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Want You Dead: Vada Magazine

By Jake Basford

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Peter James, the legend that churns out high quality books like Gillian McKeith curls out the perfect poop, has a summer read that will have your spine tingled and force you to double check who can see into your windows at night with Want You Dead. 

The plot goes something like this: Bryce is stalking Red and screwing with her and her life – a year after she goes into hiding escaping his paranoid controlling romantic advances – and flashbacks show how happy they were to begin with, and how determined he is to make her pay for leaving him.

Digression alert: Ever watched that episode of Black Books where Manny (Bill Bailey) goes mental at the end because he has Dave’s Syndrome, which means he turns into a savage at a certain temperature? Well they are flogging a book called Tempocalypse – the perfect summer read for men and women alike – and Want You Dead is a real-life version (of course with no relation to plot). 

Instead of the female protagonist being a temp who can’t get a boyfriend (oh my God), Red is reeling from a bad breakup and trying to get back into dating with all the nerves and problems associated with being burnt and going back in at the deep end. 

Meanwhile, Red doesn’t have to stop international war with China, but she does have to deal with spurious advances from Bryce, who keeps coming up with more and more inventive ways of messing with her. Not only by murdering the bloke who she starts seeing (obvious port of call for a psycho ex) and making it look like suicide, but also by blowing up the restaurant he first took her to which became their place. 

While this is all going on, previous characters from Peter James’ novels flare up at odds and ends like no tomorrow. While the central plot is not about Detective Roy Grace, fans of this particular character and the way his stories are told will have much to enjoy – while newcomers will get an education. Even the chapters are short and sweet, allowing for easy pick up and put down, but there’s so much information being packed into each one that you don’t want to stop. It is easy to see why Peter James has sold 14 million copies.

Now most of the reviews that have come out about Want You Dead have been obvious – ‘A crime book! Oh my!’ ‘Look at how awesome! He paid attention to police and characters…’ – and while the crime stuff is brilliantly explored (and totally accurate), we want to focus on the fact that this is set in Brighton. Unusual setting for a crime spree, don’t you think? We also get to casually meet a gay character, who is one of the witnesses to find the body of Red’s lover (I am sorry if you screamed ‘spoiler alert’ but eat me: it happens in the first few chapters and there is so much worse I could spoil) – not in a derogatory or dismissive way, but in an inclusive way as he happens to be there having a golf game with the lads. This was a welcome addition to the book.

In short: Excellent crime book by a brilliantly talented author. Plus, if you are into the later Saw films, where you get to see what the guy putting the traps together is going through, you will love this book. Enjoy!