Ronnie Wilson is making his way to the Twin Towers for a business meeting when the first jet hits. In the ensuing mayhem that envelopes New York as the second plane hits the South Tower, Ronnie begins to see a way out of his old life which is laden with massive debts. In shock, Ronnie escapes the nightmare and, in a seedy room, begins to fathom how to bring his fortunes around in a time of such horror and heartbreak.

In 2007, a skeleton has been found in a drain. Soon, the investigation team agree it is of a woman in her early thirties who would have vanished about ten years ago. Roy Grace begins to feel a chill down his spine. Is this the skeleton of Sandy, his long lost wife who disappeared nine years ago? Soon, through dental records they find out who the woman is. And then another body is found – in Australia. Both women have a connection to Ronnie Wilson. But he’s dead – isn’t he? As the team begin to dig beneath the surface, they find themselves in a quagmire of deception, blackmail, changing identities and murder.

Whilst all this is going on, there is a young woman being hunted through the streets of Brighton – and she has a lot more to do with Roy’s investigation than he could ever imagine.

In Dead Man’s Footsteps Peter James has brought us Roy Grace’s most complex and most fascinating case to date. Of the four, James’ latest is the most raw, most heart felt and personal novel in this brilliant series. Starting the book at the instant the first plane hit on 9/11 is a very brave way to start a novel. To begin with the most horrendous act of terrorism in recent times, you might worry that the author will be able to give the story integrity without making light of the horrific devastation of 9/11. Thankfully, James is such a consummate writer he has managed to respect the people and the events of that day and weave a believable tale amongst the devastation. The fact that documentaries have been made of people doing exactly the same as Ronnie Wilson lends credence to the story.

Dead Man’s Footsteps encompasses not only Brighton, but America and Australia. The investigation takes Grace to the USA and the wonderful Norman Potting and Nick Nicholl to Australia. The book is populated with memorable characters, especially Grace’s team and all are fully fleshed-out with their own back story and current drama’s. Even the despicable Cassian Pewe has a certain frisson about him and one hopes we will hear about him again in one form or another.

Dead Man’s Footsteps is an excellent novel that presents real people in real situations. The fact that the pace is maintained at a high level speed makes you fly through those short chapters like a whirlwind.

This is a brilliant book told by a master storyteller. You will love it – but don’t expect to do anything else until the last page has been turned!

Reviewed by: C.S.