A stag-do gone wrong. A missing groom. A despairing fiance.
In the first of the ground-breaking Roy Grace detective series by Peter James, ‘Dead Simple‘ is a true crime novel that will leave you wanting more! Set in sunny Brighton, England, this book follows the journey of detective superintendent Roy Grace as he races against time to put right a prank that has gone disastrously wrong.
When Michael Harrison’s friends get him drunk and bury him alive in a coffin on his stag night, it was only supposed to be a bit of fun, some harmless retaliation for all the pranks he’d played on them over the years. But on their way to a local pub, Michael’s friends are killed in a road collision before they can retrieve him, and no-one else knows where the missing groom is! Provided with only an air tube, a torch and a walkie-talkie, we follow Michael’s descent into madness and panic as he realises he must fight for his life.
Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace has been tasked with finding Michael, by his stunning fiance who is understandably miserable. Dependable, honest and good at his job, we follow Roy Grace as he faces this life and death investigation.
This novel is filled with twists and turns, and several red herrings. A best-seller and the first in an award-winning series, this book is an absolute must-read.
Roy Grace is a reliable and brilliant detective, and I personally enjoyed that James’ main character is a middle-aged, normal gentleman and very relatable to anyone who enjoys their creature comforts. His long-standing efforts to find his missing wife, despite the fact that she has been gone for years and years, are very endearing. Equipped with sarcastic one-liners and a humble attitude, Detective Roy Grace is a strongly written character and thoroughly enjoyable.
The book is very fast paced, with short, punchy chapters written in different perspectives. The chapters where we get to feel what it’s like to be buried alive are very claustrophobic and panic-inducing, and showcase James’ talent as a writer. I read this book in one sitting, unintentionally. I had to read on! Which is also how I felt when I finished the book, so I ordered the next novel in the series, ‘Looking Good Dead’.
Witty and suspenseful but also gut-wrenching and sombre at times, I did feel that I needed to take a deep breath at the end of some chapters, which I personally enjoyed, but others may find some of the content matter in the novel to be very dark, at times. I also am happy that there are more books to read in this series, but some readers may not appreciate having to read on in the series to continue with Roy Grace’s personal mystery in terms of his missing wife.
I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of sixteen, and especially fans of the crime fiction and mystery genres. After reading this book I continued with the series and the books have all been consistently brilliant. Peter James commands the humble ‘whodunit’ into being something fresh and modern, helped along with cultural references and a gritty, real life feel. READ THIS SERIES, I promise you won’t regret it.
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