Sunday, 25 March 2012

Simon Beckett

Simon Beckett

Public relations exec Kate Powell loves her business, but has not been as lucky in love. Her last relationship, which ended three years ago, turned her off the idea of marriage. Yet she wants to have a child, and can't bear the thought of its father being an anonymous donor. After she places an ad in various professional journals, hoping to meet a suitable donor who will respect her autonomy in this most personal of matters, her life will become a nightmare.

Where's There's Smoke is one of Beckett's first published thrillers, written before he became interested in forensics. Though published in 1998, it's main themes, which include abortion, single parenthood, stalking, and mental illness, are no less topical today. Good early effort.

"Whispers of the Dead" is sinister and unnerving. There are enough gory scenes to turn the stomach of all but the most hardened reader, but the fascinating forensic details almost make it all worthwhile. Beckett describes the dead bodies, and there are quite a few of them, in such excruciating detail that we can almost smell the rotting flesh and visualize the maggots feeding on the corpses. Although the psychopath is another one of those weirdoes that we encounter time and again in novels of this type, his methods and motive are unique, and the author springs a number of surprises on us as the story progresses. This is an edgy and nightmarish thriller in which Beckett raises the suspense to an almost unbearable level before concluding with an explosive and violent finale. After his traumatic ordeal in Tennessee, Dr. David Hunter would do well to seek treatment from the best therapist in London.

"Written in Bone" follows the conventions of a "closed island" mystery. The hero is left to his own devices, trying to maintain control of a rapidly deteriorating situation. Not only is it impossible for Hunter to get outside help, but the weather is so wretched that it is difficult to preserve the remains for examination. There is no well-equipped morgue or laboratory on Runa, and Hunter is reduced to using freezer bags for storage of body parts. In spite of the primitive conditions that prevail, Hunter is resourceful enough to draw logical conclusions from the available evidence

 The Chemistry of Death
I (the reviewer) read this novel in two sittings, and a number of the characters are going to occupy my consciousness for a while. This novel is full of page turning twists and turns. It is also full of detail which, while it may be too much for some, adds to the complexity of solving the case and increases the tension in the tale. I (not me but the person who wrote this review) also enjoyed `Written in Bone' and will be looking for more from this author.

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