The Chemistry of Death

Author: Simon Beckett

Synopsis: When a mutilated body of a young woman is found near Manham, it isn’t just the fact that she was a friend that disturbs Dr David Hunter. A one-time high-profile forensic anthropologist, he was once all too familiar with the different faces of death. Now a country doctor, Hunter had hoped his past would remain buried. So when he’s asked to help track down the killer, he’s reluctant to become involved. But then another woman disappears, plunging Manham into a maelstrom of fear and paranoia where no one, not even Hunter, is exempt from suspicion. As the once peaceful community begins to tear itself apart, he knows he will need all his knowledge and expertise if the twisted killer is to be stopped…

What I think: A highly interesting book, I would say. I simply can’t put it down and found myself reading it every where. I had always love watching CSI (or CSI-based shows) and this book has some of the elements in it. The author has obviously done a lot of research on decomposition of the human body, judging from the detailed description of the fictional bodies found. As would with other thrillers, I expected the murderer to be someone that was least likely to be. I guessed correctly, although towards the end, the reader was led to believe that the murderer was someone else. A check on the author’s website revealed that there is another novel and several short sories by the same author.

The plot started with a very detailed description of a decomposing body and the main character’s entrance into the ‘scene’ – a small, close-knit community who eyes every stranger with suspicion. As the story goes along, I kept expecting something more gory — for the blurb on the book says that my skin should crawl after the first 30 secs and my heart in my mouth after a minute — but I was disappointed. Maybe it was just my lack of imagination, or I am not the type who would be scared that easily but the book did not affect me emotionally too much as it claimed it would. It would probably work for those who has low tolerance for gory stuff.

Anyway, I find the book too laden with decomposition jargons (which I happily skipped), which might prove to be a put off to some people. It would be better, I think, if the author could explain things in layman terms. The jargons incorporated in the book were quite irrelevant to the plot of the story, too. (At one point, I was reading everything but not understanding a thing cos I thought the twist/ending in the end would make reference to one of these confusing paragraphs.

But overall, I will recommend this as a good read.

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