Title: The Chemistry of Death
Author: Simon Beckett
Release Date: September 26, 2006
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
After a horrible accident that claims the lives of his wife and daughter, Dr. David Hunter moves to the small town of Manham in order to become a GP. He wants to leave his past behind, to forget what happened. But when a body is found and the police discover that Hunter used to be one of the top forensic anthropologists in the country, they push him into putting his old skills to use again.
I’m always on the prowl for good mysteries, so when I saw a review of The Chemistry of Death somewhere around the blogosphere, I decided I’d check it out from the library. I was a little hesitant to start it because I’m easily grossed out, and I know that forensic anthropology is not for the faint of heart, but it sounded like a really interesting novel and worth a little squeamishness.
The Chemistry of Death was an absolutely fascinating novel. I was surprised to discover that it actually wasn’t that gross. There’s definitely some graphic descriptions, but it’s all clinical enough that it didn’t really bother me. I found what Dr. Hunter did really interesting, and it whetted my appetite for more novels on forensic anthropology.
The mystery in this novel was also very well done. I really did not suspect the culprit, and the twist at the end was amazing. Beckett is a very talented writer, and he develops Dr. Hunter very well. I liked how Hunter was trying to move on with his life, to get past what happened but was unable to. It’s only after he confronted his former profession that he started the acceptance phase. Running away only made the problem worse.
I am thrilled that The Chemistry of Death is the first in a series – I’ve already put the second novel, Written in Bone, on hold at the library. Beckett has written a fascinating character with an intriguing profession. Combine that with a suspenseful, well-written mystery? I can’t recommend this book highly enough.