Tuesday, May 26, 2015


DEAD LIKE YOU by Peter James (MacMillan, 2010)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

The sixth instalment in the popular Roy Grace series (now up to 11 novels with the release of YOU ARE DEAD this month) sees the dogged Detective Superintendent trying to catch a brutal serial rapist whose crimes bring the past crashing terrifyingly back into the present for several people. 

A New Year's Eve partygoer is savagely attacked as she returns to her room in a fancy hotel in Brighton. A week later another woman is assaulted. Both victims’ shoes are taken by the offender.

Grace soon realises the attacks echo the unsolved series of ‘Shoe Man’ crimes that struck Brighton back in 1997, where five women were raped and their designer shoes stolen, and a sixth disappeared, never to be seen again. As the pattern begins to repeat, Grace and his team find themselves in a desperate hunt to find a dangerous man. But perhaps the answer lies in the past, from a time before Grace’s own wife Sandy disappeared without a trace?

Peter James is a master of realistic police procedure (even delving into issues of administration, teamwork and delegation) as well as evoking a good sense of his books' Brighton setting, bringing authenticity and depth to both while spinning an intriguing tale that will keep readers guessing. In something of a departure from standard crime fiction fare, DEAD LIKE YOU focuses not so much on murder but on rape, a horrific crime that has a massive, ongoing impact on the victim and has been called 'soul murder' by some.

DEAD LIKE YOU switches between time periods, with a young Grace and the contemporary one both investigating a sexual predator living out his obsessions. Intriguingly for readers who've followed the whole series, the flashbacks include Grace's life with Sandy, whose disappearance has been a central mystery. While present-day Grace is looking forward to a life with Cleo, a mortician, Sandy's spectre still hangs over his happiness. Getting to witness their life together puts an interesting spin on things.

The novel also switches between the police, several suspect rapists, and victims, giving readers a broad, if unsettling, insight into these crimes. A very enjoyable read in an excellent series. 


Read more: "A Tale of Two Peters" - my feature in the Canvas magazine of the Weekend Herald on Peter James and Peter Robinson

This is an expanded version of a review originally written in 2010 for Good Reading magazine

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