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…
Will to Live is the second book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…
Having read and enjoyed 'Scared to Death', the first DS Kay Hunter thriller by Rachel Amphlett, I was ecstatic when I was offered an advanced copy of her second one, 'Will to Live', to read and review.
This book's cover is beautiful, intriguing and attractive, clearly illustrating the story's theme. Yes, we have trains involved in this book but also a sick mind loving nothing more than seeing helpless victims reduced to pulp on railway tracks.
As for the first book in the series, the author wastes no time in shaking up the reader with a terrifying, heart-in-mouth opening chapter. When a dog walker goes to investigate a cry for help, she's faced with a horrific scene. A man is helplessly sprawled on the train tracks, terrified and shouting for help. He's unable to get up, and from behind the wire fence that runs along the tracks, the woman is unable to do anything to save him from being crushed by the fast-approaching train right in front of her eyes.
When Kay and her team are called to the scene, evidence shows this wasn't a case of a person wanting to commit suicide and changing mind at the last moment. This was murder. Who was this poor man? What monster would do such a thing to another human being?
When another person is murdered in the same grisly way soon after, Kay is sure the killer is working through a list but in order to solve the case, she must find a link between the victims.
Apart from this baffling case, Kay finds herself battling against an unknown enemy within the force. Someone is determined to stop her from further investigating a case that had nearly resulted in her dismissal from the force. Who is this unknown person? Why are they doing this to her?
Well, once again Ms Amphlett didn't disappoint and has written another intriguing, fast-paced book that kept me on my toes and interested throughout. Although second in a series, 'Will to Live' can very well be read as a standalone.
This was the first time I've read a book where a serial killer uses trains as weapons of choice and I think this is a brilliant, original idea and a welcome departure from what we're usually used to expect in such books.
Kay is quickly becoming one of my favourite fictional characters. She's so realistic, interesting and likeable. She's a competent detective who has had her fair share of heartache. But despite this, her incessant hunger for justice keeps her going on. I like the strong camaraderie that exists between her team members. But why does the obnoxious Superintendent Larch hate Kay so much?
'Will to Live' is a hair-raising thriller that made me wince and bite my knuckles numerous times. The author's vivid descriptions give a clear sense of the surroundings, especially around the railway tracks, putting the reader right there, at the scene. But the author's words also bring to life the unspeakable horror experienced by the helpless victims. OMG! Just imagine yourself lying in the path of an oncoming high-speed train and unable to do anything about it other than close your eyes and scream! Luckily, the relaxed atmosphere at Kay's home, where she lives with her vet husband, Adam, serves as a welcome reprieve from the suspense oozing out of the rest of the book.
Amidst the investigation and all the tension and drama, the author skilfully tackles sensitive subjects like depression and suicide. As the plot thickens we're given a hint as to why the killer is doing what they're doing and even though I had my suspicions, there was no way I could have guessed the killer's identity. The author reveals it only in the last heart-pounding scene.
With 'Will to Live', the author has awarded her readers with yet another thrilling, adrenaline-pumping ride. It is a fab, engrossing book full of twists and turns and goosebump-inducing scenes. I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it. Ms Amphlett, bring on the next one!
With thanks to the author for a review copy of this book that I voluntarily accepted to read and review and to Ms Emma Mitchell for inviting me to take part in the blog tour of this book.
When did you create Kay Hunter? Where? How?
I started getting the nugget of an idea for the Kay Hunter series in March 2016. Although I've read crime thrillers for decades, I'd only written espionage thrillers until then and so I set out reading as many interviews as possible with some of my favourite authors in this genre like Peter James, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly and Val McDermid and then some writing craft articles. Quite early on, I made the decision that I didn't want my detective to be a typical run-down, solitary character. I enjoy TV series like NCIS where the emphasis is on teamwork - no one character hogs the spotlight. I also decided that because my detective had a difficult job and had already had a tough time of it that I didn't want her to have a broken home life - she needs that security when she walks through the front door after a hard day's work. The hardest part was settling on a name I'd be happy to endure through a series, so poor Kay Hunter was simply called [PROTAGONIST] in the manuscript for the first book in the series, Scared to Death, right up until the day before I sent it off to the beta readers!
What do you like most about her?
I do like that she has a sense of humour, and that she listens to those around her. I also like the fact that she stands by her beliefs and won't be swayed by her superiors if she thinks they're wrong.
What do you like least about her?
Hmm, nothing yet but it's early days for the series!
What are your plans for Kay?
Anyone that knows my Dan Taylor thrillers knows I tend to throw everything including the kitchen sink at my lead characters, so expect no less for Kay Hunter!
Did everyone like her to start with or did you have to change her in any way?
I'm really lucky in that feedback for the first in series, Scared to Death, has been phenomenal and readers do like Kay. The biggest compliment I've received, and one that made me do a happy dance in my office, was when the DC at Kent Police who's been helping me with research wrote to tell me she loved the book and, more importantly, that I'd got the police procedural stuff right and she wouldn't mind working with Kay!
Are there any similarities with anyone real?
No, not really - I don't tend to base my characters on real people, but I will notice little tics and things that I might incorporate here and there. Most of the time they'll appear as an idea in my head pre-packaged, give or take a few tweaks. Kay was one of the tougher ones as I set out knowing what I didn't want her to be like.
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.
You can keep in touch with Rachel by signing up to her mailing list via her website (http://www.rachelamphlett.com), or via Facebook (http://on.fb.me/TN7rpu) and Twitter: @RachelAmphlett