Dead Man’s Grip, by Peter James

Reviewed by Edwin Tipple

The latest in a successful line of detective Roy Grace mysteries. I think I’ve read them all and always look forward to a new one, partly because of a new plot and partly because you get to learn a bit more about the main characters; Grace, his wife Sandy who disappeared 10 years ago, his new love and of course his sidekick. But don’t go thinking this is Soap with killings as these tales are far better crafted and gruesome than any soap.

Most police procedurals are based in one city and this is no exception: Rankin for example placed Rebus in Edinburgh, Dexter homed Morse in Oxford. James chose Brighton for Roy Grace. Authors often live in the cities they write about, so know them extremely well. I have fond memories of all three, but as my son lives in Brighton I tend to see more clearly the settings and imagine myself being there. To stick with James, you only have to read his extensive acknowledgements to see how well he researches his work. Tons of advice from nice-friendly-policemen and settings based for example on friends homes – some extraordinary as in this tale where one of the villains has a bowling alley in the basement – make for a more convincing read, though we were not entertained to bowling 9 pins over with severed heads, just in case you though we might, in this tale.

And so to the tale, which revolves around the after-effects of a road accident – a bit of body severing here, right up my street – involving three vehicles, four if you include the push-bike. Two drivers are murdered leaving Carly Chase – the third driver – in mortal danger. So, the chase is on to save Ms Chase from the dangerous Yanks who lost their son in the smash. But she of course has balls, and knows better than the police on how to handle them and does not go into hiding as they advise. As if that isn’t enough for Grace to worry about, he is balancing frequent flashback to a life with his lost wife with his new love’s pregnancy problems while dealing with the press and his new boss.

The plot is very believable and gradually its pace increases along with the action. It ends with a good satisfying twist and a surprising revelation which looks set to figure more prominently in his next book. I can’t wait. Don’t let the 115 chapters put you off as most are very short.  They make for easy flipping from one scene or point of view to the next, and make it easy to pick up and carry on reading from where you had to put it down. I recommend it.

Peter James is, I understand, in the process of getting Grace onto t.v. which I think will run well. I just hope and pray that when it’s screened it isn’t punctuated by bloody adverts.

Edwin Tipple

 

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