Cover Image: The Scent of Death

The Scent of Death

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Member Reviews

The work of a Forensic Scientist is absolutely fascinating. The attention to detail runs throughout this story. St Jude’s a derelict hospital holds a lot of secrets. Dr David Hunter must check through the bones to put back together the lives of the murdered people. There are plenty of twists and turns to make your heart beat faster. This thriller will really keep you on the edge of your seat.
I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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A genuinely brilliant forensic thriller. 

Dr David Hunter, a Forensic Anthropologist, is called in to help the police investigate the murder of a young woman whose body has been discovered in the abandoned hospital called St Jude’s Royal Infirmary. The deceased has lain undiscovered for well over a year until the crew of the demolition crew found it in the beams of the building. While busy examining the body, the forensic pathologist falls through some broken timbers and lands in a room that contains two more well-preserved bodies. It takes time to discover the pathologist as the room he landed in has been cleverly hidden by blocking up the entrance. 

This is not a straight forward case for Dr Hunter. Trying to discover who the victims are and more importantly, the method used to kill them seems almost impossible. It takes all of David Hunter’s experience to find the answers.

What made this book most enjoyable for me is the forensic science descriptions – told in “layman’s” terms. I was fascinated by the work involved in identifying the bodies, their ages, their sex and build. 

Simon Beckett has drawn his characters as if they are real people. Not many authors have the knack to do this. I felt as if I walked into a room where they were gathered, I'd immediately be able to identify each one.

I did suspect that the police had identified the killer quite early on, but then kept thinking, “No, it’s impossible – they can’t be right.” When I discovered how the murders had occurred………….well, shocked and stunned would be the best description of my reaction! Read it and see for yourself how brilliant this book truly is.


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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I like the David Hunter books, ever since the beginning it's been a great series and it just gets better. This book had everything, suspense, atmosphere, old part demolished hospital, possible ghosts, decomposing bodies......

David received a call to examine a decomposed body in the loft part of St Judes Hospital which was being demolished. The loft was only a small room and the floor was pretty unstable. The power had been cut to the hospital so all the corridors were dark and eerie with the signs of the departments and wards still there although the hospital had been closed down. There was hardly room for the pathologist, the police and the arc lights to brighten the room as well as David.

From what David could see the body had been preserved pretty well as it was quite hot where they were and the body had been wrapped up. It was possible they had died elsewhere then moved to this spot. As they uncovered more of the body, they noticed a gaping hole where the stomach was, the only wound so far that was noticeable. Also, within the cavity there were several little bones, it looked like it could be a foetus therefore making the corpse female. 

This is just the start of this engrossing story and it will pull you in from the start, it did me. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It felt like I was walking the corridors of the creepy St Judes hospital along with the characters. It was very descriptive writing and a really good story line. A lot of research must have gone into this for so much detail but it paid off for such a terrific story.
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‘Most people assume that they’d know the scent of death.’

Things have been picking up for forensics specialist Dr David Hunter.  The police are calling on him again as a police consultant, and he is in a good place personally.  But then he gets a ‘phone call from DCI Sharon Ward.  A body has been found at the derelict St Jude’s Hospital, and she’d like Dr Hunter to take a look.

St Jude’s Hospital is awaiting demolition.  Its only recent visitors have been society’s outcasts, drug addicts and dealers.  A partially mummified corpse has been found in the building’s loft.  Dr Hunter can see that it’s a young woman and that she was pregnant.  But while the body is being examined, the rotting floor of the loft collapses.  A pathologist falls through the floor and is injured.  The search for him reveals a deliberately sealed room, where two bodies are strapped onto beds.

What may have been a relatively straightforward case is suddenly very complicated.  The bodies need to be identified and the community is concerned.  

This is the sixth book in Simon Beckett’s Dr David Hunter series.  I’ve read some (but not yet all) of the others and have enjoyed them.  I’ll confess to being more interested in the forensic detail than I am in Dr Hunter’s personal life, but the backstory has its own part to play.  This novel could be read as a standalone but knowing more about Dr Hunter and his backstory adds to an already atmospheric tale.  There are plenty of surprises and more than a few twists.  St Jude’s Hospital itself is a significant character: derelict, dangerous and full of surprises.

