Tag Archives: Peter James

What Makes A Killer?

“Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.

When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalisingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined…”

“Need You Dead”, the thirteenth entry in Peter James‘ police procedural series centred around Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his team based in Brighton, finds the main man busy with case files for trials relating to Jodie Bentley and Dr. Edward Crisp – characters involved in the previous book “Love You Dead”.

On top of that Grace is having to arrange for his late first wife Sandy’s funeral (she committed suicide in Germany) and preparing for the ten-year old German son that he didn’t know existed, Bruno, to come and live with current wife Cleo, baby Noah and him in their quiet Sussex home.

Grace’s usual sidekick is away on holiday with his girlfriend so when a suspicious death – that of home-based hairdresser Lorna Belling – is referred to his team Grace decides to use acting DI Guy Batchelor to lead the investigation under his supervision.

The case is one that constantly shifts focus as the number of suspects increases – did Lorna kill herself? It’s possible but then her husband has a history of abusive behaviour. So does a man who wanted to buy Lorna’s car, and then there’s the man (or men?!) that she was having an affair with in an attempt to escape her marriage. So many possibilities and precious little clarity mean that the team struggle to make meaningful progress.

Peter James

I thought I’d figured it out soon after the half-way point, only to realise about three pages before James made the revelation that I’d fallen for one of his red herrings!…

Some reviewers have complained that the book is rather dry, with too much detail in the police procedures. Personally I find that this makes the whole story feel more authentic. I have previously written about my reservations over the Sandy storyline. Well, with her death that could have come to a conclusion, but the introduction of Bruno as a new part of Grace’s family means that effectively the remnants of Grace’s first marriage will stay with us as the series progresses. Whether that will be a positive or not remains to be seen.

In terms of this book I would say that although I enjoyed it immensely I can see that readers new to James and this series might have issues due to the number of references to past events. If you haven’t followed the series then you might find yourself rather puzzled over some of these.

For the future, there is presumably something to come from Grace’s nemesis ACC Cassian Pewe’s conversations in German with young Bruno, as well as from the suggestions that the boy may have mental health issues. No doubt James will expand on these as Grace’s adventures continue but, again, would mean little to anyone reading “Need You Dead” in isolation from previous stories.

I was slightly perplexed at the end of the book with – SPOILER ALERT – the  deadly spider crawling up Noah’s cot, as that plot element seemed to come from nowhere and just got left unresolved. Overall however I must say that this is yet another excellent novel from the very reliable Peter James. Most definitely recommended reading for lovers of great crime thriller fiction…


She Has The Touch Of Death…

“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.

Peter James
Peter James

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.

All in all, then, another excellent entry into the Roy Grace series. Looking forward to book number thirteen already…btm

University Has Just Become A Dangerous Place

“University has just become a dangerous place… The body of a young woman is found on a Sussex golf course.
She is a student at a local university.
She was a model on a pornographic website, owned by two of her lecturers.

Jon Lehman is the victim’s Business Studies lecturer.
He is fond of booze and bedding female students.
DI Angus Henderson brings him in for questioning – with tragic consequences for him.

Dominic Green is a local gangster.
He is a fellow investor in the porn website.
He moves to protect his investment – with painful consequences for his enemies.

DI Henderson believes the web site is key to unlocking this case.
He digs deeper and deeper until…he is confronted by two vicious animals – but only one of them is human.”81SLY+AlDKL

“One Last Lesson” is the debut novel from British author Iain Cameron. Based in Sussex, Cameron has set this story – the first of four (so far) in a series of police procedurals featuring the lead character of DI Angus Henderson – in and around the Brighton area.

Iain Cameron
Iain Cameron

This is an interesting choice given that there is already a pretty successful series of similar novels set in Brighton – the Roy Grace novels from Peter James. This may perhaps have coloured by judgement of this book slightly as I am a confirmed fan of the Grace tales. It was initially odd to be reading about some locations that are so familiar from Peter James’s work with non of those familiar characters being present!

That said, the greater problem that I had with this book was the fact that there are numerous errors present. For example one character’s surname changes spelling on more than one occasion, there are punctuation issues (commas where they surely shouldn’t be as they break up the flow of the text) and sometimes simply the wrong word completely. Whether the fault for this can be laid at the door of the author, his proof reader or the publisher I don’t know but it definitely impaired my overall enjoyment of the story.

The tale itself is decent enough. I felt that some of the strands of the story just seemed to disappear without any resolution and the final stages were a little weak but there is certainly some promise here. Not a classic debut then, but I will give the Angus Henderson series another spin with the second novel “Driving Into Darkness” at some point before deciding whether the keep following these books as I do the Roy Grace stories…book1

They Said The Dead Can’t Hurt You… They Were Wrong

“Moving from the heart of Brighton and Hove to the Sussex countryside is a big undertaking for Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their twelve-year-old daughter Jade. But when they view Cold Hill House – a huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion – Ollie is filled with excitement. Despite the financial strain of the move, he has dreamed of living in the country since he was a child, and he sees Cold Hill House, with its acres of land, as a paradise for his animal-loving daughter, the perfect base for his web-design business and a terrific long-term investment. Caro is less certain, and Jade is grumpy about being separated from her friends.

Within days of moving in, it becomes apparent that the Harcourt family aren’t the only residents of the house. A friend of Jade’s is the first to see the spectral woman, standing behind her as the girls talk on FaceTime. Then there are more sightings, as well as increasingly disturbing occurrences in the house. As the haunting becomes more malevolent and the house itself begins to turn on the Harcourts, the terrified family discover Cold Hill House’s dark history, and the horrible truth of what it could mean for them…”

9781447255949The House on Cold Hill

As well as his long-running series of crime novels featuring main character Roy Grace – the latest, eleventh, installment being “You Are Dead”, Brighton based author Peter James has penned a good number of other books, the most recent of which was published in October 2015 – “The House On Cold Hill”.

