Once more, my purchase of Dead if you don’t was inspired by setting eyes on Peter James the author himself, who checked into a hotel next to me at the Bloody Scotland event in Stirling.
I’d never heard of him to be honest (I’m never the best with remembering names) but after watching him handed an author pass at the hotel and spotting his name on the bill I went along to see his talk.
It was only then I realised already had a number of his titles on my bookshelves – I’d just done my usual trick of hoovering through crime titles without really noticing who the author is (sorry – must do better).
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So I picked up his latest at the book shop, interested in his crime series phenomenom – the Brighton-based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series – quickly realising I’d read a couple before, albeit out of sequence.
Not that it matters – Peter James has managed what so many authors try for – books which make perfect sense on their own as well as in a series and what’s more they are captivating.
In Roy Grace, a character I learned at James’ talk was inspired by a real life detective, is a compelling character you very quickly feel you know well, perhaps because of his flaws as a person and a police officer.
Dead if you don’t, much like his other books in this series, manages to both showcase and minutely examine Brighton’s dodgy criminal underbelly – it’s a critique of the assumptions, prejudices and insecurities of the wealthy seaside city which James calls home.
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It’s also a realistic examination of the police force and bodies which run it, portraying them as the human-run complexities of administration and ambition they are.
The scene-setting resonated for me, particularly as I’ve spent significant time in the posh end of Brighton and Hove by accident rather than plan – an interloper – wandering past the behometh mansions and wondering what goes on beyond those walls and security gates.
I’ve also dealt with the police, as press, for many years.
But ultimately this is just a damn good story with myriad twists and turns to keep you on your feet, starting with a terrorist plot to blow up the football stadium and speeding through a series of dead bodies, nefarious plots and intrigue.
I look forward to meeting Det Supt Grace once more.
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*Bought and paid for