Highly recommended.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK Transworld for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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The Scent of Death is book 6 in the excellent Dr David Hunter series.Once again Simon Beckett delivers a tense thriller that had me gripped from the first page,he is asked to look at a body that's been found in St Judes which is a closed down hospital ready for demolition but what seems like a straight forward case becomes complicated when more bodies are found.The book is full of the medical terminology you expect from this series of books and the story races along at a good pace and with an excellent ending which you always expect from Simon Beckett's books,once again a stunning 5 star read from Simon Beckett and my only complaint is that he doesn't write fast enough for me,I'm already looking forward to the next instalment of this brilliant series of books.
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My thanks to Random House U.K./Transworld Publishers for an eARC via NetGalley of Simon Beckett’s ‘The Scent of Death’ in exchange for an honest review.

This is the sixth in the Dr. David Hunter series. Although this was my first experience of the series I found that enough background was provided so that I didn’t feel at all lost.

Late one evening Dr David Hunter is summoned to an abandoned hospital that is awaiting demolition. A partially mummified body has been discovered in the loft. Hunter is unable to say how long the corpse has been there. However, when part of the loft floor collapses a hidden room is revealed, containing some beds. Some of them are occupied!

What should have been a straightforward case suddenly becomes a nightmare. No more plot details in order to avoid spoilers. I will say though that it really delivers on the twists and shocks.

This proved a fascinating novel full of visceral detail. Beckett builds up the tension very effectively and I was gripped throughout. 

I have long been a fan of Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series so it was great to find series featuring a British forensic anthropologist. 

I look forward to reading of Dr Hunter’s earlier cases soon and will be looking out for future projects by Simon Beckett.
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This is an addictive read and one that has had me looking for all the books that came before. It has that quality all good crime novels have; just one more chapter.
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Really good gripping read. This is a really good page turner. I was glued to this book and wanted to keep reading. 

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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The Scent of Death is the sixth thriller to feature forensics expert Dr David Hunter, and if you're a reader who enjoys the forensics involved in investigating a crime then this is a series not to be missed. The forensic techniques throughout are authentically portrayed so you actually learn some fascinating science whilst reading. I find it mindblowing that Beckett, despite being a bestseller, is still relatively unknown in Britain - a travesty if ever there was one. This is an intelligently written, complex and thoroughly gripping thriller with various threads to the plot which all come together as the book progresses.

The tension is palpable from the beginning but Beckett continues to ramp it up until your biting your nails and racing through the short, snappy chapters to find out what happens in the grisly murder case. I thought I knew where it was heading several times and then the rug is whipped out from under you and you quickly realise that the author has fooled you again. The Scent of Death is a masterclass in how to write wholly engaging and highly entertaining crime fiction and the including of modern forensic practices makes this an original series. Highly recommended to crime connoisseurs and particularly those interested in the field of anthropology and how it can help bring justice. Many thanks to Bantam Press for an ARC.
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# The Secret Of Death # Netgalley 
Fast paced excellently written with a rollercoaster of a ride. Into the past and press. I was getting frustrated at times, because no way did I want to put this book down. Unfortunately I had no choice one or twice. I loved this so much I do recommend this as a brilliant read
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Another of my favourite authors and another in the fantastic Dr David Hunter series. I was so excited when it landed in my inbox and I am glad to say that I was not disappointed. 
Dr David Hunter is a Forensic Anthropologist, he examines skeletons to find out how they died and a lot more besides. Hunter is called in when a mummified body is found in the loft of St Judes a derelict hospital that is due for demolition. This is only the start as more mummified remains are found. Also his nemesis Grace Strachan has been seen, the Last time they met he nearly lost his life at her hands. This is a real page turner and gripped me from the first page and had me treading until the wee hours. I just could not put it down I HAD TO KNOW. This book is atmospheric, creepy, chilling and impossible to put down. This author has the knack of drawing the reader in, the amount of detail he goes into is fascinating and enhances the readers pleasure. As for the climax when the perpetrator is revealed OMG IT BLEW ME AWAY and was definitely not who I was expecting. I am sure that once you have read this book you will be searching out the rest of this gripping and very addictive series. An easy five stars and so Highly Recommended. 
I would like to thank the author, Random House UK and Netgalley for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.
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Dr David Hunter life is going well. He is in a happy relationship and he is in demand again as a police consultant again.

Then David received a call asking for his help. A body has been found in the awaiting to be demolition St Jude's Hospital. 

A partially mummified corpse has been discovered in the hospital’s cavernous loft. The mummified remains mean but not even Hunter can say how long it’s been there. All he knows for sure is that it’s the body of a young woman. And that she was pregnant.

