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4.4 out of 5 stars913
4.4 out of 5 stars
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I have read all the books in this series and while I am a committed fan I was slightly disappointed with the last book. I enjoyed this one more especially as the back story of Grace's missing wife continues.

A famous singer turned actress Gaia is coming to Brighton for filming, after a possible attempt on her life the police have to keep her safe. Into the melting pot of the plot go celebrity stalkers, a man with a greviance and plenty of fans hoping for a sight of Gaia.

With his partner Cleo in the final weeks of her pregnancy Roy Grace is keen to keep his life on an even keel but as always with this series of books this is simply not possible.

I would suggest anyone who hasn't already read this series to start with book one Dead Simple because you are in for a treat of skillful plotting and with an interesting cast of characters which adds a special something.
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on 14 August 2012
I am nearing the end of this latest Roy Grace instalment, and unlike the other books in the series have struggled to stay interested

I bought the book to read on holiday, and resisted the temptation to start reading it beforehand, like other reviewers I have read all the Grace novels, and to quote an old clique 'all good things must come to an end' - this volume does not have the zip and charisma normally associated with Peter James's style of writing and plot making... The author's trademark quality of research remains undiminished but the storyline and characters are stereotypical and lack credibility, with the odd clumsy attempt to surprise the reader ie Norman Potting pulling Bella!

The author can probably go on repeating the same formula in future editions of the series with bestseller success but I hope he can improve the quality and substance, reduce the heavily repetitive quirky descriptions which become irksome, and inject some less predictable and contrived plot lines into the narrative
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on 15 June 2012
Another year, another episode in the life of Dectective Superintendent Roy Grace and his team...and another happy reader! There are few books I look forward to more than a new Peter James. Having been reading him since the late 80s, he has yet to disappoint me. Not Dead Yet is no exception.

This time James has drawn upon personal experience in the form of celebrity stalking to flesh out his tale. It's well known that the author's research is second to none. For Not Dead Yet he worked extensively with a US threat management team in order to establish the methods used to combat stalking. Having his own obsessive fan certainly gives credence to the idea, write what you know. It gives the book a cold, creepy feeling; the sense that James has suffered through some of the indignities and is speaking partly from experience.

However, this plot device is only part of the appeal of a book which contains the author's usual array of convincingly drawn villains and `think you've figured it out? Think again'-type scenarios. Several plots twist in and out of each other, but they're all cleverly related and keep you guessing to the end.

As always James provides fascinating insights into a working police force - you learn all sorts of things about which you might otherwise have remained ignorant. Did you know that in child abduction cases, forty-four percent of the victims died within the first hour? And just one percent survived for more than a day? Well, nor did I.

I have always thoroughly enjoyed learning about the personal lives of characters in this series. As ever, there are lots of interesting sneak peeks into the lives of Roy and his team, particularly his best mate, Glenn Branson and the wonderfully drawn Norman Potting, bless his non-PC heart! There are also intriguing developments on the Sandy front (if you've read the series to date, you'll know who I'm talking about) to keep you wondering; some eyebrow-raising developments on reporter, Kevin Spinella. And how Roy deals with imminent fatherhood just ramps up the interest levels as far as I'm concerned.

All in all this is another fine addition to the Grace series. You get a palpable sense of how real police work is carried out by real officers under pressure to solve crimes that threaten real people. Entwined through the plot are all the things we love about Peter's books: the rich characters, fascinating research, short chapters, pace, tension and humour. Highly recommended!
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on 22 January 2013
I've read all the previous Roy Grace novels and generally enjoyed them. This one however I felt was really disappointing. I don't feel that James was totally comfortable with all his characters and the scenarios - either that or he was writing to a formula that has become a bit stale. I guessed really early on in the novel what the outcome would be and while that wouldn't necessarily lessen my enjoyment of reading the book on this occasion I didn't engage with the story or the characters at all. I also feel that the story line involving Sandy is just being dragged out for no good reason. All in all a big dip in form from James - hopefully the next book will return to previous form.
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on 9 June 2012
A most enjoyable read as always. An ideal book for holidays, easy to read and has you racing to the end. It was good to find out more about Sandy and I am sure her role is set to develop.
A couple of reviews have mentioned the American link and commenting on its inclusion which is an interesting point. This book was all about the making of Hollywood film and as such it did need in my opinion some links to the USA. I thought they were right in detail and quantity. In addition one or two of the characters in the series are from America and I feel they add something slightly different and expands the setting whilst keeping Brighton at its heart. I will not comment too much on the plot so as not to spoil the storyline for others but as always it is full of twists, drama and tension. The author's fans will love it and for those who have not picked up on this hugely entertaining series they will want to read more.
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on 8 August 2012
I've read all 8 books in the Roy Grace 'Dead' series, and I've got to confess that after a promising start, they're really starting to grate in terms of their predictability.

This one has a really lazy feel to it, and incorporates all the irritants of the previous 7.
1)We get every briefing starting with DS Potting saying something inane and/or politically incorrect, Grace scowling at him and saying "Thank you, Norman, that's enough", Potting cracking a lame joke, and this time Grace smiling, cos after all, Norman's "a good copper".
2)We get the "eyes raised to the left = memory, eyes raised to the right = lying" shtick, yet again.
3)We get more sentimentalised 'pass the sick bag' interplay between Grace and Chloe, yet again.
4)We learn that Branson is messy and teases Grace about his clothing, yet again.
5)The stuff about his ex-wife Sandy is frankly ridiculous. After all the mystery about her disappearance in the previous 7 books, we finally learn that she left cos she was fed up with having an absent husband and cos she didn't want him to know she was pregnant, and as if the disappearing act weren't enough in itself (given that she supposedly loved him), we learn that she joined the scientologists and then went to live in Germany. Now though, inexplicably, she's back, scratching death messages onto Chloe's car (even though she - Sandy - dumped Grace), before equally inexplicably returning to Germany.
6)We do finally get to the bottom of the Kevin Spinella journalist leak mystery, but the explanation is so obvious that it beggars belief that a policeman wouldn't have countenanced such a possibility from the word go, never mind 7 books in!

There's still enough in this book to keep you turning the pages, but the series is well and truly adrift, and compared to heavyweights like Stuart MacBride and Mark Billingham, this is pretty lame and frothy stuff.
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I hadn't read anything by Peter James prior to this, and felt I was taking a chance in starting with the eighth book in this Roy Grace series, but I was fairly pleased that I made the decision and discovered a new and interesting author in the process.

As I expected, this novel in the long-running series carries a good bit of history from previous cases and character backgrounds with it, but as a new reader there was nothing confusing or obscure to obstruct my enjoyment; James keeps the current case- in-hand central, with a few intriguing – but obviously on-going – sub-plots added into the mix.
I won't trouble you with the plot – the product description (and other reviewers) provide all you need to know about that – its sufficient to say that this is primarily a police procedural, quite slow-moving as it unfolds but nevertheless filled with characters, incident and narrative threads; as is usual with this form of crime novel, one of the most interesting aspects is in realising how the initially sprawling, diverse elements gradually come together as the plot coalesces towards its final dénouement.
James writes in a clear, unfussy style, with good descriptive passages, a little local and historical information thrown in and the minimum of police jargon; for such a long book (437 pages) it is a relatively quick read due to the format of short chapters and multiple plot threads which effectively induces page-turning.

This was a fairly engaging crime novel, good enough as a stand-alone and a quick (despite its apparent length) read; Roy Grace and his colleagues have me sufficiently interested that I will investigate the rest of the series.
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on 19 August 2013
I found it difficult to immerse myself into the world. I want to know how the story is going to end, even knowing I wouldn't believe or care about it.

There are many documentaries about immigration, border control or airport on TV. During each episode, there're usually 3 or 4 stories running in parallel. As they are all real stories in a documentary, few are interesting enough to keep the audience watching. So the creators of these documentaries intentionally switch from one story to another, and the nature of human curiosity makes you wonder what happens next. And there's a lot of that in this book.

Peter James is a responsible author, he does an awful lot of research to make sure there's a solid base for his imagination to stand on. The problem is, sometimes it's shows the author doesn't know the topic well enough before writing, and he tries really hard wanting you to believe this could happen. The more he tries, the less I believe.

When he depicts a real place, a secret tunnel, a hidden room, you can almost feel he was there, making notes. As an author writing detective novels, he pays attentions to details, and was eager to present all these details about the real places to readers. As a reader, I am overwhelmed, I couldn't stitch together all the pieces the author gave me, and I got lost. My mind is cluttered with all these more than necessary details, and there's no room for my imagination to picture the character and the place. When he writes about some fictional place, the author does a fine job, writing down all the key things for him to make sense of the location, and it worked for me as a reader too. Obviously the pictures in my head wouldn't match the one in the author's, but does it matter?

The plot is not convincing, the characters bland. The case is solved in the end, but none of the characters' decisions and intelligence made it happen. Roy Grace is an action hero in this book, not a detective.
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on 13 March 2013
I'm not a massive thriller reader, but I've been a fan of Peter James for a few years now since a friend recommended the brilliant Dead Simple.

