Detective Superintendent Roy Grace has been with the Sussex Police for twenty-one years. He struggles at times to balance his career with his personal life. Each Grace book has a complete mystery story and while James does carry over some details from previous books he is always sure to provide enough background so that new readers can follow along easily. The series is a nice combination of police procedural with fictional intrigue and mystery. James’ characters feel real and are layered with personality traits and flaws – including Grace – which help to keep the story moving and provide plenty of opportunities for future storylines.
About this book:
This is my first Peter James novel. Usually I would feel lost if I started with the eighth book in a series, but James was able to get me up to speed on Roy Grace and his team of police men and women that I never felt like I walking into the middle of the story.
James’ novel has so many interesting storylines that you start peeling them away one-by-one looking for the connection long before James is ready to give you answers. Clearly James knows how to work the tension machine and I found myself staying up late several nights because I just had to finish one more chapter – which would turn into another hundred pages. In Not Dead Yet, Grace has his hands full protecting a Lady Gaga-like rock star turned actress who is filming a movie at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton as well as investigating a murder of an Unknown Berwick male at a chicken farm. While Grace is trying to sell the house he lived in with his first wife who disappeared ten years ago and who Grace is working to have legally declared dead, he is also awaiting the birth of his child with his soon-to-be second wife Cleo. Grace is so happy with his home life except that someone is leaving them threatening messages.
While the mystery story is captivating and the crime thrilling, Not Dead Yet is a UK police novel. I struggled not knowing the lingo for all the police divisions at first. However I was so very pleased when James responded almost immediately to a Twitter post and supplied me with a wonderful site that enabled me to look up all the police acronyms found in his book. James replied that he might have to put a glossary in his next book.
I might also ask if he could put a police directory in his books as well. It became very clear to me from reading the acknowledgements that James has done his homework with police procedures. Operation Icon required about thirty plus police officers and consultants by my rough estimate. James did a good job to describe how a good number of these officers contribute to solving a murder case. But as a reader, I found it difficult to remember all the experts and officers who basically had a walk-on into a scene and might never be heard from again for fifty or a hundred pages. I thought to myself, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a city to find a murderer. I’m the type that likes to have the phone book handy to so I can look up what someone’s role is in an instant. (Or maybe I’m just not that experienced with police dramas and I need to learn more about who does what.)
What I do know is that I’m hooked on Roy Grace. I might have started on the eighth book but I’ll be getting the first book and keeping up with this series.