Then the floor collapse of the loft floor reveals another of the hospital’s secrets. A sealed-off chamber, still with beds inside. Some of the beds occupied.

It looks like a straightforward case, but it becomes a twisted nightmare that threatens everyone around David. The investigation springs more surprises, one thing is certain. St Jude’s hasn’t claimed its last victim .
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My first Simon Beckett novel and introduction to Dr Hunter, a gripping murder mystery which keeps the reader intrigued through out, with a surprising, climatic end to the story. A great read well recommended.
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I have been looking forward to the new David Hunter novel and was not disappointed.

David is back at work after he was stabbed at his home. He is now in a steady  relationship and things are looking good.  He is then called upon  to take a look at the mummified body of a pregnant girl found in the empty shell and damp, murky corridors of St Jude’s Hospital. It now stands dark and menacing  awaiting demolition, its only visitors society’s outcasts, drug  addicts and dealers.. the corpse has been discovered in the hospital’s cavernous loft, but even Hunter can't say how long it’s been there.
While he is examining this body,  a colleague falls through the ceiling into a ward that has been  walled up, and in it are three bodies that have been tortured, strapped to the beds, walled in and left to slowly die.. What Hunter thought would be a straight forward case turns out to be something completely different.  Before the case is solved there are many twists and turns, more murders and hunters life is put into danger once again. 
Simon  Beckett writes at a cracking pace and you can't put this book down you have to admire his medical and forensic Knowledge. I am now looking forward to the next one..
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This is the sixth in Simon Beckett's stellar series featuring the forensic anthropologist, Dr David Hunter, often serving as a police consultant. For the first time in some time, David's life is going well at work and his personal relationship with Rachel is good with them living in the brutalist architecture of the highly secure and luxurious development of Ballard Court. This is a temporary arrangement after evidence was found of the murderous and deranged Grace Strachen at his old flat, she hasn't given up on her efforts to kill him. DCI Sharon Ward calls him to look at a mummified body of a young pregnant woman in the loft of a abandoned and empty North London Infirmary, St Jude's, inhabited in more recent times by society's outcasts, drug addicts and dealers with the attendant paraphernalia and detritus. It could not have come at a better time as it serves to occupy his mind whilst Rachel, a marine biologist, works in the Mediterranean for 3 months. He could hardly have forseen just how much danger he will find himself and the deadly threats to be faced those he knows and loves.

Whilst examining the dead woman in the loft, the rotting floor collapses to reveal a deliberately sealed room, where two further dead bodies are strapped into beds. This is a twisted and hugely compelling story as the police and David seek to try and identify the bodies and the truth of what happened amidst intense media scrutiny and protests at St Jude's led by the commanding and charismatic ex-human rights lawyer, Adam Oduya. Subject to various forensic tests and grisly procedures, the dead begin to eventually speak about the nature of their grisly fates. Serving as a main character in it's own right, the atmospherically gothic and malevolent presence of St Jude's is writ large in the narrative. An oppressive and dismally congealing aura hangs heavily in the monstrously derelict hospital, stinking of damp, mould, squalor and urine, with its darkness and claustrophobia that seeps into all who enter the building. It is bone chilling in its creepiness and menace, harbouring dangers and ambushing the police and David with its host of nasty, unexpected surprises.

Beckett constructs a beautifully gripping and intelligent plot with it's multiple threads, with the short chapters serving to deliver a fast paced story that keeps the reader totally engaged, whilst building up the suspense and tension to sky high levels. Just when you think you know where the story is heading, the various twists shift it into entirely unexpected directions. The central protagonist, Dr David Hunter, is an experienced expert in his field, with a interesting and traumatic background with the death of his wife and child in a car accident. He is compassionate and curious, qualities that often serve to put him in danger as he refuses to stay purely within the dry confines of his area of expertise. This is a brilliant addition to the series, thoroughly entertaining, and the quality of storytelling is remarkably high. I can this series appealing to those who want to know about the field of forensic anthropology and the authentic depiction of its techniques and practices in modern policing. David theorises and engages in the skilful building up of a picture of what has happened to the dead, seeking to ensure justice is served in what appears to be impossible circumstances . To be honest, I think any crime fiction aficionado will enjoy reading this. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.
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Another super yarn in the David Hunter series of gruesome murder investigations. The forensic anthropologist is called in after a body is discovered in a derelict hospital and needless to say more bodies and deaths ensue in grisly detail. Various suspects ,likely and unlikely appear as the pace builds throughout all leading to a shock climax but then another climax comes along to finish it all off beautifully. Roll on the next one!
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This book is different to my usual style of books but I did enjoy it. It was nice to try another style of book
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Over the years I have read a variety of crime fiction books featuring all aspects of investigations but not many from a forensic point of view so when I was contacted to see whether I'd like a review copy of The Scent of Death I decided to jump straight in even though this is the sixth book of a series.

