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)