Title: Dead If You Don’t

Author: Peter James

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 502

Rating: 4/5

This is yet another instalment in Peter James’ Roy Grace series of crime novels, and I’ve enjoyed all of the books I’ve read so far because he’s a solid writer and does a particularly good job with crime. That’s because he does a heck of a lot of research, and he’s even written a non-fiction book on policing in Brighton as a result of it.

It’s a sharp contrast to my own style, because I deliberately chose to write cosy mysteries so that I didn’t have to worry too much about police procedures. James seems to revel in it, and that adds a layer of realism to his books that I think is missing from most of the other crime books that I’ve read throughout the years.

In this one, James is tackling the subject of a kidnapping, but with a ton of twists and turns along the way that keep you guessing until the end. I also thought he did a pretty good job of a scene where one of the characters was trapped with the tide rising towards him. He couldn’t move because if he did, he would have garrotted himself. It’s the kind of scene that feels super visceral and which really stuck with me.

The thing with this series as a whole is that in a sense, once you’ve read one of them, you’ve read all of them. The plots change, but the vibe doesn’t, and neither does the quality of the writing, except perhaps for the first couple of books, when James was still perfecting his craft. But by this point, he’s a steady hand and a seasoned veteran.

The other thing that I should mention is that I’ve read this series out of order, and while you can do that, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s one of those where each of the individual cases can be read as a standalone, but there’s a bunch of other stuff happening in the lives of each of the characters and if you skip the books then you end up accidentally spoiling yourself.

I also feel as though this book could have been a little shorter, but only for quite a specific reason. Because there’s a sudden change in the action about halfway through, I think it could have worked better if James hadn’t spent so much time on that. I understand what he was trying to do with it, and it does pull the rug out from beneath you, but I also think that he over-focussed on it to the point that I felt he’d wasted my time as a reader.

But all in all, I was pretty happy with this, and I’m glad that I picked it up. I also have a couple of other Roy Grace books on my ready to read list, and so I’m looking forward to those, too. Let’s go!

Learn more about Dead If You Don’t.