Lorna Belling, an attractive hairdresser, has lousy taste in men. Her husband beats her up. Her secret boyfriend is only in it for the sex. And the guy she has chosen to sell her car to is a bully with a twisted personality. Guess who ends up dead, her head bashed in?

This is the thirteenth in James’s series featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of the Sussex police. While Grace is the series’ central figure, James’s intention is to present group policing in all its procedural élan. His books resemble the late Ed McBain’s brilliant 87th Precinct series though James is not the nimble writer that McBain was.

Need You Dead is first rate in its depiction of the electronic gizmos that Grace and his colleagues rely on to catch the killer, and the interaction among the coppers gets the book into narrative twists that are ingenious and just believable enough.