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Dead Man’s Grip: New York Times

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Peter James always gives double value in his elegant police procedurals set in Brighton (which can’t seem to live down its terrible reputation as the “Crime Capital of the U.K.”) and featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. The methodical investigation is always authentically detailed, as it is in DEAD MAN’S GRIP when Grace marshals the troops to handle the fallout from a traffic accident, involving three vehicles and a bicycle, that results in the death of a college student. But James’s inspired villains are also worthy of leading roles in mad-dog-killer thrillers, and when the student turns out to be the only son of a New York Mafia figure and his crazy wife, James obligingly trots out Tooth, a hit man hired to kill all three drivers (even the blameless ones) in creatively cruel ways. The absurdly overdone vulgarity of the ugly Americans defuses some of the horror, but Tooth makes up for the loss.