🙂 🙂 🙂
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.
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.