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Need You Dead by Peter James – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a huge fan of Peter  James and have met him a couple of times. Most notably when Me and the Sister went to see A Perfect Murder at the Opera House in York and unexpectedly and rather excitingly saw him outside. With hindsight I’m pretty sure we were the only two in the audience who had a clue who he was at that point, and I suspect we were maybe borderline stalking him for the rest of the show but it certainly added to our enjoyment (And it was a really good play)

Therefore I was thrilled to be asked to take part in this blog tour for his latest novel Need You Dead.

Need You Dead is the thirteenth book in the award winning Roy Grace series and as the tenth stop on the tour I get to take a quick look at the case file for his tenth book Want You Dead.

The victim in this case file is Red Westwood. Red was a single women who decided to try her hand at internet dating. Unfortunately things don’t go to plan and her and the man in question Bryce Laurent soon split up.

Whilst at first he seems to have taken the breakup ok, soon things start to go downhill and our victim Red ends up in police protection. The main suspect is her ex Bryce, but without witnesses  Grace needs his best team on the case.

Moving forward to the new book, Roy Grace is still with his wife Cleo (who he married in Want You Dead) but there are problems on the horizon as Roy brings his ‘long lost’ ten year old son Bruno to live with them. The victim in Need You Dead is Lorna Belling. She has been having an affair in a bid to escape her violent marriage, so when she is found dead in her bathtub it looks as though it is an easy to solve case. Yet soon the evidence starts to point elsewhere.

Need You Dead is another great novel from Peter James. It is a police procedural that is told in a simple straightforward timeline which makes a nice change from a lot of the previous backwards and forwards stories I’ve been reading. It was a really fast paced novel, with some very exciting chase scenes. I have to admit though there were some annoying bits where you know Roy is going to talk to someone, but we know he really shouldn’t. In fact this is probably the first book I’ve read in a long while that practically had me shouting at the pages, which shows just how engrossing it is.

One of the things I really like about this series is the amount of research in each novel. The police procedural part of the stories are fascinating, but at no point do the descriptions overpower the story. The characters are always well drawn and right from the beginning you really care about them when bad things start to happen.

There was quite a lot of back story involving Roy Grace and his family, so there are bits that if you haven’t read the previous novels you might find yourself skipping over. However the main storyline can still work as a stand alone novel, and it is definitely one that will keep you guessing until the end.

I would thoroughly recommend reading all of the Roy Grace series and Need You Dead doesn’t disappoint. I do wonder how many variations of titles using the word ‘dead’ Peter James can keep coming up with though, I certainly hope he doesn’t run out of ideas soon!

Need You Dead, the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James, is out 18th May (Macmillan, £20.00)

For the next stop of the tour head over to https://forwinternights.wordpress.com/ who will be looking at a Person of Interest tomorrow.

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A game for all the family

On Wednesday it was national Winnie the Pooh day. Winnie the Pooh has always been one of my favourite children’s characters. However unfortunately my celebration of this national day didn’t include a nice cuddly bear, I had an encounter with a completely different type of poo.

I like the outdoors. Other than reading, most of my pastimes are based outside. I go horse riding, and jogging in the great outdoors, and I try and go for a walk every lunchtime. I’m lucky in that I work near a racecourse so there is always somewhere nice and green to have a wander round.

I was enjoying one of these lunchtime walks on Wednesday, until the nice quiet contemplation of nature was rudely interrupted – by a huge seagull poo landing on my head. Sadly this isn’t the first time this has happened to me, in fact it’s starting to become a bit of a habit. Most people go to Scarborough and their only concern is whether the seagulls are going to steal their chips. I spend the time looking upwards trying to avoid walking under any suspicious looking gulls flying overhead.

Why don’t more people get pooed on by birds? It doesn’t seem to happen to other people. You never read in a book about so and so finding a body covered in bird poo. DS Roy Grace is never casually walking along Brighton sea front catching criminals only to have to stop to wipe bird poo off his head. Even Tippi Hedron was bird poo free despite having hundreds of birds trying to kill her. You would think it would be a common occurrence really bearing in mind the numbers of bird around. Yet it seems to be only me that gets targeted. I think it is some kind of game the birds all play. There is probably some kind of national league that the birds join. They get given a score card when they sign up and it has a big picture of me on it. Extra points every time they get a strike.

