#blogtour – Will to Live by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett @emmamitchellfpr #extract #giveaway
I’m very excited to be on the blog tour today for Will to Live by Rachel Amphlett, especially as it’s published today! Happy Publication Day, Rachel. This is what it’s all about:
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…
If you like Angela Marsons, Peter James and Robert Bryndza, discover the latest addition to Rachel Amphlett’s new series today
Doesn’t it sound great? It’s been getting rave reviews pre-publication and I have a fabulous extract to share with you from chapter two. It’s long but well worth the read.
Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter pulled the car in behind a white four-wheel drive vehicle emblazoned with the British Transport Police logos across its paintwork, and swallowed.
A death on a railway was never easy to deal with, and she’d only had to attend a scene such as this once before in her career – a long time ago, when she was still a police constable.
It was something she’d hoped she wouldn’t have to repeat.
The phone call had come in as the team were starting to leave for the day, with a request from those at the scene to have two detectives attend. Details were scant, but the transport police had been at the scene for the past forty minutes, and the railway owners were keen to reopen the line as soon as possible.
‘Rush hour. Inconsiderate bastard,’ one of the older detectives had muttered. ‘Glad it’s you, not me.’
Now, Kay turned to the woman in the passenger seat next to her.
Detective Constable Carys Miles stared wide-eyed through the windscreen, her usually pale face a deathly shade of white.
‘Think yourself lucky – you’re not the one who has to clear this up.’
‘That doesn’t help.’
‘Come on. Let’s go.’
A motley collection of ambulances, buses and police vehicles were parked either side of the narrow country road. A uniformed officer stood at an open gate set within a hedgerow, directing attending services towards an unpaved track that led away from the lane and across a field. Floodlights created a pool of light the length of it, and as Kay followed the path with her eyes, she saw the train and its eight carriages of trapped commuters on the railway beyond.
‘Evening, Graham,’ said Kay, as she approached.
‘Who’s in charge of the scene?’
The constable pointed across to the small crowd gathered at the bottom of the field. ‘Dave Walker, British Transport Police. He’s the one who requested we attend.’
‘Okay. Let’s go see what he’s got.’
Kay led the way along the track, careful to avoid the muddier parts of the field.
‘This bloody railway,’ she muttered under her breath. ‘The fencing was supposed to stop this sort of thing happening.’
‘Is it common here?’ asked Carys, as she hurried to keep up.
‘Put it this way, the locals called it the “Suicide Mile” for years. It calmed down for a bit once the fencing went up eighteen months ago, but I guess if someone’s determined to end their life—’
‘There has to be a better way to go.’
‘You’d think so, right?’
A man broke away from the group of police officers as they approached, his face shadowed by the angle of the floodlights.
‘Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter?’
He held out his hand. ‘Sergeant Dave Walker.’
Kay introduced Carys, and then gestured towards the track. ‘Another suicide?’
‘We’re not sure, and that’s why you’re here. According to an eyewitness, the victim tried to change his mind at the last minute.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘She’s with one of your constables at the moment, giving a statement.’ He jabbed his thumb over his shoulder. ‘Pretty shaken up, as you can imagine. Apparently, she was out walking her dog when she heard a man’s voice. She wandered down here to investigate, and said he was calling out to her for help. She couldn’t get over the fence to reach him in time.’
Kay glanced over her shoulder as one of the attending ambulances started to drive away across the field, bumping and jerking over the uneven ground towards a gate that had been opened on the far side.
‘They didn’t hang around to declare life extinct?’
‘No need.’ He pointed to a small, white tent that had been erected the other side of the fence amongst the undergrowth some metres away from the front of the train. ‘His head’s over there.’
Carys emitted a groan and turned away.
‘We’re waiting for confirmation from the control centre that the line’s safe and no locomotives are shunting between stations, and then we’ll start to get these people off the train and onto the buses. All other passenger trains have been stopped at stations either side of our location, so there are buses running between Maidstone and Tonbridge. It’s a mess.’
‘How long do you think it’ll be before you get your confirmation we’re good to go?’
‘Should be within the next fifteen minutes.’
‘Okay, thanks. We’ll go have a chat with the witness ourselves in the meantime.’
Kay walked side by side with Carys as they approached one of the patrol vehicles, the back door open. Inside, the figure of a diminutive, older woman sat huddled on the back seat, her eyes wide as she spoke to the police officer standing beside the vehicle, notebook in hand.
A Border Collie sat at her feet, his ears attentive as she spoke, but sensed the two detectives approaching and twisted round to meet them, straining at his lead.
Kay bent down to pat the dog on the head, then straightened and waited while the uniformed officer introduced them to Elsa Flanagan.
‘I’ve finished taking Mrs Flanagan’s initial statement,’ she said. ‘I’ll have it on your desk by the morning. Mrs Flanagan’s husband is on his way to collect her. He should be here soon.’
‘Thank you,’ said Kay, as she turned her attention to the older woman and crouched down. ‘Mrs Flanagan, I realise that you’ve spent time with my colleague here going over the events of this evening, but would you mind telling me what happened?’
The woman exhaled, a shaking breath that spoke volumes, and pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders.
‘It was terrible,’ she said. ‘I had no idea there was someone down here. I was walking Smokey, and he was busy chasing rabbits, and then when I called him, he came running. It wasn’t until I’d put his lead on that he heard something. I thought he was being difficult, but then I heard a voice. Down here.’
‘Where were you when you first heard the voice?’
‘There. About halfway up the field, where that dip in the landscape is. See it?’
