19 March 2008

NOT DEAD ENOUGH, Peter James, progress report

I've read 2 books in this series (see my mini-reviews below) and enjoyed them greatly, so was looking forward to this one. It is quite a long one (486pp in the edition I have), much longer than I remember the others being. So I'm not getting through it very quickly.

So far: (no spoilers I promise)
Katie Bishop drives a BMW and lives in a mansion of a house on Dyke Road Avenue, Brighton, guarded by big wrought iron gates. But wealth, social status and privacy don't protect her when she becomes the target of a murderer while her husband is out playing golf. More than that Katie seems to have been participating in some rather kinky sex before she died.
Brian Bishop is playing a blinder when he is interrupted on the ninth hole by Detective Sergeant Glenn Branson of Sussex CID with the news that at 8.30 that morning his cleaning lady discovered the body of his wife Katie. Back at chez Bishop, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is supervising the scene of the crime.

On the face of it, Brian Bishop was well away from Brighton, in fact in London, at the time his wife was murdered. He had been to dinner in Picadilly with his financial adviser, and then gone back to his London flat to sleep. Why then doesn't he want to admit that he spent most of the night with Sophie Harrington? Why is Sophie under surveillance? To Roy Grace's team there are things about Brian Bishop that are worth watching.

Roy Grace is an interesting character. His wife Sandy disappeared from their house just over nine years ago, on the evening of his 30th birthday. Despite the fact that he is very friendly with the Chief Mortician, Grace is constantly wondering what became of Sandy. These thoughts intrude at moments when he should be focussing on a post mortem or the particulars of a case. He has even consulted psychics in the hope of learning something. He comes over as very human, likeable, and just a little bit flawed.

DEAD SIMPLE
Four bodies, one suspect, no trace. The first case for detective superintendent Roy Grace. It was meant to be a harmless stag night prank. A few hours later four of his best friends are dead and Michael Harrison has disappeared. With only three days to the wedding, Detective Superintendent Grace - a man haunted by the shadow of his own missing wife - is contacted by Michael's beautiful, distraught fiancée, Ashley Harper. Grace discovers that the one man who ought to know Michael Harrison's whereabouts is saying nothing. But then he has a lot to gain - more than anyone realizes. For one man's disaster is another man's fortune...Dead simple...

My rating: 4.8

LOOKING GOOD DEAD
The second in the D.S. Roy Grace series (first was DEAD SIMPLE). Tom Bryce picks up a CD left behind on the train by a fellow passenger. Later at home he investigates the CD on his laptop and finds himself on the internet viewing a snuff murder. Meanwhile Roy Grace is called to the discovery of a decapitated female corpse near the seaside resort of Brighton which he lives near. In viewing the snuff movie Tom Bryce has put himself and his family in danger. And Roy Grace is in hot water too - already in trouble for taking a piece of evidence to a medium, he needs "a result" quickly. There are plenty of threads that connect LOOKING GOOD DEAD to the earlier book in the series, but readers should not find it difficult to start with this novel if they haven't read the earlier one. Excellently crafted.

My rating: 4.8

Check Fantastic Fiction for other books by Peter James, especially those written prior to this series. I see a 4th title in the Roy Grace series, titled DEAD MAN'S FOOTSTEPS, is due out in June this year. Peter James own website is at http://www.peterjames.com/

1 comment:

maxine said...

I like this Roy Grace series: the character is very likeable and the writing is of the page-turning variety. I have to admit that I didn't find "not dead enough" as good as the previous two, it seemed a bit obvious to me. But definitely still in the "rattling good read" category. And I hope we find out what happened to Mrs G at some point.
I am a bit suspicious of James's other books -- they had been published previously and were not very successful -- now they have been reissued. I remember this happening with Richard North Patterson, an author I like. Several of his earlier, "pre-breakthrough" books were reissued. I read one of them, and realised why they had not been successful!

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