Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Dead at First Sight – Peter James

Crime Fiction – Series
4*s

Well here we are already up to number fifteen in the Roy Grace series. I have followed Roy’s story from the very first book and my patience has been rewarded because following the author’s move to Jersey to live, our little island is a location used within this novel.

The initial crime is one of those where the victim is perhaps is afforded less sympathy, that of the internet romance scam. We’ve all read the stories where a woman or man of advancing years is romanced and before they have a chance to meet in person some awful event unfolds where money is required to be sent to ensure that cupid’s arrow can complete its journey. When the money runs out or the victim becomes suspicious, they then suffer the indignity of realising the romance wasn’t real, and they’ve been fleeced.

I have to admit despite the appearance of Jersey (including a very good scene in a restaurant that I visit) I wasn’t quite as hooked with this book as I have been in the past. Perhaps it was that age old problem I have when the perpetrators are known to the reader – I just don’t get the same kind of enjoyment from novels written this way – or maybe it was the other issue I have with criminal gangs – again this kind of offending doesn’t quite capture my interest in the same way as figuring out an individual’s motivation. Those minor personal preferences aside there is no doubting that there is plenty of action within Dead at First Sight, the romance scam only being the opener for far bigger and more exciting crimes to come!

One of the aspects that I enjoy in this series is seeing Roy Grace’s life outside the office although sadly Cleo was reduced to a bit part within this novel with no important scenes in the mortuary this time. We do have the development of Roy’s sons and there is definitely potential in that arena to keep the personal aspect of the book as interesting in the future as they’ve been in the past.

Peter James has to be commended for his ability to keep the books real without boring the reader stupid with adherence to policy and procedure. Again within this book I got the feeling that the author has really listened to the older and experienced detectives and gives a real flavour of what they find difficult in modern policing without ignoring the reasons why some of the changes were vital. As always this just stays the right side of real especially as our fictional detective is still having problems with his superior Cassian Pewe! Could Roy be becoming jaded with Brighton and Hove? Only time will tell.

So even though this probably was my least favourite of all the Roy Grace novels, I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) have missed it for the world. I love meeting up with the ‘old friends’ on the team, having a credible plot with a thoroughly nice detective at its centre and I therefore begin my countdown to the sixteenth book in the series!

I’d like to say thank you to Pan Macmillan for allowing me to read a copy of Dead at First Sight before publication on 16 May 2019.. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the talented author Peter James for another entertaining foray into crime fiction in Brighton & Jersey!

First Published UK: 16 May 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
No of Pages: 448
Genre: Crime Fiction – Crime Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Roy Grace Series in order
Dead Simple
Looking Good Dead
Not Dead Enough
Dead Man’s Footsteps
Dead Tomorrow
Dead Like You
Dead Man’s Grip
Not Dead Yet
Dead Man’s Time
Want You Dead
You Are Dead
Love You Dead
Need You Dead
Dead if You Don’t

 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Need You Dead – Peter James #blogtour

Crime Fiction
5*s

I am particularly delighted to be part of the blog tour for Need You Dead which is the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James because this is a series I’ve followed from the very beginning, reading each book in order eager to find out what has happened to my favourite characters whilst knowing that there will be a cracking crime story to keep me entertained.

Today Peter James is sharing some of his research with us:

DS Roy Grace Blog Tour – Day 7
Research behind Dead Man’s Grip

While researching Dead Man’s Grip I was taken around the famous local landmark that is Shoreham Power station. Along with being claustrophobic I have always had an absolute terror of heights, so the research for a key scene in the book, involving a secret tunnel under Shoreham Harbour, where I would be making a 180 feet vertical descent down a ladder in a shaft, was horrifying! A major “oh shit” moment! Fortunately I had two very delightful and caring helpers from Rescue & Emergency Medical Services Ltd who gave me the confidence and help to do it.

Then at the launch of Dead Man’s Grip I was submerged in a van in Shoreham Harbour for a stunt enacting a key scene in the book. I was nervous as hell before this event and I had the whole police dive team prepped to rescue me in case it went wrong!

Peter James has kindly provided original pieces for each day of his blog tour so make sure you catch the rest of the stops!

 

Book Review
Lorna Belling has been found dead in a bath tub in a rented flat in Brighton. Already known to the police because she’s reported her husband for domestic abuse Roy Grace sees the investigation as a good one for Guy Batchelor to be Deputy Senior Investigating Officer for a couple of reasons: one to allow him to learn the ropes and secondly because Roy has to fly to Germany to pick up his son Bruno to bring him back for the funeral of his mother.

