The Restless Dead
by Simon Beckett
It was on a Friday evening that forensics consultant Dr David Hunter took the call: a Detective Inspector Lundy from the Essex force. Just up the coast from Mersea Island, near a place called Backwaters, a badly decomposed body has been found and the local police would welcome Hunter’s help with the recovery and identification . . . But Hunter has his doubts about the identity of the remains. The hands and feet are missing, the face no longer recognisable.
With its eerie and claustrophobic sense of place, explosive heart-in-mouth moments, and viscerally authentic forensics and police procedural detail, coupled with David Hunter’s own uncanny ability to understand the living as much as the dead, The Restless Dead stands as a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.
Dr David hunter is called by Essex police to assist with the recovery of a body in an area of marsh land known as the Backwaters. Being out of favour with the police due to circumstances in his past, he is hopeful this could be a turning point in his career.
The remains are thought to be those of the son of local businessman and landowner Sir Stephen Villiers, who has used his power and influence to hamper the investigation from the moment his son went missing. But when the body is recovered Hunter is not convinced that it is Leo villiers, and when more bodies are discovered, the mystery deepens.
This is crime writing at its intelligent best with superb characters, meaning the pages practically turn themselves. Dr David Hunter as the main character is very well drawn, he has been the subject of previous books, but this can easily be read as a standalone, you get just enough back story to get a feel for the character but not too much to be over-whelming.
The setting of the Essex Backwaters is creepy and atmospheric, it is almost a character in itself and the introduction of the family through the setting is excellently told. This family have secrets abound and David Hunter finds himself entangled in the middle of it, to the detriment of his job. The twists and turns come thick and fast and, thanks to the calibre of the writing, are totally surprising. The denouement was totally unexpected and original.
The forensic detail is absolutely fascinating and this book will appeal to fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs.
Many thanks to martin Myers of Penguin/Random House for sending me a copy.