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by Peter James
Macmillan, July 2020
$14.99 GPB
ISBN: 1529004306

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Awarded the 2016 CWA Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement for his crime writing, British author Peter James is one of the most widely read crime writers alive. A literary phenomenon, in the past forty years and allowing for a twenty-year hiatus James has written no fewer than thirty-six novels and other works of fiction, along with two non-fiction works. His Roy Grace series, set mostly in Brighton and Sussex, is the cornerstone of James impressive career. In FIND THEM DEAD, the sixteenth novel in the series, a villain is arrested for a major crime of which he is guilty. The evidence against him is overwhelming; if convicted he faces serious prison time. Desperate, he seeks to nobble the jury by making one member an offer he or she cannot refuse: acquit him, not for money, but to spare the life of a loved one.

Of course, this plot has been done several (dare I say many?) times before, so perhaps I can be forgiven for wondering what even a gifted writer such as James could possibly add that was fresh. Was I in for a major disappointment?

I needn't have worried. In FIND THEM DEAD James has delivered an absolute corker of a thriller, in which a young woman travelling in South America on her gap year is in mortal danger, and doesn't even realize it; unknown to her, her every action is being monitored by the villains henchmen, and it is clear that only one thing will save her: her widowed mother must hold out for a full acquittal of the defendant by the jury. Anything short of that, including bringing in the police, will result in the death of her daughter.

Drawing on the resources of the internet and other high-tech means of surveillance, the criminals make it clear that they are in total control of her life: they are monitoring her calls and even where she goes and whom she sees at any given time. They can enter her house whenever they wish, leaving unmistakable signs that they have been there. And as the jury moves ever more closely to determine the villain's fate she is reminded that if she fails to convince a majority of the jury to vote for acquittal, her daughter will die.

Peter James deftly navigates the stark terror faced by the woman, and her increasingly desperate attempts to protect her daughter, as the trial moves inexorably toward its conclusion, while Detective Superintendent Roy Grace remains oblivious to these events underlying the trial.

Readers familiar with the Roy Grace series will encounter the latest developments in the myriad of sub-plots that define the embattled policeman's life. Dr Edward Crisp, a serial killer and former nemesis who almost killed Grace, is coming up for trial, and Grace is concerned that he may well be planning yet another escape attempt from custody. Grace's wife Clio is expecting their child, and he struggles to deal with the complex relationship they have with Bruno, his son by a former marriage. He also seems locked once again in combat with his immediate superior, ACC Cassien Pewe, who seems perversely determined to make Grace's life a misery, despite the fact that Grace recently saved his life.

All in all, then, FIND THEM DEAD is a finely-plotted, suspenseful, and superbly written addition to the Grace canon. It maintains the rich tradition in an impressive crime fiction series as good as anything out there. Readers will be delighted.

Since 2005 more than six hundred of Jim Napier's reviews and interviews have appeared in Canadian newspapers and on various crime fiction and literary websites, including his own award-winning review site, Deadly Diversions. His Colin McDermott Mystery Series includes LEGACY and RIDLEY'S WAR; the third novel in the series, FAMILY MATTERS, is planned for release in 2022.

Reviewed by Jim Napier, August 2020

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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