24 June 2011

Review: DEAD TOMORROW, Peter James

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 901 KB
  • Print Length: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan UK (June 11, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004S49YRY
  • Source: I bought it
Product description (Amazon
Lynn Barrett is a single mother, trying to cope with life after divorce. And her life becomes an even bigger nightmare when daughter Caitlin is diagnosed with terminal liver disease. She is put on the transplant waiting list, but there is a world shortage and most patients will die while waiting. In desperation, Lynn turns to the internet and discovers an organ broker who can provide her with a liver but it will cost Lynn £250,000. To save her daughter she mortgages her home and borrows from family and friends to raise the money. A few days later the organ broker tells Lynn she has found a young woman, a perfect match for Caitlin, who is in a coma following a car smash in Italy. Meanwhile Roy Grace is working on the case of the remains of three young people recovered from the seabed off the coast of Brighton. These remains lead him to a Romanian trafficking organization of street kids from the Eastern bloc for the UK sex trade; some of them are also traded as organ donors . . .

My take:

One of the aspects of writing crime fiction that is obviously very important to Peter James, indeed one of the issues that he emphasised in panel sessions and during an in depth interview at CrimeFest 2011, is the depth and accuracy of his research. This is borne out in his novels.

DEAD TOMORROW shows James is an authority not only on British police procedures but also on the several topics that the novel touches on. Minute details add authority to his writing, to the point where the reader thinks "I am learning something important here."

James uses all this background detail to create another world for us to temporarily to become part of: one where we get to know a complement of characters to the point where we actually care what happens to them.

DEAD TOMORROW is #5  in Peter James' Roy Grace series set in Brighton. (#7 has just been published). Grace's wife Sandy disappeared nearly 10 years ago and until now Grace has wanted to believe she is still alive. Her has searched assiduously and even consulted seances. There has been a supposed sighting in Germany but his search has continued throughout the series. But now he has a new love in his life, Cleo, and he wants to move on.

I'd like to comment too on a couple of characteristics of James' writing that i find both unusual and well done.
The author often reveals that he has fore-knowledge of future events that will embroil a character. There are several
e.g.
    As he headed jauntily along the quay, towards her black hull and orange superstructure, he was happily unaware of the cargo that would accompany them back from his next voyage, scheduled to start in just a couple of hours’ time, and the trauma it would bring to his own life.
Peter James seems to introduce each character rather systematically. He devotes quite a bit of space to background details for each, but once characters have been introduced, the reader knows their paths will converge somewhere sooner or later.

As a detective Roy Grace has some defining characteristics.  For example one of the tricks he has taught members of his team is to watch what a person's eyes do during an interview. They refer to it as a lie detection test.
Here is another extract I found interesting. [Roy Grace believes in occasionally going back to the basics, by referring to a definitive tome on his shelves called the Murder Investigation Manual.]
    Updated regularly, it contained every procedure for every aspect of a murder investigation, including a well-mapped-out Murder Investigation Model, which he turned to now. The Fast Track Menu, which he read through again now to refresh himself, contained ten points which were ingrained in every homicide detective’s brain – and precisely because they were so familiar, some of them could easily be overlooked.

Grace uses the manual as a personal check list to ensure that he is covering all aspects the investigation should encompass.

DEAD TOMORROW is a long novel, one in which the reader certainly gets their money's worth. Partly the length is generated by the fact that there are a large number of characters, and part it comes through detailed descriptive passages. But it is held together by a strong narrative, and the length does not grate.
Highly recommended.

My rating 5.0

Other Reviews to check:

Other Peter James titles reviewed on MiP:
DEAD MAN'S FOOTSTEPS
NOT DEAD ENOUGH

2 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - OK, I'm hooked. Any author who does that kind of work to be accurate and teach the reader something is worth reading. Thanks for a well-written review!

Maxine said...

I quite liked this book and the previous ones (have reviewed them all for Euro Crime) but hated the next one which had a bad combination for me of kidnap woman being terrified by kidnapper and portrayal of women as vacuous designer shoe-addicts constantly on FB. He really changed direction with the series with this one (and changed the back story of Roy and Sandy's relationship) so I have jumped ship as I can see he is going the mega bestseller (JPatterson) route - not for me. Pity as they started out so well.

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