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Dead or alive?
Dead Tomorrow - Peter James
Member Name: sunmeilan
Dead Tomorrow - Peter James
Advantages: Another compelling read from Peter James
Disadvantages: Coincidences a bit too extreme
I read a lot of crime fiction, but these days I am rarely bowled over by fictional detectives. They always seem to be super cynical, hard-drinking womanisers and, although this may well prove to be the case in real life, it does become boring after a while. Roy Grace is one of the few detectives that has grown on me during the series. He is nothing out of the ordinary in himself, but he has an interesting history that has really drawn me in. His wife, Sandy, went missing several years before, never to be seen again. Roy is unsure whether she is dead or alive, and has found it hard to commit to another relationship in the past. However, he has finally met a woman he feels something for and wants to commit to. There are various hints that Sandy may suddenly come back into the story, and it really is proving compelling, for me at least, to wonder how Roy will react if she does.
The story is told from various characters' points of view. This has the advantage of giving a well-rounded flavour to the story, but it does mean that we don't really get to know anyone outside of Roy Grace all that well. We are, for example, introduced to Lynn Beckett and her battle to cure her daughter of liver disease - I would have liked a little more character development there. We are given some insight into her predicament, but it wasn't enough for me. While I don't think the book should have been any longer than it already is, a little less insight from other, less important, characters and more insight into those that have a greater role would have worked better for me.
Following on from this is the chapter length - because some of the less important characters are given a voice, the chapters tend to be very short, often just two or three pages. This is very much a feature of Peter James' work, and something that, in the past, I have really enjoyed. In this book, it began to annoy me a little. Just as I was given a piece of relevant information to savour, I would have to work my way through chapters, albeit short ones, about people that I didn't really care about. On the plus side, this did mean that I found it hard to put the book down, which I am sure is the purpose. I am just concerned that James is trying to fit in so many people's points of view that he is diluting the story - in this respect, it reminds me very much of Jodi Picoult's work.
The story is, as ever with Peter James, a good one. The concept of organ smuggling is not a new one - I have watched a number of films that are based around it - but nevertheless, I like the way that Peter James has dealt with it here, involving police officers from other countries. International crime is now more prevalent than ever because of high-tech methods of communication, and this shows that the author has done his research and is trying to update his work with the latest types of crime. Yet he manages to do all this without over-complicating his stories - he really seems to have a gift for good, old-fashioned story-telling. He just needs to be careful that he doesn't dilute his work by introducing too many points of view. In addition, there are some coincidences that, although essential to Roy's investigation, are a little too coincidental to be realistic.
I love Peter James' style of writing. It is straight to the point, yet it is not without descriptive passages - they are always entirely relevant to the story though. This, coupled with the subject matter, makes the book very readable. At over 500 pages, I found the idea of reading the book quite off-putting to begin with, but it only took me a few days of bedtime reading to get throught it. The fact that the chapters are short also helps, partly because many of the chapters finish half-way down the page, meaning that there is a lot less writing than you probably expect, partly because of the 'just another chapter before I turn out the light' syndrome.
I have to admit I am hooked on the Roy Grace series now. I really enjoy the stories that he writes, but more importantly than that, I am now dying to find out what happens to Roy and his girlfriend and wife. This ploy is a sure-fire way to attract readers to the series and is one that I think Peter James has been very wise to use. It's certainly worked on me anyway. This book is not without its flaws, but on the whole, it is very readable and highly entertaining. Recommended to any fans of crime fiction, male or female.
The book is available from play.com for £9.99 (for the hardback version - the paperback is not yet available). Published by Pan Macmillan, it has 500 pages. ISBN: 9780230706866
This review was first published on thebookbag.co.uk under my name.
Summary: Another great Roy Grace novel