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British journalist Beckett's first novel is a chilling tale of sexual predation. Celibate, aging art dealer Donald Ramsey returns to his London gallery for forgotten papers and comes upon his beautiful assistant, Anna, changing clothes in his office. Secretly watching from the hallway, Ramsey is transfixed by a rare sexual spark and inflamed with voyeuristic desire. Accepting his own romantic shortcomings, he lives for imagined pleasures with Anna until he learns that her brilliant but ugly American boyfriend, Marty, will be taking her back to New York. Because the pair "were very obviously in love, and when I decided to end their relationship I knew I would need help," Ramsey pays sexual athlete Zeppo Marks a fortune to seduce the young woman while he himself poses as the couple's champion. Anna and Marty remain faithful to one another, however, rebuffing every onslaught that Ramsey and Zeppo devise and forcing a desperate plan to remove Marty permanently. But even this act of murder seems less abhorrent than the evil inflicted on Anna by the two conspirators, an evil made all the more horrific by her ignorance of their role in ensuing events. Beckett skillfully brings matters to their logically sadistic conclusion, then twists his tale around by ironically echoing Freud's tenet that desire lies just the other side of repugnance-two emotions that readers are likely to feel simultaneously as they speed through this clever yet brazenly sleazy story.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Beckett's debut novel is defined by a chilling vision of sexual obsession, personified by London art dealer Donald Ramsey. When this meek aesthete's comfortably asexual lifestyle is upended by his impetuous fixation on a gallery assistant, Anna, the wheels are set in motion for a deadly scheme aimed at satisfying Ramsey's voyeuristic urges. He easily enlists Zeppo, a male model whose most notable credentials are his sexual exploits, to play a pivotal role. Zeppo is drawn to the large sum of money being offered and, moreover, to the challenge of seducing Anna. Beckett sustains an element of mystery, as cold-blooded murder becomes essential to Ramsey's unyielding plan. It is only in the book's final pages that the persistent pace of Beckett's terse prose subsides, deflating the spell cast by this intriguing young English writer. Alice Joyce
Simon Beckett is a freelance journalist and writes for national newspapers and colour supplements. The author of three international bestsellers featuring his forensic anthropologist hero, Dr David Hunter, The Chemistry of Death, Written in Bone and most recently Whispers of the Dead, he lives in Sheffield. To find out more about Simon Beckett and his books, visit www.simonbeckett.com
A field of corpses, laid out in a macabre display...A serial killer who confounds even the most seasoned profilers...A doctor whose life has been shattered by crime--plunged into the heart of a shocking investigation... In this masterful new novel by Simon Beckett, #1 internationally bestselling author of" "Written in Bone and The Chemistry of Death," "forensic anthropologist David Hunter is thrust into his first murder investigation on U.S. soil--and his most devastating case yet. In the heat of a Tennessee summer, Dr. Hunter has come to Knoxville's legendary "Body Farm"--the infamous field laboratory where law enforcement personnel study real corpses--to escape London and the violence that nearly destroyed his life. He's also here to find out if he's still up to the job of sorting through death in all its strange and terrible forms.... Hunter will soon find his answer when he's called to a crime scene in a remote Smoky Mountain cabin--a scene as grisly as it is bizarre. The body is taped to a table. Everything about the crime scene--the wounds, the decomposition, the microscopic evidence--quickly short-circuits the tools and methods of forensic experts. Within days, Hunter knows he's dealing with a serial killer, someone intimately familiar with the intricacies of forensics. All around him, egos and hierarchies clash--from the boasts of a renowned criminal profiler to the dogged work of a young female investigator--but fate keeps pushing Hunter further into the heart of the manhunt. And the killer keeps coming up with surprises: booby-trapping corpses, faking times of death, swapping bodies--finally turning his sights on after Hunter himself.... An electrifying race against time, a fascinating journey into the world of forensic science, and a terrifying portrait of a killer in love with death itself," " Whispers of the Dead is a thriller of the highest order.