12 September 2008

Review: DEAD MAN'S FOOTSTEPS, Peter James

Pan Macmillan, 2008, hb, 466 pages, ISBN 978-1-4050-9204-3.

Sometimes it pays to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dodgy British businessman Ronnie Wilson can't believe what he is witnessing. It is nearly 9 am on September 11, 2001. He is seriously late for his meeting with Donald Hatcook on the 87th floor of New York World Trade Center's South Tower. And the South Tower is disintegrating before his eyes. But he doesn't see tragedy. He sees opportunity.

Six years on, October 2007, in Brighton, England, a female body has turned up in a storm drain on Detective Superintendent Roy Grace's patch. It bears an uncanny resemblance to Grace's missing wife Sandy. Almost simultaneously, half way across the world, a second female body is discovered in a lake near Melbourne, Australia.

In an echo of what must have happened ever so briefly on 9/11, Abby Dawson is trapped in a malfunctioning lift in Brighton. The lift feels as if it is dangling by a single cable and her cries for help are going unheeded.

Before long Roy Grace, newly promoted to head up Major crimes finds himself managing an investigation that spans three continents. This is #4 in the series that focuses on the English seaside town of Brighton, although in DEAD MAN'S FOOTSTEPS, the town merely provides the background. These four books really are a series with continuing characters, and narrative threads that bind them together. James is truly creating a world about DS Grace: the threats to his authority, the people he has to work with, his personal life. I'm the sort of reader who likes to read a developing series in order, but this novel could also be read and enjoyed as a stand alone.

My rating 4.7

Earlier in the series:
DEAD SIMPLE (2005). My rating 4.8
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...

LOOKING GOOD DEAD (2006) My rating 4.8
The second in the D.S. Roy Grace series. 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 review of NOT DEAD ENOUGH (2007) which I read earlier this year and also gave 4.8 to.

Peter James' own website is at http://www.peterjames.com/ and contains many of the interviews he has given, articles he has written, his blog, a newsletters, blurbs about all of his books, and extracts from Roy Grace novels.

Will there be #5 in the Roy Grace series? You will find there is an unanswered question right at the end of DEAD MAN'S FOOTSTEPS. And according to this, the answer is YES.


Helen said...

You seemed to enjoy this one as much as I did, Kerrie. That last line was bolt out of the blue wasn't it?!

I'm glad the next one is in the wings.

Kerrie said...

Yes, I had to read it twice Helen!


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