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The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett
  

The Chemistry of Death

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Shortlisted for the 2006 Duncan Lawrie Dagger.
Not one to read if you're squeamish, or if you're at home alone, this is a brilliant mystery from a debut novelist. Fantastically well-written, this forensic thriller was inspired by a trip to a place called The Body Farm. It has a great plot, convincing characterisation and hopefully won't be the last we see of Dr David Hunter.

If you like Simon Beckett you might also like to read books by Kathy Reichs, Nick Stone and Mo Hayder.

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Synopsis

The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

When the bizarrely mutilated and long-dead body of a young woman is found in a ditch in Manham, an isolated and insular village in the Norfolk marshlands, it isnât just the fact that she had been a friend that disturbs Dr David Hunter. He was once a high-profile forensic anthropologist and all too familiar with the different faces of death, until a devastating personal tragedy made him turn his back on his former life and career.

Now hidden away as a country doctor, Hunterâs past is a secret he hopes will remain buried. So when heâs asked by the police to use his arcane skills to help track down the killer, heâs reluctant to become involved, knowing this will only stir up the painful memories heâs been trying so hard to forget. Then another young woman disappears, and Manham is plunged into a fog of fear and paranoia that threatens to tear it apart. And no one seems exempt from suspicion as the twisted killings continue. And as the once peaceful community is riven by fear and mistrust, David Hunter realises it will take all his knowledge and expertise if the killer is to be stopped. But not even he is prepared for the terrible cost that will exact – or the awful price that failure threatens to bring…

Reviews

A fresh and original voice, Simon Beckett perfectly captures the claustrophobic horror of a rural community in crisis. I thought The Chemistry of Death was absolutely compelling - and so deliciously scary.
MO HAYDER

The Chemistry of Death has to be the best thriller Iâve read all year - I just couldn't put it down. And Simon Beckett's writes so well too - his novel is fast-paced, fascinating and heart-stoppingly exciting but also has that extra magic that one can only call poetry.
TESS GERRITSEN

About the Author

Simon Beckett

Simon Beckett is a freelance journalist and writes for national newspapers and colour supplements. He is married and lives in Sheffield.

Simon Beckett questions

1. Who or what influenced you to write The Chemistry of Death?

The idea came from magazine article I was writing about the National Forensic Academy in Tennessee, an organisation that gives highly realistic forensic training to US police detectives and crime scene investigators. Part of the course involved several days at a place called The Body Farm. It’s a world-famous training ground for forensic anthropologists and the like, and is unique because it uses real human cadavers for its research. The detectives had to carry out what are known as ‘body recovery’ exercises – locating graves where supposed murder victims were buried. Even though it was staged, the bodies were real and it was treated like an actual crime scene. It made a lasting impression on me, and formed the inspiration behind the book.

2. Is Dr David Hunter’s character based on fiction or someone you know?

No, David Hunter is entirely fictional. Having said that, the forensic techniques he uses are all real, and based on information from actual forensic anthropologists.

3. What do you love most about writing?

On a good day it’s a completely absorbing process. You look at the clock and find a few hours have gone by without your realising. And there’s an undeniable buzz when people read something you’ve written, and you know it does exactly what you wanted it to. On bad day… well, let’s not even talk about that.

4. What do you consider most difficult?

Starting a new novel – or any piece of writing come to that – is probably the hardest part for me. At that point you know all the hard work is still to come, and 100,000 words can seem like an awful lot when you’re still on Chapter One.

5. Do you write full time now? What jobs have you held in the past?

I’ve written full time for around twelve years now. I tend to split my time between novels and freelance journalism. I find the two complement each other pretty well, provided you organise your time properly. Before that I had a fairly varied career – everything from property repairs to playing in a band.

6. How did you first get started writing?

Good question. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, but I only really started to think of it as a potential career when I went to work in Spain. I was teaching English, but I used to write in my spare time. It took me about six years before I was finally published, though, so it was hardly an overnight thing.

7. How did you first get published?

I didn’t have an agent, so I started submitting my manuscript around publishers myself. After countless rejection slips it was picked out of the slush-pile, and within 48-hours I’d got myself both a book-deal and an agent. A real water-shed moment.

8. Where did you grow up, how did this place influence you?

I grew up – and still live in – Sheffield. It was a fairly ordinary working class background, at a time when the city was still dominated by the steel industry. But I can’t say it consciously influenced my writing – I don’t set my novels here, because I think it’s difficult to be objective about somewhere you know well. But other writers have no problem with that, so it’s just a case of different strokes, I suppose.

9. What can we expect next?

I don’t want to give away too much at this stage. But let’s just say we probably haven’t seen the last of Dr David Hunter.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st March 2006

Author

Simon Beckett

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Author's Website

www.simonbeckett.com/win/

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Publisher

Bantam Press

Format

Hardback

Categories

Thriller / Suspense
Debuts of the Month
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites


ISBN

9780593055212

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