Move over, Patricia Cornwell, Simon Beckett’s on your turf. The Chemistry of Death is a page turner of a new, forensic/police procedural novel, with lots of psychology, chemistry, medicine, and red herrings. The stage for this creepy serial killer story is set as a young woman on her morning run through the woods and marshes senses that someone or something is watching her, and the suspenseful atmosphere is sustained throughout. Just about any of the male residents who patronize the local pub could be the sick murderer, not excluding Dr. Hunter, the forensic anthropologist upon whom this new series centers. Manham, whose population is being terrorized, is a remote, somewhat inbred village in the Norfolk downs, where there is no shortage of interest in blood “sports”.
Chemistry is no comfy cozy English mystery. Forensic detail of the type contained in this book is not for readers with easily-turned stomachs. But neither is it not one of the repulsive tales, so popular now, with plots that focus primarily upon sadistic, endless, gruesome torture scenes (ala Chelsea Cain, for instance.) Simon Beckett is a promising newcomer to the genre.