The Roy Grace books have always been fast paced, well-researched, with plenty of twists and turns and a fair smattering of blood and gore; however they have become gradually less plausible over the last few books. Possibly Peter James is churning them out in order to meet contractual obligations, for whatever reason the quality of writing has taken a dip, and Not Dead Yet is the weakest in the series so far.

That's not to say it's all bad; I still whipped through it in a couple of days, and while I guessed the main "twist" regarding the villain of the piece just before it was revealed, I felt it was nicely hinted at without being too obvious.

Unfortunately, this twist is really the only 2-dimensional aspect to this character; indeed most of the characters are very lazy stereotypes. We have the Gaga-esque pop star, who just wants to be taken seriously; the egotistical Hollywood producer; the "number-one" obsessed fan, etc. In fact Peter James has gone one step further and has started to turn his regular characters into caricatures of themselves - the cut-and-paste descriptions are understandable at the start of each novel, to introduce new readers to the characters, but do we really need to be told of Bella's Malteser obsession every time she's in a scene?

In fact, the series is starting to feel a little like a soap opera, with Roy's and Glenn's relationships taking up more and more pages. To be honest, I actually found the sub-plots of Not Dead Yet more intriguing than the main plot. What's going on with Sandy? Will ex-con Amis Smallbone have a more significant role to play in the future? (I hope so, seems like a pretty pointless character otherwise!) And the biggie for me, is Bella's new relationship all that it seems or is this a red herring?

All in all, I found this an enjoyable but disposable read. Hopefully Peter James can up his game for the next book in the series, otherwise I may just stick to his stand-alone novels in future.
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on 10 December 2012
A Flamboyant Film Star, A Vicious Criminal, Deranged Fans - Enjoy Them All In Roy Grace's Latest Adventure

Apart from writing crime novels, Peter James is a race car driver, a film maker (he was executive producer of the award-winning The Merchant of Venice which premiered in the presence of Prince Charles) and was recently re-elected as chairman of the Crime Writers' Association.

Yes, but what about his novels? Are they any good?

In fact they are excellent. No wonder he has been published in 35 countries. He always casts his creative net far and wide, and populates his tales with characters drawn with zest and in strong colours.

Another hallmark of his work, which I admire, is his insistence on authenticity. If he takes you into the offices of the police in Brighton, you can be sure he is describing the scene as it actually is. And as his previous acknowledgments indicate, he has the ear of the top brass in the Sussex Police so when he provides meticulous detail of police procedure in that part of Britain you can count on it being accurate.

In the latest thriller, Not Dead Yet, his characters include a Hollywood showbiz queen, Gaia (a mere one letter remove from Gaga) an American film producer who is desperate to save his flagging career by starring Gaia in a trashy movie called The King's Lover, two obsessive fans/worshippers of Gaia who are teetering on the edge of insane fanaticism and a vicious little gangster who is threatening the life of the soon to be born child of the hero of the novel, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of the Sussex Police.

And, oh yes, there is a loose cannon floating around in the shape of a man who is consumed by waves of anger so intense he might go up in flames at any moment.

And of course there is the customary assortment of coppers who enrich Grace's life as a top sleuth in Brighton. As usual in this particular series, the city of Brighton is one of the stars of the novel and James describes the city's historic embellishments, notably the eccentric Pavilion, King George's Folly, with affectionate admiration. Indeed, a dramatic high point of the novel occurs within the bizarre halls of the Pavilion.

I regard this as one of he best of the Grace series, for it is multi-layered with richly drawn characters and a nicely judged and indeed gripping balance of scene, dialogue, police procedure and action.

And in a master stroke of invention, the author introduces a woman from Roy Grace's past who could wreck his personal life and ruin a cherished romance.

The contrasting atmospheres of Hollywood excess and police pragmatism, of the deranged jealousies of the denizens of showbiz and the evil resentments of psycho criminals, create a highly theatrical environment for the creatures of Peter James's invention and he makes them strut across his stage with thoroughly entertaining bravura, menace and pathos.

And of course when he describes the ego-infested atmosphere of movie making we have to remember that he's been there, done that -- and probably took notes.

And once again it occurs to me that Peter James has allowed something of his own personality to manifest in that of his hero, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, who loves classic Italian cars and dogs, just like James.

And isn't it encouraging to know that this highly professional novel knocked that pornographic absurdity 50 Shades of Grey off the top of the best-selling list on Amazon in the UK?

Bravo Mr James. I would award you five stars were it not for the fact that your writing is more concerned with energy than with subtle celebrations of literary style. -- Prospero

Rating: Four and a half coruscating stars.
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