Peter James continues his fine Roy Grace series with another quite superb tale. Every story is rooted in Brighton, and this one is no exception, and the inventive and original plotlines and the characterisation of the main players lift these above ordinary detective fiction. Having dealt with fraud, Internet porn, identity theft, and a host of other topics in previous novels, James turns his attention to the trade in human organs - and he does it with his customary attention to detail, to the extent that you end up feeling you have been educated as well as entertained.
Roy Grace is a satisfyingly complex character, with enough of the standard "policeman" traits to be recognisable, but with some original flaws and failings which complicate his private life (and sometimes his professional career). His colleagues are similarly brought to life, with the minimum of stereotyping, and the villains are believable and , well, villainous.
In "Dead Tomorrow" the investigation is woven with moral issues, (I won't say more, as I don't want to spoil the story), which James handles superbly, without ever preaching. The plot develops at a satisfying pace, and as the reader, you see the whole thing as the threads are brought together, but this never feels predictable, such is James skill with plot twists.
All in all a worthy addition to the series, it's just a shame we have to wait for the next one. If you are new to these, I suggest you pick up at the beginning (Dead Simple) and work forward from there - not that you can't read Dead Tomorrow as a stand alone, but you'll get so much more from it, having read the others first - oh and the nearest comparison to these novels (for me anyway) are the Inspector Banks series, by Peter Robinson, if you enjoy those, Grace should be right up your street.
on 17 February 2010
Superbly researched, this book exposes the horrendous trade in body parts for monetary gain and the desperate lives of the street kids of Romania. We hear about such "services" in the media but in Dead Tomorrow those offering them are shown to be devoid of all humanity. Those of us with children can empathise with Lynne in her bid to find a replacement liver for her daughter at all costs when the National Health Service grinds so incomprehensively and slowly. The shortage of organ donors in the UK is highlighted and should prompt every reader to carry a donor card. This would be such a positive legacy of Dead Tomorrow. The Police underwater search unit is well portrayed with some new characters but Roy Grace's "team" engages us as ever - Glenn's continuing marital problems and Norman's un-PC behaviour being developed. Roy's own personal happiness with Cleo shines through but the spectre of Sandy still floats over the story. More great Brighton and Hove locations too. As ever, the various "strands" of story cleverly weave ever closer till the last page is reached. Another unputdownable book from Peter James.
Another gripping story by PJ covering so many topics. I would not normally choose a novel about people-trafficking but this gives plenty of food for thought. If PJ is to be believed in this story it is big business. This is what I admire about this author - his fearlessness in tackling difficult issues and his ability to set both sides through his characters. This book is heart-rending in so many areas - the street children of Romania and the awfulness of their plight; Caitlin who needs a liver transplant and the despair of her mother crossing all boundaries to achieve this at any price. There is some softness here too to counter-balance the horror - Grace is happier than in any novel so far, trying to cast his past demons aside. James is adept in keeping the reader updated on case details when, at briefings, Grace calls upon his team to give a resumee. This is perfect for the reader in picking up details which may have been lost. He pens a brilliant style.
on 31 August 2009
The sixth book in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series finds him, several months after the events which took place in the prior novel, "Dead Man's Footsteps," promoted to head up the Major Crime squad. His nemesis, Assistant Chief Constable Alison Vosper, has been promoted and moved to another part of the country, making his job a bit easier and less stressful. He is presently trying to impress her successor, but finds that effort quite difficult by virtue of the new case he and his squad are working on: Three dead bodies have been found in the English Channel, all their major internal organs quite expertly excised. The ensuing investigation, run along various lines, brings into play a timely issue: the international trafficking of not only humans, but human organs. The author puts a very human face on the tale, introducing Caitlin Beckett, a teenager living for the past six years with serious liver disease, becoming more serious by the day, with her mother desperately willing to do anything necessary to save her life.
On a more personal note, Grace, approaching forty years of age, is finally able to move on, romantically, after his wife's utter disappearance nearly ten years prior, and is hoping to make his relationship with Cleo, the area's chief mortician, more permanent. The cops in this novel, as usual with this author, are truly dedicated, altruistic men and women. Still present, among other cops we have grown to know and love, is Glenn Branson, whose unhappy marital situation has him still in residence in Grace's living quarters.
