The Restless Dead

      Simon Beckett
The Restless Dead

‘Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . . ‘

It was on a Friday evening that forensics consultant Dr David Hunter took the call: a Detective Inspector Lundy from the Essex force. Just up the coast from Mersea Island, near a place called Backwaters, a badly decomposed body has been found and the local police would welcome Hunter's help with the recovery and identification . . .

Because they would like it to be that of Leo Villiers, the 31 year-old son of a prominent local family who went missing weeks ago, and they are under pressure to close the case. Villiers was supposed to have been having an affair with a married woman, Emma Derby. She too is missing, and the belief is that the young man disposed of his lover, and then killed himself. If only it was so straightforward.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity of the remains. The hands and feet are missing, the face no longer recognisable. Then further remains are found - and suddenly these remote wetlands are giving up yet more grisly secrets. As Hunter is slowly but surely drawn into a toxic mire of family secrets and resentments, local lies and deception, he finds himself unable, or perhaps unwilling, to escape even though he knows that the real threat comes from the living, not the dead.

With its eerie and claustrophobic sense of place, explosive heart-in-mouth moments, and viscerally authentic forensics and police procedural detail, coupled with David Hunter’s own uncanny ability to understand the living as much as the dead, The Restless Dead stands as a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.


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    Stone Bruises

      Simon Beckett
Stone Bruises

'Somebody!' I half-sob and then, more quietly, 'Please.' The words seem absorbed by the afternoon heat, lost amongst the trees. In their aftermath, the silence descends again. I know then that I’m not going anywhere...
Sean is on the run. We don't know why and we don't know from whom, but we do know he's abandoned his battered, blood-stained car in the middle of an isolated part of rural France at the height of a sweltering summer. Desperate to avoid the police, he takes to the parched fields and country lanes but his leg is caught in a vicious animal trap. Near unconscious from pain and loss of blood, he is freed and taken in by two women - daughters of the owner of a rundown local farm with its ramshackle barn, blighted vineyard and the brooding lake. And it's then that Sean's problems really start...
This nail-shredder of a thriller - like the fiction of Nicci French or Gillian Flynn - holds you from the beginning, tightening its grip as the story unfurls and shocks you with its final twist.


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    The Calling of the Grave

      Simon Beckett
The Calling of the Grave

'At first glance it could have been anything - a stone, a knotted root - until you looked more closely. Thrusting out of the wet earth, its bones visible through rags of flesh, was a decomposing hand...'It was eight years ago that they found the body buried on the moor. They were certain that this was one of psychotic rapist and multiple murderer Jerome Monk's teenage victims. Which left just two more bodies to find? But the ill-conceived search ended badly. And with Monk safely behind bars, the momentum faltered. For forensics expert David Hunter, and those others who were part of the recovery team, life moved on. And the dead were left undisturbed.

Now, though, a nightmare scenario unfurls. Monk has escaped and seems to be targeting anyone involved in that original ill-fated operation. Lured back to the moors by a desperate call for help, Hunter begins to realise that neither the events unfolding now - nor those of eight years ago - are quite what they seem. And as the maniac's violent trail edges ever closer, the past is suddenly anything but dead and buried...


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    The Chemistry of Death

      Simon Beckett
The Chemistry of Death

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.

From the Hardcover edition.


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    Where There's Smoke

      Simon Beckett
Where There's Smoke

Kate Powell is a successful young businesswoman, but her life feels empty. When she hears of someone who had a baby through artificial insemination, she decides she wants a baby, and advertises for a suitable father. Alex Turner seems perfect, but Kate's plans have devastating consequences.


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    Whispers of the Dead

      Simon Beckett
Whispers of the Dead

The victim has been bound and tortured, the body decomposed beyond recognition...

A second body is found. A nightmare is about to begin...

A serial killer is at work and the death toll is rising...

A brutal abduction - a helpless victim is taken...

And for forensics expert David Hunter, it's become a terrifying race against time.


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    Written in Bone

      Simon Beckett
Written in Bone

'I took the skull from its evidence bag and gently set it on the stainless steel table. 'Tell me who you are...'

Forensic anthropologist Dr David Hunter should be at home in London with the woman he loves. Instead, as a favour to a beleaguered colleague, he's on the remote Hebridean island of Runa to inspect a grisly discovery.

Hunter has witnessed death in many guises, but even he is shocked by what he finds: a body almost totally incinerated but for the feet and a single hand. Could it be a textbook case of spontaneous human combustion? The local police are certain it's an accidental death but Hunter is not convinced. Examining the scorched remains, he finds the evidence he feared. It's clear to him that this was no accident, this was murder.

But as the small, isolated community considers the enormity of Hunter's findings, a catastrophic storm hits the island. The power goes down, communication with the mainland ceases, and then the killing begins in earnest...

Exploding in a series of violent acts and shocking twists, this is the compelling new crime thriller from a brilliant British storyteller.


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    Owning Jacob

      Simon Beckett
Owning Jacob

Ben is devastated by the sudden death of his wife, and her son, Jacob, is a joy to him despite his autism. But while cleaning out his wife's cupboards, Ben finds proof that Jacob was never her child. Horrified, he sets out to find Jacob's real family - and is drawn into an deadly obsession.


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