Married. Education: Earned M.A.
Journalist, writer. Freelance journalist for British newspapers, including the Times, Daily Telegraph, Observer, and Independent. Has worked as a property repairman, taught in Spain, and been a professional musician.
Fine Lines, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.
Animals, Allison & Busby (London, England), 1995.
Where There's Smoke, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1997.
Owning Jacob, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1998.
"DAVID HUNTER" MYSTERIES
The Chemistry of Death, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Written in Bone, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Simon Beckett is a writer who splits his time between journalism and novels. His first novel, Fine Lines, won critical praise for its take on the sleazy life of aging London art dealer Donald Ramsey, a previously asexual aesthete who becomes obsessed with his assistant, Anna, when he inadvertently witnesses her in a state of undress. Once his voyeuristic tendencies are engaged, he becomes bent on separating Anna from her "ugly" American boyfriend, Marty, who he believes is defiling her beauty. He hires a male model to seduce her, but she remains faithful to Marty. Ramsey escalates his plan to murder in what a Publishers Weekly reviewer called a "clever yet brazenly sleazy story." It is a "chilling vision of sexual obsession," wrote Alice Joyce in a review for Booklist.
Beckett introduced forensic pathologist Dr. David Hunter in the novel The Chemistry of Death. Following the death of his wife and daughter, the pathologist relocates to a small English village and settles into private practice. His plans to live quietly, detached from the somewhat cloistered townspeople, are disrupted by the realization that one of them is a serial killer whose ritualistic slayings leaves corpses in bizarre poses. David is quickly drawn into the situation; when his girlfriend is kidnapped he can no longer hold the townspeople at arm's length. He is drafted by local authorities to employ his forensic skills to find the killer. Along the way, the sleepy town gives up some surprising secrets. Stephanie Zvirin, in a review for Booklist, praised the book's "nice balance between forensic detail and thrilling action."
Getting the details right is important to Beckett; he undertakes significant research to make his plots scientifically accurate. The Chemistry of Death, for example, was influenced by Beckett's visit to the Body Farm in Tennessee, a laboratory of the National Forensic Academy in which real-life cadavers are exposed to the elements in order for experts to scientifically investigate various degrees and conditions of decomposition. Initially, he intended to write a magazine article about his experience, but it became apparent that it was excellent research for a book. "I found the whole thing completely fascinating," Beckett told an interviewer for the online magazine Gateway, "not least when I was given a pair of rubber gloves and overalls and told to help out myself. That isn't the sort of experience you forget in a hurry."
Beckett's novel Written in Bone is the second story to feature David Hunter. Called to the remote island of Runa off the coast of Scotland to investigate a strange death, Hunter agrees to take the case despite the tension it will create with his girlfriend and the possibility of being stranded by the harsh winter weather. The body he encounters appears to be a victim of spontaneous human combustion: it is incinerated beyond recognition except for the feet and one hand. The authorities' opinions are split; some believe the death was a freak accident, others—including Hunter and the retired investigator who invited him to the island—believe it is the work of a murderer. As a storm cuts off the island from the mainland, Hunter is proven right when the murderer strikes again.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 1994, Alice Joyce, review of Fine Lines, p. 22; August 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Chemistry of Death, p. 46.
Entertainment Weekly, January 13, 1995, review of Fine Lines, p. 57.
Library Journal, September 15, 2006, Teresa L. Jacobsen, review of The Chemistry of Death, p. 46.
Observer (London, England), March 12, 2006, Killian Fox, review of The Chemistry of Death.
Publishers Weekly, August 22, 1994, review of Fine Lines, p. 40; July 17, 2006, review of The Chemistry of Death, p. 138.
Gateway,http://gatewaymonthly.com/ (June 1, 2007), interview with author.
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (May 2, 2007), Andy Plonka, review of The Chemistry of Death.
Simon Beckett Home Page,http://www.simonbeckett.com (May 2, 2007).