Parenthetically, I greatly enjoyed seeing Jeffery Deaver make a brief appearance as a drug dealer, albeit a dead one, as well as an homage to Val McDermid as the author of a novel [one which I myself had greatly enjoyed] being read by one of the book's characters. Among my other favorite things about the book was the author invoking two oracles I have loved in detective fiction for years, to wit: one Mr. Conan Doyle, who famously said, "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," and the other Occam's Razor, of the true origins of which I was previously unaware - leave it to Mr. James to enlighten me about this as in so many other things! As Mr. James tells it: "Occam was a fourteenth-century philosopher monk who used the analogy of taking a razor-sharp knife and to cut away everything but the most obvious explanation. That, Brother Occam believed, was where the truth usually lay." Both are used to great effect in this case.
The tale is a rather grim one, dealing with a macabre subject, obviously well researched by the author. A hefty book, my one criticism is that it might have benefited from some judicious editing. That said, the novel is recommended.
on 8 February 2010
I was given this book as a present and I was delighted. I had not previously heard of the author and will no doubt read the rest of the series in order. This story, set mainly in Brighton, was absorbing and the threads of the sub-plots highly credible. I liked the characters and the variety of background introductions were fascinating. The plot was predictable at times but it was still highly enjoyable. I thought the length of the story was also right and it did encourage me to eagerly turn the pages right to the end. All loose ends were nicely tied off and, as a result, the experience was highly satisfying. Top marks to this author from my perspectve.
If you have read and enjoyed any of the other Superintendent Roy Grace books you will love this one. It is at least as good if not better. Brilliantly written. You don't need to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this. The book is written from many different stand points. At first you think there are at least six stories going on here. As time goes on it all starts to slowly come together. With over 650 pages to read (in paperback) it is not a quick read. It is not just a story, it raises many issues to do with organ transplants. It really makes you think. Great book, loved it.
on 10 January 2010
This is a frightening view of the physical suffering and mental anguish of families with a child requiring an urgent organ transplant. The NHS system for deciding who should get a liver transplant seems cruel when seen from the view of a parent living daily with a child's suffering and, in this case, who is near to death. You can almost sympathise with the temptation to buy an organ from shady providers even if you suspect that murder was the method used to get that organ.
Superintendent Roy Grace pursues the truth with determination to a very touching and desperate end.
5 books into this series and I have to say that I am enjoying it. I am however, still seeking the elusive 5 star novel that always feels so tantalizingly close. Of them all so far, this one feels as though it got the closest.
This story about human trafficking and organ harvesting was both fascinating and horrific at the same time. This was one of those rare stories where I neither wanted the police or the villains to win as both cases were going to end badly for someone. Peter James did a masterful job of crafting a situation in this book where I felt genuine attachment to the story and the end of the story really triggered some genuine, strong emotion in me which has been missing in these books so far.
That said, why the loss of a star?
The answer is simple, the book is too long.
This has been the case with every novel I have read in this series so far. This isn't because I don't like reading long books, that is far from the case. I genuinely enjoy reading long books on one condition, they need to be long for good reason. There needs to be extra story and events that warrant those extra chapters and in these books I don't think that this is the case. These books all feel as though the extra chapters are put in simply to pad out the story and by the last quarter of the novel I am a bit fed up of reading filler and eager just to get it over and done with.
I think with good editing these books could easily be 5 star books but a as it is I will have to settle for a very enjoyable 4.5 star experience that I found in this book. That 4.5 star experience is more than enough for me to recommend this book and this series to anyone looking for some enjoyable UK based crime procedural, especially considering that these books seem to get better with each edition.
Peter James has done it again. I could not put this one down! Once again the storyline was riveting and so believable that I could not stop reading until I reached the end. The thing I like most about the Roy Grace books so far is how 'real' they feel. The characters, the world they live in, and the storylines are all so believable. I also think Peter James is a fantastic writer, his books have been a joy to read so far and considering the Grace books are usually over 600 pages long I would only finish books that long if the writing was good and the story even better! Is he sponsored by Coca-Cola however as all the character seem to drink it at one point or another!
