Want You Dead (Roy Grace 10) by Peter James

want you deadOne for fans of the series…

🙂 🙂 🙂

When her new boyfriend is found burned to death on a golf course, Red Westwood can’t believe he killed himself. And when a restaurant in the town is torched, Red begins to wonder if her psychopathic ex-boyfriend might be behind it, since it’s the restaurant they used to go to together. Bryce isn’t the kind of guy who takes being dumped terribly well, it appears, and now he’s out to destroy everything and everyone that Red loves…and then perhaps destroy Red herself.

I’ve only read one Peter James book before, the first one, many years ago, so I really felt as if I was coming to this series for the first time. I’m well aware that James has a massive and loyal following, and in general this book seems to be being well received by them. But, although there are some good things in it, I’m afraid overall I found it rather disappointing.

At a whopping 500 pages, the book is far too long for its fairly uncomplex plot. The amount of repetition becomes tedious within the first fifty or so pages and worsens as the thing drags on. The book is told in the third person, with the viewpoint shifting mainly between Red and Inspector Roy Grace, but with frequent short chapters giving Bryce’s perspective. While the whole thing is repetitive, it’s Bryce’s sections that are the worst. Pretty much every one says the same thing – Bryce isn’t happy with Red; he’s going to kill everyone, then her; he’s obsessed by the sext messages she used to send him, which get repeated with tedious frequency. I got the message the first time – Bryce is mad, bad and dangerous to know.

So the only tension is will he or won’t he manage to carry out his nefarious plans before the incompetent police manage to track him down? Sadly, it’s the kind of book where you can guess the answer to that question pretty early on. James tries to put another level of tension in by having Bryce decide he’ll also murder Roy (Why? No idea! ‘Cos he’s mad, I guess.) but that kind of tension never really works in an ongoing series, for obvious reasons.

Peter James
Peter James

Red is one of these stereotypical female victim-types – you know, where everyone says don’t go into the house, but they go in anyway? I think she’s supposed to be feisty, but actually she just appears to be pretty thick. Personally by halfway through I had ceased to care whether she lived or died. Bryce is clearly superhuman – he can do everything! He can set fires, make bombs, change his identity at will, pick unpickable locks, shoot crossbows with deadly accuracy, clean a house so thoroughly no DNA traces can be found! The police on the other hand just seem to waffle around doing nothing very much and hoping that somehow they’ll find him. The bit about the gait expert who can recognise any villain by the way he walks based purely on his footprints puts Sherlock Holmes to shame (and made me laugh out loud, I fear).

To balance this a bit, the action scenes are written well, particularly the fire scenes. And the sections that relate to Roy’s personal and professional lives are very well done – I assume this ongoing story is the main reason his fans stick with him. It’s quite easy to pick up the thread of this aspect of the book even if, like me, you’re coming to it without having read the earlier ones. Roy is just about to marry Cleo, the mother of his child, and, while Cleo is given no personality, in this one at least, Roy’s feelings about her and his child are well written and believable.

In conclusion, I’d think that there’s enough about Roy’s life in here to keep the interest of people who are fans of the series, but it certainly isn’t one that’s left me with any real desire to read more. So maybe not the best one to start with for a newcomer.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Pan MacMillan.

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56 thoughts on “Want You Dead (Roy Grace 10) by Peter James

  1. FictionFan – I do love your candor! I’ll admit I’ve not read this one, ‘though I’ve read other Roy Grace novels. Pity this one isn’t up to the standard of some of the earlier ones. It’s making me think that here again is an example of the ever-increasing length of novels. Very few authors can sustain a story brilliantly over 500 pages. And yet, so many novels are that long these days. I often wonder what the goal is. Obviously for publishers, the goal is sales. Authors of course want sales, plus loyal followers, etc.. But what surprises me is the number of people who buy doorstop novels. If they weren’t good sellers, publishers wouldn’t touch them. Hmmm….. Sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent, but there it is.

