Originally published: 21 February 2019 (Ebook); 18 April 2019 (Hardback)
Author: Simon Beckett
Published by: Bantam Press
Genre: Crime Thriller
Length: 368 pages
Reading dates: 10-15 February 2019
This is the 6th book with the central character of Doctor David Hunter but as with other similar books, it is perfectly suited to read as a standalone. The story centres around St Jude’s hospital in North London which has lain empty and derelict for several years awaiting demolition. Slowly rotting, it has become a haven for outcasts, addicts and dealers. David Hunter is a forensic anthropologist and is called into the hospital by the police when workmen discover a partially mummified skeleton in a loft, whom they soon discover was a young pregnant woman.
While exploring the scene, a floor collapses and more bodies are found, this time in a sealed off hospital room, tied to the beds. The story revolves around trying to identify who these people are and how they died.
The police investigation is touched upon but this book concentrates on forensics and how it can help solve crime. The opening couple of pages talk about the different smells that accompany the decay of a human body which is not for the weak stomached! There are also descriptions of how the bones are treated and dealt with and I found it fascinating how much information the experts can gleam from them.
As well as the science, we also get to know David quite well – quite a bit has happened to him in the past including loosing his wife and child and also almost being murdered himself. I’m assuming these events happen in previous novels, but the author does a good job of weaving David’s past into this story without it feeling like the reader was missing anything.
There is lots of excitement in this book – after a slow steady start the story suddenly ramps up and for the last half I was reading at any opportunity. There is a lot of tension and several shocks! I’ve read a lot of crime thrillers over the last few months and this is definitely up there as one of the best. Well researched and gritty, I’d like to go back at some point and read the earlier books in this series. I’d recommend this for fans of Jeffrey Deaver and Tess Gerritsen.
Thank you to Hayley Barnes at Transworld for a proof copy of this book and for inviting me on the blog tour. Please be sure to check out the reviews of all these brilliant bloggers.
About the author:
Simon Beckett worked as a property repairer, taught English in Spain and played percussion with several bands before becoming a novelist and freelance journalist. He writes for most national newspapers and colour supplements, including The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and Observer. He is married and lives in Sheffield.