Book Review: Dead at First Sight by Peter James @peterjamesuk @panmacmillan

Dead at First Sight
Roy Grace #15
Peter James
Pan Macmillan, August 2019
ISBN 978-1-5098-1641-5
Hardcover

Peter James is a well known British mystery/thriller writer. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is the protagonist in his fifteen and counting series set in Sussex, England. While it’s generally a good idea to start a series from the first book,(Dead Simple), I’ve been reading them in no particular order…

His latest, Dead at First Sight, deals with a crime that has recently been in the news all over the world. You may you have heard of On-line Dating websites where men and women search for a soulmate or a companion. The crime that is being perpetrated is one where a con-man or woman responds to someone on one of these sites and over messages and emails a relationship is started. It doesn’t take long for the con-man or woman to earn the trust of their victim and in a very short time the victim is agreeing to help their new friend by sending money to the con-man/woman. Over a period of weeks or months the amounts steadily increase, with the promise of repayment, but instead the victim is taken to the cleaners.

In this novel D.S. Grace is called to investigate the suicide of a woman in Brighton. As D.S. Grace investigates her death, a man comes forward to inform the police that his identity and photograph has been used to scam a number of local women, on a dating site. The cases begin to merge and it isn’t long before D.S. Grace realizes that his suicide victim might well have been murdered possibly after realizing she had been duped by the man she thought would be the answer to her romantic dreams.

D.S. Grace soon learns that he is dealing with much more than one con-man, and that there is in fact a whole network of criminals who will do anything to avoid the police and who won’t think twice to use deadly force to silence their victims and stop the police from finding them and ending their lucrative scam.

Peter James weaves an exciting and intriguing tale. D.S. Roy Grace is a strong, well drawn character and spending time with him as he unravels this complex plot is well worth the time.

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, January 2020.

Book Reviews: Death Echo by Elizabeth Lowell and Money to Burn by James Grippando

Death Echo
Elizabeth Lowell
Avon, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-16442-7
Mass Market Paperback

International intrigue is at the heart of the plot which joins Emma Cross, former CIA operative and now with St. Kilda’s Consulting, and Mackenzie Durand, former Special Ops leader, the only survivor of his team in its last mission.  Now a transit captain, he picks up a brand new yacht, the Blackbird, offloaded from a container ship to bring to a small port where it is to be fitted out.  Meanwhile, Emma has been looking for the yacht’s twin, the Black Swan, for an insurance company since its disappearance.

The two are thrown together when all the intelligence agencies pick up vibes of an impending terrorist act against a major U.S. urban center. It is not known whether the threat is biological, chemical or nuclear.  So Mackenzie becomes the captain of the Blackbird, with Emma as “first mate,” on a voyage through the inland passageway on the West Coast of Canada, ostensibly to bring the ship to its new owner.  It is quite a trip.

The descriptions of the passageway, the tides, weather and difficulties of steering a ship under various conditions are graphic and exciting.  And despite all the dangers from the sea and adversaries, love finds a way.

Recommended.

[It should perhaps be noted that the pb edition has also been issued in a larger trim size, ISBN 978-006204484-6.]

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2011.

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Money to Burn
James Grippando
Harper,2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-155631-9
Mass Market Paperback

By combining the issues of market manipulation and identity theft, James Grippando has raised some interesting questions in this somewhat flawed but timely novel.  This reviewer’s reservations, which admittedly are probably in the minority, apply to whether or not the premise that a single hedge fund could actually bring down a thinly disguised Goldman Sachs without steps being taken by the New York Stock Exchange or the Securities and Exchange Commission stepping in to stop naked selling of the brokerage’s stock is valid.

Nevertheless, legal issues aside, it makes for a provocative tale, especially in view of recent events in the financial world. Essentially the plot involves a 35-year-old star of the venerable Wall Street firm Saxton Silvers, Mike Cantella, who discovers on the night of his birthday that all his accounts have been transferred to an offshore bank and he is left without a penny.  At the same time, these funds are used to short the firm’s stock, driving its price down, and continued pressure pushes the firm into bankruptcy.  Further, other events point to his involvement in the demise, as well as in subsequent murders.

The story is over-plotted, with all kinds of devices including spyware on cell phones and computers, enigmatic e-mails from unidentified sources, FBI probes, corporate espionage, and a wife of four hours who disappears and is presumed dead, eaten by a shark, not to mention a second wife who complicates Mike’s life while he is fighting to clear his name.  And to wrap up, introduction of the Madoff Ponzi scheme seems a bit gratuitous. Nevertheless, the novel is an entertaining read, and does have some useful insights into today’s financial picture.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2011.