Well Peter James would have to do something pretty dire to get less than five stars from me; I love this series featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace which is now up to book number twelve, and I have been a faithful follower ever since 2005 when Dead Simple was published! So did he thrill me? Yes he did! Although that’s not too say that I didn’t have some moments of concern as it took quite a while for my favourite policeman to take centre stage!
The first section of the book follows the exploits of Jodie Bentley, this isn’t a spoiler she tells us herself, more or less straightaway, that she is following the scent of money and the way she has chosen, involves extracting it from wealthy men. I’m not sure whether I was supposed to admire her or pity her, but pretty early on I took against her despite her back story. I honestly couldn’t really get into her psyche so had to take her at face value, and that face may have been pretty but it disguised a far from pretty nature. Peter James has created a character we can love to hate, one which injects a fair amount of fun as I tried to predict what schemes she would come up with next to get the money she wants! I think this is the first contemporary crime fiction I’ve read that features a ‘black widow’ and I have to say it was a refreshing change to have a female villain.
Anyway our Jodie predictably gets herself tangled up in some heavy nastiness which involves a character from the previous book, one who our Roy Grace would very much to have a bit of a chat with, wink, wink!! Peter James has a fantastic knack of layering these novels with different strands but never neglecting the central one, a device that makes for a very satisfying read, particularly when they diverge into one story, as in this case. This is a solid read that has a bit of everything for everyone; a realistic look at the modern police force (good and bad), sentimental parts, thrilling scenes and reflective sections, all centred around a great plot which is paced to perfection. Even when the book was over and I wonder what comes next I was able to wind down with the glossary which gives details of ranks, badges, slang and suchlike for the real nerdy readers, like me. Where this one differs from the more traditional police procedural is that the reader knows what’s going on and we take on the role of the observer as Roy Grace and his team try to figure it all out.
Roy Grace is happy, so happy he’s worried that everything is going to go wrong for him so it isn’t a great surprise that something does, or several things, not least his Chief Inspector and that shadow from the past, his missing wife Sandy! The knowledge needed for Roy Grace to keep ahead of the criminals in this book is exceptionally specialist and had me cringing in a different way to normal.
Although as in the rest of the series home is Brighton, in this book there is a bit of travel thrown in with skiing in Europe, hotels in the US and even a cruise there is plenty of variety. We also get a guided tour of how Brighton used to look before it became the ‘cool’ place to be it is now! See Peter James really does deliver something for everyone so it really doesn’t surprise me that these books have sold over seventeen million copies worldwide. After all they have a great mix of characters, one of my favourites gets a central role in this book, and the ever dependable and fundamentally decent Roy Grace leads the way as a great balance to the nastier villains. They also all share the assured writing which is strongly underpinned by complex plotting which reaches a satisfying conclusion. For readers who even when reading a series want to feel they understand everything, this book will not disappoint you.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Midas PR who managed to get this book to me in time for me to read and review it for publication day of today, 19 May 2016, this review is my unbiased thanks to them. Love You Dead is published by Macmillan and the back of the book jacket has a handy reminder of all Peter James’s books in case you are missing any from your collection!