Apparently it is meant to be good luck but that is a load of nonsense if you ask me. All it means in reality is you have to wash your hair and/or jacket depending on the site of the aforementioned strike. I think it may be wise to give up my delusions of being a country girl. Next year I am just going to stay inside and read Winnie the Pooh to celebrate rather than venture outside.

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Precious Thing by Collette McBeth – a review

I bought this book at the festival after hearing Colette McBeth talk in the New Blood panel. This is where the authors are all new writers chosen by Val McDermid, which as we all know is always one of my favourite sessions. Colette was previously a crime correspondent for a newspaper and it’s this experience she draws on to create her first novel, Precious Things.

Rachel and Clara met and became friends at school. They were described by others as being completely inseparable and kept other people at arms length. As is the way in life, they got older, their lives changed and the girls grew apart. Clara stayed in Brighton whilst Rachel becomes a tv crime reporter. Whilst they kept in touch, the friendship became a lot more one sided. Shortly after a failed attempt to meet up with Clara, Rachel is sent to Brighton to cover the case of a missing girl. This girl then obviously turns out to be Clara.

Rachel is determined to find out what happened and so she starts to investigate. It soon becomes clear that the relationship between Clara and Rachel is not as amicable as it looks. Throughout the book we are given glimpses into their childhood friendship, and the flashbacks reveal the flaws.

I really enjoyed this book. I was actually working down in Brighton the week I read this, although that was a complete coincidence. It was purely the first book I grabbed off the pile that came back with me from the festival but it was interesting to be in the place a lot of the action takes place.

The whole story is told from Rachel’s point of view and is written in the form of a letter she pens to Clara. I must confess to forgetting this very quickly into the book so I can’t say it either helped or hindered the storytelling. What I did like though was the fact that because you are only seeing everything through the eyes of one person, it’s unclear as to who is right and who is wrong. Rachel seems to be quite manipulative, and Clara is portrayed as having a number of issues. However human nature means we tend to always put ourselves in the best light and will blame others if we can get away with it so it’s unclear in this story as to who is really to blame for anything.

As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the friendship between the two girls is not all that it seems and there are an awful lot of secrets that affect the way the two girls have behaved. It was a quick read that kept you guessing until the end and whilst it wasn’t a gruesome book with lots of gory descriptions there were enough bits to shock.

It was a very good book and once again Val McDermid didn’t disappoint with her new blood choices.

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The Forgotten Garden

After a rather busy few weeks, hopefully normal service can once again be resumed at acrimereadersblog. Having been working on a big event down in Brighton, time has very much been of the essence. Working weekends and evenings does tend to eat into time for other more enjoyable things such as seeing friends, and drinking wine.

However everything is back to normal now and as well as having wine dates booked in with friends, I’m fully up to date on the street antics.

Bringing in a hire car is always a spectator sport in our street and as soon as I pulled up the jungle drums were playing and everyone was out asking about it. As anyone who knows me will confirm, patience is not one of my strong points. This was evident early on in life when I was banned from playing with jigsaws as apparently you are meant to spend time looking for the bits that fit, not just use brute force. What I lack in patience I usually make up in manners but sometimes my street really does push even my polite smile to the limit.

Hilda1 and Hilda2 were the first on the scene to welcome me back. Before I’d even managed to drag my ridiculously large suitcase out of the car I was being regaled with stories from the past two weeks. This included high drama over the road where it turns out Marina has walked out on her husband and moved in with a woman. With winter fast approaching there is deep concern as to who is going to keep the ice at bay as this was previously her role (Winter Frost) There has also been a return of the mythical gangs which have been back out in force tearing up the street.  Apparently their latest attack (Previous can be found here) ended in them cutting down some of my buddlea. Handily for the Hildas this was also the piece that was overhanging the path and getting in their way. It of course also gave Hilda1 and Howard an excuse to point out that my garden was looking a bit forgotten. Well frankly if they spent less time twittering (and there are no computers involved in their version) then maybe I would have time to do something.