Lorna is a hairdresser who works from home, her phone is monitored by her husband and there has been more than one nasty incident with her husband Corin who works for an IT company, but the last attack was particularly nasty. The Domestic Violence caseworker is concerned for Lorna’s safety but so far Lorna has decided to stay put with Corin and the puppies she has bred. But the flat where Lorna was found dead wasn’t her home, so why is she in a cheap rental flat with dodgy electrics?

Of course the investigation isn’t quite as straightforward as first appearances indicated and the reader is in on the action seeing the red-herrings being liberally scattered across Brighton to ensure that the Police are following entirely the wrong scent. In a bold move by the author we even know why the only link missing is who it could be. It goes to show how in experienced hands a small amount of mystery is all that is needed with this book not lacking at all in tension as the team set out to find the killer – or perhaps Lorna committed suicide after all?

There are a number of strands to be pursued by the team and all of them have a good collection of well-drawn characters to keep us fully entertained as they do so!

It is almost refreshing these days to have modern crime fiction told in a straightforward time-line and here we have the chapters headed up by the days of the week starting from the beginning and working to the end – how clever is that? Because there is so much going on there are several chapters for each day, with each looking from a different point of view and in the case of Roy Grace, some are from a different country.

As with the entire series I get as much enjoyment in meeting up with the large and varied cast of characters, particularly with the established team of police, with the author reflecting their most immediate concerns using his extensive contacts with the real crime fighters in Brighton’s Police Force to ensure all the details are bang up to date. A small word of caution, Mr James, please don’t turn Roy Grace into a political figurehead for the Police however much your sources urge you to, less is more as they say!

As always this latest Roy Grace story had me thoroughly entertained. I can also spy some interesting threads which I’m sure we will follow for a few books yet in Roy’s personal life as Bruno settles into life as a big brother to baby Noah and so as always, no sooner did I put the book down, I was eager to have the next instalment from Brighton and Hove.

I am extremely grateful to Macmillan and Midas PR for providing me with a review copy of this book, and for allowing me to be part of this blog tour – the pinnacle of my blogging ambitions! My review of course is unbiased.

First Published UK: 18 May 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
No of Pages:  432
Genre: Crime Fiction – Crime Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Roy Grace Series in order
Dead Simple
Looking Good Dead
Not Dead Enough
Dead Man’s Footsteps
Dead Tomorrow
Dead Like You
Dead Man’s Grip
Not Dead Yet
Dead Man’s Time
Want You Dead
You Are Dead
Love You Dead
Need You Dead

Need You Dead, the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James, is out 18th May (Macmillan, £20.00)

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 12)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week my opening comes from Death Comes Knocking: Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton by Graham Bartlett with Peter James

Death Comes Knocking

Blurb

Fans of Peter James and his bestselling Roy Grace series of crime novels know that his books draw on in-depth research into the lives of Brighton and Hove police and are set in a world every bit as gritty as the real thing. His friend Graham Bartlett was a long-serving detective in the city once described as Britain’s ‘crime capital’. Together, in Death Comes Knocking, they have written a gripping account of the city’s most challenging cases, taking the reader from crime scenes and incident rooms to the morgue, and introducing some of the real-life detectives who inspired Peter James’s characters.
Whether it’s the murder of a dodgy nightclub owner and his family in Sussex’s worst non-terrorist mass murder or the race to find the abductor of a young girl, tracking down the antique trade’s most notorious ‘knocker boys’ or nailing an audacious ring of forgers, hunting for a cold-blooded killer who executed a surfer or catching a pair who kidnapped a businessman, leaving him severely beaten, to die on a hillside, the authors skilfully evoke the dangerous inside story of policing, the personal toll it takes and the dedication of those who risk their lives to keep the public safe. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1: Man Down

One of the fascinations of policing is that you never really know what is around the corner. A much-loved and respected public order inspector I knew, Andy Parr – now sadly deceased – achieved his fifteen minutes of fame by theorizing that increases in violence were linked to the lunar cycle. Andy, almost single-handedly, led the fight against the drunken mobs who each weekend, seemed hell-bent on turning the city into a war zone. His research indicated that people became more aggressive and anti-social around the full moon. While not clearly scientific, his theory attracted a good deal of media discussion and hilarity. It was as valid as any explanation for when and why shit happens.

This extract comes from a proof copy

So what do you think? Do you want to know about real life policing in Brighton?

Please leave your thoughts and links in the envelope below!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Love You Dead – Peter James

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

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!

