Maybe I've watched too many Hollywood films, but I sensed what was going to happen in this storyline from about page 30, which was such a shame as I've really enjoyed the other two Peter James books before this and I'm a relative newcomer to them. As far as thrillers go, his writing is consistent and fast-paced with great twists and turns in the plot and a continuing back story to his character of Detective Roy Grace which has really intrigued me. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy this book, because I did. I'm just saying that regrettably, it was a bit more predictable than his first two and that did diminish my enjoyment of the story somewhat.
This book sees the slaying of a local Brighton socialite whose husband becomes the immediate suspect. The only problem is, he was miles away at the time and has an alibi. Detective Grace digs deep and begins to uncover some murky secrets about the family as his private life faces problems of its own.
What I really did enjoy about this book was the attention to detail the author places in the story, particularly with his rather gruesome depictions of autopsies and whatnot which is very vivid. The nature of the crimes is also quite gory in parts so I would say that if you are squeamish then approach these novels with caution because they go a bit heavy on the bloody details. James also excels in setting a scene- I have never been to Brighton but feel that I could recognise some of his settings used should I ever visit there in future. He certainly doesn't shy away from revealing the seedier aspects of the small coastal town.
There is also the side story of Roy's missing wife which was began in book one and this story goes off at a bit of a random tangent taking him to Munich following a possible sighting of her, which just felt too contrived and not followed through enough, much to my disappointment as this was what had kept me reading in the first place. I'm hoping that this is built upon and elaborated on more concisely in the next few books; otherwise I may lose interest in it. This story also lost a bit of the `supernatural/psychic' thread that was developed in earlier books as well- Grace doesn't go and visit any séances this time round!
I have to say that all in all, the plot becomes overly complicated in parts with too many interlocking stories and the final little twist that James throws in towards the end was just a bit irritating and probably wasn't needed- it was merely a device to throw the reader further and tries to create suspense that was sorely lacking throughout the rest of the book. Nevertheless, the back story to Roy's wife and his growing relationship with pathologist Cleo, kept me reading this book and renewed my interest in Grace as a character- without that I may have given up entirely. I have book four in this series waiting to be read and I am really hoping that it is a much stronger read than this one. I also hope that these books are not becoming formulaic and predictable as that would be such a shame.