Publication Order of Dr. David Hunter Books
|The Chemistry of Death||(2006)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Written in Bone||(2007)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Whispers of the Death||(2009)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Calling of the Grave||(2010)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Publication Order of Standalone Novels
|Fine Lines||(1994)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Animals||(1995)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Where There's Smoke||(1997)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Owning Jacob||(1998)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Growing up, the author read horror and science fiction rigorously. Later, he would move to crime novels after first being introduced to books by novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler. In adulthood, Beckett’s interest in crime-writing was further developed by a combination of his inclination towards darker ideas, and experiences from his early career in writing. After obtaining a Masters of Art degree in English (during which Beckett pursued creative writing, among others), the author did property repairs for several years before teaching English in Spain. During this time, the author started writing again, as his working hours were limited to only the evenings.
Upon his return to the UK, the author played congas and bongos for several bands and did freelance writing for national papers including The Daily Telegraph, The Independent Sunday and The Times. The latter provided him with work assignments which exposed him to experiences such as drug raids with the police, brothels touring with a vice squad, gun fighting lessons in Nevada, and ultimately a trip to the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility at Knoxville, where its body farm inspired Beckett to write The Chemistry of Death, the first of his internationally bestselling David Hunter series.
The Chemistry of Death, published in 2006, introduces the main character – Dr. David Hunter who has retreated to a remote rural village in search of peace after losing his wife and children to a tragedy. Upon the discovery of a mutilated female body, the main character automatically becomes the main suspect, as the newcomer of the tight-knit village. However, the story eventually pulls him back into the world of forensic anthropology when his assistance is required by the police force. The plot then thickens when he discovers that a new female abductee is his personal friend, making the thriller a race against time. Often considered as the author’s magnum opus, this book was later nominated for a string of awards (as seen below).
The following year, the author published Written in Bone, the second book of the series. Here, the main character heads to an island to investigate on a burned body found in a largely intact and unoccupied house. To add to the peculiarity of circumstances, two others are also killed in another fire within days. Later, a killer storm impedes the investigation and causes the main character to require help from a retired officer and local copper, bringing about shocking revelations of secrets and vengeance within the close-knitted community on the island. The author’s crime-writing skills are once again exhibited through unexpected plot twists within precise gruesome details.
The next two books of the David Hunter series were published in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, Beckett rose to the title of UK’s top selling author in Europe.
For the series, the author was inspired to develop the main character, Dr. David Hunter following his visit and participation at the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility body farm mentioned above, where he had the chance to study about the decomposition of bodies and the science of death from observing real human corpses. He intended the main character to be knowledgeable, yet at the same time “very human”, at times skeptical and stubborn, yet having empathy and intuition.
Contrary to what one might assume of a crime-novelist, the author is not fascinated by death, but by the forensics employed in the investigation of death. But similar to many, the author wonders about death occasionally, a trait reflected on David Hunter, who is haunted by the mystery of death. Beckett ensured that his fictional forensic anthropologist deviated from typical crime novel characters, which often included boorish men with alcoholic tendencies. Through the series, the author gradually revealed Dr. David Hunter’s personal agenda and history in drip-feed fashion.
Despite not having any formal training in journalism, Beckett’s stint as a freelance journalist in his earlier years equipped him with a commitment to authenticity. Besides visiting the locations used as his books’ settings, the author also tracked down several UK and US based forensic anthropologists for assistance toward his pursuit of scientific and factual accuracy in his crime-writing. Furthermore, Beckett’s veracity drove him to engage experts in various other topics, including police communications and diabetic comas.
His skills and dedication paid off when The Chemistry of Death was shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association as the best crime novel of 2006 – the Gold Dagger award. Later in 2008, the author was also shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year for best crime-fiction, followed by the Dagger in the Library award, both in 2009 and 2010, for being the “living author who has given the most pleasure to readers”.
Hailed by the Sunday Express as “one of the country’s best crime writers”, it is interesting to note that Beckett’s series is immensely popular in Germany and Scandinavia. In May 2015, The Chemistry of Death was ranked 11 of the 40 Top Bestselling Books of the decade by Spiegel, a major German news publication.
Prior to the David Hunter series, Beckett has written four other novels, and while in working progress of his fifth installment for the series, Beckett decided for the work to be a standalone thriller instead, hence 2014’s Stone Bruises. Unlike the David Hunter Series, Stone Bruises does not involve forensics, and is set in France. For this, Beckett drew from his personal experience, and as always, did his research even for the smallest details. It is no wonder that Beckett’s novels have sold over millions of copies worldwide.
Beckett admires the ability of forensic experts to maintain a detachment toward corpses, despite knowing that the dead body was once alive and human. On a less morbid note, the author is also inspired by the writings of Peter O’Donnell and Graham Geene, other than the Raymond Chandler mentioned above, who first attracted him into the world of crime-novel. Beckett also enjoys watching films from different genres. His favorite films include Sexy Beast and The Talented Mr Ripley. Beckett is married and currently still resides in Sheffield, United Kingdom.Book Series In Order » Authors » Simon Beckett