Tag: Colleagues

Peter James – You Are Dead | Review

Title: You Are Dead

Author: Peter James

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 520

Rating: 4*/5

 

Peter James - You Are Dead

Peter James – You Are Dead

 

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably already noticed that I’ve been getting heavily into Peter James of late. Interestingly enough, I didn’t actually start with one of his crime novels – I started with The House On Cold Hill, an excerpt of which is included at the end of this novel to give potential readers a chance to preview it before buying it. Which you should do, of course – it’s a good book, just like all of James’ releases.

This book, though, is one of his Roy Grace detective novels, and it follows the story of the first serial killer to operate in Brighton in several decades. Grace and his team must track down the killer before he strikes again, but with no real leads and a huge pool of suspects – plus a number of known kidnap victims who may or may not still be alive – it’s one hell of a challenge for the Sussex police force. And then there’s the simultaneous story line about Grace’s missing ex-wife, Sandy, who may or may not have turned up alive (just!) in a hospital in Germany.

To some extent, you know exactly what you’re getting when you pick up a Peter James book; like Stephen King, he’s one of the rare breed of writers that maintains a constant high standard throughout everything he works on. This book isn’t my favourite of the Roy Grace books, but it is one of the better ones, mainly because the serial killer gives him a new angle to work with. The media gets involved, there’s widespread panic on the streets, and the killer is even given his own nickname – the Brighton Brander, because each of his victims is found with a brand on their body. A brand that says: U R Dead.

 

Peter James

Peter James

 

That brings me on to one of the few negative aspects that I picked up on – the significance of the brand was never really explained, and that was one of the main things that I was hoping to have resolved by the end of the book. I think more could have been done with that, but then James left it reasonably open ended so it’s entirely possible that this will be referred to again in a future release. I also found that certain elements of this were spoiled by the fact that I read the series out of order – it can be done, and it won’t hamper your overall enjoyment, but while each book in the series is a standalone, there’s also the recurring story line of Grace’s personal life, as well as the lives of his colleagues.

Overall, though, I have a lot of time for You Are Dead. The tension – and the evil – is palpable, and James’ characters are at their best here. I even found myself feeling sorry for DS Norman Potting, which I didn’t think was actually possible. But ultimately, it was the victims that I found to be relatable, which added to the story.

 

Peter James - Looking Good Dead

Peter James – Looking Good Dead

 

Click here to buy You Are Dead.

 


Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light | Review

Title: Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light

Author: Derek Landy

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 605

Rating: 8/10

 

Derek Landy - Skullduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light

Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light

 

Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.

This book messed with my mind, man – at first, I really struggled to get in to it, and I could never tell who was who, whether they were good guys or bad guys or even what they were actually doing. But then I got absorbed, after the first hundred pages or so, and everything got a lot more exciting.

I get the feeling that I would’ve suspended my disbelief a little sooner if I’d read the earlier books in the series, because the author seems to assume that you know a lot about his fictional world, although the occasional exposition that he uses to fill you in on what happened earlier is actually well-handled and subtle enough that you don’t even notice what’s happening.

Which is a good thing, because there’s a lot going on – people dying left, right and centre, and occasionally coming back to life, switching allegiance or doing something else that’s equally surprising. It gets confusing to say the least, although I suspect it’ll be easier to understand it all if you’ve started the series from the beginning.

 

Derek Landy

Derek Landy

 

And from what I understand, quite a lot of people do just that – when I was reading this at work, one of my colleagues stopped me and asked to take a look at the cover. It turns out that her kids, and her kids’ friends, are obsessed with the Skulduggery Pleasant series, in the same way that my own generation was obsessed with Harry Potter.

In fact, when I first started reading the novel, I did detect the influence of the Harry Potter series, and to begin with I was worried that it might just be a rip-off. It turns out I was wrong – the world of the Skulduggery Pleasant series is completely different, and in places I think it weakens the plot-line. Magic needs some universal laws that must always be obeyed, otherwise it can just be used to explain away gaps in the story, as it was occasionally used here.

But despite that, The Dying of the Light is a pretty compelling read, and once I really got in to it, I did find it hard to put it down. Sure, the barrier to entry is a little high if you haven’t read the other books in the series, but once you get past that, you’ll be interested in the huge collection of characters on offer, and I bet that you’ll find a favourite and settle down with the back catalogue to read about what happened to them before the events of The Dying of the Light kicked off.

 

Valkyrie Cain

Valkyrie Cain

 

I don’t want to go in to too much detail about the plot, partly because it’s too complicated to go in to and partly because I don’t want to spoil it – suffice to say that if you’re in to magic, fantasy and the fight of good against evil, then you’re going to enjoy it. Hell, I’m not even going to tell you who wins!

The only problem for me, when you consider the target audience of kids and young adults, was the level of gore that the book contains – it seems like every couple of pages, someone’s being beheaded, dismembered or otherwise brutally murdered, even some peripheral characters who the author could’ve left alive. It might bother you if you’re reading it to kids.

 

Derek Landy Quote

Derek Landy Quote

 

Click here to buy Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light.

 


Newsletter Signup

Get special offers, new book news, cover reveals and more!