Author: Rachel Amphlett
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
The van pulls up alongside you, but you keep walking, head down, pretending not to notice. Suddenly it swerves, pulling up in front of you. Its back doors are flung open and out jumps….a blurb:
‘”If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”
When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.
But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.
When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.
With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.
For the killer, the game has only just begun…’
I had been hearing only good things about Rachel Amphlett’s Detective Kay Hunter series and so I was chuffed to tiny pieces when she contacted me and offered to send me her books. Rachel wasn’t fussed about a review; she just loves us bloggers and sent them purely out of kindness, but, I absolutely loved this book so she’s getting a review anyway 😉
Scared To Death features Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter, a woman struggling to climb to the top of her career ladder due to a contentious Professional Standards inquiry after some vital evidence goes missing in a previous case. Despite coming out of the investigation clean, she has lost the confidence of her many of her colleagues, not least her boss, DCI Angus Larch. Boy, does he not like her. Frankly the man is a grade A tit, who clearly has it in for Kay, but I’ve no doubt there is more to him than initially meets the eye which will be revealed in subsequent books. As for now he hampers Kay in any way he can, belittling her in front of her immediate superior, DI Devon Sharp, and questioning her abilities and intuition. She does have friends though, people on her side: the aforementioned DI Sharp, DC Ian Barnes and others in her team (whose names have totally slipped my mind and I can’t be bothered to look up right now. You’ll just have to read the book for yourselves ;)). Kay is still coming to terms with the PS investigation and is also recovering from personal tragedy, so immersing herself into her work is a good distraction. Which is just as well really as this case is a bitch.
I think we, as readers, often wonder where the hell these authors get the ideas for their murders and murderers from. You look at a photo of Rachel, she’s lovely (don’t take my word for it, there’s one at the end of this review), then you read this book and you immediately delete all media of her from your computer because this woman is one twisted puppy and you fear she will use the tracking cookies to hunt you down and do Bad Things to you! Obviously I jest, but it’s true, no? The last time I felt physically sick at a fictional killer was in Jacqueline Chadwick’s In The Still. I seriously hope that these two don’t get to together and write a book! Bah, who am I kidding? It would be totes brilliant if they did. Unpublishable, but brilliant. Anyhoo, in Scared To Death, Rachel manages to create a truly creepy and disgustingly disturbed killer. A man who kills purely for pleasure and gets a real let’s-not-go-there-kick out of it. Plus, he might not be the only one. (knowing wink – read the book).
This is one of those books where we know who the killer is from the get go. The beauty of these situations is that we get to witness the cat and mouse chase between the killer and the police, enjoying the tension as one wrong foots the other and we know things that the cops don’t. There are still twists and surprises in the story, but I enjoy getting to know the killer and what he is thinking along the way. We get to understand a little of his background, if not his motivations for being such a sick bastard. And he is. Did I mention that? Good. There is plenty of tension in this book; many a FFS moment, and there are some genuinely breathless moments.
I have only one minor gripe with this book: Rachel lives in Brisbane, Australia, and therefore in my naivety I was fully expecting to be whisked away to Oz, to read about policing the Australian way, mentally sunning myself in Brisbane. So imagine my surprise when it turns out we’re in Maidstone. In Kent. In Blighty. Pish and indeed posh. And it was bloody raining in the book. Typical 😉
I’m proper chuffed that I’ve come into this series late as it means that I have 4 more Kay Hunter books to enjoy without having to wait for them to be published. Go me! There are story elements in here that are clearly going to play out in the long term over the series. Scared To Death is a fantastic, confident start to a series with wonderful writing and a fantastic cast of characters, that, if this opener is anything to go by, I just know I’m going to love.