A human body starts to decompose four minutes after death. Once the encapsulation of life, it now undergoes its final metamorposes. It begins to digest itself. Cells dissolve from the inside out. Tissue turns to liquid, then to gas. No longer animate, the body becomes an immovable feast for other organisms. Bacteria first, then insects. Flies. Eggs are laid, then hatch. The larvae feed on the nutrient-rich broth, and then migrate. They leave the body in orderly fashion, following each other in a neat procession that always heads south. South-east or south-west sometimes, but never north. No-one knows why.
And so begins this excellent thriller by Simon Beckett. The narrator, Dr. David Hunter, is an expert in forensics who has moved to a small town in England to get away from a personal tragedy. He is working as the town doctor when the body of a woman is discovered. Reluctantly he becomes involved in the investigation and what becomes a hunt for a serial killer.
This was a “read while you are brushing your teeth and while you are trying to cook dinner and while you are sitting at stoplights” kind of book for me. The suspense part of it makes it difficult to put down but it’s also just really well written. The characters are truly three-dimensional and have a story aside from the thriller. And the forensic information that is woven into the book is fascinating.
The good news for me was that this book, published in 2006, is the first in a series (so far, of three). If you like mysteries or suspense novels I’d highly recommend this one. As for me, I know what is the next book on my library list.