This book's an absolute stormer and worth every penny of day of publication price. Thanks to Kindle and 3g, the latest offering from Peter James arrived just after midnight. I couldn't resist a peek; big mistake, despite being tired, I was totally immersed for a couple of hours in what, I believe, is one of the best plot lines so far in the Grace series. A timely look at Internet dating and stalking.
One of the strengths of these books is the development of the main characters. But each may be read as a standalone too. Roy Grace is settled with a second wife and new baby. The question of Sandy, his former wife, has arisen consistently and this book is no exception. But is the mystery solved? I'm not giving any clues on that one! Grace is a solid and likeable individual. Intelligent, compassionate and occasionally troubled. I'm enjoying the way, as readers, we move forward with him. We share life's ups and downs and the demands of leading a Serious Crime team and striking the right work/life balance. There's been a promotion within his team and it's good to see the chemistry between individuals still at play.
These stories work particularly well as strong, well rounded police procedurals full of the challenges, pressures and tensions of major crime policing. There's a real sense of urgency as the chapters mark off dates and time. The narrative is explored from a number of viewpoints; police, victims and offender. I love the way the reader is often one step ahead of Grace. We know what Bryce intends to do and I was willing Grace to make the right connections in time! The pace is absolutely relentless.
Peter James is also a master at exploring the deviant psyche. It's almost uncomfortable at times, interpreting the world and seeing victims through the eyes and mind of Bryce, a stalker bent on revenge and retribution. He's a man whose moral compass is in free fall following rejection. Being exposed to his rationale and thought process is unsettling; his 'normal' is way out of comfort zone and incredibly chilling. But that's because he works so well as a character. With both depth and dimension, his horrific plans to mete out his form of justice to achieve salvation are brutal but plausible. And the fear experienced by others is almost palpable. Then the relief when the threat's over only to be followed by another twist...he took me every step of the way!
It's a stunning psychological thriller, taut and full of the unexpected. The tension builds and builds to bursting point. It's a compelling and truly frightening study of the nature of obsession and the effects on victims and their family. It works well in every way and at every level and I loved it.