I am very happy to be sharing an extract with you today on the Blog Tour for Will To Live by Rachel Amphlett. First of all though let's take a look at the book and don't forget to enter the giveaway to win one of two ebooks.
About the book:
Book: Will to Live
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Release Date: 4th April 2017
Blog Tour: 27th March to 11th April
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.
Elsa Flanagan cursed under her breath and slapped the side of the torch against the palm of her hand.
The beam wavered before it flickered back to life and she exhaled, releasing some of the tension from her shoulders.
She’d told Dennis to change the batteries the previous evening when he’d returned from the pub, the dog carrying a faint scent of cigarette smoke from where his owner had passed the time with his friends in the small undercover shelter to the side of the fourteenth-century tavern.
He’d obviously forgotten all about the batteries after several pints of real ale, and now she was traipsing across the pitch-black field with Smokey, praying the beam held out long enough for her to let the dog have a quick trot around before she headed home for the evening.
Early spring, and the air was laden with a freshness, the countryside beginning to waken from its winter slumber.
She’d spent the afternoon in the garden, pulling out all the old and rotten vegetation, the roses receiving a vicious pruning, and the flowerbeds prepped and ready for the first burst of daffodils.
Dennis had phoned half an hour ago and said he’d be late home from the golf course. There had been a crash on the M20 where the new merging lanes, implemented the previous year, still caused grief for unsuspecting drivers.
Elsa had huffed, but knew it wasn’t his fault. They enjoyed their evening walks with the dog together, but he’d urged her to go on without him this time.
‘Goodness knows how long I’ll be,’ he’d said.
Reluctantly, she’d agreed with him, as Smokey was already pacing the hallway in anticipation.
‘Come on, then,’ she’d said, grabbing his lead from its position on the newel post, and headed out, locking the front door behind her.
There was a time when she’d have simply let the dog wait until the morning for a long walk and let him out into the garden instead, but with his advancing years she knew if she didn’t take him now he’d be unsettled all night, and she wouldn’t get any sleep.
Dennis would be too busy snoring to notice.
She’d smiled and waved at a neighbour returning from walking her Yorkshire Terrier, and then turned and followed an overgrown footpath that led to a small field.
As far as she was aware, only the neighbour used the route regularly. She and Dennis normally walked along a different path that took them past the village pub. Their suburb was far enough out of the main town to be uncrowded, and for the most part was populated by people who were retired, or whose children had left the nest long ago. She’d let the dog off his lead the moment she reached the barren field, safe in the knowledge the area was well-fenced. She trusted him to come back when called, but it was reassuring to know he couldn’t stray onto the railway line that cut through the end of the field while he was chasing rabbits.
Conscious of the darkening sky, she’d rummaged in her pocket and pulled out the small torch, and it was then she realised Dennis had forgotten to change the batteries.
Now, she wished she had taken the time to check before leaving the house.
An excited bark from Smokey jerked her back to the present. His silhouette bounded across the field beyond where she stood with the lead in her hand, a flash of white near the hedgerow beyond reflecting off the torch’s beam as a rabbit made a lucky escape.
In the distance, and still several miles away, the sound of the horn of the 5.55 from London Victoria carried on the wind. There was a time, not so long ago, when the sound acted as an alarm clock for her, a signal to switch on the oven and start preparing dinner ready for when Dennis walked through the front door, having driven from the railway station.
Now, she emitted a two-note whistle to the dog and jangled the metal clasp of his lead.
The rabbit out of reach, the dog scampered back towards her.
Tutting under her breath at the sight of his mud-covered paws, she clipped the lead to his collar and ruffled the fur between his ears.
He strained at the lead as she straightened, his head swivelling towards the railway line, and pricked his ears.
A breeze tugged at her hair, and she frowned.
‘Come on, all the rabbits are gone.’
She turned to go but the lead grew taut.
Glancing down, she saw the Border Collie staring at the tracks, his body rigid. His ears twitched, and he lifted his nose into the air before he whined and strained at the lead once more.
‘What is it?’
She felt a pang of fear. Dennis was always telling her not to walk the dog over the field by herself. “You’re too trusting”, he said. “It’s not like the old days”, he said. “Take him around the block instead”.
She waved the torch in a wide circle, the faint beam falling on a pair of rabbits that turned and fled as the light fell upon them.
‘It’s only rabbits, Smokey,’ she scolded, while trying to ignore the tremor in her voice. ‘Come—’
The wind brushed her cheek, and she heard it then.
A faint voice, male.
Smokey whined again before he growled, a rumble that started in his throat and ended in a low bark.
She heard the tremble in her voice, and patted the pockets of her jacket, her heart racing.
She’d left her mobile phone on the kitchen counter in her haste to walk the dog before it grew too dark to navigate the field.
She took a step back and tugged on the lead.
‘Smokey. Come on.’
He whined again, and instead of following her, pulled forward.
She stumbled, managed to regain her balance at the last moment, and inhaled sharply.
Elsa craned her neck, trying to see beyond the farthest reaches of the torch beam.
The voice appeared to be coming from the direction of the railway line.
She took a few steps forward and, emboldened, the dog took up the slack and pulled once more.
A moment’s pause, then—
‘Help! Please – somebody help me!’
Her heart hammering, Elsa began to hurry across the uneven ground, and cried out as her ankle turned. She kept her balance, ignored the painful twinge from her arthritic hip, and made her way down the gentle slope towards the tracks.
A tangle of vines covered a wire mesh fence that had been erected between the field and the railway, and she paced beside it until she found an area that was less densely covered in vegetation.
She couldn’t climb the fence, not with her hip, and with her short stature, the top of it reached a half head above her.
‘Please, help me – I can’t move!’
She waved her torch in the direction of the voice, her breath escaping her lips in short bursts, until the beam fell upon a length of material that lay across the tracks.
She blinked, and then the material moved.
‘The train’s coming! Help me!’
Elsa cried out, and covered her mouth with her hand, before dropping the torch. Close up, she could still make out the wriggling form.
A rumble in the ground sent a small shockwave up her legs, and her head jerked to the right.
Smokey began to bark, excited by the roar of the approaching train, and the man’s terrified screams.
‘Oh God, oh God.’
Elsa wrapped her fingers around the mesh of the metal fencing and tried to prise it from the post, but it wouldn’t yield. Her breath escaped in short, panicked gasps as she rattled the wire mesh in an attempt to find a weak point, a way through.
The man continued to squirm, his body against the nearest rail, and his head furthest away from her.
‘Get up, get up!’ she urged. ‘The train’s coming!’
Why isn’t he moving?
Only metres away from where she stood, the rails began their familiar song as the weight of the train’s wheels bore down, coming closer.
The horn sounded once more.
The man began to scream, begging her to hurry, to stop the train, to help him, but the wire refused to yield under her touch.
The train rounded the corner, its light bearing down on her, and she lifted her gaze to the rails.
The man had managed to raise his head, and was staring at her, terrified.
The train’s brakes squealed as the headlights picked out the form in its path, but it wasn’t going to stop in time. It was simply too heavy and going too fast.
Elsa screwed up her eyes in a vain attempt to shut out the vision before her, a moment too late.
The man’s screams were drowned out by a sickening crunch, blood exploding across the front of the locomotive.
The wheels screeched against the rails as the train shuddered to a halt, the ensuing silence only broken by the hiss of air brakes.
The dog whined once before pushing its trembling body against her legs, and then Elsa turned and vomited into the undergrowth.
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, or via Facebook and Twitter: @RachelAmphlett
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Prize = one of two ebooks: