3 September 2011

Review: DEAD LIKE YOU, Peter James - audio

Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2011 CrimeFest Sounds of Crime Award.
Don't imagine for one moment that I'm not watching you...
After a New Year's Eve ball, a woman is raped as she returns to her hotel room. A week later, another woman is attacked. Superintendent Roy Grace realises that these new cases bear close similarities to an unsolved series of crimes in Brighton back in 1997. When more women are assaulted, Grace becomes increasingly certain that they are dealing with the same twisted individual...

My take:

The length of this recording requires some dedicated listening, and has actually taken he-who-listens-with-me and myself about 3 weeks of listening on longish car trips, which also provides reviewing challenges. While I am familiar with the writing of Peter James and the Roy Grace series in particular (see links below for my other reviews), my fellow listener was not.

My fellow listener dislikes books that jump between time frames as DEAD LIKE YOU does. It has two main time frames: 1997 and 2007. The times of the year are similar - both around Christmas, New Year - and there are similarities between the crimes committed, making Roy Grace fear that the "Shoe Man",  believed to have raped 5 women and murdered a sixth in 1997, has returned.  The alternative is that there is a copycat occurring, someone who admired and followed the exploits of "Shoe Man" a decade before.

Back in 1997 the investigation into the rapes took place just before Roy Grace's wife Sandy disappeared. Sandy has never been found despite a number of reported sightings and so her disappearance continues to be a theme as in earlier titles in the series. But Grace is preparing to have her declared dead and now has a happy relationship with Chloe who works as a pathologist.

There's plenty to think about as the action jumps backwards and forwards between the past and the present, and we discover that there is more than one possible perpetrator of the current rapes. DEAD LIKE YOU is a satisfyingly complex novel.
If I have one criticism, it is its length: the trade paperback version is 548 pages. It is a very detailed book, again showing considerable evidence that Peter James knows what he is talking about, that his research has been profound. But there were times when I wanted the detailed descriptions to be less, and for the action to proceed a bit faster. There are times too when the reader knows that Grace and his team are ignoring vital evidence, making false assumptions and going down the wrong path.

So, does it work as a stand-alone, if you haven't read earlier titles in the series? The answer is "yes". James ensures that you get to know all the background that you need. So go for it! Peter James is a master story teller.

My rating: 4.8

My other reviews of Peter James novels


Charmaine Clancy said...

I love audio books for car trips!
Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

Kerrie said...

They do inhibit conversation a bit though don't they?

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for the fine review. I often wonder about the length of books, even from a very talented storyteller like James. I'm glad you brought up the weaving in and out between timelines here. Sometimes that element can be really distracting but when it's done well, it can add such an interesting dimension to a novel I think.


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