Title: Dead at First Sight
Author: Peter James
Page Count/Review Word Count: 550
If you’ve ever read any of Peter James’ Roy Grace books before then you pretty much know what you’re in for here. Grace and his team are back, and this time they’re investigating an organised crime gang that’s using internet scams to dupe people out of their hard earned money.
The interesting thing for me is that this meant there were some similarities between this book and my own book, The Tower Hill Terror. Both of them take a look at the use of dating sites and applications for the commission of crime. We took it in pretty different directions, though.
Considering that the main hook here is financial crime, there’s a surprising amount of violence going on, too. It’s because there are such huge sums of money involved that people would kill for it, and that makes for an exciting read where you don’t know what to expect next. There’s even a great scene where someone gets their hand chopped off by a machete, which is pretty tasty.
Still, I do feel as though it was a little bit of a slow burn, especially compared to some of the other Grace books. Even the return of a familiar antagonist isn’t quite enough to stop that, although that was nice to have and helped to raise the stakes. We also get one of those fascinating scenarios where the bad guys are turning on each other and doing the police’s work for them.
This book also has some cracking vigilante justice in it, which I don’t think I’ve seen too often in James’ work. It’s also pretty cool because there’s an afterword at the end where he talks about where the idea for the book came to him, and it turns out that it was inspired by a newspaper article that he came across.
And so there’s a lot of cool stuff here to talk about, but it does still feel a bit bloated and as if there were almost too many different threads going on. It never feels as though James doesn’t know where the story is taking him and it’s never hard for the reader to keep up with it, but there is a lot to be getting on with and it’s occasionally just a little bit much.
But for the most part, it’s a decent read and a good crime novel, with some great characterisation and a lot of fascinating characters on both sides of the law. It’s never a waste of time to pick up a Peter James book because there’s always something there you can enjoy, even if it’s only the satisfaction of seeing the villain get their comeuppance.
So if you’ve been reading the series and you’ve got to this one, definitely keep going. If you’re new to Peter James, I think there are better Roy Grace books to begin with, and you could also go all of the way back to the start and go from there. You definitely don’t need to read all of the books in chronological order, but it does help because while the individual books are standalones, the characters’ lives are linear. So yeah, there’s that.