First Chapter Review: Dead Man’s Time by Peter James

I featured the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace crime series earlier this month. Though books of this nature tend to be favorites of mine, I simply couldn’t work this one into my schedule; so I agreed to a first chapter review of Dead Man’s Time, which is the latest book in the series. I received the first two chapters from the author’s publicist because they are each only one page.

BLURB:  In Dead Man’s Time, the latest from international bestselling author Peter James, Roy Grace finds himself up against that most dangerous of all adversaries—a man with fury in his heart who has nothing to lose.

New York, 1922. Five-year-old Gavin Daly and his seven-year-old sister, Aileen, are boarding the SS Mauretania to Dublin—and safety. Their mother has been shot and their Irish mobster father abducted. Suddenly, a messenger hands Gavin a piece of paper on which are written four names and eleven numbers, a cryptic message that will haunt him all his life, and his father’s pocket watch. As the ship sails, Gavin watches Manhattan fade into the dusk and makes a promise, that one day he will return and find his father.

Brighton, 2012. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates a savage burglary in Brighton, in which an old lady is murdered and £10m of antiques have been taken, including a rare vintage watch. To Grace’s surprise, the antiques are unimportant to her family—it is the watch they want back. As his investigation probes deeper, he realizes he has kicked over a hornets nest of new and ancient hatreds. At its heart is one man, Gavin Daly, the dead woman’s ninety-five-year-old brother. He has a score to settle and a promise to keep—both of which lead to a murderous trail linking the antiques world of Brighton, the crime fraternity of Spain’s Marbella, and New York.

Roy Grace, in a race against the clock to stop another killing, has met his most dangerous adversary yet.

COVER: I’ve posted both. The first one is from the paperback version. The other is from the hardcover and Kindle versions. While the first one seems to capture the British coast, the other appears to focus on the watch and the race against time. While I like both covers, I much prefer the color scheme and overall look of the latter.

FIRST CHAPTER: Our story opens in Brooklyn in 1922. A young boy awaits his father’s arrival at bedtime. They share the same routine they do every night, not knowing how things are about to change.

SECOND CHAPTER: Four drunk men with murder on their minds make their way down the cobblestone street.

KEEP READING: Yes, especially because I want to see how quickly the modern-day story is introduced. The first two chapters unfold the story taking place in New York in 1922, so I haven’t met the main character yet. That can be risky when trying to connect a reader to the MC, but it’s not unusual in mystery and crime fiction for the crime to come first and then the detective makes his way on the scene later.

I liked the tenderness of the first chapter’s interaction between the boy and his father. It helps you to feel sorry for what you know is coming based upon the blurb. The only thing I didn’t care for is the people aren’t given names. The third person narrator calls them “the boy” and “the boy’s father.” Other than the pet names of “little guy” and “big guy” that they have for each other, they aren’t identified. That’s off-putting to me. Perhaps it’s intentional, to make it seem like this could be a tender moment between any boy and his father; but I didn’t care for it.

This looks like it will be a nail-biter.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos