Okay, so I know I’m six years behind with the Roy Grace series but I enjoy James’ Brighton-set police procedurals so much that I ration them. I realised that I did not read one at all last year (I had read two the previous year) so had to put that right.
This is book number six in the series where it is imperative to keep a list because of the similarity of the titles and look of the books. I think things started off so strongly with “Dead Simple” and there was a slight fall in standard for the next couple but “Dead Man’s Footsteps” and especially “Dead Tomorrow” saw James upping his game once again to produce modern crime classics. This one makes it three very good books in a row, suggesting that this is one of the most consistent of crime series.
For those of you who have already read it and are trying to recall which one it is from the never-that-helpful titles it’s the one about the shoes. Now I know you remember.
We have two time frames- an abduction on Christmas Eve 1997 of Rachel Ryan, tipsily tottering home on high heels. Her disappearance has remained amongst Brighton’s unsolved cold cases until a woman is assaulted after a New Year’s Eve party at the Metropole Hotel twelve years later. It becomes clear that “The Shoe Man” has returned to terrorise Brighton. A shoe fetishist who preys on women wearing new designer shoes leads DS Grace to dredge up the old case in search of clues. I’m not sure whether I get so involved because I used to live in Grace’s stomping ground. My visual impression is always strong reading these but I think this also has a fair bit to do with James’ talent for setting the scene.
Short chapters, tense writing and quite a few set pieces which are absolutely gripping. It does at times make for very uncomfortable reading but the pace forces you on. I think this is where the series is getting stronger as a couple of the earlier novels had noticeable fluctuations in pace but this kept me involved the whole way through. I want to move straight on to “Dead Man’s Grip” but the pile of review books awaiting my attention means I will have to wait.
Dead Like You was published by Macmillan in 2010.