Like the other Roy Grace titles, this is a very readable novel, with some exciting sequences and a good level of tension. There are, alas, some serious flaws, both with the series as a whole and with this book in particular. In this case, the main complaint is its improbability. The 'villain' apparently possesses superhuman powers that make Superman himself seem inadequate. There is nothing this man cannot do, no career he hasn't worked at long enough to become expert in every skill he requires to take a horrible revenge on the girlfriend who dumped him. I know all fiction requires the reader to suspend belief to a certain extent, but this is taking liberties. So, too, is writing what appears to be an account of Roy's wedding, only to inform the bemused reader that it was all a dream (has Peter James been watching old Dallas re-runs?). This, of course, means that we have to go through the whole thing again several chapters later, with the added irritation of the implication that it was a premonition, not a dream. Fortunately this comes to nothing, but we could do without it. In fact the whole wedding thing is altogether too much. There has always been a Mills & Boon-like sickliness to the Roy and Cleo romance, but here it hits new heights (or plumbs new depths). We get far too much inane dialogue as Roy and Cleo frequently and repetitively declare how much they love and fancy one another. Throw in a few cringe-making sex scenes and wait for the nausea. The problem with this romance is that Cleo is just so, so perfect. She never moans, never loses her temper, is sympathetic and loving under every trying circumstance, even when Roy postpones the honeymoon at the last minute (yeah, right!). It's almost as if she is being presented as a role model, the ideal woman against whom the other female characters are judged and found wanting.
And that leads on to what is becoming a major flaw in this series - Peter James's attitude to women. Apart from the saintly Cleo they are all either thick, obnoxious, inadequate or depraved. Here, firmly in the first category we have the heroine, the ridiculously-named Red. Here we have someone who is being stalked by a homicidal maniac with superhuman powers who wants to kill her. She is so terrified that she has a direct line to the cop shop, yet she refuses to take their advice because she doesn't want the villain to stop her living her life as usual (er, I'd say he'd already done that, Red). At the point where she escapes from his clutches then insists on returning to the place where she is most vulnerable, I had to put the book down until my blood pressure levels returned to normal. It's very difficult to feel much sympathy for someone so stupid.
Then we have Roy's missing wife, Sandy. She has been appearing and disappearing from this series like the Cheshire cat from the start, threatening all sorts of nastiness then doing nothing, and has become a major irritant. As a example of irrationality and inadequacy she has no equal. Having cruelly walked out on Roy without a word, she no sooner discovers that he has had her declared dead and plans to marry someone else than she suddenly decides that she is passionately in love with him and wants him back. From being a work-obsessed bore whom she can't face living with another moment, he becomes the most wonderful man in the world, the most caring, the most considerate, the best lover.... Oh make up your mind! Without giving too much away, the end implies that we may be rid of her. Not a moment too soon. Meanwhile, James's gratuitous over-use of the word 'bitch' is becoming seriously annoying, to the point of offence. Look, if you must keep using disparaging terms for women, there are plenty more available. Let's have a bit of variety. Buy a thesaurus.
I know this is a critical review, but there are good things in here, too, so I won't give up on the series just yet. After all, if we really have seen the last of Sandy, it opens up the prospect of all sorts of new complications in Roy's life, one in particular which should test Cleo's saintliness to the limit. Bring it on!