This time the story is about organ brokers, and how you can find any organ for any blood type online - as long as you have to money to pay for it. Lynn's daughter Caitlin desperately needs a liver, but after being let down by the NHS she resorts to contacting a company found online that can provide any organ within a very short time limit. It just so happens that these organs don't come from people that died in accidents as the company say, but rather from teenagers from Bucharest who are lured to the UK with the promise of a job at the end of it only to instead be killed for their organs.
I have to say I had many conflicting emotions reading this book. You can't help but feel for Lynn and want her daughter to be saved. But as the readers we have the whole story, and know where the liver is coming from so at the same time as wanting her daughter to live, we also want the poor girl from Bucharest to live too. The story just felt so real and for me that makes the story so much more enjoyable and real, some crime novels border on the unrealistic and are very much a 'been there, done that' but this is now the fifth Grace book I have read and they all feel very unique to me. The research the author does for his work is second to none.
The only thing I would say is the story got a little bit silly towards the end. Caitlin was supposed to be that sick that she could barely move, but what she managed to do at the end of the book would surely not have been possible had this been the case. Still though, for the purpose of the story at least, the last part of the story did tug at the heartstrings. It also raised more questions between Cleo and Grace about how Grace will manage to separate work and his home life, and whether he would resort to black market organs for his own child.
Another point is I couldn't wait to read this book following the unbelievable cliffhanger in the last book however it wasn't even mentioned in this book. Instead we hear about another woman who looks like Sandy and is even called Sandy but Grace now appears to be moving on and has started the process to have her legally declared dead. I want this issue resolved but at the same time I don't because I feel it adds mystery and intrigue to the story. The next book alternates between the present day and a time when Roy was happy with Sandy, which should be good to read however I just want to know where the hell this woman is!
Overall another fantastic read. The size of these books may put some readers off but rest assured they are an absolute joy to read. Fantastic characterisation, believable, well researched stories and great dialogue. I should imagine most crime fiction fans will have been introduced to Roy Grace by now but for those that haven't, go and pick up Dead Simple and enjoy.
on 25 December 2012
'Dead Tomorrow' has a lot going for it: it's an interesting idea - the trafficking of children for their organs - and there's a strong(ish) plot that drives it along. The book also raises interesting moral questions about the buying and selling of organs to save lives, and the cost involved. Despite the obvious padding, the narritive licks along at a decent pace.
However, the writing tends to be a bit laboured at times, and the characters could do with being fleshed out a bit more. One of the more interesting characters in the book is Marlene Hartmann - the villain of the piece. We are continually told how beautiful and well-dressed she is, which is fine in itself, but it would be useful to know a bit more about her background, and what - apart from greed - makes her tick. At the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to several characters fairly quickly - some of them remain with us until the end of the book, others disappear never to be mentioned again. Many are forgettable. On the plus side, Lynn Beckett comes across well - the reader can sympathise with her desperation, and we get a good impression of someone at the end of her tether, who struggles to hold it together at the best of times. Her daughter, Caitlin, also comes across vividly - and convincingly. Sadly, most of the detectives, including Grace, are just a bit too bland or unappealing to really grab the reader's attention. Grace's relationship with the dull Chloe, and his obsession with his 'missing' wife really add very little to the story, and the tedium of Glenn Branson's love life is best skipped over. The homeless Romanian street kids are all pretty anonymous and unsympathetic - though I liked the line at the end of the book about all Christmas meant to Simona was an opportunity to steal things; this is nicely balanced against Caitlan's fate.
What James does successfully is to depict the desperation and brutality that exists in post-Ceaușescu Romania, and the horrific fate of orphaned children that have more or less been abandoned by the state. The reader gets a real insight into the vulnerability of these kids and the exploitation they often suffer.
Overall, 'Dead Tomorrow' is another very readable tale from Peter James, whose strengths lie in creating a strong plot that holds the reader, and characters that serve the plot effectively, even if they're lacking any psychological depth. At over 650 pages, the book would also benefit from a good edit to prune some of the excess fat.