St Jude’s Hospital now stands empty. Slowly rotting and silently awaiting demolition, the vast, oppressive building’s only visitors have been society’s outcasts, addicts and dealers. And it’s here that the partially mummified corpse has been discovered. Hunter is not sure how long the body has been hidden in the hospital’s cavernous loft, but he’s seen enough to know it’s a young woman. And that she was pregnant.
As the remains are removed for closer examination, a floor collapses revealing a previously sealed off part of a ward. Bricked up inside this hidden chamber are three beds. Two of them are occupied . . .
What other grisly secrets will St Jude’s reveal? The local community is alarmed and the police need answers. For David Hunter, what began as a challenging if straightforward case is about to become a twisted nightmare threatening him and those around him.
I’ve been a long time fan of Simon Beckett’s novels, both the Hunter series and the standalone books, ever since I picked up The Chemistry of Death on one of my book shop journeys many years ago- so it was with great anticipation and a huge smile on my face that I immersed myself into this one.
As usual it did not disappoint, a clever, multi layered mix of forensic detail, character driven drama and mystery with a thrilling edge and huge page turning quality.
I don’t think there are many crime fiction fans who don’t get fascinated by the forensic details and this author does those in a complex yet highly accessible and absorbing way, the heart around which the rest of the story builds.
David Hunter is a beautifully drawn main protagonist, very human, not infallible therefore highly relatable, he’s certainly faced some huge challenges both in his professional life and his personal one, this case will test both his skill and his sense of self. As such it is completely compelling with often unexpected moments and a slow, absorbing build to a clever and emotional finale.
Easily read as a standalone but for constant readers an absolute gem, The Scent Of Death is an intelligent, beautifully written and deeply layered novel that I read in one sitting – I highly recommend it and the ones before it – quality crime fiction at its very best.
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