‘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 . . . “
I am very excited to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my stop on the The Restless Dead blog tour. The Restless Dead is the fifth book in the Dr David Hunter series written by well established and popular crime writer, Simon Beckett. This latest addition to the series was published by Bantam Press in hardcover on 6th April 2017.
And I absolutely flipping loved it! I’ve been wanting to read a Simon Beckett novel for some time now so when I was asked to be a part of the The Restless Dead blog tour, I couldn’t refuse. I’ve heard so many good things about Dr David Hunter and I’ve got to tell you, they’re all true!
The first thing that really appealed to me about this book is that it’s about a forensic anthropologist rather than the usual detective or private investigator. I tend to read a lot of crime novels a year that it’s always refreshing to see things from a different perspective. And what a fascinating, detailed tale Simon Beckett has written. The story hooked me in quite early on and I became somewhat mesmerised by the bleak landscape. This is one of those books where the setting is as much a part of the story as the characters and the plot. In fact, I’d go as far as saying the setting is one of the main characters.
The recovery of a long dead corpse from an Essex estuary begins a tale woven with intricate secrets and damaging lies. Dr Hunter is called to assist with the recovery and is grateful for the work following a recent episode which caused embarrassment and damage to his good name. Why he’s been called, he is yet to discover as he normally meets the victim in the clinical cleanliness of the morgue. This early rescue mission introduces us to my favourite character in the story; the level-headed, gentle DI Lund.
From there the investigation begins. Is the body in the estuary that of Leo Villiers? The son of Sir Stephen Villiers who went missing several weeks before? Sir Stephen says it is but the rate of decomposition doesn’t fit and David Hunter has his doubts. And what of Emma Derby? Glamorous, recently married and rumoured to be having an affair with Leo. Emma went missing before Leo. Is Leo responsible for Emma’s death? The recovery of such a damaged corpse raises a lot more questions that it answers. David fights to be a part of the case but DSC Clarke, SIO has other ideas. Particularly when he fails to arrive in time for the autopsy.
Sometimes you read a book and everything about it just feels right. That’s how I felt about The Restless Dead. I couldn’t put this one down and when I was away from the book I was thinking it through, trying to connect the threads of the story.
There is so much going on but it’s written so beautifully that it’s easy to follow the story from start to finish without feeling lost. It flows so well, you can tell the author is a master of his craft. The plot is fascinating and I loved the forensic detail. I experienced several emotions whilst reading. What I wasn’t expecting was to burst into tears at one point. I can’t remember the last book which made me cry.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, most definitely. If The Restless Dead doesn’t make it onto my books of 2017 list then I need to give up reading. Gorgeously atmospheric, brilliantly creepy and some of the best characters I’ve read in a long time. Chock full of nail biting tension which I lapped up. This book was everything I want in my crime thrillers.
Five out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of The Restless Dead. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
Simon Beckett worked as a property repairer, taught English in Spain and played percussion with several bands before becoming a novelist and freelance journalist. He writes for most national newspapers and colour supplements, including The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and Observer. He is married and lives in Sheffield.