Title: Looking Good Dead
Author: Peter James
Page Count/Review Word Count: 532
It’s Roy Grace time again, and there’s no need to point out that I’ve been reading these out of order because I’m already aware of that. Luckily, they still work as standalones, and so it depends what kind of reader you are. Some people will want to read this in order; others, like myself, will prefer to read it by picking up a book at a time whenever you happen to see them in a charity shop. But either way, you should read them.
Peter James’ books intrigue me, and after reading just a couple of them, I realised I’d have to slowly work my way through his back catalogue. As an author myself, I think part of this is because he’s very good but he’s also relatable. Unlike George R. R. Martin, for example, I think I could write like Peter James, if I put in the time and effort. I mean, I’d rather develop my own style, but the fact that I can almost see his thought process actually helps me to enjoy the book more.
In this story, we follow what happens after a guy picks up a CD that somebody left behind on a train. He puts the CD into his computer, watches the footage that the CD contains, and finds himself witnessing a murder. But the murderer knows that the footage is being watched by someone who doesn’t have authorisation, and so they threaten retribution if it’s reported to the police.
Meanwhile, Roy Grace is investigating a mutilated corpse that was discovered without its head, while simultaneously building a team around himself and routinely ruining their social lives by calling them in the middle of the night with new ideas about the case. Of course, that’s got nothing on what happens to Tom Bryce, the struggling businessman who discovers the CD in the first place.
It’s a quirky little story line, and while James’s depiction of technology gets better and more astute throughout the series, he still does a good enough job here to draw the reader in and to start asking questions. And you get to see the darker side of humanity, the side that visits questionable websites and commits crimes to stop themselves from being bored.
Overall, then, it’s an interesting little read, and a pretty good book to start with if you’re new to James’ work. In part, that’s because it’s near to the start of the series, and so you’ll be coming in at the beginning and you’ll get to see Grace’s team evolve over time. In fact, despite the fact that each of James’ books can work as a standalone, some of the later ones do contain spoilers that could hamper your enjoyment if you read them out of order.
This isn’t my favourite Roy Grace novel, but it’s definitely up there. Even though it’s a little old now, it doesn’t feel dated, and if anything you can sense the freshness with which Peter James went about creating his characters even in the early days. It’s loads of fun to read.