Love You Dead, by Peter James
Things have moved on for Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, since his situation in the previous story I reviewed, here: he has married the woman, Cleo, he met during the course of his work, and they now have a baby son, Noah. His previous wife Sandy has, in the meantime, been declared dead, after disappearing without a word when they seemed, to all outward appearances, to be mutually happy. Unfortunately, Grace now learns that Sandy is still alive, and he is only too aware of the consequences to his current relationship, if she were to say that she wanted to return to him. He is still working with Glenn Branson, who is now an Inspector; for him, however, the intervening years have not brought a happy turn of events in his home life: he was divorced from his wife, who died, subsequently.
Grace’s current concern, professionally, is the hunt for a serial killer, Dr Edward Crisp, who has murdered five, or possibly more—still to be established—young women. He made a miraculous escape when he was cornered in an underground lair, and in the process shooting Grace in the leg with a shotgun, an injury from which he has only recently returned to work after a lengthy & painful recuperation. While Grace is considering his options on this case, another serial killer, a woman whose current name is Jodie Bentley, begins to operate from a base on Grace’s ‘turf’: she targets rich, older men and disposes of them as quickly, neatly and, ideally, as untraceably as possible; naturally, she soon acquires the sobriquet “the Black Widow”.
There is also a third strand to this story: an American contract killer, known as “Tooth”, although he also, like the Black Widow, uses a variety of aliases. Tooth is already known to Grace’s team, because he made a seemingly impossible escape when he had been identified by them, and dived into Brighton harbour, after a desperate struggle with Glenn. Tooth later accepts a contract to return to Brighton to hunt for Bentley, after she steals a large sum of money and, more significantly, a memory stick, from a mobster based in Las Vegas, but in the pay of the Russian mafia, who tries to rape her in his hotel room. All this would be grist to Grace’s mill, were it not for the fact that his superior officer treats him with undisguised disdain, and makes it abundantly clear that Grace’s career is hanging by a thread—for reasons which are not immediately apparent, so it is possible that this could be the result of circumstances occurring in a previous story.
The ending contains a neat little twist which, with hindsight, could have been predicted, but it does work well, and it provides relief from a little scare, where one character is concerned; all the loose ends are nicely tied up though. Having now read two episodes of the Roy Grace genre, written by this author, I can add him to my notional list of names to watch out for whenever I visit the library, because the stories are well constructed, with believable characters and accurate police procedures, and engaging to read, because the action moves at a decent pace without becoming overwhelming. This latest book is available in paperback from Pan Books, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, London, and was published in 2016, ISBN 978-1-4472-5589-5.