About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

A review from 2008. While I enjoyed the book I have not read another by Beckett. I have not forgotten the opening in 14 years.


5. - 415.) The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett – Among the most graphic openings ever as boys discover a line of maggots migrating from a decomposing corpose. Dr. David Hunter, forensic anthropologist, has run from London to Manham, a small village in the marshes of Norfolk, after the death of his wife and daughter. With the assistance of Dr. Henry Maitland, partially crippled from an accident himself, Hunter reverts to being a GP and building a new life. When the police find out his past, Hunter, against his wishes, is called in to determine what he can about the deceased woman. A chill descended on me as he concluded she had been tortured for days before being murdered. When a second local woman is kidnapped the village starts disintegrating in fear and suspicion. Hunter unexpectedly finds romance with a young teacher. The action sweeps forward to a thriller of an ending. Manham comes alive in the book. The characters feel real. The meanness of a small community is slightly exagerrated. The science of decomposition reminds me of the Kathy Reich and Patricia Cornwell novels. Once into the book I raced to finish it. An excellent thriller mystery. (Jan. 27/08)


  1. This sounded familiar, and it turns out I read it, probably around the same time you did! I don't remember much about it, and like you I didn't read anything else by him. I see he has written quite a few now - I think on the whole crime books with a pathology basis appeal to me less. But there are some intriguing setups in the list of his books I found - maybe we whould both return to him!

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. Some books lurk in memory. I do not go looking for books with "a pathology basis" but Beckett is skilled in this sub-genre. I think it is time for a mutual return.

  2. I thought Beckett did an excellent job of creating the small town atmosphere in this one, Bill. And I think David Hunter is an interesting character who develops as the series goes on. I have to admit that, like Moira, I'm not as drawn to forensic detail as I am to some other plot points. But Beckett does have a way of keeping the reader interested.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. The thoughts of yourself and Moira have led me to thinking I should read more of Beckett.