Left You Dead by Peter James

After a Sunday drive, Eden stops off to pick up kitty litter while her husband waits in the car. But she never comes back. While he thinks she has gotten mad at him and gone to a friends place, when it reports it the police think he’s killed her. But can they prosecute him without a body? Nothing is as it seems in this latest installment in the Roy Grace mystery series.

This is a series that’s well established, with this being the 17th book. Recently, as in in the last year, a first season of a TV series based on it has been released, and it’s pretty good too. So perhaps the series needs no introduction, being a Peter James bestseller. A nice touch in this one is that it’s dedicated to a pet. Very nice.

I really enjoy these kinds of British crime procedurals. What this series has done has shifted away from the mystery genre a little to be more like a page turning thriller. It’s like police procedurals meets domestic thriller territory, with a hint of Lee Child in the writing style. These are not cozy mysteries.

Perhaps because it’s one in a series, the characters are developed already and we get a couple of things that will be more meaningful to the invested reader. There’s a case made against an officer that Grace, our lead, really hates. If you new to the series, he might come across as petty since we know nothing about this character who appears to be his nemesis. Also about half the book is dedicated to Grace’s personal life. (His backstory is that his wife went missing, but the reason she went missing is pretty wild) You don’t have to have read other books in the series for this sideplot to make sense, but I think it will mean more to you if you have. It really slows down the mystery half of the plot a lot.

The mystery is intriguing. It seems like the cases in this series are all a bit of a hook to get you in. For example, in Dead Simple, a man is buried alive as a prank but then the pranksters who did it are all in a major accident. Buried alive. That’s a lot. Here we have the team looking at the husband as a suspect in a murder without a body. I think cases where someone gets convicted where there is no body are super interesting, so this hooked me. There’s not a lot of clues in the case around the middle, so the book feels a little flabby, but it was still a page turner for me.

On the whole, I’d say with it’s thickness and lack of a unique voice, this is a bit of an airplane book. Even though it’s British in location, it reads like it could be anywhere really. It feels a lot like a TV show, just in book form. And the dialogue is pretty dire. The jokes are flat and people casually reference Aristotle. So it’s very much in that good-fun, page turning holiday read kind of territory. But I think it’s nice to have those reads that are not super heavy and are entertaining. I liked it fine.

Read It If: you’re looking for an escapist read and a page turner. It’s thick and has a nice hook in it’s intriguing mystery premise. It’s a bit best-seller-ish round the edges, but good fun.

Thank you PGC Books for the copy of this book for review. Left You Dead is out now.

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