‘At first glance it could have been anything – a stone, a knotted root – until you looked more closely. Thrusting out of the wet earth, its bones visible through rags of flesh, was a decomposing hand…’It was eight years ago that they found the body buried on the moor. They were certain that this was one of psychotic rapist and multiple murderer Jerome Monk’s teenage victims. Which left just two more bodies to find? But the ill-conceived search ended badly. And with Monk safely behind bars, the momentum faltered. For forensics expert David Hunter, and those others who were part of the recovery team, life moved on. And the dead were left undisturbed.
Now, though, a nightmare scenario unfurls. Monk has escaped and seems to be targeting anyone involved in that original ill-fated operation. Lured back to the moors by a desperate call for help, Hunter begins to realise that neither the events unfolding now – nor those of eight years ago – are quite what they seem. And as the maniac’s violent trail edges ever closer, the past is suddenly anything but dead and buried…
©2011 Simon Beckett (P)2011 Random House Audio Go
This is not Simon Beckett's first novel centered around forensic anthropology, but it is the first available on Audible. The plot--the search for a corpse believed to be a victim of an imprisoned serial killer--keeps twisting as little can be taken for the truth.
The readers performance does much to salvage this book. The plot however is overfilled with ridiculous contrivances and hackneyed plot devices. I spent too much time to tutting and rolling my eyes during this one.
Linear, effective momentum
It was interesting how effective it was to have a protagonist (Dr. David Hunter) who's essentially passive as a character----or who at least is an obvious vehicle for the reader to get pulled along into the story. He gets pulled into the whole "Where are the bodies of the dead missing girls and the guy who killed them?" saga, allowing himself to be available to several other characters with more active personas. You would think this would make him a boring or contemptible character, but while Dr. Hunter's not the most wildly exciting person on his own, his amenableness to enter exciting situations brings us interest and he never comes off as totally clueless.
Also, although the story itself was quite linear and simple-- agreeable forensic doctor gets pulled into potentially dangerous amateur sleuthing, with increasingly perilous encounters--the author made different choices for several of the characters than I would have expected. I liked that. There were several notable surprises related to both minor and major characters, some life-altering and shocking, others simply a matter of the character's motivations or choices being different than I half-consciously assumed based on their familiar character "type" when first introduced to us.
I bought this audiobook specifically because I wanted more mysteries narrated by Keeble. He's really good for this genre. A police procedural narrator in particular needs to be able to do dialogue in a wide variety of accents for characters of both sexes, all ages and multiple nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds, i.e. the cast of characters whom police will interview. He does all this here (although this is more a "police consultant procedural") but he is also such a great narrator of the exposition of a novel, both in first person (as here) and third person. He sounds like a reasonable, sensible person of average means and perhaps above-average intelligence. That probably describes a lot of the people who read books like this one, hence why he connects so well with us.
Actually, yes. A life changing event happens to one of the characters and it brought a few tears to my eyes with the simplicity and poignancy with which the author rendered it.
I expected this book to be much heavier on the forensic medicine and anthropology than it was. That's okay, though.
I was surprised by how well this story hung together on such a simple frame and first person POV. I'm generally not a fan of first person narration in fiction; it limits us to one perspective (that's often unreliable), while the presumed detachment and omnipresence of a 3rd person narrator is more secure and enjoyable to me. But here we have a protagonist (Dr. David Hunter) who is so reasonable, calm and flexible (I would say "responsive" to people and events around him) that it's hard to not to surrender to him taking us along for the ride.
This is a great listen when you don't want to have to focus too hard on a big cast of characters, dense passages of description or numerous plot points. From page one, it's just full steam ahead with the good doctor and the adventure he's found himself on.
This started out strong, but faltered midway and then turned into a rather Implassible melodrama. But if you can overlook the mounting plot contrivances and focus on the narration, this is entertaining.
Despite its gruesome subject, I enjoyed the book.
It had enough twists and turns to keep me wanting to listen right up to the end.
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
Jerome Monk has escaped from confinement. He is a convicted serial rapist and murderer. Eight years before Dr. David Hunter, a medical doctor and forensic anthropologist, had been part of a effort to discover the bodies of some of Monk's victims. It had not turned out well.
