on 8 July 2014
Firstly, I would like to say that I have always been a big Peter James fan. I have read all of the Roy Grace series and have enjoyed them all immensely. I am however starting to feel that Peter is starting to run out of ideas. I know this is a winning formula for him, but the time has come for him to change things up a little. The whole Sandy thing needs to be brought to a conclusion. This is the carrot he continues to dangle in front of us in the hope that we will buy his next book. It's gone on for far too long already and I, for one have now run out of patience. I wouldn't mind if the main story was strong, but in this book it wasn't. The plots and the characters seem to be getting more bland and weaker every time.
In my view, James needs to revitalise the series by concluding the Sandy thing and take things in a whole new direction. Otherwise it's just the same old thing over and over!
on 28 October 2014
Disappointing, repetitive and a bit boring...
The key characters both lack credibility - the 'heroine' (Red) has been saddled with a stupid name and a personality bypass as she is tedious to the point of being vacuous whilst the 'villain of the piece' (Bryce) appears to have superhuman abilities far above those that a magician would possess, he also fantasises about what he's going to do to Red far too frequently and in far too many words.
I'm also sick to death of Cleo and the sacharine sweet relationship between her and Roy Grace, now made even more unreadable by the birth of their son. Their domestic scenes contribute nothing positive to these books - all they do is make me feel more and more nauseous.
Every book has to retell the story of Sandy, who has now made a couple of guest appearances but has added very little to the storyline.
These novels are starting to become very samey with the only surprises coming from the untimely demises of various supporting characters...
on 15 June 2014
As we are now in the grip (or not) of the World Cup, I would say in football parlance that for me, this book represented a game of two halves. Despite being a Peter James fan, and having read all of the previous Roy Grace novels, I found this not to be one of his best.
I found the shift away from Grace and his team as fairly prominent characters to almost bit players a negative move. It might have worked for me had I been taken with the main plot and the featured characters of Red and her sociopathic stalker ex, Bryant. As it was in the first half I found the plot too bogged down with repetitive detail, revealed via the counselling sessions with her therapist. I wasn't sympathetic to the character of Red, far from seeing her as a strong, independent character refusing to be a victim, I found her to be quite naive, if not stupid in her actions. For example, what female estate agent (given real life events) would deliberately falsify contact details in her work diary, before going to meet a client, a complete stranger, in an empty property. - especially when she knows her ex is a threat.
I was more engaged when the plot concentrated on Grace, his forthcoming nuptials to Cleo, and the team that we have come to know and in most cases love. Inevitably Sandy does make an appearance, though whether that story resolves itself I can't say. For me the novels are as much about their stories as the crimes they are investigating. The team come more into play once the plot becomes more focused on Bryant as a suspect, rather than what he intends to do and why.
Reading this review back, it feels very negative, but given how much I've enjoyed the others, it is my attempt to explain why I didn't like this as much. Peter James is a terrific writer, and this is not a bad book, it has all the drama, tension and shocks that you want from a good thriller, it just didn't do it for me, like some of his others. I'll still be waiting for news of the next one to see how things progress for Grace and his team.
I received my ebook via Netgalley in return for an honest review.
on 29 November 2015
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!
on 8 September 2014
Want You Dead by Peter James is the tenth book in his Roy Grace series and is without doubt a very good read.
As usual with a Peter James book the writing was very good and the short quick chapters manage to keep the book going at a very fast pace making it very difficult to put down. Indeed all the work Peter has put in over the last ten years pays off in spades with this book as the already established characters and relationships felt very familiar and comfortable as the book went on. It is in my opinion one of Peter's main strengths is that he has created a whole team around Grace that the reader can fall in love with and enjoy.
With all that said I found the actual main story of the book to be slightly unfulfilling. For the first time I thought that the crime aspect played second fiddle to the weddings, ex-wife's and other issues that came up during the book. The basic premises of a stalker was covered fairly well in Peter's excellent Not Dead Yet novel and this seemed a tad too similar in places.
All things considered this was still a very good read and still very much a book I would recommend. It doesn't quite match the previously high standards of other books in the series but it was still enjoyable.
on 29 July 2014
last thee books fab this one was hard going not the best was glad to finish it. Love his books but this one was the worst i have read and have read them all.
on 18 July 2014
Enjoyable enough, but I'm one of the disappointed I'm afraid. The villain has skills which would make Superman envious; the victim returns to work day-after-day having shrugged off several attempts on her life and threats to her family - and chooses to do the opposite of what any normal, terrified person might do in the same circumstances. Sack the therapist woman !