This is a supernatural ghost story based almost entirely at the titular property situated a few miles outside of Brighton. After a short and shocking opening chapter we meet the Harcourts – Ollie designs websites from home, his wife Caro is a solicitor and they have a twelve year old daughter, Jade.

Peter James
Peter James

Shortly after moving into their new home two things start to happen. Firstly, as can often be the case with older houses, problems begin to surface with the actual fabric of the building – water leaks, ceilings falling in, etc. The second, presumably less common problem, is that all three begin to see ghostly figures around the house.

I did feel at points that the story reminded me of one I had previously read, possibly in James’ short story collection “A Twist Of The Knife” from 2014, but I haven’t been able to verify that so it could just be the general familiarity of the haunted house scenario.

Overall this was a good, engrossing read, and an enjoyable tale. There were some novel ideas and some lovely twists too. On the downside, I would have to say that some of the plot developments were fairly predictable and setting practically all the action within the house and grounds meant that a lot of characters were more peripheral than they might have been.

The biggest problem, for me, however was the ending of the story which left too many questions unanswered and felt almost a little rushed. Don’t get me wrong, although I felt that it just didn’t reach the quality of the Roy Grace series, this is still a good book and a worthwhile read…peter-james-6-oct-2015

They Were Marked For Death

“The last words Jamie Ball hears from his fiancée, Logan Somerville, are in a terrified mobile phone call. She has just driven into the underground car park beneath the block of flats where they live in Brighton. Then she screams and the phone goes dead. The police are on the scene within minutes, but Logan has vanished, leaving behind her neatly parked car and mobile phone.

That same afternoon, workmen digging up a park in another part of the city, unearth the remains of a woman in her early twenties, who has been dead for thirty years.

At first, to Roy Grace and his team, these two events seem totally unconnected. But then another young woman in Brighton goes missing – and yet another body from the past surfaces.

Meanwhile, an eminent London psychiatrist meets with a man who claims to know information about Logan. And Roy Grace has the chilling realization that this information holds the key to both the past and present crimes . . . Does Brighton have its first serial killer in over eighty years?”


Book eleven in the Roy Grace series by author Peter James sees Detective Superintendent Roy Grace drawn into a two simultaneous cases – a corpse found under a path that was buried some thirty years ago and the disappearance and possible abduction of Logan Somerville.

Peter James
Peter James

As the cases develop Grace finds himself under increasing pressure when more bodies and missing girls come to light. Added to that he and new wife Cleo are about to move home, Cleo is struggling to cope with the move and their young son and Grace has to deal with his new boss – nemesis Cassian Pewe.

Within Grace’s team Glenn Branson is attracted to a new journalist at the local Argus newspaper, whilst Norman Potting is still mourning the death, in the previous book “Want You Dead”, of his fiancée Bella Moy.

And of course, let’s not forget the always ongoing saga of Grace’s missing first wife Sandy. Events in this book indicate that perhaps, just perhaps, this particular aspect of the Roy Grace story is finally coming to an end… we shall see.

CGGuKdEUoAAH4roThis particular story though is, as usual, full of detail and excellently plotted. For once I thought I had it all figured out by about three-quarters of the way through but I really should have known better! James managed to pull the rug from under me more than once in the final sections of the book.

Characterisation is, again, really well done. You do feel like you really get to know these characters on more than a superficial level which makes for a much more invested and gripping read. Superb…

If He Can’t Have Her, Then Nobody Can…

“Virtual romance becomes a terrifying obsession. 

Single girl, 29, smouldering redhead, love life that’s crashed and burned. Seeks new flame to rekindle her fire. Fun, friendship and – who knows – maybe more?

When Red Westwood meets handsome, charming and rich Bryce Laurent through an online dating agency, there is an instant attraction. But as their love blossoms, the truth about his past, and his dark side, begins to emerge. Everything he has told Red about himself turns out to be a tissue of lies, and her infatuation with him gradually turns to terror.

Within a year, and under police protection, she evicts him from her flat and her life. But Red’s nightmare is only just beginning. For Bryce is obsessed with her, and he intends to destroy everything and everyone she has ever known and loved – and then her too…”

Peter James Want You DeadThat is the synopsis of “Want You Dead”, the tenth novel in a series featuring Detective Superintendant Roy Grace, set in and around Brighton, by author Peter James.

I have now read all ten novels, starting back in 2005 with “Dead Simple” – and all have proved to be superb stories from one of this country’s best crime thriller writers.

We start this book after the relationship between Red Westwood and Bryce Laurent has ended, and only learn what happened previously between them bit-by-bit as the story progresses. This approach works really well, I feel, as we don’t learn all the background etc. to early on. There are lots of secrets in Bryce’s past, which come into play gradually, enhancing his ability to really be the nasty character that makes this such a gripping read.

My only slight reservation with the story is the ongoing saga concerning Sandy, Roy Grace’s long-since missing wife, which still doesn’t seem any closer to resolution than it was back in the first book, even though Roy’s own life is moving along nicely with fiancee Cleo Morey and their new son, Noah.

That aside, there is plenty of action involving Grace, and his main team of Glenn Branson, Bella Moy, and Norman Potting. The attention to detail with regard to police procedure is top class, and the inventiveness and clever plotting mean that you never know quite what’s going to happen – but you know that you can’t wait to find out!!

Peter James
Peter James

Interestingly, this novel, at least, is based in real life – which makes it all the more horrifying.

Peter James wrote an article for The Telegraph on the subject, though it’s probably best not to read it before reading the novel!  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10848780/Peter-James-The-real-life-horrors-behind-my-books.html

Roll on book eleven, due next year, possibly titled “You Are Dead”…