Back of Love you dead

Roy Grace Series in order
Dead Simple
Looking Good Dead
Not Dead Enough
Dead Man’s Footsteps
Dead Tomorrow
Dead Like You
Dead Man’s Grip
Not Dead Yet
Dead Man’s Time
Want You Dead
You Are Dead
Love You Dead

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 17)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My opener this week comes from my favourite crime series, probably of all time, and features Brighton based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace (and his lovely lady, Cleo!) Love You Dead by Peter James is the twelfth book in the series.

Love You Dead

Blurb

An ugly duckling as a child, Jodie Bentley had two dreams in life – to be beautiful and rich. She’s achieved the first, with a little help from a plastic surgeon, and now she’s working hard on the second. Her philosophy on money is simple: you can either earn it or marry it. Marrying is easy, it’s getting rid of the husband afterwards that’s harder, that takes real skill. But hey, practice makes perfect . . .
Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is feeling the pressure from his superiors, his previous case is still giving him sleepless nights, there have been major developments with his missing wife Sandy, and an old adversary is back. But worse than all of this, he now believes a Black Widow is operating in his city. One with a venomous mind . . . and venomous skills. Soon Grace comes to the frightening realization that he may have underestimated just how dangerous this lady is. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

                    1
Tuesday 10 February

The two lovers peered out of the hotel bedroom window, smiling with glee, but each for a very different reason.
The heavy snowfall that had been forecast for almost a week had finally arrived overnight, and fat, thick flakes of the white stuff were still tumbling down this morning. A few cars, chains clanking, slithered up the narrow mountain road, and others, parked outside the hotels, were now large white mounds.

This extract comes from a proof copy. Love You Dead will be published on 19 May 2016
Do you want to know more about a Black Widow who makes a grand entrance in the snow? Would you keep reading?

Please leave your thoughts and links in the comments box below!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

You Are Dead – Peter James

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

For those of you that are fans of this series featuring Roy Grace you’ll be pleased to hear that if anything, this eleventh outing is even better than the previous ten with the writing engaging from the start, the quality of the research impeccable and the story arcs holding their own without overshadowing the exciting new plot.

On a December evening Logan Summerville is returning home after a bad day, looking forward to a glass of wine, she drives down the ramp into the underground car park where she spots a lurking figure. The last her fiancé Nick Walton heard from her was a panicked phone call which ended with a blood curdling scream. He calls the police who find no trace of Logan, her car is parked with her phone inside but there don’t seem to be any clues to where she has gone.

The story is told over the consecutive days of the investigation into what has happened to Logan but soon incorporates a murder as on the same afternoon a pathway that has been in place for twenty years is dug up by workmen who find a body. So Roy Grace has one murder investigation to add to the possible abduction already underway and there is the upcoming funeral of a much-loved fellow officer who died at the end of the last book. With the team mourning the loss of their friend Grace has to find a way to keep them motivated. All this in the week that he is supposed to be moving into his new home with Cleo and baby Noah. Will this be the investigation that causes their relationship to crack under the strain?

It doesn’t take to many pages to be turned before another body is found along with another missing woman who looks very much like Logan and Grace has to consider that Brighton may have its first serial killer for eighty years. Now I thought I’d had my fill of serial killers but Peter James has really researched his subject matter and references some of the true instances which are familiar to us all when deciding how to flush the perpetrator out which keeps the focus very much on the detection rather than glorifying the crime itself.

One of the reasons I get so excited about reading the latest in this series, and this is one that is a must-have, is because I love meeting the characters which have flourished over the previous series. I know I often say I don’t feel the need to like the characters in the books I read but the ones in this series do feel like friends. With a variety of characters who are anything but one-dimensional,particularly when you have seen their characters develop, like Norman Potts who has had layers of depth added as the series progressed. It is also nice to have a story where those investigating get on; I love the way the team interact and there are the odd little quips that lighten the mood at well-timed moments. Of course no Roy Grace novel would be complete without a mention of Marlon the goldfish and Sandy the missing wife, this one is no different!

If you haven’t read any of this series, you are in for a real treat, start at the beginning and get to see Brighton bought to life with some of the best crime writing around.

Roy Grace Series in order

Dead Simple
Looking Good Dead
Not Dead Enough
Dead Man’s Footsteps
Dead Tomorrow
Dead Like You
Dead Man’s Grip
Not Dead Yet
Dead Man’s Time
Want You Dead
You Are Dead

I’d like to say an enormous thank you to Midas PR who probably heard the screams of delight when they contacted me to see if I’d like to review this novel in return for a review. You Are Dead is published next week on 21 May 2015 and I recommend that you go and buy yourself a copy.

