Book Review: One to Watch by Rachel Amphlett

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Title: One to Watch
Series: A Detective Kay Hunter Novel #3
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Narrator: Alison Campbell
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Publication Date: October 3, 2017

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Purchase Links:
The Author // Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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One to Watch
A Detective Kay Hunter Novel #3
Rachel Amphlett
Narrated by Alison Campbell
Saxon Publishing, October 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the publisher—

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.

At a large country estate in Kent, a teenaged girl is murdered at a private party and Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked at the brutality of the crime and at the reactions of the people involved. Sophie was the daughter of a snooty British aristocrat and her more mild-mannered husband and the party was intended to celebrate a rather odd ceremony for Sophie, one of purity. Some of the tenets of this purity pledge carried their own very creepy tones, not least of which is the idea that the teen girl must be chaste until marriage but the teen boy is forgiven all his behavior once they marry.

This particular crime is a lot more difficult to investigate than some because of the roadblocks put in the team’s way due to the wealth and position of the various parties. DI Sharp assigns Kay and Barnes to follow certain leads while other detectives look into different aspects of the murder but each path brings them to confusing tangents that introduce ever more urgent questions. All the while, DCI Larch seems to be bent on protecting the sensibilities of Sophie’s family as well as another family whose American money apparently make them off limits.

It soon becomes obvious that this is no “routine” killing and an ultra-conservative religious program is in the mix along with greed on all sides while two very different young men are devastated by Sophie’s death…or are they? Could a major secret have been the impetus for the crime and just who was Sophie, anyway? Meanwhile, Kay is still trying to conduct her own investigation into why someone wants to destroy her career and she and her husband, Adam, begin to see that this could ultimately be much more dangerous than they initially thought.

All the characters I’ve come to like so much, and even one or two I don’t like so much, are back in this series entry and I really enjoyed the time I spent with them and the investigative efforts needed to solve this awful murder, sunk in a bog of corruption that is as unpleasant and distasteful as can be.

Once again, narrator Alison Campbell pulled me in with her outstanding work and she is fast becoming one of my favorite audiobook readers. It doesn’t hurt that she had such a good story to work with and the entire series so far has kept me riveted. For anyone looking for a British police procedural series on audio, you cannot do better than this one 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2018.

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About the Author

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrator

I’m a Bristol-based actress who trained at Bretton Hall and the University of Leeds. I’ve been involved with a huge range of projects and love a bit of variety of life!

I’m lucky to be a verstile performer – think everything  from Shakespeare, to  interactive theatre, comedy, solo shows and a whole host of different voice work.

I’m experienced in devising, improvisation, multi-roleing, immersive theatre and voice acting,

I have a lot of fun performing across the UK and round the world with the award-winning Natural Theatre, specialising in immersive, interactive theatre in surprising places.

I also teach youth theatre, facilitate theatre workshops and am experienced in corporate roleplay and presenting.

I’m represented by Louise Alexander at BAM Associates

Website

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble

It Wasn't Always Like ThisIt Wasn’t Always Like This
Joy Preble
Soho Teen, May 2016
ISBN 978-1-61695-588-5
Hardcover

Before I even begin to address what this book is about, I must mention how it is presented.  Emma shares her saga by keeping the reader with her for the present and reminiscing about the past.  As a person who has been keeping secrets for a century or so, the deliberation and consideration with what and how much she reveals makes her seem like an unreliable narrator.  An added layer of intrigue.

On the one hand, this ferociously independent young woman seems a bit self-absorbed,  possibly paranoid.  On the other, as Steve Earle says, “Just ‘cause you ain’t paranoid, it don’t mean they ain’t out to get ya’ !”

“Emma O’Neill was like a lightning rod for weirdness, for the dark things that most people never saw.”

Initially, Emma seemed aloof….almost unapproachable.  Perhaps, partly because of the unreliable narrator aspect, but more than that, an underlying, inexplicable anger-angst undertone emanated. Peculiar for a main character; perfect for this story.  Not only does it subtly, yet surely, secure “Present-Day-Emma” and “Past-Emma” in the reader’s mind allowing the story to flow smoothly; but it allows the reader to truly develop an understanding of why “Present-Day-Emma” is precisely the person she is.  Pure genius, Ms. Preble.

Although Emma alone could carry this narrative; the love of her life, Charlie, also forever seventeen, softens her edges.  With the good, comes the bad and Kingsley Lloyd, sometimes-successful con-man-at-best and Glen Walters, leader of the Church of Light, could give the Boogeyman the creeps.  Captivating characters tangled in a string of murders stretching out over the past century create a quick and compelling read.

Instead of attempting to articulate what the book is about, I’ll just put this out there:

The searchers for The Fountain of Youth seem to be seeking their own eternal life. 

What if the families who drank from The Fountain thought they were drinking potential polio prevention?

