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Not Dead Yet: ABC Brisbane

By Rob Minshull

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Memorabilia from the stars of the day, whether they are in the world of pop, film or football, is big business. Want to buy a bra from Madonna or a pair of David Beckham’s underpants? Then expect to cough up good money.

Peter James’ latest novel, Not Dead Yet, deals with the strange world of the obsessive fan – in this case an imaginary pop-movie star called Gaia Lafayette – and just how far these fanatics are prepared to go in their worship at the altar of fame. It is set in the far from imaginary English seaside town of Brighton, where the local plods are put on high alert when Gaia arrives in town to take a lead part in a film based on King George IV and with the famous Brighton Pavilion in a starring role.

But Not Dead Yet is more than a mere tale of sinister celebrity stalking. One of the reasons why Peter James is so successful – he has sold more than eleven million books worldwide – is because of his attention to detail and the way he can transform much of the mundane nature of so much police work into something so thrilling. His plots and the characters which carry them along are unsurpassable; when it comes to police procedural novels, Peter James is, along with Britain’s Graham Hurley and America’s Michael Connelly, up there with the very best.

Whereas Hurley has Joe Faraday and Connelly has Harry Bosch, the star of Peter James’ series is the man with “Paul Newman eyes”, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. Suave and relatively sophisticated, Grace is given responsibility for the safety of the Madonna-like Gaia Lafayette but, as with all of Peter James’ novels, there are a multitude of plot lines to intensify the puzzle and broaden the range of perspectives on the crimes to be solved or prevented.

Some reviewers have described the Roy Grace series of novels as being more like the literary equivalent of a TV crime show where the chapters read like the unfolding sequence of scenes racing to a gripping climax. One thing is certain, however, Not Dead Yet is absolutely riveting, fiendishly clever and some of the best crime fiction you’re ever likely to read.