“A human body starts to decompose four minutes after death. The body, once the encapsulation of life, now undergoes its final metamorphoses. 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 immoveable feast for other organisms. Bacteria first, then insects. Flies. Eggs are lain, 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.”
This is the first paragraph from the first chapter of the book, “Chemistry of Death” written by a British author Simon Beckett. It is probably one of the best crime thriller novels ever written, according to my opinion of course. I’ve read it like 5 times already and looking forward to turn its pages again. It’s that addictive. I bought it like 6 years ago, in a bookstore in Mahkota Parade, Malacca. I can’t remember either it was Popular or MPH. The first thing that caught my attention was the tagline; AFTER 30 SECONDS YOUR SKIN BEGINS TO CRAWL. AFTER ONE MINUTE YOUR HEART IS IN YOUR MOUTH. Of course I wanted my skin to crawl when I read a thriller, and the reviews on the back cover were intriguing enough. Without thinking twice I bought it for RM30 something, I can’t really recall.
Once I read the first paragraph, I knew I’ve found my new favorite bedtime book. I couldn’t put it down and couldn’t stop turning the pages, yearning for more. The characters were convincing enough with their strong background stories and personalities. As a hardcore fan for this sub-genre, I found the plots were written in such gloomy yet unnerving narration, my kind of reading materials. Also, it reminded me of the classic X-Files series, with all the bizarre murders, psychopath, and morbid information of human decomposing process, grotesque details of mutilations and a lot of post mortem scenes.
Here’s the synopsis, it’s a story about a former forensic expert DAVID HUNTER who moved from London to a small remote Norfolk Village after a tragedy that nearly destroyed him. He wanted to run from the ghosts of his past and seek new beginning in this rural heaven. Life was perfect for him, for a while. Serving as the town’s only doctor, almost every townsfolk is no stranger to him. All of that changed after they found remains of SALLY PALMER, a writer who, like David himself, seeks refuge in this remote getaway to start writing her new book. The poor woman was mutilated beyond recognition; they could only identify her by the dental records. Local police was baffled by this sinister tragedy. That’s where David came into the picture, lending his expertise and experiences identifying and profiling for the psychopath.
From there the plot unfolds and develops until at the end uncovers a shocking truth. Like I said, it’s almost impossible to put this masterpiece down. This is SIMON BECKETT’s first novel. “Chemistry of Death” is the first book in the David Hunter’s Series, followed by three more titles, “Written in bone”, “Whispers of the dead” and “The Calling of the grave”. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to acquire the remaining three books, yet. They’ve been in my wish list for a long time now. My advice, get a copy; it’s not something that should be missed by any thriller fan out there.