Our main protagonist is Dr David Hunter, a forensic anthropologist, who has been called in to assist with the identification of a mummified body found in an abandoned hospital.  Initially it wasn't known why he wasn't the first choice as we later discover but as the story progressed we are drip fed enough background information to put some of the pieces together.  His background story really intrigued me so I definitely want to try and find the time to go back and read the earlier books in the series to know what exactly had happened to him in the past to make him the man he is today.  

One of the aspects that particularly intrigued me was the type of work that someone of David Hunter's calibre does, I've not really put much thought into it but as much evidence as is found at the crime scene it's the body itself that quite often tells its own story.  The author has clearly done a lot of research over the years and cleverly weaves enough forensic detail to explore the type of work that someone like Hunter would do but at the same time doesn't overdo it so that it feels like you're reading a medical text book.  It must be hard to balance and decide how much information is too much?  

I'm a firm fan of a good setting as much as the characters involved in a story, and what better setting than an old abandoned hospital.  I had so many questions going through my head as I was reading and wanted to know its story and how it came to be left in its current state.  Who had walked those deserted corridors in the past?  Each ward, theatre and consulting room could probably tell enough stories to fill multiple books.

But most of all of course I wanted to know what had happened to the victims that had met such a grisly end in the building.  What had happened to them and who had left them neglected to rot hoping for them never to be discovered?  

Like many crime fiction readers I like to try and figure out what is going on in a story, sometimes I'm spot on and other times I'm way off the mark, so for me as I was reading The Scent of Death I was trying to pick up any clues that had been skillfully woven in by the author.  And in this instance the final twist was fairly obvious, but maybe that was the plan all along, either way I really enjoyed my first introduction to Dr David Hunter and definitely plan to read more in this series in the future.
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The Scent Of Death is a fantastically gripping, fast paced and addictive read. I found myself unable to put the book down, turning the pages faster and faster as I desperately wanted to find out more. It was one of those books that when I wasn’t reading I was constantly thinking about it and wondering when I could fit a few more pages in!

The deserted hospital creates a wonderfully creepy and unpredictable setting that gives the reader the impression that anything could happen at any minute. I found myself holding my breath everytime Hunter enters the hospital wondering what was going to happen next and from where. The lack of light in the hospital increases this impression further as there are lots of dark corners where anything could be discovered.

The characters are all fabulous creations and well developed through the book, with the wide range of characters helping to make the story believable. I liked the main character Hunter who seemed to be a very capable pathologist who’s had a bit of a hard life up until now. The author includes bits of his life outside of the police investigation so that the reader can get to know his character almost personally. I felt this really added to the story as sometimes I was able to predict how he was going to react before he did.

There is some fantastic forensic details in this book, which while a bit graphic at times, I found utterly fascinating. The author manages to include details about the clues and processes used to help determine cause of death without ever seeming to lecture the reader or doubt their intelligence which made for very interesting reading. I think I know more about flies and their role in decay then I ever have in my life!

This book is incredibly fast paced with lots of different story lines to keep the reader glued to the page. There always seemed to be something happening or a feeling that something was which made it difficult to put down as there was no obvious place to stop! I found myself trying to hide away from the kids to read a bit more or, to their delight, offering them their tablets so I could read a tiny bit more always a sign of a fantastic book!

This is actually the 4th book in the series but I feel it could easily be read as a standalone, as I have read it, as anything you need to know is explained. However I’m very excited to have found a new series to enjoy so I will definitely be going back to devour the rest soon!

Huge thanks to Hayley from Transworld publishers for inviting me onto the blog tour and for my copy of this book which I received in exchange for an honest review. If you like fast paced, intelligent crime thrillers then you need to read this book!
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I always look forward to the new David Hunter book.  He’s a great, quirky character.  But most of all, I like to read about all the new forensic techniques out there that he uses to help solve crimes.  It’s always an interesting read.
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