Not Dead Enough by Peter James

I read the first Detective Superintendent Roy Grace book, Dead Simple nearly two years ago now and have been meaning to read more of the books, so because I’m now concentrating on reading books I’ve owned before 1 January 2014 I thought it was time to read Not Dead Enough by Peter James. It’s the third Roy Grace book and whilst I don’t think it’s as good as Dead Simple I still enjoyed it – mainly because of the characterisation and the detail James goes into. It’s a long book and I see on Amazon that it’s been criticised for being too long and too detailed, but I liked that. For me it gave added interest and verisimilitude. Some people also criticised it because it has short chapters – to my mind that’s much better than having long chapters!

It’s set in Brighton and begins with the murder of Katie Bishop. The immediate suspect is her husband Brian Bishop, but it appears that he couldn’t be the murderer unless he could have been in two places at once. Then Sophie Harrington is killed. She had been having an affair with Brian thus intensifying the police investigation into his movements and background.

James takes his time setting out the details and the characters, so it’s quite slow to start off, but then the pace picks up, which makes this a quick read as I really wanted to know what happens next. It isn’t difficult to work out who the murderer is, but this didn’t lessen my enjoyment  - and there is just a little twist at the end that I hadn’t foreseen earlier on.

Roy Grace comes across as a real character, concerned about his work and his colleagues, even if he doesn’t get on too well with his boss, ACC Alison Vosper. Grace’s wife, Sandy, had disappeared nine years earlier and he is still wondering what happened to her even though he is now involved with Cleo Morey, the Chief Mortician and he takes a quick trip over to Munich when his friends tell him they had seen her there. This takes his attention away from the murders and he has to defend his visit to Vosper.

This is very much a police procedural, detailing how the detectives go about their work, including Grace’s ideas about whether eye movements indicate whether a person is telling the truth, which I’ve read about before, and what happens when a person is charged and arrested, which I know very little about (only from books and TV – and want to keep it that way)!

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