Skip to main content

You Are Dead


You Are Dead

I treasure the Roy Grace series. Grace is the brainchild of Peter James, a British wordsmith who is unsurpassed in what he does and how he does it. He is a quietly obsessed Detective Superintendent with the Brighton, England police force. As fleshed out by James over the course of what is now 11 books, Grace is the type of investigator you would want on the case, should your loved one be a victim: methodical, driven and concise. He is no fool but nevertheless rushes in, although carefully (as seen at one point in this latest installment of the series).

James does quite a bit in the space that is allotted to him within the bindings of a book, and somehow manages to do so without making the reader feel cramped or confused. That proposition is particularly well-demonstrated in YOU ARE DEAD, which gives the reader much more than an entertaining and complex mystery. The mystery, though, is more than enough to carry the novel, which begins with the brazen abduction of a young woman named Logan Somerville from her parking garage. The unexpected discovery of a long-moldering corpse at a construction site, almost simultaneously with Logan’s kidnapping, creates a pair of investigations for Grace that haunt his every minute.

"Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop until you finish and will be impatient as you wait for its successor. It’s one of those rare agonies that you’ll thoroughly enjoy."

With regard to Logan, there has been no ransom note or further communication from the kidnapper. Everyone, particularly Grace and his Major Crime Team, fear the worst, given that few abductees who are not held for ransom survive for more than a day or two. Additionally, a woman who has had a propensity for going missing before vanished again a couple of weeks prior to Logan’s abduction. The similarity in appearance that the two missing females share makes Grace wonder if perhaps a serial abductor is operating. As for the unnamed corpse, Grace, as with the best of law enforcement, feels that it is his duty to stand for the dead and bring those who brought about their demise to justice.

Meanwhile, a well-known psychiatrist, who is a relative of Logan’s, consults with a new and very eccentric patient who claims to have knowledge concerning Logan’s abduction. His information, though wrong (at least initially), ties in with that of the recently discovered corpse. It takes a bit of time before this is brought to Grace’s attention. In the meantime, yet another woman is abducted, even as a terrified Logan lies helpless in a makeshift casket awaiting her fate.

Grace refuses to let life get in the way of his investigation, diverting the task of moving with his wife and son from their old home to a new residence in the country and navigating office politics, which has placed an old professional nemesis as his immediate superior. He also comes to learn that a woman lying comatose in a hospital bed in Germany may well be (and, in fact, is) Sandy, his long-vanished wife who had been declared dead. None of this deters Grace from his goals of saving Logan and bringing her abductor to justice, even as the clock ticks ever onward.

James resolves all of the main issues presented in YOU ARE DEAD --- well, almost all of them --- but leaves enough plot threads dangling to make the wait until the next Grace book (and beyond) all but excruciating. Be warned: Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop until you finish and will be impatient as you wait for its successor. It’s one of those rare agonies that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 9, 2015

You Are Dead
by Peter James

  • Publication Date: October 6, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250065712
  • ISBN-13: 9781250065711