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Dead If You Don’t by Peter James – a review

It is always exciting for me when I get invited to review a novel, no matter who the author is. However I have to admit to being extra excited when that invite comes with a chance to read a novel from one of my favourite authors, in this case Peter James.

Dead If You Don’t is Peter James’ 14th novel featuring Detective Roy Grace. In this story Roy is faced with the kidnapping of a young boy. The boys father is Kipp Brown, a wealthy businessman who is struggling to repay gambling debts. During a visit to a local football match he loses his son, and soon receives a ransom demand. During the same football match, a bomb is suspected and Roy seems to channel his inner Jack Reacher in order to save those in the stadium. It soon becomes clear that there may be links with these two cases.

This was an interesting story set in the world of Albanian gangs, kidnap and bitcoins. The story was set out in hours which once you got into the flow meant that it zipped along really quickly. The pressure that all parties were under was immense. The chapters where you ‘saw’ Mungo and his plight you could actually feel his fear emanating from the page.

I always enjoy an outing with Roy Grace although this felt to me a slight departure from the usual. The city of Brighton was not as apparent within the story in terms of descriptions, unless you count the numerous references to their football club! Equally, to me there was less about Roy Grace’s family, and especially his slightly sinister son Bruno, than we have had in previous books. However that’s probably just that there wasn’t space in what was a very intense storyline set over a couple of days.

Definitely one for fans of Roy Grace yet could easily be read as a stand alone without the need for detailed background knowledge. I would as always highly recommend the Roy Grace series, and this was no exception.

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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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