Title: The Calling of the Grave
Author: Simon Beckett
Release Date: November 24, 2011
Publisher: Random House UK
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Eight years ago, before the death of his wife and daughter, Dr. David Hunter was called to consult on the discovery of a body. The police believed that this was one of the murders committed by a serial killer named Monk, a fact that the man himself (who is in prison) confirms. Monk offers to show the police the location of the other bodies, but the search fails. Now, one of Hunter’s fellow consultants on the project, Sophie Keller, has contacted David and asked to see him, and he can’t help but feel this has to do with the Monk investigation from all those years ago.
I discovered the Dr. David Hunter novels a couple of years ago, and absolutely fell in love with them. The Chemistry of Death, Written in Bone, and Whispers of the Dead are amazing reads. When the fourth novel, The Calling of the Grave, was released in the UK, I awaited its release anxiously in the United States. But months passed, and I heard no word. Finally, I decided to just order an import edition, as I was eager to read about Dr. David Hunter’s new adventures.
The Calling of the Grave is a bit quieter than Beckett’s previous novels. Because the identity of the murderer is already known when they discover the body, there isn’t that normal urgency to discover the culprit. Instead, there is a different kind of pressure, to find the bodies and give the families of the murder victims some kind of closure. It’s not any less gripping, but it certainly gives the novel a different flavor.
As with any David Hunter novel, the story is fast-paced and keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end. The book had some predictable spots, and while mildly frustrating, they didn’t take away too much from the novel as a whole. The setting of Dartmoor is atmospheric and bleak; it adds a certain color to the novel, making it seem as though the location had its own agenda. It’s enough to give the reader chills as they are racing to discover the truth behind what is happening around Dr. Hunter.
While The Calling of the Grave did have its weak spots, it was still an enjoyable entry into the David Hunter series. It’s a shame that this book wasn’t brought to the United States, as it doesn’t bode well for future installments in the series. Wherever they happen to be published, though, I will seek out these books. Beckett is an excellent writer and he’s written an appealing character with a fascinating profession (forensic archaeology). If you haven’t picked up this series yet and are a fan of crime fiction, I highly recommend these novels.