Imagine the light bulb with flies from the cover of the book, mutilated cadavers hanging from the ceiling of a deserted underground air-raid shelter, a horrid smell and a naked young girl bound and tortured by a brutal insane criminal - and you have the gist of this debut thriller. Everything else in the story is built around this central scene. And Beckett knows his job. It took him a long time to write the book, and some more to find a publisher for it, but he invented a convincing, if flawed hero in David Hunter, a former forensic pathologist, who tells the story in the first person. He is now working as a GP in Manham, a small village in Norfolk. Three years ago he had fled there from London, when his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash. And now the mutilated body of a young woman is found in the forest. He very reluctantly agrees to assist the police. At first Beckett builds up suspense slowly. At the end of each chapter portents tell the reader to expect the worst, which, of course, happens. Like in Kleist's famous story “Das Bettelweib von Locarno” Beckett intensifies his description of the victim's ordeal when the second murder happens, and then Hunter's girlfriend Jenny is kidnapped and the reader is right there in this shelter with her and her torturer. Here Beckett abandons the first person narrative, but turns back to it when helpless Hunter comes into view again. Naturally, in the end, it's not the police who find Jenny half-dead in a diabetic coma, but Hunter. It then becomes really nasty and, for this reader here, rather disgusting, but it is a thriller, isn't it?
On Beckett's homepage we can read an interview with the author, in which he talks about his literary models and a visit to the Body Farm in Tennessee, which gave him the idea for his hero. He conveniently forgets to mention Patricia Cornwall as his closest literary ancestor