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With a twist that will make you groan...
Whispers of the Dead - Simon Beckett
Member Name: Gemma_C
Whispers of the Dead - Simon Beckett
Date: 22/05/10, updated on 22/05/10 (76 review reads)
Advantages: It wasn't TOO bad a read.
Disadvantages: A terrible twist, unbelieveable characters and not very gripping.
~~ Plot ~~
Forensics expert Dr David Hunter is in Tennessee working alongside his former mentor at the Anthropological Research Facility, better known as the body farm, to escape London and the violence that nearly killed him.
However a body has been found in a remote cabin out in the woods, and when his mentor and friend, David Lieberman who is director of the body farm is called out to investigate, David finds himself drawn into a search for a serial killer as more bodies are found. Can David get over what happened in London and help contribute towards this investigation as he tries to hunt down a killer who seemingly can't be stopped?
Simon Beckett is the author and has worked as a property repairer, taught English in Spain and even played percussion with several bands before becoming a novelist and freelance journalist. He now writes for national newspapers including The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and Observer. He is married and lives in Sheffield.
This is the third book in the series featuring Dr David Hunter, and makes a change from the first two books in the series as the setting has now been taken away from the UK, which seemed a shame to me as I had enjoyed the first two books. I wouldn't say it's necessary to read the first two books before this one, as it takes on a whole new light and whilst it does mention events which have happened previously, it doesn't dwell on them too much and you do get the general gist that something bad has happened.
~~ My Opinion ~~
I do like the character of Dr Hunter however I seemed to prefer him in the previous books in a more British setting. With this book I found it harder to sympathise with the main character, and whilst Beckett is good at portraying character's emotions, I did feel that he couldn't decide where to take the character of Dr Hunter. For example, for most of the first half of the book David Hunter remember those previous violent events and keeps dwelling on them, and even smelling a familiar perfume in a restaurant sets him off into a panic attack, he is constantly looking over his shoulder. Then not so long later, he is facing just as serious a threat, however he suddenly feels like taking a walk around by himself and ignoring police advice of staying in his hotel room and not answering the door. To have a character go from being jumpy and suspicious to suddenly not being afraid anymore in a short space of time really confused me and it made it seem his character seem totally unbelievable to me in the later parts of the book.
The blurb on the back of the book has a big bold paragraph at the back taking a quote from the book mentioning the body farm. I therefore expected to have the body farm mentioned quite a bit, however it only appears at the start of the book for a couple of pages, and then we don't ever really venture back in after that, which was a disappointment seeing as the blurb really makes the body farm setting stand out as if it plays an important part in the story.
The story itself involving the serial killer was simply ok, and probably a rather average crime thriller which again was a disappointment as I loved the first two books and I feel Beckett has gone rather downhill with this one. I never felt riveted by the story and whilst quite gory, it didn't actually reach out and grab me. There is a big twist surrounding the killer, however when I found out who was the killer I just wanted to groan so loudly (however I was reading this book in the staff room.) The killer to me just seemed an unlikely character, and whilst many would say that makes for a good twist, I just couldn't believe the story line, and it seemed like Beckett did this simply for making a big twist at the end which the book probably could have done without!
The hunt for the serial killer towards the end does get a bit exciting, especially when it starts to get a bit personal, and it was the last few pages of the book I didn't want to put down. This was ruined by the twist Beckett wanted to include, and it did ruin the ending of the book for me by taking it in this new direction.
I did miss the British setting from the first two books, one was based in a Norfolk village and the second in Scotland and to me that was a part of the charm of his first two books. The American setting in this book was just too boring to me, it's all been done before and I didn't want to read a book that seems like it's trying to match Patricia Cornwall! I'm hoping Beckett returns to the UK with the fourth book otherwise I'm unlikely to buy it.
~~ Summary ~~
I didn't feel gripped by this story, and found it rather average. The characters seemed too unbelievable at times and I really feel Beckett has taken a back step with this third book in the series, which really does not match up the good standard of the first two books in the series.
Whispers of the Dead is available in paperback from Amazon.
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)
Summary: Beckett has gone downhill with this third book in the Dr Hunter series.