Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Chemistry of Death – Simon Beckett

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

Whilst reading the last few books I realised that I’d overdosed on the psychological thriller genre (again) and decided to pick a straightforward crime fiction novel instead. Surprisingly, I had just the one on the TBR with The Chemistry of Death having been one of the 20 Books of Summer that I didn’t quite get to.

Following the tragic death of his wife and daughter David Hunter lands in a remote village of Manham in Norfolk as a partner to the resident doctor. The villagers are, as those in tight-knit communities tend to be, slow to take to him and still prefer Doctor Henry Maitland to tend to their ills, despite the fact that he has been badly disabled by a car accident. The two doctors initially share the house as well as the surgery but as David Hunter is slowly tolerated, if not accepted, he decides to put down roots and moves to a nearby house. All is going tolerably well, he drinks in the local pub and makes light conversation with some of the locals and is even invited to a barbeque until the body of a woman is found in the woods. The outsiders are under suspicion!

What the locals don’t know is that Dr David Hunter is a forensic anthropologist who has actually visited the body farm in the US – something I learnt about in for the first time through another crime fiction novel. When the police talk to him regarding their suspicions about his past he is forced to reveal that he is one of the few in the country. It isn’t long before he is asked to carry out his specialism on the crime committed, something our protagonist is keen to avoid having shunned the limelight and the associated dead bodies following the tragedy in his personal life.

Soon more bodies are found but The Chemistry of Death somehow raises the bar beyond the horrors of the crimes committed, although I don’t recommend this for the squeamish, because of the exceptional quality of the writing by the author. Not only is this superbly plotted with a classic whodunit at the heart of the novel, the prose seems to effortlessly conjure up the village, its inhabitants and their interactions. It is soon clear everything is not as it first appeared and not only does Simon Beckett throw in enough red herrings to keep the reader on their toes, he keeps it real and no major revelations made that don’t have the clues to back them up. A must in my opinion for a successful and more importantly satisfactory crime novel.

With David Hunter providing the narration in his calm manner, by which I mean he fully captures the horror of the murders but still carries out his duties both as a doctor and a forensic anthropologist with exceptional care, we get his pitch perfect tone to walk us through the events as they unfold. What a joy to have a tale told in such a straightforward way with no writer’s ‘tricks’ to keep us on the edge of our seats, there is no need when the quality of the prose is as good as this is.

I have read one of Simon Beckett’s standalone novels, Stone Bruises, which I also thoroughly enjoyed and I will definitely be catching up with the next book in the David Hunter series Written in Bone, before too long.

First Published UK: 1 March 2006
Publisher: Bantam Press
No of Pages: 336
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 28)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I have just finished The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett which is a good old fashioned police procedural, the only caution being is not to read the early chapters of this if you suffer from queasiness!

The Chemistry Of Death

Blurb

Finding refuge in a quiet rural backwater, Dr David Hunter hoped he might at last have put the past behind him. But then they found what was left of Sally Palmer…
It isn’t just that she was a friend that disturbs him. Once he’d been a high-profile forensic anthropologist and all too familiar with the many faces of death, before tragedy made him abandon this previous life. Now the police want his help. But to become involved will stir up memories he’s long tried to forget. Then a second woman disappears, plunging the close-knit community into a maelstrom of fear and paranoia. And no one, not even Hunter, is exempt from suspicion. Amazon

I am now reading The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola which I’ve seen stunning reviews for so I’m delighted it has finally reached the top of my pile. This book seems to have it all, a historical crime for fans of Sarah Waters and a book full of secrets and hidden desires!

The unseeing

Blurb

Set in London in 1837, Anna Mazzola’s THE UNSEEING is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Perfect for any reader of Sarah Waters or Antonia Hodgson.

After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death? Amazon

Next up I plan to read Pariah by David Jackson, regular followers of this blog will know how impressed I was with the first in a new series by this author; A Tapping at my Door, and so now I’m starting with book one of The Detective Callum Doyle Series.

Pariah

Blurb

Where can you turn when your very presence brings death to those around you?

That’s the question Detective Callum Doyle is about to face. It begins with the calculated murder of his partner on a vacant lot. But more death is to follow, and when the chilling anonymous messages arrive, Doyle is left in no doubt that this is about him.

You cannot go near your friends, your colleagues, or even your family. Because if you do… they will be killed.

To save others, Doyle is forced to cut himself off from society. But with the investigation getting nowhere and his isolation becoming unbearable, Doyle has to ask himself how much he’s willing to sacrifice to get his life back. Amazon

Have you read any of these? Do you want to?

