YOU ARE DEAD is the 11th entry in Peter James’ Roy Grace series. Surprisingly enough readers can start with YOU ARE DEAD and not feel lost. Not an easy accomplishment so kudos to Mr. James.

In Peter JamesYou Are Dead, the last words Jamie Ball hears from his fiancée, Logan Somervile, are in a terrified mobile phone call from her. She has just driven into the underground car park beneath the apartment block where they live in Brighton, and seen a man acting strangely. Then she screams and the phone goes dead. The police are on the scene within minutes, but Logan has vanished, leaving behind her neatly parked car and cell phone.

That same afternoon, workmen digging up an old asphalt path in a park in another part of the city, unearth the remains of a young woman in her early twenties, who has probably been dead for 30 years.

At first, to Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his Major Crime Team, these two events seem totally unconnected. But then another young woman in Brighton goes missing and another body from the past surfaces. At the same time a strange man visits an eminent London psychiatrist, claiming to have a piece of information on the missing woman, Logan, that turns out, at first, to be wrong-or so it seems. It is only later Roy Grace makes the chilling realization that this one thing is the key to both the past and the present-and now, beyond any doubt, he knows that Brighton has its first ever serial killer. (Synopsis from Amazon)

…it’s easy to get hooked.

This is my first Alex Grace as well as my first Peter James. When told YOU ARE DEAD could be read without going back and catching up I took it with a grain of salt. It’s not an easy thing, to pick up a series so far in and not feel a bit lost or feel the loss of the history, all the interactions and events that have occurred. Color me surprised when it turned out to be true.

Roy Grace is a protagonist who’s easy to like. Well seasoned and mature, he’s no stranger to heartache. His first wife, Sandy, disappeared ten years prior. But now he’s re-married, has a young son, Noah, and is moving to the country. Despite all these fresh starts, the intervening years, and his love for Cleo and Noah, Sandy is never far from his thoughts.

The Sandy–missing wife–subplot was, truth be told, as intriguing to me as the murder mystery, maybe even a little more.

Grace’s Major Crime Team is like a small family but his new boss is a PITA. That’s often the case but there’s more than a personality clash in this situation.

As a reader whose first experience with procedurals were Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct and Dell Shannon’s Luis Mendoza’s, the demonstrativeness Grace shows with members of his team, especially Glenn Branson, took some getting used to. Given his close relationship with police Mr. James is likely dead on but still…..

The sections told from the killer’s perspective are creepy as Mr. James takes readers on short trips to the past to witness the evolution of a serial killer. The devils in the details and they’re there. Part of the appeal of mysteries is trying to figure everything out. While the “who” wasn’t difficult, the one aspect I was completely off in the weeds on was much more disturbing than I’d imagined when revealed. Never in a million years would that have occurred to me.

There’s one thing that strikes me every time I read or watch a contemporary mystery set in England, the prevalence of CCTV cameras. They’re as ubiquitous there as McDonald’s seem to be here.

The Roy Grace series with its quick pace, provocative subplot(s), tangled relationships, and interesting characters is engaging and highly readable. Whether you start at the beginning or with YOU ARE DEAD, it’s easy to get hooked.

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About the Reviewer

Ivy Truitt
Transplanted Southerner and avid reader. My tastes are eclectic. I discovered mysteries first then historicals in the era of Kathleen Woodiwiss & Rosemary Rogers. I was never able to finish Gone With the Wind, Scarlett got on my nerves too bad, but I loved Alaina in Ashes in the Wind. I also manage the guest author blog for Manic Readers. In addition to here you can find me on FB, Twitter, Goodreads, Librarything, & Riffle. Always up for talking about books, just gimme a holler!!