Written in Bone by Simon Beckett

writtenReviewed by Allen Hott

“Our lives, and sometimes deaths, are stories written in bone. It provides a telltale record of injuries, neglect or abuse.”

These lines really describe “Written in Bone” as Simon Beckett has crafted a really interesting tale of how a forensic anthropologist works to solve crimes. Beckett has put together a great mystery and allows the reader to watch for the clues. And he has also put enough clues throughout the reading so that the reader solves the crime several times before the final ending. Really great writing.

A body is discovered in a deserted cabin on one of the islands off the coast of Scotland. The body has been almost totally consumed by fire yet the building itself shows little signs of any fire.

A retired detective who has moved to the island from the mainland under some trying circumstances finds the body. He is not looked on with much favor by many of the members of the department from which he retired. He calls in the finding to his former boss who is in the midst of dealing with a horrific train crash on the mainland and has little neither time nor inclination to do anything about the finding.

However the superior does contact one of his forensic team and asks him to detour to the island rather than come home after his current case is finished. And thus Doctor David Hunter is called away from returning to his home and girlfriend who is extremely upset about the situation.

Hunter arrives on Runa, the small island in the Outer Hebrides, at the same time that a powerful storm is heading in that direction. Throughout the rest of the story, Beckett uses the storm to create scenes that are indelibly inscribed in the reader’s mind. Many things happen because of the storm and the damage that it does. And the reader feels the rain pelting down and the wind howling for days.

However Hunter and Andrew Brody, the retired detective team up and work together to pull all pieces of the original crime and the subsequent ones together. They do so without much help from the mainland police officer who is sent out on assignment for the case.

Several more murders are committed and many side events are cleverly woven into the story to keep the action moving. However, no matter what the reader believes, when the final chapters ring down the curtain no one will have been able to solve all the mysteries as they unfold. Truly a completely different ending and actually not once but twice.

Undoubtedly one of the most mystifying books ever written and Beckett deserves much praise for his work. Excellent!!

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