Best-selling novelist Peter James has a winning formula in his Roy Grace series: classic British police procedural crossed with suspenseful thriller. You are Dead is #11 in the series.
It starts out with the abduction of a young woman while her horrified fiancé listens by cell phone to her scream, then the silence. The tension ratchets up on the next page; it’s first line is “Felix is fine with the fact that I kill people.” (A murdering trio and they’ve taken the woman.) Then a short side trip to a construction site, where a skeleton is being unearthed. (What the???) Then back to the fiancé, who is careening down the highway, frantically dialing her cell and finally 999 (Britain’s version of 911). Then to the police station where his call come in.
You’re only 15 pages in to the book, Roy Grace hasn’t even made his entrance yet, and you’re already through six chapters. And James doesn’t let up until the very last page… it’s soon apparent that there’s a very twisted mind at work. The good news is that the victim is still alive. And the bad news is – she’s still alive. Every few chapters, we get one from her perspective. As her circumstances get more dire, the reader’s tension climbs.
Meanwhile, Grace and his team are working frantically to solve the crime. When he does, the key to the solution lies deep in the past, but from a source that is very close at hand.
Regular readers of the Grace series will attest that the clever and caring Grace has a complicated personal life. He’s finally ready to leave the memory of Sandy, his missing wife, behind and make a new life with a new love. That personal situation promises to be only more confusing in the books to come.
Recommendation: Although You are Dead easily stands alone, if you are new to the series, I strongly recommend reading them in order – especially if you love character development as much as I do! Definite thumbs up. New this year, so a great last-minute Christmas gift.