Monday, April 2, 2012

Guest Review: Dead Man's Grip

REVIEW: Peter James – Dead Man’s Grip
Reviewed by: Ananthakrishnan

Dead Man's Grip is my first foray into the world of Peter James and I believe it is a world that I want to look into further. A quick search on the internet reveals the fact that Peter James' novels are meticulously well-built stories that shower a lot of attention to detail - in the world of crime fiction these would be named as well written police procedurals. The plot and the settings in itself are fairly riveting and the results are a fairly well-paced and well-etched out novel.

The action begins with a four-way accident which leaves an unfortunate cyclist dead. Carly Chase who was driving a car (who ends up not playing any actual role in the accident thanks to her quick reflexes) is fairly shook up but then life goes further downhill when worse news comes calling - the other two participants in the mishap have been brutally murdered after being tortured and all signs point to her as the next one in line. Not to mention the fact that the dead cyclist is the grandson of a jailed American Mafia don. So with this being the mise-en-scene it is a race against time for our protagonist, Detective Roy Grace, to save Carly from the hands of a sadistic killer.

As is evident the plot has all the ingredients for a pot-boiler but I really do have to admit that the book does not do justice in terms of the 'race-quotient'. Though the book is by no means grating I believe that such a good story warranted a lot of fast paced action with a lot of twists and turns thrown in for good measure. Well, that’s the other thing - this is not a suspense / mystery thriller - the killer is known to the reader from the word go, so all that the pages do reveal are a blow-by-blow account of how the perpetrator is apprehended eventually. Having said that there are some things that did grab me - the fleshing out of characters is quite even and is well peppered throughout the book so as to not distract the flow but woven in deftly to keep the continuum (Tooth may be a clichéd killer but I still enjoyed all his parts). This being my first novel I did enjoy getting to familiarize myself with all the recurring characters - I hope they continue to be as interesting in the books to follow and are not mere fillers. Also the book was a vindication to the 'devil-lies-in-the-detail' (dug the fact that Angry Birds is featured in the novel along with Friend Mapper - an iPhone game and an application - now that’s contemporary stuff) style of Peter James for this is a well written account of the journey that Roy Grace is set to embark on - the ending, as most of series book do, leaves a nice loose end that leaves the reader wanting to know when the next book will be out - a nice touch.

In summary, I am intrigued enough to explore Peter James' world a little more. A good dose of police procedurals is something I always savor and I might find some of my complaints being negated in the other books. It is clear that this is a good book in what seems to be a pretty strong series - I believe that readers already familiar with his work will be quick to accept this while the new readers, like me, would be lured to take the plunge to understand Roy Grace and Peter James' creation just that little bit more.

(Ananth is a software engineer from Chennai who loves reading but loves even more the dissecting that follows the read)

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