Review of Simon Beckett’s Latest Novel, The Restless Dead

The focus of my blog is to review book series and not individual novels. But writers are going to continue writing novels within a series even after I have done my review, so I plan on reviewing the individual novels as they come into circulation.   Simon Beckett has recently added book #5, The Restless Dead to the David Hunter series.

It has been seven years since Simon Beckett has released a new addition to his David Hunter series and fans of the series have been eagerly waiting in anticipation including me. Beckett was rather cruel at least with his English speaking fans as he released the German edition of The Restless Dead back in October and it wasn’t until early April that the hard-bound English copy was released in the UK. It has not, however, been released in the US. But fans in America don’t dismay, it is possible to get copies through UK distributors, which is what I did. Sorry, no e-book yet for us Yanks. Even though I had to wait this long and pay more for a book than I have in years, I am not disappointed.

The story begins not long after the events that occurred in the previous novel, The Calling of the Grave, and as a result of these events, Hunter is not getting much work in his occupation as a forensic anthropologist.  Out of the blue he gets a call from an Essex homicide detective, Bob Lundy, requesting his presence in the recovery of a body from the Backwater Estuary. At the recovery site it becomes clear to Hunter that his presence is only required to ‘to cover the backs’ of the investigation team, as they seemed quite certain that the body was Leo Villiers, the son of a wealthy businessman Stephen Villiers, and a suspect in the murder of Emma Derby, the beautiful wife of local architect Andrew Trask. What seems to be an open and shut case turns out to be anything but and Hunter gets caught up in a complicated case that opens up a whole can of worms for the folks that call the Backwater Estuary home.

In my review of the series, I mercilessly picked on Beckett about his use of adipocere in his first David Hunter novel The Chemistry of Death. Adipocere, also known as grave wax, slowly forms on corpses that have been exposed to conditions that are moist and low on oxygen. However, in The Chemistry of Death, Beckett had adipocere forming in conditions that were exactly the opposite. Well, now, I am glad to say that Beckett has in every respect redeemed himself in The Restless Dead, as his use of adipocere could very well have formed under the conditions from where the bodies were found. For this I am more than happy to give The Restless Dead a five star review.

Seriously, The Restless Dead has proven to be a delightful addition to the series especially for the aficionado of forensic thrillers. I hope, and I emphasize hope, that Beckett doesn’t wait another seven years to give us fans another David Hunter novel. Though this could be read as a standalone novel, Beckett does make references to two previous books in the series, Written in Bone and The Calling of the Grave.

To learn more about the series check out Simon Beckett’s David Hunter series.

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