Not Dead Enough – Peter James

Title – Not Dead Enough

Author – Peter James

Published – 2007 (paperback)

Genre – Crime

I feel as if I came to Peter James a little late. Having commuted up & down the Brighton line for several years I finally gave in and bought the first book in the detective superintendent Roy Grace series – “Dead Simple”. I was puzzled to start with, it wasn’t quite what I expected from a detective novel, but before the end of the book I was hooked. So now I’ve finished the third Roy Grace novel – a present from my husband.

On the night Brian Bishop murdered his wife, he was sixty miles away, asleep in bed at the time. At least, that’s the way it looks to Detective Superintendent Roy Grace who is called in to investigate the kinky slaying of beautiful young Brighton socialite, Katie Bishop.

Soon, Grace starts coming to the conclusion that Bishop has performed the apparently impossible feat of being in two places at once. Has someone stolen his identity, or is he simply a very clever liar? As Grace digs deeper behind the facade of the Bishops’ outwardly respectable lives, it starts to become clear that all is not at all as it first seemed. And then he digs just a little too far, and suddenly the fragile stability of his own troubled, private world is facing destruction …

Peter James tells his detective stories in an unusual way, and one which must make the writing much harder than it needs to be (not that I’m complaining). Not only do we see the events from the perspective of Roy Grace, but also from that of the other main characters in the story – victims, potential victims, the suspect and others who are somehow involved in the crimes. Despite this he still keeps you guessing. It’s not as simple as following the detective and the suspect to see how one chases and the other evades, because James manages to tease you with the information. I was a good way into this book before I really caught on to what was happening.

The book starts with the action straight away and maintains the pace throughout. It’s hard to say anything much about the story without giving some of the mystery away. As with the previous novels, Grace is still in search of his missing wife Sandy, so in the middle of the investigation he drops everything to follow-up a possible sighting of her. This storyline does provide a different and more personal view of the detective, especially as he is also trying to maintain his new relationship with Cleo Morey, which began in a previous book in the series.

If I had a criticism – well perhaps there are two. Firstly I find myself reading too quickly. The chapters switch between the stories of different characters, and leave you wanting to read the next bit in their story – so I find myself going too fast. My second grumble – Grace & Morey as a couple don’t really ring true for me. Nevertheless I’ll be pressing on with the series, not least because I have a signed copy of “Dead Like You” to get to.

Score – 4/5

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