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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

You are Dead. Peter James. Macmillian (2015)

Engaging and enjoyable police procedural. A woman is apparently kidnapped from an underground car park, later a skeleton is unearthed when a pavement is being repaired, the skeleton had evidently been buried decades before. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace sets up investigations into both cases, personally overseeing the kidnapping investigation. A very strange visitor to a psychologist in London who had a connection to the kidnapped woman creates a link between the two cases.  Roy Grace has to face the possibility that a serial killer has started to be active again in Brighton. As more women go missing and are attacked this possibility starts to become a certainty. The investigations move carefully and as they start to find a focus events become more urgent until the satisfactorily sour conclusion.
Roy Grace is a credible, competent and force leading character, he has a pregnant wife coming close to birth, a house move and a new superior that he has had a distinctly troubled previous history with. He steadfastly refuses to be  dysfunctional, settling for rather harassed and stressed while stubbornly maintaining his focus on the investigation. Peter Robinson has developed a strong career professional who greatly enjoys a hugely stressful role and is consistently aware of the need to maintain his professional and intimate relationships. Roy Grace gives the story a strong central sense of competent strength and allows Peter Robinson to develop a suitably horrible villain.
The villain is wonderfully baroque, deeply committed to the project of capturing selected females and killing according to a deliberate schedule. The plot mechanics regarding the scheming and execution of the sadistic plans are wonderfully thought out and full of telling details. The whole scheme is gloriously elaborate and insane. It is all plausible within the context of the story because the rest of the cast and context are so firmly anchored in the city of Brighton.
Peter Robinson splits the narrative up across a very diverse cast and this nicely mixes up the story and consistently increases the tension. The reader is introduced to cast members, all of whom are given an opportunity to reveal themselves and then follows their paths to very different conclusions. Logan Somerville, the woman who was kidnapped from the car park is given a voice while she is held in captivity, she is never reduced a a helpless victim, she is terrified and  edging to despair. She speaks for herself and gives a voice to the other victims so they are more than just handy props for the plot.
This is a really good crime story, a wide inclusive story that is managed with concentrated discipline and confidence.


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