15: Written in Bone

Beckett Written in Bone, Simon Beckett’s second novel, is my fifthteenth choice of retrospective book review, another from April. The full version of the review is here.

“I’ve read many crime-fiction stories set in remote spots in order for the authors to conveniently isolate a small group of suspects from the rest of society, and where the reader can have fun trying to stay a step ahead of the detective. WRITTEN IN BONE is extremely effective in this regard – David, Brody and Fraser find themselves increasingly isolated and in danger, as more people are killed, buildings are set on fire, and the storm (as well as a human hand) wrecks communication channels. The suspects include a young South African millionaire and his stunning wife – a childless couple who spend their time doing good works and stimulating the island’s economy. Other characters include Maggie, a keen but green young journalist; Ellen, the supportive owner of the hotel, who has her own worries; and various suspicious, inward-looking locals who don’t take kindly to what they see as outside interference.

An atmosphere of unease and seething resentment is ably conveyed, in which Brody and David struggle to keep the investigation on an even keel – not helped by Fraser’s drinking and habit of blurting out confidential information to the wrong people. WRITTEN IN BONE is superbly and tightly plotted and proceeds at a thrilling pace. It really is a page-turner.”