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Op dood spoor by Peter James
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Op dood spoor (2007)

by Peter James

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3811628,807 (3.67)8
Member:wvanderl
Title:Op dood spoor
Authors:Peter James
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Collections:eBook, Your library, Favorites, Gelezen
Rating:****
Tags:Roy Grace, Moord, Politie, Brighton, Echtpaar, Tweeling

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Not Dead Enough by Peter James (2007)

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English (11)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
ano9ther gripping murder for Det.Sup. Roy Grace and his sidekick Det.Sarg.Poole. Great read ( )
  magentaflake | Oct 26, 2012 |
A great crime thriller, set in Brighton. The writer's local knowledge really shines through - and the setting makes a refreshing change from London, Manchester etc. Our hero, Roy Grace is a great character and this novel develops his personal story a bit more which fits nicely alongside the main plot, the murder of two women. They are the wife and lover of the same man and he is the prime suspect. Can Roy Grace work out whether he did it or not? ( )
  cathymoore | Mar 24, 2012 |
The second book in the series I've read, and a bit of a disappointment. The twist is just not strong or unpredictable enough to bear the considerable weight of the novel, and while the writing is good and very readable, as a whole the novel fails to hang together
  otterley | Dec 30, 2011 |
Having felt a little overwhelmed by books that I had to read recently, I was determined to select one, entirely independently, and read it purely for pleasure. Not wanting to select a duffer, I decided to read another instalment in Peter James’ ‘Dead’ series, following the investigations of Detective Superintendent Grace and his team. Something in the first book I’d read had appealed to me. Would this one hold my interest in the series? ‘Not Dead Enough’ is the third in the series featuring Grace and his colleagues, but I wasn’t concerned about possible gaps in my knowledge since I had felt that the fifth book in the series worked quite well from a newcomer’s perspective.

The premise

On the night Brian Bishop murdered his wife, he was sixty miles away, asleep in bed. As opening statements go, that’s certainly an intriguing one. As the evidence piles up, Grace comes to the apparently impossible conclusion that Bishop has been in two places at once. Of course, the case in this kind of detective story is rarely considered sufficient to hold the reader’s attention, so the blurb also notes that Grace’s investigations will have a shocking effect on his private life. Thus, the reader is prepared for two focuses: a possible case of identity theft and the potential ‘destruction’ of Grace’s world. This sounded appealing enough to me, although there is evidently nothing original here. Often, the enjoyment is in the telling of the story and not the story itself.

My thoughts

The opening is highly dramatic as a killer watches his victim and then ensnares her. The scenario itself is rather clichéd, but it is delivered with a couple of fairly chilling moments, and the different personalities of the characters were evident in the slightly different styles which the third person narration adopted. (The killer’s excitement was childishly conveyed through exclamation marks.) The action moves to Grace in the third chapter and swiftly establishes one of the personal dimensions of the story. I felt that the opening successfully created interest, especially as it was genuinely ambiguous – was this dangerous man the victim’s husband or a stranger? Her reactions to him leave open several possibilities which I felt helped to build tension. I raced through the opening chapters, looking for a clue.

This is a police procedural which follows the crime from the event, through to the setting up of a major crime investigation and to the final arrests. I personally like this kind of fiction as I find it very interesting to read about how the police think through their actions. I found even quite minor details interesting. For instance, the officer sent to break the news to the husband is carefully selected to help gauge the husband’s response. Is he a grieving husband or an agitated murderer? James clearly has some background knowledge as he has prefaced this story with a three page acknowledgements section! (A very minor point, but, I would have preferred this to be at the back of the book.) Later on in the story there is a detailed description of an autopsy, which was, inevitably, quite gruesome, but also fascinating. Interview styles and routines are also explained in a way that it is clear and quite well integrated into the storyline – the information doesn’t feel like it was ‘bolted on’ for the benefit of the reader, but did arise naturally from the demands of the plot.

One element which I felt did receive undue attention was the focus on eyes. Apparently, you can establish whether or not somebody is lying by simply establishing which way their eyes shift when they are telling the truth and then which way the eyes move when they are ‘creating’ instead of remembering. Well, fabulous. Let’s get rid of juries and just record witness testimony! James appears to be inordinately fond of this little snippet of physiology, (it appeared in book five, too,) and wheeled it out at every opportunity until I did lose patience slightly. Other readers may also find this repetition slightly irritating, especially Grace’s smugness when he feels that his recruit is learning from him. However, it does allow for an interesting hiccup to be unveiled during police questioning: Brian Bishop appears to be telling the truth about his alibi…

I guessed at the likely outcome quite early on and would argue that this is not a highly original plot or one which is going to tie you in knots trying to solve the mystery. However, the focus of the story is on how the police solve the case, so I didn’t really consider it a problem that I had established the killer’s motive and person early on. There was a twist later on in the story that was genuinely surprising. Once again, I worked out the answer sooner than Grace or his detectives did (maybe I’m in the wrong profession!) but I did appreciate the fact that James threw in a surprise to create a bit more suspense. I raced through the final pages as swiftly as I’d covered the first.

