The Restless Dead – Simon Beckett
‘Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . . ‘
Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.
A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.
It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.
But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . .
With its eerie, claustrophobic sense of place, viscerally authentic detail and explosive heart-in-mouth moments, The Restless Dead offers a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.
My thanks to Hannah at Penguin Random House for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.
No beating about the bush on this review – The Restless Dead was a brilliant read. It gets a 5* score and I want to go back and read the previous David Hunter novels right now…I seriously love these books.
When the body has been recovered Hunter finds himself unable to return to London and he is temporarily stranded at the rural Essex coastline. He finds a temporary accommodation but in doing so unwittingly becomes drawn into the lives of one of the families who are anxiously waiting for news on a missing woman. They want to know if the body recovered from the marshes is that of the wife/sister they have been missing. Hunter, initially oblivious to their plight and not understanding who they are, just wants a warm bed and a change of clothes.
Although the body is quickly identified Hunter is not wholly convinced over the timeline of the story as it has been described to him. If the missing person vanished six weeks prior to the recovery of the body then why does the body only seem to have been in the water for a month at most? Returning to the scene Hunter finds another clue which casts further doubt on the identity of the corpse and this creates problems for the local police.
In The Restless Dead there are feuds, misunderstandings and hostile characters – Beckett has done a marvellous job of keeping Hunter in the midst of all the tension and hostility and making the reader uncomfortable and edgy as they read. Having read the previous David Hunter books I know what a tough time he has had previously and you just want something to go right for him. Reading the previous books gives you the background you need to get the most from The Restless Dead but it reads well as a stand-alone novel too as the author provides any background info which you may need.
Simon Beckett is a wonderful storyteller. He gives the detail and explanations which make forensic thrillers engaging reads, his characters are always well defined and wholly believable. Did I mention that The Restless Dead is a 5* read? It is.
The Restless Dead is published by Bantam Press and is currently available in Hardback and digital formats. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Restless-Dead-Simon-Beckett/dp/0593063473/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492242215&sr=1-1&keywords=the+restless+dead+simon+beckett