    • Yes, if this book had been 300 pages, it would have been a much better one. I don’t mind long if the story is complicated enough to need it, but so often it’s just padding. I don’t understand why people buy them either, though I suspect it might be something to do with following a series. I used to be delighted when the new Reginald Hill looked massive, so I could spend more time in Dalziel’s company, and I was thrilled at the size of the latest Shardlake novel, but when it’s a series I’m not following, my heart sinks. I know this book has been getting very positive reviews from Peter James’ existing fans, and I feel it must be because they like Roy Grace’s character so much that they’re willing to overlook any weaknesses – which I do with my own favourites…

  2. I do love your reviews, FF, they are more entertaining than the books themselves! I feel certain I have read this, but then again it might have been another one of his – the characters sound so very familiar (and a bit crap, if I’m honest). The super-human villian vs. useless police ruse is incredibly irritating and lazy, unless it has a tounge-in-cheek element to it. Whether it was this book or another one of Mr James’, I seem to remember it taking itself quite seriously which resulted in the blasted thing being thrown at a wall. I am all for suspending disbelief, but the writer has to give you a good reason to do that – I guess his Roy Grace character is a good enough reason for his fans and that’s fair enough, I suppose.

    • Haha! Thanks! I think this one has been around for a while, so it could have been this one. It was odd – the characterisation of the police people wasn’t bad, but the villain and victim were so stereotyped. And I do get very fed up of police investigations where they don’t seem to actually DO anything. You know it’s just going to go on and on until suddenly a big climax appears from nowhere – and this climax was pretty silly, but I couldn’t find a way to say why I thought so without spoilers sadly.

      But overall, it wasn’t bad – just not good enough to make me want to read any more…

  3. 500 pages for a series novel? My heart sinks. I’ve read a few of the earlier novels but did stop reading them as I found other works holding my interest more. 500 pages worth would really put me off.

  4. Nice ripping! You know, Red is an interest for a name. I suppose it could be a boy’s name, too. But I’m not sure at all.

    So, is the ex-boyfriend great at hiding? I mean, it wouldn’t be too hard to go and take him out, I’m thinking.

    Imagine burning someone to death on a golf course! Did that happen at night?

    • Thank you! It was because of her hair-colour – I wonder if she’ll be called Grey later in life…

      He’s great at everything! And gorgeous apparently. In fact, when I learned how good he was at cleaning, too, I couldn’t really understand why she dumped him…

      It did – that bit was good actually. Really lovely descriptions of the smell of cooking human… *gags and doesn’t make bacon sandwich*

        • Why? Can’t she spell? But I thought you said grey hair was a crown of wisdom or some such nonsense that only someone who hadn’t reached that stage would ever possibly believe – ever.

          Well, OK, he was an arsonist and a murderer, but all men have their little flaws. At least he could clean though…

          Shall I put it on a bagel for you, sir? Or would you prefer it to be edible?

          • *laughing* “Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained by a righteous life.” You’ll be coming upon that soon, I’d say. Now you’re denying that I have gray hair.

            Well, I suppose you could have tried to stop him from being an…arsonist and murderer. You might have succeeded, too.

            What sort of bread do you usually use?

            • *laughs lots* Oh, that explains it – they didn’t have hair-dye back in those days! Does that mean that if I’m not righteous, I won’t go grey?!? Cool! (Just read the whole Leah/Rachel injustice – grrr!! Men!) True, I’d forgotten you were so old for a moment – you should know better then!

              I’m sure I could have found ways to keep him busy…

              It varies – I’m very partial to bread. Probably wholemeal or seeded most often…

            • *Laughing lots and lots* Yes, so you probably won’t go gray, then. That should make you happy. (Cool! What’d you make of that? I always feel so bad for Leah. The whole thing just wasn’t fair.)

              He could watch over your chocolate supply for instance.

              I love seeded breads!

            • I think we can be certain I never will – one way or another! *chuckles* (I knew the story before, of course – religious education classes aged 14 again – special fun, especially since one of my pals was called Rachel. But really! She should have hit him over the head with something heavy – and her father! And I loved the bit where she ‘hired’ him from Rachel…he’s so lucky he was dealing with that Leah… *growls ferociously* And as for the bit about both sisters handing over their slaves – one wonders if anyone asked them their opinion of being used as breeding surrogates. Ooh, it made me feel all feminist for a bit, you know, you know. But I felt kinda sorry for him too – after 14 years of hard labour, I bet he just wanted a decent night’s sleep… *chuckles wickedly* Did you know that another poor Leah was Shylock’s wife in The Merchant of Venice? They really don’t seem to have much luck with men…)

              That’s a great idea! ‘Cos you never know who you can trust…

              Yay! Just let’s not let Ruber make the sandwiches…

            • *laughs* (A pal Rachel? That’s cool. I know! I suppose it was just the time. Even thought it was against God’s plan. You must admit, though, Jacob was a mean beast in his own right. I thought it probably would make you feel feminist a bit! But when you get to Deborah, you’ll be proud! I didn’t know that about Shylock. Wasn’t Shylock really wicked? It never says, but I bet Jacob came to love Leah very muchly much eventually.)

