A nasty traffic accident in an English coastal town involves a bicyclist, a car, a van and a delivery truck. The bicyclist dies, which is awful enough, but it turns out he’s an American college student whose parents have Mafia connections. Sussex police soon find the bodies of the van and truck drivers, along with evidence that their torture deaths had been videotaped. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his team realize they’re in a race against time to save Carly Chase, the driver of the car, from a similarly gruesome fate.

Dead Man’s Grip is the seventh novel in the Grace series, but it contains enough backstory to bring first-time readers up to speed. Besides the challenging case, Grace is preparing for impending fatherhood with his fiancée, Chloe, who experiences pregnancy complications. But first, he must have his beloved wife, Sandy, who went missing 10 years earlier, declared legally dead–which might be harder than he imagined.

James delivers an accessible police procedural, not weighed down by technical jargon, and keeps the pace thrumming along. Although Carly does something so incredibly ill-advised in the last third of the book that some readers may stop caring what happens to her, Grace is a decent man with his heart in the right place, appealing enough that readers will root for him to close the case successfully.

–Elyse Dinh-McCrilllis, freelance writer/editor, blogging at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: A pivotal moment in the ongoing story of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace that finds him in a pressure cooker both personally and professionally.