One thing that doesn’t stop no matter how busy I am, is of course reading (although my ability to find the time to actually write the reviews has been seriously compromised – have I mentioned I’ve been busy?) No matter what else is going on in my life I can always find time for books which is why it always amazes me when people say they don’t have the time to read. Of course this has its own problems when writing a book review blog as my ability to remember what each book was actually about tends to dwindle with every new book read. Luckily as a collector of notebooks I usually have one to hand and I’ve managed to make copious notes of most of them and hopefully I’ll catch up on reviews soon.

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The Hunger Games – a comment

Now for those of you who have been living in some kind of bookless filmless world, you may not know the general basis of the Hunger Games. In which case, essentially its a reality show where the winner is the last one standing. A kind of souped up big brother where they win by killing the others (which actually sounds quite a good idea based on the bits of big brother I’ve seen) The two main protagonists are Katniss and Peeta who are both from district 12 and get chosen to be the tributes in that years hunger games. There are 2 tributes from each district and the winner is whoever is still alive at the end of the games.

Now I hesitate to call this post a review, because I’m afraid I am completely in a minority of one here, in that I did not think it was the best thing I have ever read. I realise that people have been raving about it, and I thought it was ok but nothing special. I should point out here that this is a book for teenagers, and I am not one, therefore I am not the target audience by any means. I had the same issue with the Twilight series, I’ve read them and they were ok but I prefer a good Charlaine Harris for my vampire fix.

I think it was reasonably well written, especially when compared to some of the other most popular books of last year but alongside 50 shades of grey, and the twilight series I think this is probably a book loved by non readers. As I’ve often said before, anything that gets people reading is a good thing, 50 shades of grey whilst I’ve not read it myself is a phemonenon that has got people (women mostly I imagine) out buying books, but I’d love to know how many of those actually bought anything else? I have no problem with adults reading either ‘mummy porn’ or childrens books, but I just hope these people venture outside of that bubble.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Hunger Games, it was a quick read on a train and I will no doubt read the rest of the trilogy if I saw them on offer, but I wouldn’t rush to read them. I also think that when I was a teenager I wouldn’t have wanted the adults taking over all my good teenage reads so maybe we should just let them have it. There are after all a few billion good adult books ready to be picked up. As I saw on a shop front in Brighton a few weeks ago, the most avid reader can never get to the end of a good bookshop.

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Dead Like You – A review

I’ve finished book three of the TOPCWFC (I’m determined to start a trend!) and I was not disappointed. Dead like you by Peter James is set in Brighton and is based around a serial rapist known as the Shoe Man. Detective Roy Grace failed to solve a series of rapes back in 1997 by a man who had a fetish for high heeled designer shoes, a woman went missing and then the perpetrator seemingly disappeared. Back in the present day and women are again being raped and Grace believes it may be a copycat, or indeed the original ‘Shoe Man’ returned.

The story was well paced and it easily slips back and forth between the past and present day. There are two main suspects and throughout the book the evidence is all pointing to a taxi driver called Yac who lives on a houseboat and collects toilet chains (more interesting than stamps I suppose) The other suspect is a boss of a security firm that specialises in cctv and who seems to do very little other than go for Chinese meals.

I found the book to be a really easy read and it contained just enough of the background story of the main characters to make it interesting without actually taking over from the main event.  Once the killer has been revealed it does become very obvious who it was and looking back I feel that actually it should have been simple to figure out what happened but that can be the sign of a good story, all the clues were there but they were easily missed.

However in a rather unusual twist there are actually two perpetrators and only one is punished.  I felt this made the ending of the book a bit uncomfortable, the bumbling idiot turns violent criminal and actually gets away with it but then sometimes books should make a person uncomfortable and question what has been written.

Both the old story and the new one are cleverly intertwined in the end, and all the elements seem to slot into place. Some bits were a little predictable, for example the criminal was abused by his mother with her high heels, but I don’t feel that any of it detracted from the twists and turns of the story.  This was the 6th in the series of Roy Grace novels and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for his others.

The book, like the rest of the series, was set in Brighton and many of the crimes take place in high profile hotels, and local landmarks. Having recently had a couple of very nice weekends in Brighton I can recommend it as a fantastic place to visit and certainly not a hot bed of crime. However I would now think twice before wandering the lanes and purchasing a new pair of designer shoes!

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