The chapters are generally only a few pages long and the focus or location of the story tends to shift each time so the story begins with and sustains a great sense of pace. I liked this style (reminiscent of James Patterson) but found, ironically, that it was more difficult to put the book down! I frequently thought – just one more chapter…and then discovered, ten chapters later, that it was past my bed time! This is certainly not intended as a criticism of the book, and, in theory, the short chapters should make it easier to take a break when required.

The style is not literary but is straightforward and easy to read. There was the odd flash of pretension (“It was raining in his soul.”) which jarred, and some irritatingly obvious foreboding drawn in leaden pencil (“And inevitably, for Roy Grace, it would become personal…but he had no way of knowing, at this moment, quite how personal the case would become.”) which made me want to add a thundery backing track. On the whole, the style is very light and easy to read. There are also some pleasant touches of humour, such as the following: “he could also not help wondering why golf clubs, which always seemed to him to have ludicrously formal and outdated dress codes, such as wearing ties in clubhouses, allowed their members to go out on the golf course looking like they were starring in a pantomime.” Fair point.

My one real complaint (ignoring the fact that the ‘eye-construct-memory’ issue was done to death) would be the ending. As I found in ‘Dead Tomorrow’, the ending was sufficiently resolved to give a sense of closure, but I wanted more of the psychology of the villain. Relevant background is referred to but not explored. Of course, this is perfectly in keeping for a police procedural and is a more ‘real’ ending than those clichéd conclusions where the villain, apparently relieved at being captured, despite his abject bitterness and resentment of everyone, pours out his heart to whoever happens to capture him. In other respects, the ending is fair: unoriginal and predictable but highly dramatic and an exciting read.

Location, location

If you live in or near Brighton, you are likely to find the events easy to visualise. The story is very strongly rooted in Brighton, to the extent that the police move along specific streets in their quest to rid the world of crime. I liked the ‘real’ feel that this gave to the storyline, even though I am not personally familiar with Brighton.

Another key location in the story was Munich. Grace receives a shocking message from a friend that leads him to believe that Sandy, his wife who disappeared nine years ago, is now living abroad. His head spinning as he is torn between his professional duties and personal needs, Grace is also aware of new girlfriend Cleo’s concern that she is simply a place holder for the love of Grace’s life. Yes, this is our classic troubled detective. However, I do think that this is a genuinely interesting dilemma. Grace seems to have no notion of why Sandy disappeared and this is obviously especially haunting for someone who spends a great deal of their working life resolving mysteries. I liked this aspect of the storyline and felt that James handled it well. Grace’s responses were sympathetic and convincing as he considered what to do. This is an ongoing thread in this series and I am quite interested in finding out how it will be resolved. I think there are two likely directions this storyline could take and, although neither would be original, it would be interesting to see how they played out. Despite me being a latecomer to this series, once again, I did not feel that this in any way inhibited my understanding or enjoyment of this story. Equally, I do not feel that a long term fan of the series would find the references to be repetitive as they develop naturally from the story. There are no flashback sequences or prolonged memories: she is simply Missing.

Other ongoing storylines include an officer who has a new baby and is suffering from lack of sleep and an officer who is in the process of separating from his wife. Fans of the series will likely enjoy catching up with these regular characters.

Conclusions

An enjoyable and easy to read police procedural that never challenges the gray matter but does create a great deal of suspense in the James Patterson vein. The book has quite a modern feel but is likely to end up seeming slightly dated due to references to popular culture such as the teen lesbian drama series ‘Sugar Rush’. The story mixes cliché with genuinely sad situations and generally empathetic characters, so the officer with the new baby doesn’t sleep (whoever heard of a quiet and peaceful baby, after all?) but the local, young druggie cuts a genuinely affecting figure as he is abused by the local constabulary to advance their own agenda (capturing an unpleasant local villain). I was a little disappointed by Cleo’s presentation in this story: she is meant to be a modern, independent woman but she comes across as a lush, constantly drinking or drunk due to her being disappointed or hurt by Grace and their relationship. James has some work to do on creating genuinely strong female characters, and a little less of the eyes-revealing-the-truth obsession wouldn’t hurt, but this is a pleasant enough read and it does what it promises. ( )
1 vote brokenangelkisses | Nov 13, 2010 |
Nice twist ( )
  ElizabethAnnS | Oct 10, 2010 |
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One night Brian Bishop murdered his wife, he was 60 miles away, asleep in bed at the time. That's the way it looks to Detective Superintendent Roy Grace who is called in to investigate the murder. Grace comes to the conclusion that Bishop has performed the apparently impossible feat of being in two places at once.… (more)

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