Dead Like You by Peter James

5/5 stars. The final scenes are heart stopping, defying me to put the story down. Of course I didn’t.

My thoughts

From the moment you start reading, you know Peter James will deliver an authentic, well-researched thriller with an original plot, filled with surprises. In this story, he puts stranger rape under his microscope, offering an attacker with a fetish for expensive shoes.

Is it the same man who wreaked havoc on Brighton’s women in the past?

The numerous flashbacks to the previous unsolved case interrupted the smooth flow of the story in the early stages, but once the current investigation gained momentum it was difficult to put the book down. I lost count of the times I promised myself just one more chapter.

The final scenes are heart stopping, defying me to put the story down. Of course I didn’t.

One bonus of the flashbacks was the glimpse into his marriage to Sandy and why it floundered. This contrasted with his present relationship with Cleo, which is beautifully captured.

This is one of the many great moments Peter James brings to his novels. I love the detail about the expensive shoes, which must have taken some researching, about the incident rooms and the many strands of investigation followed by the various members of the team. It proves that you don’t need to break the procedural rules to write great crime.

And this is another great crime story.

5/5 stars

Dead Like You

Description

Don’t imagine for one moment that I’m not watching you . . .

The Metropole Hotel, Brighton. After a heady New Year’s Eve ball, a woman is brutally raped as she returns to her room. A week later, another woman is attacked. Both victims’ shoes are taken by the offender . . .

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace soon realizes that these new cases bear remarkable similarities to an unsolved series of crimes in the city back in 1997. The perpetrator had been dubbed ‘Shoe Man’ and was believed to have raped five women before murdering his sixth victim and vanishing. Could this be a copycat, or has Shoe Man resurfaced?

When more women are assaulted, Grace becomes increasingly certain that they are dealing with the same man. And that by delving back into the past – a time in which we see Grace and his missing wife Sandy still apparently happy together – he may find the key to unlocking the current mystery. Soon Grace and his team will find themselves in a desperate race against the clock to identify and save the life of the new sixth victim . . .

Dead Like You is the sixth novel in the multi-million copy bestselling Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series from number one author Peter James.

Dead Tomorrow by Peter James

5/5 stars. Peter James is a hugely talented and original author at the top of his profession. Another stunning crime novel.

Description

The body of a missing teenager is dredged from the seabed off the Sussex coast, missing vital organs. Soon after, a further two more bodies are found . . .

Caitlin Beckett, a fifteen-year-old in Brighton will die if she does not receive an urgent transplant. When the health system threatens to let her down her mother takes drastic action and goes to an online broker in black-market organs. The broker can provide what she wants, but it will come at a price.

As Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates the recovered bodies, he unearths the trail of a gang of child traffickers operating from Eastern Europe. Soon Grace and his team will find themselves in a race against time to save the life of a young street kid, while a desperate mother will stop at nothing to save her daughter’s life . . .

Dead Tomorrow is the fifth novel in the multi-million copy bestselling Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series from number one author Peter James

My thoughts

Once again, Peter James has explored another area of crime that shows the depths some villains will plumb to make money. In this case, organ transplants. Orphaned street kids, living hopeless lives on and below the streets of East European cities, discover the promise of a new life in England comes at a heavy price.

When Brighton police recover the bodies of three youngsters, minus vital organs, the hunt is on to find out who is behind these heinous crimes. For Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, who’s finally coming to terms with the disappearance of his wife many years ago, it’s the latest in a series of ingenious and compelling crimes that will test him and his faithful team to the limit.

Once again, the villains show no mercy as they go about their crimes, providing chilling examples of the depths some people can sink to in this world of ours. Thank goodness for detectives like Roy Grace, who will do everything, and then some, to stop these people and put them away. As always, the details and depiction of the characters, their crimes and in this story, the medical information, are authentic and compelling, making the story so lifelike it scares me to think this could be going on in the world.

Dead Tomorrow is another fast paced, compelling and chilling story that kept me hooked to the last page as the investigation gathers momentum and closes in on the criminals in the sedate Sussex countryside.

Peter James is a hugely talented and original author at the top of his profession.

5 stars.

Dead Tomorrow

Dead Man’s Footsteps by Peter James

5/5 stars. You can always rely on Peter James for an original and ingenious plot and story. Simply brilliant.

