Once again the topic of my blog will be contemporary fiction set on Scottish Islands with an emphasis on murder mysteries and thrillers. The setting for this novel is the fictional island of Runa in the very real collection of Islands that make up the Outer Hebrides. I’m Okay with this. I think if you’re going to bring murder and mayhem to a small population it is better if it’s fictional; Miss Marple’s St.Mary Mead and Jessica Fletcher’s Cabot Cove come to my mind. “Written in Bone” is the second book in a series featuring forensic anthropologist David Hunter and written by Simon Beckett. Apparently, Mr Beckett became interested in this occupation when he visited The University of Tennessee anthropological Research Facility (nicknamed the Body Farm) as a journalist in 2002. The author and his character are both Englishmen. I don’t usually say this but I don’t think it matters if you read this series in order. The character of David Hunter has been grieving his late daughter and wife for many years and this affects his job, his friendships, and his commitments — I think that is enough to know to dive into the second novel—but by all means read the first.
David is sent to Runa to check out a suspicious death that many of the locals are calling “spontaneous combustion” While he is on the Island the weather gets progressively worse until the island loses all communication with the outside world….Oh yeah, and there IS a killer in their midst.
This is not a cozy. I feel I must stress that because a lady on my library web sight was very (ahem) displeased with these books (well the first one anyway) because of the gory content. What can I say — he studies dead bodies to determine the when, how, why and where of death as much as possible. And he depends on bugs almost as much as Gil Grissom (CSI TV show).
In an earlier blog I discussed how the remoteness of Scottish Islands could add suspense to a novel and I think this book is a good example of that theory.
The other novels in this series;
#1. The chemistry of Death (2006) Delacorte Press
#3. Whispers of the Dead (2009) Delacorte Press
#4. The Calling of the Grave (2010) London Bantam