Love You Dead, the twelfth book in the Roy Grace series by crime writer Peter James is a great example of a well-researched police procedural novel. When choosing a novel to read, I typically do not choose a mystery/crime/detective/thriller, although I usually enjoy them once I do. Love You Dead is no exception. For fans of Peter James, my observations will be nothing new; however, for those who are not familiar with his books, I hope this review will point you towards your new favourite detective series.

Love You Dead has not one killer, but three! The novel, mostly set in England, focuses on the “black widow” Jodie Bentley, who as a child was considered to be the ugly duckling and black sheep of her family. As a teenager, she made a plan that by whatever means, she was going to be rich, and to get as rich as she wanted to be, she would follow the advice of her father and “marry” rich. Unknown to Jodie, a blood-thirsty hitman from America named Tooth, hired by the NYC Mafia, is out to find her and kill her for stealing money and a very important USB drive that could bring down their empire. The third killer, though inactive in this novel, is one of Roy Grace’ evasive serial killers from a previous novel.

With three killers on the loose, Roy Grace has his hands full with just doing his job. I thought that since this is called the Roy Grace series that Roy Grace would be in the novel more often. However, Roy Grace is not a dominant character until the second half of the novel and very much so at the end. However, his personal story left me wanting to know what has happened to him in the last eleven books, especially since he resolves some of the “ghosts” that he is confronted with in this novel that seem to have haunted him for some time.

From the perspective of someone who is not familiar with Peter James’ previous novels, I can say that at first, I thought the novel started off slow. It reads like a movie, with the scenes going from one character to the next, but with many, many scenes. At times, it left me wondering when anything exciting would happen with the investigation. With almost each chapter checking in with another character, I was overwhelmed with the number of names to keep track of and at times wondered if some of the minor characters needed to be included at all. As the story progressed, all the characters, even the very briefly mentioned, became essential to the climax and resolution of the story.

One of my favorite choices of Peter James’ is how he develops the characters, especially Jodie, the black widow killer. He provides glimpses into her past and way of thinking, and most intriguing, how she plotted and prepared for her killings. James has a very special way of showing the readers the dynamic personalities and lives of killers. For example, Jodie taking care of her animals lovingly and even having dreams of a husband she would not want to kill with whom she would have children (after she kills a man rich enough to set her up for life). Another example is Tooth and his relationship to his dog.

Lovers of this genre will enjoy reading this latest novel from Peter James. As the first Roy Grace novel that I have read, I am interested in reading what events led Roy Grace to his current lifestyle, professional attainment and predicaments in the first eleven novels in this series!

Best-selling author Peter James has 30 novels in this genre, including 11 prequels to this novel. Read more about him: