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on 14 May 2012
I started reading the novels of Peter James last year and found that just by the down-to-earth well written stories with the confident understanding of characters, he has taken me at times to such a state of suspense that I just couldn't stop reading them, it is no wonder that he has become one of Britain's best-loved crime writers.

All his stories are located in Brighton, just an hour's train ride from London, and over the sequence of his novels, Peter James is establishing himself to be as skilful a story-weaver as G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, and Elmore Leonard.

His central character is the resolute police officer Roy Grace who I find to be quite unorthodox and a very likeable character.

It took me just one day to read this book; I just could not put it down it was so gripping and the fact that the story is set in and around Brighton made it that little bit more special British if you like.

"Dead Simple" is fast and thrilling a real rollercoaster of a book full of twists and turns sometimes a bit mind-boggling but the story has hold of you right up to the end.

You can tell that Peter James has researched his subjects well and I got the feeling that he has spent some time with members of the Sussex police force it would be interesting to see if he has based the character of Roy Grace on a few of that police force?

If you haven't already discovered the thrill of reading the Roy Grace series, this is a list of the order:
Dead Simple (2005)
Looking Good Dead (2006)
Not Dead Enough (2007)
Dead Man's Footsteps (2008)
Dead Tomorrow (2009)
Dead Like You (2010).
While it's not essential to read them in sequence, it does mean you can follow the development of Grace's personal story.
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on 13 March 2006
This is the first time I've read Peter James and picked it up after hearing it reviewed positively on Simon Mayo's show. It really is a page turner! The chapters are very to fairly short which makes it a great book for people like me who have a 25 minute train commute - you can usually time the finishing of the chapters just right for your stop.
The book involves a stag night prank of burying a mate in a coffin. If if this seems somewhat unlikely, James does get away with explaining the history that leads to this event, making it plausible enough to stick with it. When the perpetrators are killed in a van crash our man is trapped in the coffin with only one person in the world knowing where he is; and that person has most to gain by him staying lost (trust me I give nothing away, we're only up to page 40 or 50 here!). Therein hangs the first of many twists; there are several, yet somehow they are nearly all credible within the confines of this tale. And speaking of confines, some of the coffin scenes really are claustrophobic to read.
The slight downsides then. As has been referenced elsewhere the author I believe has been a scriptwriter in the States and at times there is an americanisation to the story that grates ever so slightly, including the use of american type terminology that wouldn't naturally be used here. Stylistically it has more of an american feel than say a traditional English crime fiction feel about it. I don't say that this is bad, by the way, but just be aware that PD James it ain't (and that may well be a good thing for some of you)! The ending is also a little rushed and slightly patly contrived, but by then you've rattled along with the book at such a pace that you forgive this minor(ish) transgression.
In conclusion then, a page turner it most certainly is. I knocked this off in two days because I couldn't put the blooming thing down. If like me you have a busy life from which you need to be occasionally transported, released into a private world of high drama that goes at a rattling good pace, has plenty of twists and genuine 'oh my god!' moments, then this is the book for you.
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on 18 January 2007
I bought this book specifically for holiday and am glad i did - although it gripped me very early on and i read it in no time at all. I found the plot very good and didnt guess the "bad guy" at all which for me is quite unusual and very enjoyable. I would defintely recommend it and am now trying to decide which Peter James book to read next!
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on 30 May 2016
Oh dear! On the basis that over 1500 readers couldn't be that far wrong I went ahead and attempted to read this very first Roy Grace novel. Five chapters in I questioned why on earth I was battling with such a badly written book, an implausible story line and vaguely drawn characters. I then deleted it from my kindle list and started to reread some old John D MacDonald , Travis Magee stuff, which cheered me up no end. Avoid if you can.
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on 2 September 2011
This is the first of Peter James' books that I've read, and I must admit that I was a little aprehensive at first as I'm a little bit off straight crime at the moment having been recently reading humorous crime novels. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates the disappearance of a man on his stag night, during which the other four attendees died.

The book began quite badly in my opinion. It set up the character of Grace well along with quite a large supporting cast, some of whom seem to vanish themselves quite quickly. There's a little too much background detail, which in places breaks the flow of the narrative, and there were a number of elements that put me off the writing style. One was the short chapters. It almost feels more like a script, with the events split into 60 short scenes with cuts between them, and until I got used to them these tended to break the flow a little too.

As the book moved into the middle section though I warmed to it. There were a couple of big twists that I didn't see coming, and I'm not sure if I like that or not - to some extent it made the plot more convoluted and felt as if they were there just to throw the book in a new direction and drag things out a bit longer. The character of Grace (which I found a silly name for a male detective) proved to be quite compelling and not the usual 'broken and bitter' police officer that the early chapters had led me to expect.

My one main problem with this book was the ending, which after a thrilling build-up proved to be anti-climatic. The final chapter in particular annoyed me as it seemed such a cop-out and really out of place in this sort of novel. I could say more but I don't want to give anything away.

Overall, borderline 3 to 4 stars, but probably just good enough that I'll consider having a go at the second book in the series.
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This is a good thriller.

The book starts with a Stag Night prank. Michael, a practical joker and successful property developer, is getting married to a woman he adores. What better way of his mates getting their own back than indulging in their own practical joke - getting Michael drunk bordering on paralytic, digging a grave, putting him in it inside a coffin and continuing with the pub crawl. What could possibly go wrong?

(A mild spoiler follows).


Try a road traffic accident. All the friends are killed. Michael is in his coffin, cursing and wondering when his mates will be coming back. The water level is rising due to rain…

Michael’s business partner and Best Man was joining the Stag Night later so he is the only person who knows where Michael is. But he will benefit from his death…

It’s murder without pulling the trigger. However, Michael’s business partner has a problem: DS Roy Grace, investigating Michael’s disappearance, is highly suspicious because Michael’s body was not in the wreckage, and how can the only other survivor - the Best Man – really not know the itinerary for the Stag Night and therefore why Michael is missing?

There are lots of twists and turns. Some are a bit far-fetched but not so much so as to not enjoy the ride.

This book has been made into a stage play so you know it must be good. And it is.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 July 2007
Excellent book - gripping from the first chapter - a definite must-read. I could not put the book down and after reading it in a day and a bit, I then went on to order and read the rest of the books he has written - all equally intriguing and gripping in their own way - Looking Good Dead is another superb book!!
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on 24 January 2011
I came on the sixth and latest book in this series, by chance and was hooked. I decided to start at the begining and read all the other books in this series in order. I was not let down. This first book is every bit as fantastic. If you enjoy a first class, rapidly paced, well researched English police detective tale, with a bit of a contiuing back story on the main police characters, this one is for you. I'm determined to find some time to read the others.
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on 20 March 2006
I was amazed to read other negative comments about this book. I have never read a book by this writer before so I too took a chance on how well I might get into it or not.
To sum up the book reached halfway and I was convinced I knew the plot as well as the end ...WRONG !! .. in fact at the halfway point is the part where other books would have inevitably finished, this one however then takes a twist that I was not prepared for, and then it takes several more. Each time I have been amazed and pleasantly so that the book still had almost as much again to read.
I loved the charecters, Grace in particular, and while you learned about their private lives you did not become bored or bogged down or distracted by their own lives as you do in some books.
It was interesting to the point I didnt want to put it down, adictive in fact, and the fact that the chapters were not many pages long it meant I could read a quick chapter in between jobs, or a quick one before I fell asleep on a really tired night.
If this is the start of a new series by this man then I for one shall be avidly waiting for each one to come out. In the meantime I am off to the buying pages to get another of his books while I wait.
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on 3 January 2016
I bought this book as some friends are fans of Peter James' and I recently met him so I thought I should read some of his work.
When I began to read Dead Simple I thought the story was familiar and I suspected that I would be disappointed but then came the first twist, then another and another. I liked the detailed descriptions of the police buildings, procedures and even the banter, but then I like Steven Donaldson! As I live in Worthing, only 12 miles from Brighton where the action is set (mainly), I also enjoyed visualising the locations as the story developed. The ending was convenient, so slightly disappointing, and I was left wondering whether the money was recovered or whether that would be in the next book - I intend to find out.
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