Reviewed by jv poore, May 2016.

Book Reviews: The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg, The Burning Lake by Brent Ghelfi, Buried Prey by John Sandford, and A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block

The Preacher
Camilla Lackberg
Translated by Steven T. Murray
Pegasus Books, May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60598-173-4
Hardcover

This Swedish author has written seven novels, of which this is the second to be published in the United States.  The first, The Ice Princess, was widely accepted as on a par with the best of the recent Scandinavian noir novels.  As with that debut book, this novel also is set in the small fishing village of  Fjallbacka and is a police procedural that seems to drag until the miracle of science, rather than good old-fashioned footwork, brings it to a conclusion.

The plot is relatively simple:  A body is discovered, with the remains of two skeletons over 24 years old underneath.  It’s up to the local police, led by detective Patrik Hedstrom, to conduct the investigation.  Customarily, they usually look into bicycle thefts. Then two more women go missing, increasing the pressure.  Attention centers on one family, the offspring of a man known to all as the Preacher:  misfits, religious fanatics and criminals.

The length of the novel seems overly long, and probably could have used some judicious editing.  And the translation does not seem to be up to the level of The Ice Princess.  Nevertheless, the story is clever, and the plot twists, which in a sense were somewhat obvious, keep the reader moving ahead.  Despite these misgivings, the book is an enjoyable read, and one hopes for US editions of the author’s other five novels. Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2011.

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The Burning Lake
Brent Ghelfi
Poisoned Pen Press, May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59058-925-0
Hardcover

Unlike the previous three novels in the Volk series, this story is a little different.  It brings Volk into a sort of international plot involving the United States, France and Russia seeking to circumvent and hide the errors and dangers in atomic plants and spent fuel.  What brings Russian agent Alexei Volkovoy into the picture is the murder of a sometime girlfriend, a talented and courageous journalist, known professionally as Kato, who had uncovered two stories: one involving a wide area of radioactive contamination in Russia and an attempt to ship spent fuel from America to that location.

When Volk learns of Kato’s death, he remembers a notebook she had given him for safekeeping.  Upon reading her notes, Volk embarks on a trail to finish her work, and along the way, avenge her death by finding and killing her murderers.  The journey takes him to the radioactive village of Merlino and the burning lake, the dumping ground of spent fuel from a nearby facility, and then to Las Vegas and Mexico.

The author’s ability to capture contemporary Russia and its politicians, such as Putin, is impressive, as is his ability to cram into few pages the depths and insights of the subject of the dangers of atomic waste.  Written with tight prose, this fourth Volk novel is, perhaps, the most interesting and satisfying of the series, and is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2011.


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Buried Prey
John Sanford
Putnam, May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-399-15738-7
Hardcover

Discovery of the bodies of two young girls, murdered 25 years earlier, sets the stage for a look at the popular protagonist, Lucas Davenport, both as a rookie patrolman and later as the seasoned investigator of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension a quarter of a century later. Soon after joining the Minneapolis police department, Lucas worked with the Intelligence Division on a couple of murder investigations, especially the case of the two young Jones Girls.

He became so involved in the work that he solved one of them, and came close to discovering the identity of the culprit in the girls’ slaying.  The facts continued to haunt him and 25 years later, when the bodies are found during the excavation at a construction site, he pursues finding the killer with an obsession, using all his training and intelligence (and a lot of luck) in the chase.

The depth of the plot and taut writing give the reader incentive to keep turning pages.  The dialogue is sharp and the pace well-measured. Character development is extremely effective.  Another welcome addition to the series, and recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2011.

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A Drop of the Hard Stuff
Lawrence Block
Mulholland Books, May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-12733-2
Hardcover

The Alcoholics Anonymous program is designed to provide sustenance and guidance to those seeking to remain sober.  Its 12-Step program is meant to provide them with a moral roadmap to atone for past abuse, mistakes and sins.  In this early-days Matthew Scudder novel, it instead leads to a series of murders.

An alcoholic himself, Matthews enters AA in an effort to stay away from alcohol, which had basically ruined his life.  Soon he meets Jack Ellery, another AA member with whom he grew up in The Bronx.  While Matthew became a cop, Jack went the other way, living a life of crime. Now he is trying to take the seventh and eighth steps of the Program by making amends.  The effort gets him murdered, shot in the head and mouth, presumably by someone who is afraid Jack’s endeavors would expose the killer for an act done in the past.  Jack’s sponsor retains Matthew to look into some of the people Jack went to in his attempts to make amends, if only to eliminate the innocent.

The novel is a look into not only a murder investigation, but other things as well: Matthew’s development as a sober person; love; loss; nostalgia; and most importantly, human relationships.  Written with a fine eye for dialog and penetrating insight into the characters, the book is an excellent example of why the Matthew Scudder series is so highly regarded, and it is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2011.