Kay shielded her eyes from the bright floodlights, and picked out the area the woman indicated on the fringes of the taped-off area. ‘Yes.’
‘There’s a footpath just beyond. Leads back to the road where we live. There’s only us and another woman who use it to walk our dogs.’
‘You didn’t see anyone else when you set out?’
‘Only the woman who was out walking before me. She’s got a Yorkshire Terrier.’
Kay glanced at the police officer, who nodded. ‘We’ve got a note of the neighbour’s details,’ she said. ‘PC West left twenty minutes ago to go and speak to her.’
‘Thanks.’ Kay turned her attention back to Elsa. ‘What happened, after you first heard the man’s voice?’
‘I thought it was a mugger or someone. Dennis is always telling me not to come down here on my own. Prefers me to walk Smokey around the block if he’s not back to walk with me.’ She leaned forward and ruffled the dog’s ears. ‘But Smokey likes it down here.’
Kay waited. The witness was processing her memories of the accident, and she had no wish to rush her. The poor woman was traumatised enough as it was.
Elsa sighed and sat back on the passenger seat, her eyes downcast. ‘Smokey wouldn’t budge. Kept pulling on the lead, as if he knew something was wrong. Then I heard it. He called out. “Help me”, he said. At first, I didn’t know where the voice was coming from, but then he called out again and I realised the voice was coming from down here, near the railway line.’ She brought a shaking hand to her mouth. ‘I heard the train horn, then. You can hear it as it leaves East Malling station if the wind’s in the right direction. I ran, well as fast as I could, to the bottom of the field, where the fence is. I couldn’t see anything at first, and kept shining the torch around, but then he moved.’
‘Where was he, exactly?’
‘Across the tracks, at an angle. His feet were nearest to me, and his head was on the other side.’
‘Okay. Go on.’
‘I couldn’t get over the fence. I have arthritis in my hip, and the fence was too high. I tried to pull the mesh, to loosen it, but I couldn’t. The train was getting closer, and all the time, he’s crying out for help. Then the train came round the corner. I don’t know – I suppose by then the driver could see him because the headlight nearly blinded me, but he couldn’t stop. He didn’t stop—’
Kay placed her hand on the woman’s knee. ‘Thank you, Elsa.’
‘Sarge? Looks like Mr Flanagan is here.’
Kay straightened at Carys’s voice, and came face to face with a man in his seventies, his face ashen.
The woman thrust the blanket aside as the dog spun round and launched himself at the man. The woman fell into the man’s arms, and his eyes met Kay’s.
‘Can I take her home now?’
‘Yes.’ Kay handed one of her business cards to the couple. ‘Thank you, Mrs Flanagan. We’ll be in touch over the next day or so, but please – if you need to talk to someone, please seek help. You’ve witnessed a very traumatic event, and these things take time.’
‘Thank you, Detective.’
Kay watched as the older couple moved towards the floodlit track and then turned as Sergeant Walker approached.
‘We’ve got the all clear,’ he said. ‘I’ll show you what we’ve got.’
Kay and Carys followed him as he led the way towards a gap that had been severed in the fence line to allow the emergency services and investigating teams to access the railway tracks.
A steady stream of disgruntled passengers was being discharged from the carriage at the far end, away from the carnage at the front of the train.
‘Where’s the driver?’ she asked as she pulled on the coveralls and plastic booties that were handed to her.
‘Giving his statement to one of my colleagues,’ he said. ‘We’ll have a copy of that over to you as soon as possible.’
Kay acknowledged Carys’s murmured comment as they approached the front of the train.
Blood spatter covered the front wheels, a tangled mess of clothing and limbs strewn underneath.
Kay checked over her shoulder.
The first responders had erected shields at the start of the carriages, so none of the passengers would be able to see what was going on at the business end of the investigation.
‘Harriet’s here,’ said Carys.
Kay greeted the head of the Crime Scene Investigation team and explained the known facts while the woman pulled a set of protective coveralls over her own clothes and tied her hair back.
An astute and respected CSI, Harriet Baker had studied at Oxford before taking up residence in the Kent county town with her sales manager husband and had worked with Kay on a number of cases.
Her face grim, she gestured to the photographer that joined her.
‘If we’re all ready, let’s take a quick look, and then I’m locking down this crime scene for processing. I’d prefer it if only one of you accompanied us,’ she said to Kay.
Kay took one look at Carys’s pale face and wide eyes and knew she’d have to go.
‘Makes sense. Carys – if you could wait here, and then liaise with Harriet’s team for the rest of this evening?’
‘Yes, Sarge,’ said the detective constable, the relief in her voice palpable before she scurried away.
‘Someone changing their mind about committing suicide isn’t unusual,’ said Kay. ‘So, what do you need us for?’
Walker beckoned to her and the CSI and then made his way to the rear of the locomotive via a demarcated path that had been erected above the troughing route caused by the ballast, the photographer trailing in their wake. He crouched beside the wheels and shone his torch onto the tracks. ‘It wasn’t suicide.’
Kay gulped at the mess, but tried to focus on the task at hand. ‘What am I looking for?’
In reply, Walker wiggled the torch beam across the far rail.
‘There. What’s left of his ankles is tied to the tracks.’
Ooh, doesn’t that sound brilliant? If all that has piqued your interest then you can buy the book here:
And don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour:
Many thanks to Emma the Little Bookworm for the place on the blog tour.
There’s also a launch party on Facebook tonight – come and join in the fun and help Rachel celebrate.
And even more excitement for you. There is a giveaway to win one of two ebooks.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author bio: 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