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Description:

‘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 . . . ‘

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . .

With its eerie, claustrophobic sense of place, viscerally authentic detail and explosive heart-in-mouth moments, The Restless Dead offers a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit that this was the first book by Simon Beckett that I’d had the chance to read, but soon went back and bought the previous books so that I could devour them all.  Fear not though, this book reads perfectly well on it’s own as there is ample detail given as to David Hunter’s background etc so that you don’t feel you’ve missed anything salient.

The plotting of this novel is absolutely brilliant and keeps the reader hooked.  David Hunter is a forensic anthropologist, his consulting work with the Police has all but dried up and he is questioning whether his contract with his university will be renewed, so when he receives a phone call from DI Bob Lundy from Essex Police to help with the recovery of a body from an estuary he is only too keen to help.

The Police are already presuming the identity of the corpse, or more hoping that it’s the body of a man suspected of murdering his lover and subsequently committed suicide, but need Hunter’s expertise to aid with the recovery and identification due to nature having taken its toll on the body.
Hunter voices his doubts about the identity, and almost immediately finds himself at odds with the local police and the father of the (presumed) deceased.  Sir Stephen Villiers is very influential in the local area and has friends in the highest of places, including within the Police force.
Far from being a quick job, the investigation becomes incredibly convoluted, especially when more remains are discovered.  A conflict of interest makes Hunter’s job much harder, but that’s nothing compared to the family tensions, lies, secrets and local feuds that surround him.  Hunter and the Police have to tread a careful tightrope in order to solve the case.

What I liked most about this book was the fact that I could just become utterly lost within the pages, usually when you first encounter a character mid series there is the awkwardness of not having their full backstory, not knowing them overly well or in some cases not being familiar with the author’s style of writing, but in this case I immediately felt like I’d put on an old glove.  This book read so well as a stand alone story (I did go back and buy the previous books because I wanted to find out more about David Hunter and his life), the way in which the Backwaters are written makes them so incredibly dangerous and mysterious.  I had the delight of sharing a post from Simon Beckett about the importance of setting on the blog tour and I have to say that the detail he includes for his settings is phenomenal.  The plotting is brilliant, well fleshed out characters and the level of detail in this novel make it one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year!

You can buy a copy of “The Restless Dead” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Transworld Books for the opportunity to read and review this novel, as well as take part in the blog tour for publication of “The Restless Dead”.

 

 

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I am delighted to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for Simon Beckett’s latest brilliant novel “The Restless Dead” and I have a wonderful treat for you,  a fascinating piece written by Simon on the importance of setting.
For those not familiar with the Dr David Hunter series I urge you to check the books out, they are superb!  I have to admit that this was the first book by Simon Beckett that I’d had the chance to read, but soon went back and bought the previous books so that I could devour them all.  Fear not though, this book reads perfectly well on it’s own as there is ample detail given as to David Hunter’s background etc so that you don’t feel you’ve missed anything salient.

You can buy a copy of “The Restless Dead” via Amazon here or via Wordery here

Now enough of my ramble, lets hand over to the wordsmith….

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When Written in Bone, the second novel to feature forensic anthropologist David Hunter, was published, a reader got in touch to ask if I could give him the co-ordinates for Runa, the Hebridean island where the book was set. He was frustrated because he’d been searching for it on maps and couldn’t find it. There was a very good reason for that: as with most of the locations where the David Hunter take place, Runa doesn’t exist.

But I took it as a compliment that he thought it did. The same applies for the reader who contacted me to say he recognised the remote Norfolk train station where Hunter disembarked in The Chemistry of Death, or those who thought themselves familiar with the particular area of Dartmoor where the events of The Calling of the Grave play out. They all had one thing in common: even though none of them are actual physical places, I try to make them as realistic as possible.

To my mind, the setting of a novel is more than just a background for the action. There’s a risk a writer can be self-indulgent when it comes to describing places and locations, but narrative description should still earn its keep rather than be simply decorative. The setting can help establish atmosphere, convey a sense of mood and even reflect a character’s emotional state. I’ll spend a lot of time planning whereabouts a story is going to take place, and what sort of landscape it involves. Is it moorland or woodland, a remote village or inner city? That’s important, because until I have a clear picture in my own mind I find it very hard to write about it.

For The Restless Dead, the latest in the David Hunter series, I tried a variety of different locations before eventually deciding on the Essex coastal marshes – ironically, the very first place I’d considered. The windswept landscape of mudflats, estuaries and tidal creeks became not just a vivid backdrop to the story, but an essential part of it. I’m often asked if I base my characters on real individuals, which I don’t: that would be asking for trouble. But I want them to seem real, and I take the same approach when it comes to the settings of my books. Like my characters, they’re inventions drawn from real life; perhaps inspired by actual locations but changed, enhanced and added to according to the needs of the story.

Which, for me, is key. Whenever possible I try to visit the area where a story is set, and I’ll carry out research so I can include those small details that help bring a place to life. But my books are fiction, not travelogues. My aim is to evoke scenes that readers can readily visualise, and I hope anyone who reads one of my books will feel they can see, hear and smell whatever landscapes I’m describing.

Just don’t try finding them on a map…


A huge thank you to Simon for joining me today and sharing that.
I certainly believed that the settings he used in his books were 100% real, they felt so real to me while reading and the way in which the descriptions flow make it easy to feel like you’ve been transported to the setting of the book.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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