Let me know what you are reading this week by adding your comments or leaving your link below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (August 17)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I have just started reading The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah which is book 10 in the Culver Valley Crime series

The Narrow Bed

Blurb

What if having a best friend was the most dangerous thing you could do?

A killer that the police are calling ‘Billy Dead Mates’ is murdering pairs of best friends, one by one.
Before they die, each victim is given a small white book…
For months, detectives have failed to catch Billy, or work out what the white books mean. And then a woman, scared by what she’s seen on the news, comes forward.
Stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck has one of Billy’s peculiar little books. A stranger gave it to her at a gig she did a year ago. Was he Billy, and does he want to kill her? Kim has no friends and trusts no one, so how – and why – could she possibly be Billy Dead Mates’ next target? Amazon

I have just finished The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl

You will find the synopsis and an excerpt in yesterday’s post.

Next up I plan to read The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett, another choice from my 20 Books of Summer challenge.

The Chemistry Of Death

Blurb

Three years ago, David Hunter moved to rural Norfolk to escape his life in London, his gritty work in forensics, and a tragedy that nearly destroyed him. Working as a simple country doctor, seeing his lost wife and daughter only in his dreams, David struggles to remain uninvolved when the corpse of a woman is found in the woods, a macabre sign from her killer decorating her body. In one horrifying instant, the quiet summer countryside that had been David’s refuge has turned malevolent—and suddenly there is no place to hide.
The village of Manham is tight-knit, far from the beaten path. As a newcomer, Dr. Hunter is immediately a suspect. Once an expert in analyzing human remains, he reluctantly joins the police investigation—and when another woman disappears, it soon becomes personal. Because this time she is someone David knows, someone who has managed to penetrate the icy barrier around his heart. With a killer’s bizarre and twisted methods screaming out to him, with a brooding countryside beset with suspicion, David can feel the darkness gathering around him. For as the clock ticks down on a young woman’s life, David must follow a macabre trail of clues—all the way to its final, horrifying conclusion. Amazon

What are you reading this week? Do share!

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016

20 Books of Summer 2016! Part II #20booksofsummer

20 Books of Summer 2016

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2016 and running until 5 September 2016, and I’ve decided to join her.

As I’m competitive I signed up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own before the end of the challenge. I’m on book nine at the moment (although only up to review number five) and as I only chose the first ten books at the start, I promised I’d add the second set half way through the challenge – so here we are books eleven to twenty!

Books 11 to 20 Summer 2016

The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah

The Twins by Saskia Sarginson

They Did It With Love by Kate Morgenroth

Standing In The Shadows by Jon Stasiak

Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Tea by the Nursery Fire by Noel Streatfeild

The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I have been joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer. Each of my posts for this challenge have the logo and the number of the book attached.

Like last year there is a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted.

So what do you think of the second half of my choices? Do you have any suggestions on where I should start or perhaps you think some of these need to be put back on the shelf and forgotten about? All comments welcomed!

Posted in Books I want to Read

Book Sales are Dangerous for Addicts

Yesterday it was our local Guide Dogs For The Blind paperback book sale which is a charity which I support by going to each of their bi-annual events. This year was no different so off we went to St Ouens (pronounced Wans) Parish Hall to see what we could find.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Not forgetting that I made a pledge not so very long ago  to reduce those books I own on my TBR to a more manageable level, (actually this post was done less than a month ago), I only took one bag and was really there to browse and maybe pick up one or two books…. it didn’t work, I started off well but it soon descended into chaos as I picked the below stash…

Books GDFB
An absolute bargain!

Out of these The Chemistry of Death has been on my wishlist since I read the powerful Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett as has The Stranger House a standalone novel by the wonderful late Reginald Hill and then added another of his books, Pictures of Perfection which is part of the Dalziel and Pascoe series.

TCOD books

Another great find was The Missing One by Lucy Atkins, a story about secrets, which has also been on my wishlist since its release in January this year and the intriguing The Darkening Hour by Penny Hancock, a psychological story that has viewpoints from  a Moroccan maid Mona, and her employer Dora.

The Missing One

Then I picked up some classics, these are both favourite books which I have read and loved but lost during the twists and turns of life as well as a couple of new reads for me including a couple of new Graham Greene books after loving The End Of The Affair earlier this year.

Classics

Rounded off with a cup of tea at a café by the sea I went home before lunch-time with my bag overflowing. What out of my haul, if any, would you recommend I read?