Description

Amid the tragic unfolding mayhem of the morning of 9/11, failed Brighton businessman and ne’er-do-well, Ronnie Wilson, sees the chance of a lifeline: to shed his debts, disappear and reinvent himself in another country. Six years later the discovery of the skeletal remains of a woman’s body in a storm drain in Brighton leads Detective Superintendent Roy Grace on an enquiry spanning the globe, and into a desperate race against time to save the life of a woman being hunted down like an animal in the streets and alleys of Brighton.

Dead Man’s Footsteps is the fourth novel in the multi-million copy bestselling Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, from number one author Peter James.

My thoughts

The more Roy Grace novels I read, the more I enjoy them. Each one has a unique and ingenious plot that never fails to deliver an exciting and enjoyable read. And central to it all is Detective Superintendent Roy Grace as his trusty team, who work all the hours needed to solve some heinous crimes.

This one’s no different, with a story that spans the 9/11 disaster in New York to the mean streets of Brighton, where illusions are soon shattered for one young woman as the story alternates between the past and the present. Peter James never fails to create frightening villains who show no mercy or lack of ingenuity when it comes to disposing of their victims.

But then that’s the trademark of these great novels – authenticity. The police operations are revealed in detail that not only takes you inside the incident room, but through the internal and external politics, bureaucracy and camaraderie essential for maintaining sanity while dealing with the most horrific crimes.

Exciting, fast paced and full of surprises, I particularly enjoyed the depiction of the events during and after 9/11. While I cannot begin to imagine the horror of being there, Peter James brought it to life with such vivid detail, the terrible impact of that day took on a new meaning for me.

And after all the twists and turns and the thrilling climax on Beachy Head, the author still managed to slip in one final twist, right at the death.

It won’t be long before I start the next book in the series – just got to get my breath back.

5 stars.

Dead Mans Footsteps

Talking authors

It’s easy to lose sight of what matters, isn’t it?

You’re focused on editing and revising your latest novel, maybe wondering how to raise your profile on social media, hoping someone will notice your books on Amazon. It’s easy to become isolated and frustrated, especially when your attention’s focused inwards.

So it was brilliant to look outwards and engage with readers and authors on one of UK Crime Book Club’s Author Chats on Facebook last Wednesday.

It’s a simple premise – for an hour, the author answers questions posed by those taking part.

It didn’t stop me wondering if it could be that simple though.

As this was a new departure, I joined a chat with author, David Videcette, to discover what was involved and hopefully get a few ideas. He made it look easy, posting quizzes and games in between answering the flurry of questions fired at him. I clung onto his shirt tails, following the questions and replies on all manner of topics.

Fortified by this experience, I drew up some quiz questions, tracked down a few humorous quotes, knowing that preparation is the key.

But what if no one showed up after all that preparation? Having read an article about an author who did a book launch where no one turned up, I felt a little apprehensive. While a few people said they would take part in the author chat, few people have heard of me and what I write.

Murder mysteries, if you’re interested. A traditional whodunit with a modern twist, ‘unique in crime fiction’, according to one reviewer.

HarveySo, after walking Harvey, my West Highland White Terrier, and eating a somewhat rushed tea, I pulled up my chair a couple of minutes before 7pm. I logged into Facebook, opened the file on the PC with my quiz questions and humorous quotes so they would be easy to access, and waited.

Was there anybody out there?

There was no way of knowing until people posted questions. Caroline from Admin, who was hosting the chat, introduced me and promptly fired off a number of questions to get me going. Tell us a little about your writing had me foxed for a moment. How did I sum up my aims, goals and aspirations into a few short sentences?

Then more questions from those who had joined the chat. My fingers flew across the keys, I scrolled back and forth, trying not to miss any questions as more came in.

It was so full on, I almost forgot my quiz questions.

It was great to chat with readers and other authors, replying to comments, answering diverse questions that made me think hard before answering.

What was the easiest part of writing? That was a tough one.

What was my favourite method of murder? What’s your favourite book? Why write crime? Do you map out your plots? Are your characters based on people you know?

