Review: The Chemistry of Death (By Simon Beckett)

The Chemistry of Death Source: Goodreads

The Chemistry of Death
Source: Goodreads

Length: 419 pages

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

David Hunter left the busy city life behind him when he moved to the small Norfolk village of Manham. With the city life, he also left behind the life he led as a forensic anthropologist, a life that was scarred with memories of a horrific tragedy. For three years, he lives a peaceful life, trying to out those memories behind him. And then everything changes.

Sally Palmer’s body is discovered, mutilated beyond recognition. And David’s experience is necessary. When a second woman disappears, David knows that he has no choice. He cannot pretend to be just a village doctor anymore. His expertise could help catch a killer. But even David could not have imagined the consequences of the events that were unfolding in front of him. The small village is gripped with terror and suspicion, a village that lived like a family now resorting to doubt each other. With every passing day, the abducted woman’s chances of being found alive, reduce. And David is pulled more and more into a nightmare that is no longer part of memory, but that is all too real.

My take:

The Chemistry of Death is the first of the David Hunter series. I’d waited a long time to get this book and I can confidently say that the wait was well worth it. The most recent thriller that I had read and loved was Tim Weaver’s The Dead Tracks. And while the two books are very different in style and tone, they’re both equally good.

The story line of The Chemistry of Death is not one that you haven’t heard of before. It’s a thriller with the focus on a serial killer. But it still manages to be a refreshing read that you can’t really put down. If you’ve read enough books in this genre, you may begin this one thinking that it will be quite predictable. To some extent, it may even be predictable. But Beckett presents even the predictable in an unpredictable manner. It doesn’t matter if you think you know something or not – it will still unfold in a way you’d least expect. And that keeps the pages turning really fast.

The Chemistry of Death has a creepy element that, put bluntly, creeps up on you. You don’t really expect the jumpiness that finds its way into your heart; but you definitely feel it if, like me, you stay up late into the night reading. Beckett keeps the suspense going without a break, introducing new twists and turns at every point. But what is most amazing is his understanding of human nature, both good and bad, and its extent. If you look beyond the words, you see an innate understanding of how people are and how they can be. You see how people react to situations in a way that is depictive of emotions and feelings that they themselves may be ignoring intentionally or of which they may simply be ignorant. And that gives a touch to the story that really pulls you in and stays with you long after you’re done.

As far as writing style goes, Beckett is quirky. His style is slightly reminiscent of James Patterson’s in the older Alex Cross novels. Yet, it has its own individuality – Beckett’s voice that comes across loud and clear. For some, as was in my case, it may be a little odd a style in the beginning. But a couple of pages in and the oddity is long gone and the story has got its grip on you. You simply keep reading without even realizing that you’ve read as much as you have. And before you know it, you’re flipping pages, eager to know what happens next. I’m definitely going to continue following the David Hunter series. 

The Chemistry of Death was, in my opinion, a really good read.  It may not be the best book to pick up if you’re swamped with work because it is difficult to put aside. But if you’ve got a day off or a night without concern of when to get to bed, this book would be ideal. It is a great read that you will love if you’re a fan of thrillers, suspense, murder mysteries, and serial killer stories. And Simon Beckett has found a place on my list of amazing authors!

– Rishika

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