An Introduction to Simon Beckett
Internationally bestselling author Simon Beckett has won critical acclaim for his distinctive writing style that combines terrifying plots with a slow menace that can’t fail to chill a reader’s bones.
A top ten bestseller in the UK, he is also frequently at the top of the charts in Europe, with a very active German fan club! But what is it that makes readers rush out to get the latest Simon Beckett?
We asked Simon Taylor, Editorial Director at Doubleday and Beckett’s editor about what makes his books so special.
Over to Simon:
As both a reader and editor who’s rather more long in the tooth than many, I have read more than my fair share of crime novels and I certainly cannot remember all of them. There are however some that have left an indelible mark – the memory of which I can’t shake off (and nor do I want to): Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg, The American Boy by Andrew Taylor, Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon and Birdman by Mo Hayder are just a few that spring to mind. And I would also add to those a novel that I am proud to have published – Simon Beckett’s The Chemistry of Death. The novel that introduced his forensics expert hero, Dr David Hunter, to the world of crime fiction – and it was a novel that sank its finger tips into me in the space of just the first few pages and just wouldn’t let go. I remember the hairs on the back of my neck beginning to prickle as I read; I remember having to remind myself to breathe and I still remember the couple of sentences that convinced me:
‘It’s a curious sight, and for the curious what could be more natural than to follow this phenomenon back to its source? Which was how the Yates boys found what was left of Sally Palmer.’
Eight years on and those two lines still make me shiver. Eight years in which Simon – a scrupulously careful writer whose meticulous research in turn lends his thrillers a frightening authenticity – has produced three more beautifully written, irresistibly chilling and (I am happy to say) best-selling novels that have seen his forensics expert hero Dr David Hunter confronting a psychopath in the western islands of Scotland, a serial killer in Tennessee, and a multiple murderer on Dartmoor. Each a beautifully paced work of teasing, slow-building excitement – and each with a killer first couple of pages. And now I am thrilled to be publishing Simon’s new novel, STONE BRUISES – not a David Hunter novel this time (he’s taking a well-deserved sabbatical) – but a standalone psychological thriller set, primarily, on an isolated farmhouse in rural France. I’m going to say no more than it is ‘classic Simon Beckett’: a deliciously unnerving, claustrophobically compelling novel that slowly, inexorably tightens its grip on the reader. Oh, and did I mention its killer opening pages?
‘Somebody!’ I half sob and then, more quietly, ‘Please.’ The words seem absorbed by the afternoon heat, lost amongst the trees. In their aftermath, the silence descends again. I know then that I’m not going anywhere…‘