What a fun book to read! The outcome of the prank itself is bad enough, and most writers would take that one idea, run with it, and have a good book. Peter James does a Churchill with this same idea. One simple prank-- a riddle-- which he then wraps up in a larger mystery and finally tosses into an enigma with even greater implications. The fun for readers is to savor each page, to tease out the clues, to deduce what's going on... and to hope that Detective Superintendent Roy Grace can put it all together in time to save Michael Harrison's life.
Peter James has also created a fascinating main character in Roy Grace. As a young boy "Grace had been addicted to cop shows on television, to books about detectives and cops of every kind-- from Sherlock Holmes to Ed McBain. He had a memory that bordered on photographic, he loved puzzles, and he was physically strong." Now that he's been on the force for a few years, Grace realizes that "in this modern, politically correct world, you could be a law enforcement officer at the peak of your career one moment and a political pawn the next." It's that realization that can make showing up at work in the morning a bit grim.
The juxtaposition of a thriller-type plot and a nuanced character study is what makes Dead Simple so much fun to read. The adrenaline junkie portion of my reader's brain could gorge on all the twists and turns while the more introspective and thoughtful portion of my brain could savor James's characterizations. This book had been sitting on my to-be-read shelf for a long, long time. Now I know why it kept catching my eye each time I walked past. I can't wait to continue with this series!
Simple this story was not! This mystery, the start of a series, involved complex characters, a well-layered plot and quite a riveting premise: a bachelor party prank (or, more properly, a stag night stunt) gone horrible wrong leads to a twisty plot that keeps getting crazier and crazier. I certainly did not predict where the story went. And the main character, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, was likable with an interesting backstory that I hope will continue to develop throughout the series. This overall frame, combined with a hint of the supernatural, is very reminiscent of John Connolly's Charlie Parker series. James' writing, however, is more detail-oriented than lyrical. Still, I am very curious to see where the series goes.
I wanted so much to like this book and wanted so much to be able to finish it BUT when I got to page 200 I was just bored, there is just too much on each page that is not necessary, I started noticing that each page had about one sentence or one paragraph that was moving forward but the rest of the page was just unnecessary descriptions that you can skip and you're not missing a thing. I can't wade through a book that just drags and drags and this one does, I thought it started out good and wanted so much to have a good thriller in my hands but that didn't happen, it just drags until you find your mind wandering because it gets so boring because page after page is just filled with NOTHING!
lots of twists-keeps you guessing
This is the first book in a British police procedural series starring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. Peter James has written an intelligent and gripping page turner with plenty of twists and turns. With a terrific story line and well written characters, I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to reading the other books in the series. Highly recommend.
I couldn't wait to get back to reading this book. . . it was good! Likeable characters, and not too many, a good story with a few twists, kept me guessing and wondering.