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Dr. David Hunter Books In Order

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Publication Order of David Hunter Books

The Chemistry of Death (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Written in Bone (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Whispers of the Dead (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Calling of the Grave (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Restless Dead (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Scent of Death (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Bone Garden (2025)Description / Buy at Amazon

The name Dr. David Hunter refers to a series of crime thriller novels written by Simon Beckett, an English author. Dr. David Hunter is also the protagonist of the books in question.

The series follows the exploits of a forensic anthropologist who abandons his career after a tragedy.

+The Story

Simon Beckett published ‘The Chemistry of Death’, the first book in the Dr. David Hunter Series in 2006. The book was inspired by the English author’s visit to the Body Farm. ‘The Body Farm’ is what people generally call the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility.

Beckett had a chance to visit the facility in 2002. At the time, the author was on assignment for a newspaper. His goal was to understand the workings of the facility. He watched as the staff manufactured crime scenes using real corpses some of which had begun the process of decay.

Beckett also got to observe as skilled individuals used scientific methods to determine when, how, and where the manufactured deaths in question had occurred. The experience was eye-opening for the author who was awed by the gruesome nature of death and the accuracy with which science could be used to solve crimes.

Simon Beckett created Dr. David Hunter soon after, a forensic anthropologist who uses his skills to glean the clues hidden within human remains with the intention of catching killers.

When he is first introduced, Dr. David Hunter has retreated from the world. David worked in London and he was pretty successful in the field of forensic anthropology. But everything changed when his wife and daughter died.

The tragedy nearly destroyed him. David found that he could no longer cope with life in London. So he abandoned everything and fled to rural Norfolk. By the time the events of ‘The Chemistry of Death’ take place, David has found peace and purpose in his new home.

As a simple country doctor, David is afforded the chance to use his skills to help people. The work isn’t especially strenuous and the rural community that David calls home is free of the dangers that dogged him as a forensic anthropologist in London.

David thought he had finally put his forensic career to bed. That notion is tested when a gruesome murder strikes David’s tight-knit community. And unfortunately for David, because he is the newcomer, everyone begins to look at him as the prime suspect.

Even when David realizes that proving his innocence won’t be that difficult of a challenge, he becomes aware of the presence of a malevolent foe in the countryside, a figure that David must catch using his long ignored forensic expertise.

What follows is an attempt by Dr. David Hunter to re-enter society and the realm of forensic anthropology.

Simon Beckett said he initially set out to create a vulnerable protagonist with a variety of weaknesses. David seems to fit that bill. The protagonist struggles to overcome his grief over the death of his family.

And even migrating to rural Norfolk does little to keep his wife and daughter out of his dreams. However, once bodies begin to drop, David shows that he has the backbone to cast his own demons aside and deploy his forensic skills to catch the bad guys.

As tends to happen with most crime thrillers, the Dr. David Hunter series features a litany of very depraved criminals. And the crime scenes that the author describes are highly disturbing.

From the maggots to the decayed flesh and the smells, Simon Beckett makes every effort possible to bring the gory nature of death to readers. In fact, a certain section of the audience has admitted to giving up on this series solely because of how gross the author’s descriptions can get.

Beckett’s fans love the detail he injects into his crime scenes. They have also praised the author for the effort he makes to describe the forensic aspects of crime solving. This seems to be where the Hunter books shine.

Doctor Hunter is a forensic anthropologist. This means that the bulk of the action in these books involves Hunter putting his expertise to good use. As such, it comes as no surprise that descriptions of forensic techniques and methods are littered throughout this series. The author makes an effort to delve into the minutiae of David Hunter’s work without bogging his narrative down with complicated medical jargon.

+The Author

Simon Beckett was born in 1960 in Sheffield. The British author’s family came from working-class roots. Beckett did not know that he would eventually write novels for a living. He got a Masters in English from college but that did not convince him to go into publishing.

Instead, the author saw fit to play music with whatever bands would have him. Beckett’s big break came when he went into freelance journalism and snagged writing opportunities with the likes of The Times and The Daily Telegraph. The experience bolstered Beckett’s passion for writing while also growing his skills. By the early 1990s, the author had begun to write novels.

+The Chemistry of Death

The remains of a woman have been found in the woods. Her killer left a macabre sign on her body. Now everyone thinks that Dr. David Hunter did the dark deed, probably because he is new to the area.

David Hunter knows he didn’t kill anyone. And fortunately, he has the skills to prove his innocence. Once upon a time, David was a forensic anthropologist working in London. His luck changed when his wife and daughter died.

The tragedy forced David to flee to rural Norfolk. David thought he would find peace. He even became a country doctor. However, it doesn’t look like trouble is quite done with him.

Once he is singled out as the prime suspect in a murder, David dusts his forensic skills off and uses them to help the police find a killer.

+Written in Bone

Dr. David Hunter only went to the remote Island of Runa as a favor to a friend. David, a forensic anthropologist, was sent to investigate a grisly discovery. He would rather be in London with the woman he loves.

However, he decides to check out the discovery. What he finds is quite shocking. It is assumed that someone died. But all anyone can find is a pair of feet and a hand. David starts to conclude that they might be dealing with a case of spontaneous human combustion.

But then a storm assaults the Island. Bodies begin to drop and David realizes that he might be trapped with a killer.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Dr. David Hunter

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