And why would Bryce want to kill Roy particularly ? Thank God for a bit of Van Morrison eh.
The Sandy thing has run it's course and whilst initially an interesting sub-plot, quite honestly, I'll be glad if what's suggested has happened to her does come to pass.
My other gripe is the "utopian" relationship between Roy and Cleo. The constant references to how deeply they love one another and the frankly saintish way in which his new Bride accepts the cancellation of her honeymoon. Or maybe I'm the odd one ? But the most annoying thing is the very un-characteristic way Roy speaks to Cleo; I think someone else has mentioned the "right back at you" response to (yet another) of Cleo's declarations of undying love. Very cringeworthy and un-Roy like.
I appreciate keeping things too real would make for quite a boring story, but the balance has been lost here and had started to shift out of kilter with the last couple of offerings.
By the way, was I supposed to know who the Irish inmate was at the end ?
On the plus side, I liked the short chapters - and I shed a tear whilst sucking on a Malteeser......
Want You Dead, Peter James, Macmillan, 2014, 405pp.
This is an interesting Inspector Roy Grace novel, but unfortunately it is time-sharing with the story of the decaying relationship between the young lady whose story dominates the novel, and her loony sociopath ex-boyfriend who is stalking her with a campaign of arson and murder. Inspector Grace doesn’t even get a mention on the dust-jacket of the hardcover edition, not even on the inside of the front cover. The two stories – that of Red Westwood and that of Inspector Grace and his supporting cast eventually merge as the violence escalates, but they are definitely two separate stories for much of the book. I wasn’t particularly interested in the fine detail of Ms Westwood’s life and relationships, well-researched and written as it was; though I can’t complain about it being here, as the book wasn’t advertised as an Inspector grace novel, and I had to skim through the pages in the library to discover that it, in fact, was. I can only speculate that the author considered this an important story to tell, or he and his publisher wanted to stretch his wings and find a new audience for his books; but, I repeat, it isn’t advertises as a Roy Grace story.
That being said, as well as the police procedural story, there is much change and progress in the life of Roy Grace and his supporting cast: his friend Glenn Branson is now a single father, and Grace himself celebrates his wedding in this story, which is attended by his first wife Sandy and their ten-year-old son... The story is excellently told, and there are a number of places where hints are dropped and paths are crossed which may or may not have a bearing on the story (or even a future one). Old characters make their returns, and at least regular one makes their exit, for even the Police suffer at the hands of this particular criminal.
The story of Ms Red Westwood is hard to describe without giving too much away, but she is an intelligent, professional young woman, whose ex-boyfriend turned out to be an abusive fantasist who remains fixated on her, and is driven to murder by her eventually taking a new boyfriend. Her evolution as a character from abused and self-blaming victim to abused but fighting-back heroine is well-described – though how many abused women in the real world have the support and internal resources to overcome their ’programming’ in this way is open to question.
The villain of the piece, the ex-boyfriend, is a fairly one-dimensional character, and does seem to have escaped from a Hollywood thriller.
So, to sum up; this is an excellent (and important episode in the) Roy Grace story, but it shares the book with a second story which I did not have any real personal interest in; BUT, as this is not advertised as a Roy Grace story, so you can’t justifiably complain about that aspect of the book.
on 10 August 2014
I could not wait to read this latest book but it was awful in the extreme. The constant repetitive texts were mind numbing. A stupid plot and very poor characters ruined any enjoyment from the book. Roy Grace books have slowly got worst. Time for Peter James to up his game. Much tighter editing needed and some careful thinking on where some plot lines are going. I look forward to the next book but my patience is wearing thin !!
on 11 September 2014
I found this book tedious, I continued reading in the hope that it would get better. The central character, Red, was annoying and to my mind reckless.She was being stalked by an ex in a very aggressive way BUT she could not be re-located as her career as an estate agent "was just taking off" oh REALLY!! No disrespect to estate agents or poor women who are being stalked, but this was too implausible for words! I didn't even bother to read the regurgitated texts James insisted on feeding us! I found most of the characters shallow and struggled to empathise with any of them. (I have never found the Bella- Ponting scenario believable).The police looked inept throughout, when it was realised that Bryce had clearly been bugging Red's phone for some time no-one thought to check her flat? I think my Roy Grace days have come to an end..I am seriously looking for other genres.