It is significant that this crime novel by the popular Brighton writer was recommended to me by the former Chief Constable of Sussex. It is clear that James has a close relationship with the police force which benefits both. The police explain procedure and criminal background and he represents the police – notably Superintendent Roy Grace – in the best possible light. Police concerns over the cuts constraining investigation and PC culture are ventilated.
This said it’s a page-turning read. An independent financial advisor of considerable wealth and fame is on his uppers with a huge gambling addiction compounded by the kidnapping of his son Mungo at the Amex Stadium. This involves the Albanian drug criminal fraternity in Brighton. Any more facts would be a spoiler. It’s not particularly well-written, the dialogue is clunky but the high octane narration gathers apace. The detailed account of police investigation contrasts oddly with the rather melodramatic description of the criminal overlords, one of whom keeps a pet crocodile to whom he feeds the broken limbs of those that cross him. Can anyone really keep and keep quiet about a crocodile called Thatcher in Brighton?
Peter James has found a successful formula: Superintendent Grace, the Brighton back drop, the word “dead’ in the title of his crime novels. He has sold 19 million copies translated into 37 languages. He is a successful writer but a great one? I’m not so sure.