The Scent of Death (David Hunter #6) by Simon Beckett
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Published: 3rd October 2019 by Bantam Books
Swathi’s Rating: 4/5
I have just read this fantastic crime thriller by Simon Beckett and so excited to be sharing my thoughts on the book today! It’s an automatic page turner with a spooky plot and for the fans of Medical Crime thrillers, this book is a Must-read! Also, scroll down to read an exclusive piece by Simon Beckett himself where he talks about writing a Series versus Standalones.
About the Book:
What began as a straightforward case is about to become a twisted nightmare…
Once a busy hospital, St Jude’s now stands derelict, awaiting demolition.
When a partially mummified corpse is found in the building’s cavernous loft, forensics expert Dr David Hunter is called in to take a look. He can’t say how long the body’s been there, but he is certain it’s that of a young woman. And that she was pregnant.
Then part of the attic floor collapses, revealing another of the hospital’s secrets: a bricked-up chamber with beds inside. And some of them are still occupied.
And it soon becomes clear that St Jude’s hasn’t claimed its last victim . . .
Chilling, visceral and masterfully paced, Simon Beckett’s new crime thriller will leave you gasping.
This book is the 6th instalment in the David Hunter series of books. Although it’s the first book I’m reading in this series, it worked well as a standalone for me. The backstory was easy to follow and you’ll get straightaway into the crime scene and the investigation that follows.
A short brief about David Hunter for the newbees to the series: David is a forensic anthropologist who assists the police in their investigation as a Medical Examiner. His wife and daughter were killed in a car crash and he is still reeling from it. Meanwhile, David has a psychopathic stalker lady who haunts him during his dark hours. Currently, he is in a relationship that is still in its initial stages. His work keeps him occupied and spends most of his time in the morgue or at his new high security house in London.
So St.Jude’s hospital is being demolished since it’s too old and abandoned. That’s when the mummified remains are found walled up inside the old hospital and Dr.Hunter is called to the scene. It doesn’t take much time for David to examine the bones and determine that they’re of a young female’s and that she was pregnant when she died.
With this discovery, the media explodes putting more pressure on the Police and the investigating crew including Hunter, and his SIO Sharon Ward. To make matters worse, the roof of the hospital falls down to reveal two more bodies strapped to their beds for God knows how long. Who are these people and how did they end up here? Is a larger sinister force at work in the abandoned hospital? You must read to find out!
Simon Beckett proves his expertise in writing crime fiction with his consistent pace and characteristic developments, without giving away anything to his readers. David Hunter is your everyday guy – suffers from his own issues, takes pressure from his seniors at work, makes mistakes and then realises when it’s just gone too far. The atmospheric setting of the hospital and the findings about what the victims have undergone are a little uneasy to read. But I really loved the descriptions about the medical examination throughout the story. It’s really a treat for all crime thriller fans to taste in-depth knowledge about the on-going investigation and Simon gives his fans a handful!
I’d totally be adding Simon Beckett to my list and can’t wait to read what he writes next! Highly recommended.
Many thanks to Emma Welton of Damppebbles.com for including me in this blog tour. All opinions are solely mine and no way biased.
Meet the Author:
Simon Beckett is the No.1 international bestselling author of the David Hunter series: The Chemistry of Death, Written in Bone, Whispers of the Dead, The Calling of the Grave, The Restless Dead and The Scent of Death. His books have been translated into 29 languages, appeared in the Sunday Times top 10 bestseller lists and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. A former freelance journalist, he has written for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and Observer. The inspiration for the first David Hunter novel came after a visit to the world-renowned Body Farm in Tennessee introduced him to the work of forensic anthropologists.
Joint-winner (with Arne Dahl) of Europe’s largest crime fiction prize – the Ripper Award 2018/19 – he has also won the Raymond Chandler Society’s Marlowe Award and been short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger, CWA Dagger in the Library and Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year awards. He is also the author of several stand-alone novels including Stone Bruises and Where There’s Smoke. Simon Beckett lives in Sheffield.
Series vs Standalones
I’m a series writer by accident. When I sat down to write The Chemistry of Death, the first in what would be a series about British forensic anthropologist David Hunter, I wasn’t thinking beyond trying to write an atmospheric, scary thriller that someone would want to publish. The idea for it came after I’d visited the world-renowned Body Farm in Tennessee, which at the time was the only place in the world to use real human cadavers to research decomposition. The experience made a lasting impression, and I came away convinced there was potential for more than the colour supplement article I’d gone over there to write.
But that was as far as it went. There was no point in thinking about potential follow-ups, let alone a series, when I’d no idea if the manuscript would even find its way into print. So I approached it in the same way as I had my previous four psychological thrillers: as a standalone. It was only when The Chemistry of Death was successful, finding a publisher not only in the UK but across Europe and in the US, that it dawned on me I was expected to write more books about David Hunter. Which, while obviously fantastic, meant quickly adapting a concept and character I’d conceived as a one-off into something that could endure for successive stories.
With hindsight, that was no bad thing. It meant that, more by good luck than planning, I approached the subsequent books in much the same way as the first, treating each as a self-contained story its own right. As a reader, I hate starting a book only to find that its plot is so dependent on earlier novels that it makes no sense to anyone unfamiliar with them. That happened to me once with a paperback I’d bought to pass the time on a flight: it turned out to be a very dull journey. So I didn’t want to be guilty of the same sin myself.
Obviously, sometimes it’s necessary to have read the preceding books, especially if they’re direct sequels or part of a longer saga. And there’s something to be said for reading a series in sequence anyway, so that the development of characters and long-running story arcs can be followed from book to book. That doesn’t mean individual novels within a series can’t also work perfectly well as standalones. It might take a little more thought – no one wants to read pages of clunky exposition recapping what’s gone before. But new readers are always welcome, and it’s a brave author who doesn’t try to get them on board.
That was very much on my mind when I wrote The Scent of Death. Even though it’s the sixth David Hunter novel, and refers to characters and events from the earlier books, it was important that newcomers could pick it up and enjoy it without feeling late to the party. Or need to have read the previous five novels in order to understand what was going on.
Of course, the real trick is to make it so addictive they’ll want to rush out and read the rest. But pulling that off is another story.
Simon Beckett, 2/10/2019