“An ugly duckling as a child, Jodie Bentley had two dreams in life – to be beautiful and rich. She’s achieved the first, with a little help from a plastic surgeon, and now she’s working hard on the second. Her philosophy on money is simple: you can either earn it or marry it. Marrying is easy, it’s getting rid of the husband afterwards that’s harder, that takes real skill. But hey, practice makes perfect …
Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is feeling the pressure from his superiors, his previous case is still giving him sleepless nights, there have been major developments with his missing wife Sandy, and an old adversary is back. But worse than all of this, he now believes a Black Widow is operating in his city. One with a venomous mind… and venomous skills. Soon Grace comes to the frightening realisation that he may have underestimated just how dangerous this lady is…”
Incredibly we’re now up to book twelve in the Roy Grace detective series from Brighton author Peter James. It certainly doesn’t seem like eleven years since I read “Dead Simple” – the first in the series.
This latest instalment finds Grace investigating a black widow character as well as dealing with some ghosts from past investigations – as well as from his own personal past (in the form of his first wife Sandy). Thankfully the last of these has now come to a conclusion, though typically enough there is still some baggage from that situation that will likely impact quite significantly on his life going forward. Much as I like to see how a detective’s personal situation impacts on his day job I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have preferred that particular story arc to have come to a full stop.
Nonetheless, James has yet again managed to craft a captivating storyline. Perhaps one might argue that some of the crimes committed might have been more easily detectable given certain similarities and coincidences, but given the budget and staffing constraints that our police force has come under in recent years it is perfectly conceivable that the events depicted here could go on undetected.
I did have a couple of reservations – Spoiler Alert! – when the killer is arrested she seems to give up just a little too easily and the method for killing via a single snake tooth that she carried seemed a bit unlikely. To balance that, however, there are a couple of very pertinent thoughts on the strengths of relationships and of course the rest of the tale is excellently told and James has clearly done a lot of research on his subject matter.