Beckett, Simon - 'Written in Bone'
This novel, which is a sequel to THE CHEMISTRY OF DEATH, describes how Dr David Hunter is telephoned whilst in a taxi on the way to a Scottish airport to return to London. A senior police officer asks him to go, as a special favour, to examine a body on Runa, a remote island, in the Outer Hebrides. The body has been mysteriously burnt to death. There has been a serious train crash in Scotland, possibly caused by Al-Qaeda sabotage and all Scottish Scene Of Crime (SOC) teams are involved in that and no-one can be spared to go to the Outer Hebrides.
Hunter is reluctant to go because he promised his girl friend that he would return home to her, but he is sufficiently intrigued by the request to put off her request for a few days.
He arrives on the island and doesn't feel very unwelcome from the meeting he gets from a local police sergeant and the retired DCI who discovered the body. As the island is very sparsely populated it seems very eerie and strange. The author has given the book a ghostly style.
Hunter goes immediately to the croft where the body is located and the death is indeed very weird, the body is almost completely incinerated except for one hand and the feet. Yet the rest of the croft is undisturbed.
Hunter's companions suspect spontaneous human combustion but he is less sure… Further investigation reveals skull fragments from which Hunter can safely conclude that this was no accident, this was murder. Once this is concluded, Hunter has to contact his superior officer, who still says all SOC teams are otherwise involved, could he initiate an enquiry until he can spare a team?
Then, the weather gets much worse and all communications with the mainland are cut off and the murders start to multiply.
This novel, I found as exciting as his earlier one, but it lacks the novelty of that one, but I still thought it an exciting read and it has an extraordinary ending, very unusual and I look forward to reading other titles in the future from him.
Terry Halligan, England