The hour whistled by, leaving me tired, but exhilarated. It was brilliant and so much fun, engaging with people who have a genuine interest in books and authors, but most of all learning what interests them. As Caroline closed the chat, I felt a little sad that it was all over so quickly.

I hope everyone who took part enjoyed the experience. I would certainly encourage other authors to take part. And it’s a great way for readers to discover new authors and what they write. After all, we need each other, so it’s a great way to get to know each other too.

But I’m still not sure what’s the easiest part about writing.

Any thoughts?


If you want to find out more about me and my books, you can sign up to my reader group using the form on the right of this page.

Alternatively, please click here to visit my Amazon page.

Not Dead Enough by Peter James

5/5 stars. I hope Peter James enjoyed writing this story as much as I enjoyed reading it.

Description

Appearances can be deceptive; but the truth is a dangerous thing . . .

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 socialite, Katie Bishop.

Roy Grace soon 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 Roy Grace digs deeper behind the façade of the Bishops’ outwardly respectable lives, it becomes clear that everything is not at all as it first seemed. Then he digs just a little too far, and suddenly the fragile stability of his own troubled world is facing destruction . . .

Not Dead Enough is the third bestselling title in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series from the number one bestselling author Peter James.

My thoughts

I hope Peter James enjoyed writing this story as much as I enjoyed reading it.

I loved it from the first page to the last, revelling in the wickedly devious plot that began with a murder and a clear suspect in Brian Bishop. Only he didn’t do it. He’s adamant about that. And I agreed with him, even when the evidence began to build up against up him. And then I worked it out, which increased my enjoyment as I watched the plot twist and turn, the tension build. Only I was wrong, because along came another masterful twist to sweep me into the dramatic endgame, which left me breathless by the end.

It’s a long story, but it will live longer in my memory for many reasons.

The author’s customary attention to detail not only adds realism and authenticity – it builds trust in the reader, building a bond that increased my enjoyment and admiration. After the previous novel, Looking Good Dead¸ (read my review here) I wanted to learn more about Roy Grace’s life and the mystery of his wife’s disappearance. Then there’s the politics of policing, struggling with decreasing budgets, concerns about how the Crown Prosecution Service will view the case – still highly relevant and part of the climate today.

All these factors support and enhance a terrific plot and crime story that I would recommend to anyone.

Peter James is a writer at the top of his game and an inspiration.

5 stars

February 2018

Not Dead Enough

Authors who inspire me to write better

Last weekend, I wrote about the authors who inspired me to move from the ideas buzzing around my head to putting fingers on the keys of a typewriter or word processor. (You can read the post here.)

Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series, featuring Kinsey Millhone, helped me believe I could create my own detective and write crime fiction. Now, with two books published and the third scheduled for May this year, my inspiration comes from other crime writers who bring their own style and ideas to the party.

Plenty of choice

Let’s face it, there are millions of books out there, each vying for your attention as you scan the results on Amazon, Kobo or your local library bookshelves. But out of those millions, how many will appeal to you? How many would you class as ‘essential reads’? How many books would you buy on the strength of the author’s name?

There are so many good writers out there, offering different spins on the same themes and subjects. Why do some capture your imagination more than others? Why do they talk to you in a way that others don’t? What is it that draws you to a particular writer?

I’ve no idea, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the author’s voice and style. The author talks to you in a way you like and understand. The story and characters still have to be good, and familiar settings can help, but there’s something about particular authors that strike a chord or two.

I could list well over twenty authors, whose police procedurals, psychological thrillers or private detective novels have entertained me over the past few years. (There’s a similar list of authors whose books were dumped after a few chapters or pages.)

But at the moment, there are only four authors who inspire me, who make me want to write stronger and better to reach the benchmarks they set. They all write police procedural series with strong central characters, imaginative plots, and dramatic storylines. Yet each author is distinct, bringing something different to the table. I’ve listed them in the order I discovered them.

Robin Roughley – DS Lasser series

Tethered to the DeadRobin has written fifteen of sixteen books so far, set in and around Wigan, but I’ve only just finished reading Tethered to the Dead, which is No 3, but I love the character and his fearless pursuit of criminals. The plots are complex and explode in all directions from a simple crime. There’s social comment, an unflattering view of the seedier side of life, and a wonderful optimism and wit that reassures you that the world will be all right once DS Lasser gets the killer.