Part of the material Midas PR provided with the book included details of how Peter James created his serial killer for this book:

In Peter’s research to create his central villain for this novel, he eventually singled out four names. They came from a catalogue of murderers who had taken three or more lives at different times – the actual definition of a serial killer. Those four were Ted Bundy, Dennis Rader, Harold Shipman and Dennis Nilsen. What fascinated him about them was how outwardly each appeared to be such very respectable men. Shipman, for example, was a well-loved family doctor. Nilsen was in the army, then a police officer, then Executive Officer for a Jobcentre. Rader was a family man, a church warden, scout leader and local government compliance officer. Because of their intelligence, their lack of emotion, and their veneers of respectability, all four of these men got away with their killings over many years. Each of them very nearly got away with it completely.

Go on, you must be tempted by now!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Want You Dead – Peter James

Crime Thriller 5*'s
Crime Thriller
5*’s

In the tenth outing for Roy Grace we meet Karl Murphy, ‘a decent and kind man, a family doctor with two small children whom he was bringing up on his own.’ Karl was not someone who expected that anyone could possible hate him enough to want him dead. After all when we meet him he is preparing for a date with Red Westwood, an estate agent he’d met through a mutual friend.

It isn’t very long until the bodies start piling up for Roy Grace, slightly inconveniently, as he is preparing for his wedding to Cleo complete with a short honeymoon without baby Noah. For me half of the pleasure in this series is meeting the characters who seem like old friends. Roy Grace is a solid Police Officer, heading up a team of distinct but likable characters in the now familiar Brighton and Hove. All my favourites are there, not unchanged, because that would be implausible, but still instantly recognisable such as the socially inept Norman Potting, Grace’s second in command, Glenn Branson, and the dedicated and tenacious Bella Moy. However this book’s focus isn’t merely about solving a crime, it about the crime, the perpetrator and the victim. The reader is one step ahead of Grace and his team via the narration by a man on a mission, a man with an obsession and a man who has a plan! We also have insight into the woman being hunted, the effects on her life and her family. And then we have Grace and his team trying to work out why, how and when the next devastating attack is going to be.

I always clear my schedule for the release of the latest in this series, which is a rare honour, because is that they are all immensely readable, ingenious plots, current and believable, in this case a little too believable for comfort. With reliable characterisation to back up this list of accolades it is one book of the year that I KNOW I am going to enjoy, this one was no different. Now, I’m looking forward to discovering what the wispy ends that have been left hanging, will tie up to next time.

This series stands head and shoulders among most of Peter James competitors something clearly illustrated in this novel.  It is a confident and accomplished writer that can produce a book that with plenty of surprises along the way that made me gasp, wince and stifle a sob, despite knowing more than Grace and his team and is one not to be missed for fans of this series. You haven’t read one? Why ever not? Start at the beginning with Dead Simple.

I would like to thank the publishers Pan Macmillan for providing me with a review copy ahead of the publication date of 2 June 2014 in return for this honest review.

Roy Grace Series by Peter James books in order:

Dead Simple
Looking Good Dead
Not Dead Enough
Dead Man’s Footsteps
Dead Tomorrow
Dead Like You
Dead Man’s Grip
Not Dead Yet
Dead Man’s Time
Want You Dead

Other books I’d recommend that feature stalkers

The Book of You – Claire Kendal
Sleep Tight – Rachel Abbott

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Dead Man’s Time – Peter James

Crime 5*'s
Crime
5*’s

What a relief the waiting is over, it is June and here is the 9th Roy Grace Novel by Peter James. Peter James is one of those authors you can rely on; always a good plot along with well-rounded characterisation which results in an enjoyable read.

Dead Man’s Time has an extra dimension with the root of the story based in 1922 Brooklyn. Brendan Daly is taken in the middle of the night and his young son Gavin who was taken to England by his aunt along with his sister Aileen never saw him again. In 2012, ninety-eight year old Aileen, is the victim of a vicious and brutal robbery. Roy Grace is heading up the investigation along with the other members of his team familiar from previous books in this series.

Roy and Cleo now have a young son Noah and are adapting to sleepless nights and a jealous dog Humphrey. Roy’s missing wife Sandy also makes her obligatory appearance too with Glenn Branston’s on-going problems with his ex Ari. I really love these secondary story lines which give the reader something in addition to the crimes committed.

As always this is a stand-alone novel but due to the development of characters you may prefer to work your way through the eight previous books starting with Dead Simple (Ds Roy Grace 1)

All the books in the series so far…

Dead Simple (2005)
Looking Good Dead (2006)
Not Dead Enough (2007)
Dead Man’s Footsteps (2008)
Dead Tomorrow (2009)
Dead Like You (2010)
Dead Man’s Grip (2011)
Not Dead Yet (2012)
Dead Man’s Time (2013)
Want You Dead (2014)