December 10, 2012
How Evil Spawns Evil:
by Seena Ghassemi
The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett serves as an excellent example of how humans can succumb to evil, and thus corruption. This book tells the story of David Hunter, who moved away from London a small village called Manham, in the United Kingdom, after losing his wife and daughter in a car crash. He worked in Manham as a General Practitioner for his employer, Henry Maitland, who is a paraplegic, for three years until a series of murders began. All of the targets were female. After much police work and controversy, it was revealed that Henry was the mastermind behind the murders, and Tom Mason, the town’s gardener, was Henry’s partner who personally took care of the killing. Henry expresses to David his anger at the citizens of Manham, and particularly some of the women, including his late wife, who had been cheating on him prior to her murder at the hands of Henry and Tom. Henry expressed his contempt by saying, “Typical bloody women! They're all the same! Bleed you dry and then laugh at you!” (Beckett 293). What the reader wonders is the reason behind Henry’s evil, seeing that he had been a normal, law-abiding citizen previously. By examining the antagonist, Henry Maitland, and the effects his wife’s treachery had on him, it becomes clear that one who indulges in sin will eventually harm others to the point that the victims themselves will be corrupted.
Henry and David had known each other for over three years. During this time, Henry had not spoken of his past at all to David, except lying that his wife had died in a car crash. At the time during which the murders began to occur, the local police were virtually powerless. After it became known that David had previously been a forensic anthropologist, the police requested his assistance. He helped by examining the bodies of the killer’s victims, giving ‘time-since-death’ and such. When David’s...
Cited: Beckett, Simon. The Chemistry of Death. New York: Delacorte Press, 2006. Print.
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