But best of all, I like the way the author takes you into the heads of his characters, good and bad, revealing there essence in a few paragraphs.

Peter James – Detective Superintendent Roy Grace

Not Dead EnoughAgain, I’m only on book three, Not Dead Enough, but I can see why Peter James is one the top crime writers in the country. Not only is he an excellent writer who can create memorable characters and brings them to life in a few paragraphs, his plots are wickedly clever. He portrays all shades of Brighton and offers plenty of social and political comment in his investigations, but it’s his attention to detail and police procedure that lift his stories above most of the others. That detail about how the police operate, the systems they use, the buildings they occupy and the rules and regulations that govern their work add great credibility and authenticity to the novels.

LJ Ross – DCI Ryan

I’m a newcomer to this series, set in Northumberland, but again, it’s the story and characters that matter, including a touch of romance, which we all enjoy, don’t we? Holy Island, had a distinctive plot, laced with an undercurrent of ritual and mysticism, to tax the charismatic lead characters in a tale filled with suspense and drama. The style leans more towards the cosy end of the crime market, but remains modern and relevant, which appeals to me.

Book two, Sycamore Gap, is my next read.

Rachel Amphlett – DS Kay Hunter

Will to Live coverI’ve only recently discovered this series and enjoyed the first two books, Scared to Death and Will to Live. Rachel has a no-nonsense, economic style of writing that engages you from the first paragraph. Like Peter James, her plots are different and deftly delivered with a touch of wit and humour to lighten the tone.

While she tackles gritty subjects and hard hitting crimes, she manages without littering her stories with profanities and gratuitous descriptions or violence, which proves it’s the story that counts. I also like to write this way.

These authors all have distinctive styles, but share a number of characteristics that heighten their appeal and inspire me, namely

  • strong central characters who will do whatever it takes to bring the villains to justice
  • complex, twisting plots that baffle, intrigue, entertain and fulfil
  • realism and credibility
  • humour and wit, often dark, that’s often lacking in many novels.

 

Though a newcomer to crime fiction with much to learn, these are the characteristics I strive to bring to my novels, and I’m delighted I’ve found such fantastic examples to show me the way.

I’m sure there will be many more authors in my ‘To Be Read’ pile that will entertain and hopefully inspire me.

That’s the joy of reading.


Click here for reviews of the novels mentioned in this post.

If you’d like to find out more about my novels and lead character, Kent Fisher, please check out my website at http://robertcrouch.co.uk or my Amazon page.

If you’d like exclusive previews and insights, sign up to my Reader Group by entering you details in the form at the top right of the page.

In-credibility

If you ask people what makes a great novel, they’ll probably tell you it’s characters or plot, thrills and suspense, maybe an unexpected twist or surprise, maybe the way the author told the story.

But underneath these responses lie some not so obvious reasons as I realised when I recently finished Looking Good Dead, by Peter James.

Looking Good DeadIt’s the second of his Roy Grace novels. It has strong, believable characters, a clever, somewhat sinister plot with a few unexpected moments, plenty of suspense and he tells the story well.

I thoroughly enjoyed it because it had that realism and believability that enhances your enjoyment of the story. You learn something new and you trust the author. That matters more than you think, I suspect.

It’s called credibility.

Peter James works with the police. He researches in great detail, I imagine, and he’s been to the places he describes. He writes about the police with a confident voice, full of authority. You’re with him at the briefings, smelling the coffee and the stale, half-eaten supermarket sandwiches. You understand the procedures in the incident room and mortuary. And you sense the banter and concerns of the detectives are taken from reality.

That’s why I chose not to write a police procedural. While I’ve been in several police stations as part of my job and worked with officers, I have no real idea what it’s like to be a copper. I can guess, but that’s not the same.

I’ve also read police procedurals where authors seem to have based their detectives and stations on TV shows from the last century. I read one where the wrong caution was used. A quick search on Google would have prevented that.

So, on the few occasions the police appear in my writing, I want to be accurate and credible. I wanted my hero, Kent Fisher, to be interviewed by the police for an alleged assault on a child. (He actually rescued the child by lifting him out an animal pen.)

My interview room with small with no windows, painted brick walls, concrete floor, and a cheap table with two wooden chairs either side. It was in the bowels of the local station and had a stale, unpleasant smell about it.

