I remember reading The Chemistry of Death
, the first installment surrounding Dr. David Hunter and that I was impressed at how good Simon Beckett researched and explained the facts he was writing about, all the while binding them easily into the books plot.
It is the same with Written In Bone
. Easy understandable descriptions bound into the killings that are happening on a remote island.
Dr. David Hunter is called to the remote island of Runa, where a burnt body was found in a cabin.
Figuring the skull of the victim has been smashed, he announces the death as a murder but it is too late to call for reinforcement. The island is engulfed in a storm that eventually shuts it off from all communication to the outside world.
Bound to work with ex-cop Brody and the islands grumpy sergeant Fraser he secures what he can before the storm destroys the small cabin, not knowing that this is just a beginning of a chain reaction threatening his own life.
The stored remains of the victim, the already destroyed cabin and the only boat with a satellite phone on board are purposely destroyed. The lives of a deputy and a noisy reporter-girl taken and a murderer on the loose the rural community is in danger, not knowing what the killers goal might be. Is it "just" a random intruder or is it someone deeply bound into the community out on a killing spree for whatever reason ?
With twists, turns and a few surprises Beckett kept me reading, enjoying his explanations in forensic anthropology. The book reminds me a bit of P. D. James' The Lighthouse
without all the private stuff going on around the main character, Hunter.
Of course we hear a bit of his struggles with his girlfriend Jenny and his constant absence in their relationship but it isn't overwhelmingly boring.
I got the sense that Beckett focuses more on the forensic research instead of building the character or he does so in a slowly way not knowing yet in which way his character is going to evolve with time.
So he doesn't create a huge attachment to his character which might be a plus but also a negative for some readers. For me it was completely fine.
The next novel surrounding Dr. Hunter is announced to be published in May, 2009 under the name Whispers Of The Dead