Some nice nature reads, some biography, more nature, some Trollope, all very gentle and then, don't ask me how, I came across Peter James and his series of ten detective novels, the first, Dead Simple just 59p on Kindle. Well I'd really enjoyed that crime trilogy Peter James had written about the Hebrides, The Black House etc so perhaps I'd enjoy this series just as much.
In fact where on earth have I been. I was quite surprised I hadn't heard about this one, especially given they have sold 14 million copies, because I'm always hankering after a detective series to follow and I can never seem to find one that works and that I haven't read.
I was about half way through Dead Simple before I realised that I had my Peters completely confused. Peter May wrote the Lewis Trilogy... this was Peter James and a different Lewes, this time the Sussex one.
I am now trying to think back to other reads that have gripped me quite as much as this one...
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson in recent years... a wasted trip to London reading that and where I saw nothing around me because I was too immersed.
Take No Farewell by Robert Goddard aeons ago, and I remember reading that one while I put the hoover round, it was so good.
So my first meeting with Sussex-based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace in charge of a series of cold cases that new forensics may make solvable. I was immediately reminded of Waking the Dead, the TV series with Trevor Eve as the frequently grumpy detective, and the inimitable Sue Johnston as the psychological profiler but there the resemblance ended.
Thirty-nine years old and single since his wife Sandy had vanished into thin air on his thirtieth birthday, just her handbag missing and two withdrawals from her bank account for some incidental shopping, and then not a trace beyond the car parked at Gatwick Airport. Roy Grace, with his cropped hair, his squashed nose and his Paul Newman eyes, a pet goldfish called Marlon and many half-hearted attempts at healthy living with the occasional lapse, well I really warmed to him. He seems kind and considerate, understanding of others and of course the missing wife lays the foundations of some interesting future plot developments.
Dead Simple is one of those books where to reveal even the most basic details will spoil, so all I will say is that when a stag night prank goes horribly wrong, and I mean really badly wrong, there will be plenty to keep DS Roy Grace busy. The suspense is unremitting, some very unexpected twists (well surprises for me, though I accept I might have missed the signs I was so immersed) and my Kindle was fair burning up I was flicking the pages on so fast. It is clear Peter James knows his cars...dangerous because too much information and I am a lost cause, boring car chases and I am asleep, but to my ongoing astonishment perhaps one of the best car chases I have ever read. I can't believe I just wrote that...I hate car chases.
I learned a few things too.
How many of you have wondered about the recent Jimmy Savile investigation and why it might have been called Operation Yewtree??
I have spent ages trying to figure what the connection was.
Well, there isn't one. Operational names are allocated at random by a police computer which chooses a word. How have I gone all my life and not realised that.
And something else I had never thought of too...
When questioned about the use of a medium to help resolve a crime, and on the brink of ridicule by the counsel, DS Grace suggests that it could be argued he has just been sworn in to give evidence using a Bible and the name of God...and might that not also be super-natural to a non-believer. It was an interesting thought.
Suffice to say I had to put life on hold for the duration. It was dripping wet, grey day, Bookhound brought me breakfast in bed (no, sorry, I won't lend him out) and I just about made it downstairs for coffee time, only to sit at the kitchen table and carry on reading before moving to the sofa and reading some more. I shared instalment updates with Bookhound who doesn't read fiction but who was equally gripped, or pretended to be..
'Do you want to know about this book I'm reading...this really awful thing happens...'
'No, don't tell me if it's that awful, it will spoil my day...'
'Sorry, but you really have to know about this because it's so awful it's brilliant...'
And I proceeded to explain, and his eyes got wider and wider...
By mid-afternoon he was begging for an update.
I am pleased to say the plot held together for me for the entire book and as I flicked the final page to find the beginning of the next book I could only chuckle 'Nice try...' because I had already bought Looking Good Dead hours ago for £1.19 ...and the one after that Not Dead Enough for £1.59. Then of course things get sticky because the rest of the series are of course full price once addiction is assured. It is books like this that my Kindle is made for though because I won't read these again and I won't want a shelf full of them when space is already tight.
Now of course I am in dangerous waters.
In danger of leaping straight into the next one, and the next one, gorging myself into crime oblivion and ending up in that sated enough-is-enough mood, so I have managed to hold off Looking Good Dead for at least...oh let me see, must be six hours since I finished Dead Simple, that'll do.
Meanwhile...any more Peter James fans out there...
Any other good crime novels out there while we are back on the subject, if so please do shout...