Imagine my surprise when I was invited to the custody suite used by Sussex Police and found a modern building with a comfortable room, equipped with PC, DVD player and video camera. There were no unpleasant smells, a peaceful atmosphere, and fairly comfortable chairs.

No Bodies coverYou can read the scene in No Bodies, if you’re interested.

The sergeant also told me Kent Fisher would not have been arrested and brought to the custody suite as he posed no threat to others and no previous form. That left me with a problem, as I wanted him to be taken to the custody suite. The sergeant came to the rescue, telling me Kent could voluntarily give a statement, with or without a solicitor, at the custody suite.

Problem solved. Credibility maintained.

That’s why I write about what I know.

Kent Fisher’s an environmental health officer (EHO), who uses his contacts and skills to solve murders. (You can read about the skills that make an EHO a good detective in a previous blog, Being different is always the same or my guest post on Linda’s Book Bag).

To add to the credibility, the murders involve some aspect of his work, such as a dodgy caterer or a work accident where someone died. That makes it simple for him to get involved and investigate. After that, his naturally curious and suspicious nature does the rest.

In a forthcoming story, the police ask for Kent’s help with a cold case that involves a restaurant he once closed down. I wanted to know how much the police would tell him about the murder and spoke to a detective over a cup of tea one afternoon.

The police have strict guidelines and would only tell Kent what was in the public domain, the detective informed me. “Has that ruined your story?”

“Not at all,” I said. It means Kent will have to find out everything himself, which makes for a far more interesting and challenging plot. It also means my story will be accurate, authentic and credible.

Credibility matters. It means you’ve taken care, researched thoroughly, done your best to be as accurate as possible. It means readers can trust you.

And as I’ve discovered, it often leads to a better story.

If you’d like to know more about Kent Fisher and the novels, including exclusive content and new releases, why not sign up to my Reader Group by filling in your details below.

Looking Good Dead by Peter James

December 2017

5/5 stars. Peter James’ meticulous research is legendary, creating a world filled with memorable characters and authentic detail

Description

One single act of kindness becomes an endless reign of terror. . .

Tom Bryce did what any decent person would do. But within hours of picking up the CD that had been left behind on the train seat next to him, and attempting to return it to its owner, he is the sole witness to a vicious murder. Then his young family are threatened with their lives if he goes to the police. But supported by his wife, Kellie, he bravely makes a statement to the murder enquiry team headed by Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, a man with demons of his own to contend with.

And from that moment the killing of the Bryce family becomes a mere formality – and a grisly attraction. Notice of Kellie and Tom’s deaths has already been posted on the internet. You can log on and see them on a website. They are looking good dead.

My thoughts

As Peter James has written 13 novels in the Roy Grace series, I’ve joined the party a little late, but that hasn’t spoiled my enjoyment. I liked the imaginative premise and storyline and plot of Dead Simple, the first Roy Grace novel, but loved Looking Good Dead.

With great skill and insight, the author weaves in the details that bring Roy Grace and his demons vividly to life. The disappearance of his wife, Sandy, still troubles him and prevents him from moving on. His admission of consulting a psychic medium for help with a case has become national news with the media ridiculing both Grace and Sussex Police. Naturally, his boss isn’t amused, threatening to transfer him away from his beloved Brighton unless he solves the case of the dismembered body, found headless in a field.

After finding a CD on a train, Tom Bryce, reports the vicious killing he finds on the disc and makes himself and his family targets for the killers.

Peter James’ meticulous research is legendary, and allows him to create a world filled with memorable characters and authentic detail. He took me into the heart of an incident room to follow the officers in the squad and their relationships with each other as they work tirelessly, often at great cost to their personal lives, to bring killers to justice. It adds both depth and authenticity to this thriller, as officers race against time to prevent more deaths.

The mix of personal and professional lives, combined with comment on modern policing, media hostility and funding cuts, created a vivid picture of the police today, and the additional struggles officers face in carrying out their duties. Mix in an original plot, populated by some truly evil killers and this novel delivers on every level.

While I may have arrived late, I’m certainly enjoying the party and looking forward to spending a lot more time there.

5/5 stars

Looking Good Dead