            • Yes, though much of what is described still goes on in many societies today sadly. I shall look forward to Deborah – hopefully she does something other than just successfully produce a hundred sons (and no daughters, ‘cos they’re unimportant). Shylock was wicked, though I always found I had a sneaking sympathy for him. His big speech is one of my favourite bits of Shakespeare.

            • Indeed! Well, that sounds more like the thing! I shall look forward to it…

              The next time you make me watch a PE-type movie, I shall quote the whole thing to you…

  5. Well I’m in the minority today but I really do enjoy this series maybe in part because I like following Roy Grace’s story which I find intriguing but despite all that I did enjoy your review 😉

    • Haha! I was almost hoping you wouldn’t see this one – sorry! But I do think it might be the difference between following a series and coming new to it. I’m always surprised when I rave about Rankin’s latest to see other reviewers being pretty lukewarm or even negative.

  6. Kept snorting with laughter reading this review (and your comment above about not being able to understand why she dumped him!) Totally agree with Margot’s comment too. At least CJ Sansom can sustain a complex plot, hence the length of the Shardlake books. And if he wants to destroy everything she loves, tbh a restaurant is a bit of a crappy idea, and a bit of a vague message to send…doesn’t she have a pet?? Oh but then there would be no way of sustaining the “mystery” over 500 pages! I’m thinking perhaps Grace should give this guy a job, as he’s clearly brighter and more capable than him and his men. And the walk thing – you can distinguish someone from CCTV footage (it happened in Scotland, with the dreadful Sharkey murders in Helensburgh) AND match shoes with footprints, OBVIOUSLY, but I don’t think you can mix and match the two to suit your plot! You’ll know all this anyway I’m sure. I think when people invest so much in a series, having followed it for years, they’re less likely to criticise it (loyalty to the series/writer?) whereas you’re coming to it with a fresh eye…Great review, as ever FF, though I’m going to have to stop reading your reviews in public…;-))

    • Haha! Thanks! Yes, it’s not length I object to really – it’s padding, and this one was pretty well-padded. The plot just wasn’t strong enough all round, I think – there wasn’t even a proper mystery, just the police couldn’t catch him. But then he wore his underpants outside his tights, so hardly surprising, I suppose!

      But yes, I think it’s the series thing that makes the difference – in series I love, I quite often find my review is much more positive than people coming to it new.

  7. Thanks for the review. Coincidentally, I just finished reading my first book by Peter James. It was the first in this series, Dead Simple. There was a lot I didn’t like about it and skimmed over most of the drunken rantings and ravings. But the suspense was high for me and every time I thought I had it figured out, it took off in a different direction. Overall though, I don’t think the series will appeal to me enough to pursue every book.

    • I think that’s the one I read years ago – long before I started reviewing so my memory of it is really vague. It’s the one where the guy is buried alive, isn’t it? If so, I think I enjoyed it a good deal more, though not enough to make me pick up the next one. But I think it was better plotted…

        • Is this the guy on a stag do? Because I think I read the first in this series, and that’s pretty much all I can recall. There’s so many male police procedural on the go, I struggle to keep up with them.

          • That’s the one. Everyone seems to remember this part! I need to forget the drunken carryings on in the beginning of the book, lol. It’s the only one I’ve read in that series.

            • Certainly fans of the series enjoyed this one much more than I did. It’s one of the drawbacks of jumping in mid-way – you don’t feel the same sense of involvement with the characters.

  8. Well you know this isn’t remotely on my radar. But one thing you said both worried and reassured me – does this mean that anyone who deep deep deep cleans is likely to be a psychopath with something to hide. The reassuring side is that clearly my sloppy housekeeping shows me to be 100% squeaky clean free from the tendency, but does it mean that in fear of MRSA hospitals should carry out a test to ensure low level psychopathic tendencies before employing cleaners?

    • See, I reckon I could put up with psychopathic tendencies so long as he liked to clean – why do I never meet men like that? As an ex-NHS employee, I suspect they may already be using that selection technique…but mainly for the doctors…

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