Simon Beckett

Calling to the Grave

"The plot swirls the reader back and forth like tendrils of moor mist caught in a breeze.."


Eight years ago, a buried body was discovered on Dartmoor. Police were certain that the body belonged to a victim of the rapist and psychotic serial killer Jerome Monk. There were still 2 victim's bodies to be found and an ill-conceived search ended badly. Life moved on for forensic anthropologist David Hunter and the rest of the team as momentum waned and the bodies were left unfound.

Fast-forward to the present day and Monk has escaped from prison and appears to be targeting anyone connected with the ill-fated search operation. Lured back to the moors by a cry for help, Hunter realises that things are not what they seem now, and they weren't eight years ago either.

As Monk's violent spree moves ever closer to him, the past is suddenly anything but dead and buried...

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I have never before read any of Simon Beckett's books, which is very strange as he is one of the very few crime authors who my wife reads and raves about. I have always meant to read one and never gotten around to it yet. This next statement hurts; I wish I'd listened to her and read a Simon Beckett book years ago, as I loved this book! There are more than a few layers to this book; with the past and present colliding and the overwhelming desire to find the bodies of Monk's last two victims casting an eerie spell over the book. The setting of Dartmoor is a masterstroke and its open spaces, combined with the all encompassing thick mists make for a very dark place indeed at times. The pacing is initially un-remarkable until suddenly what started out as a routine forensics case becomes a fully blown action piece manhunt. The combining of these styles works incredibly well due in no small part to the authors tight, tense prose and deftness of touch with the emotive reactions of both character and reader. Hunter is a fine creation and his thoughts and explanations of forensic details make for interesting and informative narration. Police officers play their part in the story with the usual mix of ambition, incompetence and integrity. The most notable of these are Roper, Simms, Naysmith and Connors. Another wonderful character who deserves a mention for the way she is stunningly depicted is Sophie Keller. I cannot praise the creation of Jerome Monk highly enough as he is a masterpiece of malignancy who impacts the story harder than any wrecking ball has ever hit a building. The plot swirls the reader back and forth like tendrils of moor mist caught in a breeze, before the final stand-off reveals all the hidden truths. There is much to hold a reader's attention and while reading this in the bath I twice added more hot water because I didn't want to stop reading. I did make a couple of the connections and guess ahead correctly, but this is one of the joys of reading such books. If you can get something right once in a while then not only are you being entertained by the story, you are also subconsciously patting yourself on the back.

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