Monday, November 14, 2016

Peter James' Tells Readers Upfront in Love You Dead...About his Black Widow...and Her Deadly Friends...

She has the touch of death...
An ugly duckling as a child, Jodie Bentley had two dreams in life--to be beautiful and rich. She's achieved the first, with a little help from a plastic surgeon, and now she's working hard on the second. Her philosophy on money is simple: you can either earn it or marry it. Marrying is easy, it's getting rid of the husband afterwards that's harder, that takes real skill. But hey, practice makes perfect... [from the cover]
My very sexy Rowley!
I agree, even though we've not
yet met I feel massively in touch
you, too, and just love how you
think. I really do! And I love
how you make me feel just by
reading your words! I plan to
be back...Each time I think of
you, I think of a beautiful
expression I once read, written
by an Indian poet. "The path
of love is narrow, and there is
not room for two people on it,
so you must become one."
That's how I feel about us."

Sure, readers get to know right away that we have a serial killer--a black widow--as our lead villain... Since this is a police procedural novel, however, poor Detective Superintendent Roy Grace hasn't a clue what she really is...until the death of several husbands had occurred.

But even knowing the villain, that does not in any way distract from the edgy, scary events that will occur... 
this lady has a rare arsenal of death to meet her needs...  sometimes used secretly, or maybe even accidentally... as thieves do what they do...

Love You Dead

By Peter James

All she wanted was a large castle in the hills, where it would be known she was rich, maybe even a recluse at that time... If she only could find the right man with sufficient funds to give her what she wanted.  Until then, she seduced, married, and then...eliminated them... Frankly I was surprised she wasn't caught earlier since the deaths of her fiances/husbands sometimes happened quickly! Like the elderly American financier, Walt, who had taken her on a trip during ski season... and went over the wrong side of the mountain...

She pointed to the right. "We go down here."
"Are you sure? Everyone else has gone that way." He pointed in the direction that the others who had been in the cable car with them had taken. "You want the hardcore black run down or a gentle blue? "Blue!" he said emphatically. "That crazy lot have all take the black." She glanced over her shoulder and could just make out the cable car leaving the station for its return journey. It would be around fifteen minutes before the next load of skiers arrived. Right now, they were alone. "Blue?" she said. "Are you sure? I'm sure you'd cope with the black." "Now in this visibility." "Then we go this way," she said. "I can't see any sign pointing this way, hon. There must be a signpost up here surely?" With one ski pole, she began to brush away the fresh powder snow from the ground beside her. After a moment, tracks were revealed beneath it, frozen into the cruddy, icy surface beneath. "See?" she said. He peered at them. They led straight ahead for a couple of yards before disappearing into the swirling white blizzard. Looking relieved, he smiled. "Clever girl! I'll follow you." "No, you go first in case you fall over--I can help you up. Just follow the tracks. Bend your knees and brace yourself because the first fifty yards or so are a bit steep, then it levels out. Just let yourself go!" She shot an anxious glance round her to make absolutely sure no one was watching. "Ok!" he said with a sudden burst of enthusiasm. "Here goes! Yeee-ha!" He launched himself forward on his poles, like a racer out of the gate, and whooped again. "Yee-ha!" Then his voice turned into a terrible scream. Just for one fleeting second before it was swallowed by the wind. Then silence. Jodie turned round, then pushing with her poles, headed off in the direction all the other skiers had taken, oblivious to the wind and the stinging snow on her cheeks.
I had read Peter James years ago before I started to review books, so I had never read any of his "dead" series starring Roy Grace. I chose Michael Caine, one of my favorite British actors to play Grace... What do you think?
"So where the hell are you, you bastard?"
Grace said aloud in frustration.
"Right here, O Master!"
He look up, startled, to see his mate DI Glenn Branson, a black, shaven-headed man-mountain, standing in front of him with a broad smile.
"You're not looking a happy bunny," Branson said.
"Yeah, you know why not? Because every time I start to feel happy bunny, I see Edward bloody Crisp's face grinning at me."
"Well, I've got some news for you."
"Tell me."
Branson reached over and placed an email printout on Grace's desk.
Grace read it, then looked up at his mate. "Shit."
There is obviously a back story of what has happened in the life of this main character, but right now he is settling in to a new home with Cleo, his new wife. He also was just released from ongoing physiotherapy from the 11 shotgun pellets removed from his right leg while he was chasing a serial killer. Actually he'd been lucky not to have lost his leg and was feeling great about getting back to the life that he considered...normal... Even if there were times when he considered whether to stay on his job... And even if the serial killer he'd been hunting was still out there... What  could be worse? How about his ex-wife, who has been long missing, being found???

In addition to the main plot, there is an interesting sub-plot that won't give too much away...You see, our Black Widow's first husband collected all types of insects or snakes that were deadly. When he happened to die...she inherited them and now kept them in a secret compartment of her primary residence... Where a certain thief, or two decided to access her apartment through a back window... Somewhere along the line in his own escapades, the first received a snake bite...then a certain boa constrictor met the next guy... Whew! Obviously readers need to be prepared for one death after the other, some of them quite gruesome!

While this book was twelfth in the series, it completely stands alone. I thought the marriage/death sequence was much too close to be believable; however, the villain used different names with each of her potential husbands...and she moved fast to move out of the area if something fell threw, which one did...the family of a certain skier who had been led to fly off a  mountain soon questioned his supposed accident!

I liked the relationship between Grace and his partner and was happy to be reading the book where Sandy, his former wife, comes back into his life...for a while...

Multiple cases keep this from slowing down for the reader, as we watch activities happening all over the world with one case or the other. Grace seems unruffled by the professional side while having to deal with personal issues that would obviously take this mind away... 

Oh, yeah...there are villains I haven't even mentioned! This book is sure to keep you interested! Do check out this police procedural novel; that is, if you aren't afraid of running into a black widow or two...☺


Peter James is an international best-selling British writer of crime fiction. He was born in Brighton, the son of Cornelia James, the former glovemaker to Queen Elizabeth II.

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