Now that Monk has escaped it appears that he is targeting everyone who was involved with the earlier search. As a result Dr. Hunter is now pulled back into the case.
It seems from the other reviews that there is either too much forensic information or not enough. In fact, there is isn't as much in-depth forensic information, but the suspense and action are well done.
Shorter than his prior novels, this one clocks in unabridged at about 10 hours. It's read by Jonathan Keeble. I haven't encountered Mr. Keeble before but he does a good job as the voice of the book. No annoying mannerisms.
There was very little character development causing ambivalence toward the main characters.I did like Monk probably due to his detailed description, even though the character was relatively uninventive for a serial killer, hulking, abnormally strong, and seemingly stupid. The lack of interesting characters slowed the plot.
It is unlikely that I would listen to another Beckett. While not bad, it was unsatisfying.
Jonathan Keeble was animated in the read. Hindered though, because I didn't much like the writing or the story.
While I didn't like the book, I did listen to the end and I wanted to find out what happened. Bit tedious and hollow of an ending though, because I found the twist relatively obvious and I didn't care about the main character.
"Absolutely Brilliant Book"
Really enjoyed listening to this book. The amount of research Simon Beckett must of done for this book is tremendous, as well as his attention to detail. His main character David Hunter is a thoroughly nice man that you just warm to immediately. The storyline is gripping just when you think you know who the killer is everything turns upside down. Brilliantly written and thoroughly enjoyable.
The narrator, too is excellent and I cant praise this audio book highly enough.
"A riveting story"
Having read and enjoyed The Chemistry of Death I was confident that this would be a good book and it is. I was gripped from the start and enjoyed the scientific detail that adds credibility to the narrative. The story never flags and is full of exciting scenes and surprises. Not least the ending which I didn't see coming.
The reader does a splendid job of giving characters different voices and enhancing the listening experience.
absolutely loved it
this author was new to me and i read it based on the previous review. i have not
been disapointed and spent all night listening to it. i had promised myself that i should go to sleep but couldnt help myself listen to more.
it is brilliantly narrated. probably the best narator i have come across so far and am certainly going to listen to more titles by simon beckett
"Enjoyable but a little predictable"
I bought this on the basis that I'd enjoyed the narrator so much when listening to the Woodcutter, and again he was excellent in this, really bringing the book alive. It's a decent listen and the story is well told and engaging. The storyline didn't exactly grip me though and the who done it wasn't particularly a surprise, it was just a why and how to keep you engaged. It's a decent listen but it's not going to get me raving about it.
Having read the reviews by other members I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately every listen just left me wanting more depth and thrills. Very very predictable and I found rather frustrating. Give me Val Mcdermid or Patricia Cornwell any day!
Normally I buy a book per month to 'read' while travelling back and forth to work. Anything of 9 hours and above is enough for this, until I started this book. I have, in effect, 'read' it in two days. The old saying, cannot put a good book down' applies so much to this one.
The narrator, Jonathan Keeble, is just superb, enacting faultlessly all the different voices and mannerisms of the characters really helping to bring them to life. A really enjoyable, well written and well narrated audio-book with a good storyline, fitting ending and well thought out plot.
Trouble is, I need to get another to last the rest of the month, I doubt it will do though if I get another by Simon Beckett. I hope the author and narrator get together for another book soon.
"Worth a listen!"
I really enjoyed this book, a little predictable in the end. The narrator Jonathan Keeble was excellent.
"A really good listen"
I really enjoyed this audio book. Simon Brett's story was beautifully read, full of interest, suspense and very believable characters. The ending was particularly satisfactory.
"Excellent. Input downscale"
I am Beckett 's No.1 fan. Believable tense and well-paced. Sorry when it ended. Reader a pleasure to listen to.
"Fine but not as exciting as previous efforts"
This story was solid - good plot albeit with some predictable elements and believable characters. Hunter is likeable and everyone else fits the bill. Only one character really irritated and I won't reveal at the risk of a spoiler.
Loved the previous Hunter stories, really atmospheric and some strong twists. This wasn't quite as strong. I think this was a new narrator as well - much preferred the former who made Hunter seem more human and approachable. If I hadn't been familiar with character then this reader would have definitely put me off.
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