Picture You Dead by Peter James

Detective Roy Grace looks into a cold case of an art dealer with financial worries who was bludgeoned outside his home, while at the same time, a local couple find a painting at a flea market that Antiques Roadshow tells them may be worth millions, setting off a train of events in their lives.

This is the latest in the Roy Grace series, the previous one was Left You Dead, which I reviewed and quite liked. It’s a hugely popular series, all of which have titles that sound like 2010’s vampire novels, and it has also been adapted into a TV series called Grace starring John Simm. This series is set in Brighton UK, and follows the British police procedural style, with quite a lot of plotting around the private lives of the law enforcement characters. For example, Roy Grace was married to a woman called Sandy, who went missing mysteriously and he also recently lost his son Bruno (but we don’t talk about Bruno), and this impacts his life and work. These books are quite chunky and have lots of short chapters, and sometimes the dialogue can be a bit cheesey or have some Dad jokes peppered in. It’s just the authors style.

Peter James comes up with some interesting plots for these stories. Last time, a woman went into a store and never came out, and nothing was as it seemed. This time, the story explores how a surprise windfall, like finding a painting potentially worth millions, can be bring a lot of negative outcomes. In this story, while this is a murder mystery, in a lot of ways it’s more like a thriller, because it’s about the twists and turns more than it is about finding the killer. Generally I prefer a more traditional whodunnit plot, but I enjoy these books. I like the British police/Brighton vibes, and I think the interesting plots set them apart from other entries in the genre. I also like that if you read them in order, you can see character development, but you can also pick one up in whatever order and not have to have read previous books to enjoy one.

I took this one down to the beach with me and read it while soaking up some late Autumn sun, and while I do think this one felt more like a domestic thriller plot than a traditional mystery this time, I was pretty happy sitting on the sand reading it with my back leaned against some driftwood and sipping an iced coffee.

Read It If: another solid entry in the series, so fans of Roy Grace will be happy, and those of you looking for a British crime read should check this one out.

Thank you to the publisher for the copy of this book for review.

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