Title: Dead Man’s Grip
Author: Peter James
Page Count/Review Word Count: 504
I had mixed feelings on this one, which is kind of annoying because I had mixed feelings about the last Roy Grace book that I read. Bizarrely enough, because I read the books out of order, this book is the book before the last one that I read, but that’s my own fault and actually it didn’t make too much of a difference here.
The problem that I had with this book is that little things kept distracting me, such as the number of times that police briefings were interrupted by someone’s phone ringing. I counted that happening at least three times in this book alone and I know that it’s happened in others, and I don’t understand why people don’t have their phones on silent. It seems pretty unprofessional for a homicide team, but James does plenty of research and so I guess it’s normal.
Another problem that I had was that the blurb covered about two thirds of the book’s plot, so if you read that then you’re going to get a good idea of whether you’ll like it or not. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a crime novel that reveals this much on the book’s blurb, and I feel as though it took a lot of the tension away. When you’re 200 pages in and none of the three drivers involved in the collision has died, you find yourself wondering whether the entire book is just fleshing out the backstory. My friend Neil also jokes that every Peter James novel has some sort of road traffic collision, and this one is certainly no exception.
But there were plenty of good things about the book that helped it to earn a 4* rating, starting of course with just the quality of the writing. Peter James is a cracking writer and I’m slowly working my way through his back catalogue, and all of his books have something to recommend about them. Here, I quite liked the way that he worked with the New York mafia, and the way that he portrayed the leading players felt both human and genuine. There was a twist there that I saw coming a mile off, but I also thought it was pretty well executed and so it felt like when you watch an action movie knowing that the hero will come out on top in the end.
All in all though, there’s pretty much everything you need here, from Mafia hitmen to slow and painful deaths and mystery and intrigue. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s the best book in the series, but it’s still very much worth reading. It also has some decent scenes in and around Shoreham Harbour, and it does a pretty good job of capturing the vibes of both Brighton and New York. There’s nothing not to love here, so there’s no reason not to just crack on with the series. Enjoy!