You Are Dead
Detective Superintendent Roy Grace #11
Minotaur Books, October 2015
From the publisher—
In Peter James’ You Are Dead, the last words Jamie Ball hears from his fiancée, Logan Somervile, are in a terrified mobile phone call from her. She has just driven into the underground car park beneath the apartment block where they live in Brighton, and seen a man acting strangely. Then she screams and the phone goes dead. The police are on the scene within minutes, but Logan has vanished, leaving behind her neatly parked car and cell phone.
That same afternoon, workmen digging up an old asphalt path in a park in another part of the city, unearth the remains of a young woman in her early twenties, who has probably been dead for 30 years.
At first, to Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his Major Crime Team, these two events seem totally unconnected. But then another young woman in Brighton goes missing and another body from the past surfaces. At the same time a strange man visits an eminent London psychiatrist, claiming to have a piece of information on the missing woman, Logan, that turns out, at first, to be wrong-or so it seems. It is only later Roy Grace makes the chilling realization that this one thing is the key to both the past and the present-and now, beyond any doubt, he knows that Brighton has its first ever serial killer.
Brighton has its share of crime, as this longlasting series has shown, but having a serial killer in town is a new experience for DS Grace and the people of this seaside resort. Are the cases of the missing woman and the woman found buried really related, the tip of an awful iceberg? As our detective begins to discover the truth behind these cases and the possible connections between them, we see along with him the early stages of a serial killer’s development.
One of the most appealing things about Mr. James‘ work, to me, is that he has a way of getting across to the reader the essential brutality of murder without slapping us in the face with the gruesome aspects so many authors like to include. It’s not that I’m repulsed by those characteristics—there are some what I call “hardcore” thriller authors that I count among my favorites—but it’s nice to see more of a thinking man’s approach, if you get my drift. I also appreciate the author’s use of short, sharp chapters which add an increasing sense of tension to this tale of missing persons and murder.
The trope of the psychologically damaged police detective has become way overused in recent times and I’m very happy that Mr. James hasn’t fallen into this bottomless well. Roy Grace has issues, as we all do, but his are normal, not driven by alcohol or a bad shooting although he does have to cope with the disappearance of his first wife, Sandy, years earlier. Still, even that horrible, extremely sad event has not kept him mired in the past and he’s been able to move on with his life. In short, he’s a normal, very likeable man as well as a cracking good detective.
From chapter to chapter, Roy moves forward with his team in this investigation but, in the end, there will be a huge surprise, two actually. Both can be termed cliffhangers, in a way, but one was not entirely unexpected and, in all honesty, they’ve both left me wanting the next book PDQ. You Are Dead is first on my list of favorite books read in 2016 😉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2016.