive subjects, depression and suicide, they are handled in a very sympathetic way, not graphic or sensationalist, in fact at times poignant as you realise the fragility of the human mind, and the impact tragedy can have on individuals no matter how outwardly strong they may appear.
One of the key things which really makes this story for me is the quality of the characters. There isn’t a single one who didn’t feel authentic, who didn’t add to the story. Kay Hunter and her team are brilliant – each one of them adds a different dimension to the investigation and the private rivalry between Gavin and Carys, or more accurately from Carys towards Gavin, is totally believable. Barnes is back on form after the stresses of the previous story, but it is Kay who really stands out. Her relationship with her partner Adam is brilliant and the chemistry between them jumps off the page. I miss Sid 😉 but in fairness Holly was a nice temporary addition to the family. I really do love the way Rachel Amphlett creates characters. Her protagonists always have such fire and determination, such grit, and she really makes them live for me. Just brilliant.
There are enough false starts and red herrings in this book to keep the reader guessing until the end. Although we are treated to chapters told in the killers voice, we never really know who they are. And I love it when that happens, when you can get right to the very end of a novel and think how in the heck did I miss that? This book gave me that. I was so absorbed in everything else that I missed what was right in front of my face. And the ending leaves things wide open for Kay in the next book which I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on.
A stonking, steaming, I-knew-I-never-trusted-Thomas-the-Tank-Engine 5 stars from me.
My thanks to Rachel Amphlett for the advance copy of Will to Live for review and to Emma Mitchell of EDM Editorial and Publicity Services (aka Emma The Little Bookworm) for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. It is released on 4th April and is available to buy at the following retailers:
About the Author
Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter crime thriller series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.
Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.
She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014.
An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.
To be in the chance of winning one of two e-book copies of Will To Live follow the link here.
Be sure to stop by one of the other blogs on the tour which runs from 27th March to 11th April. And why not stop by the launch party over on Facebook which starts at 20:00 on 4th.