Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Review: Peter James – Dead Simple (2005)

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As it often happens with my readings, especially when the book was received as a gift, I had no idea who Peter James was when I started reading Dead Simple. All I knew was from glancing over the back cover that it had to be some kind of a detective novel. The story unfolds rather well and we’re getting fast into the action. There’s a person missing, a young man about to get married, and the twist is that his best friends who were organizing a stag party for him have been involved in a car accident which left them, due to death or severe injuries, unable to tell where is or what happened to the groom-to-be. But this is just the beginning of the story.

The hero is detective Roy Grace from Bristol police, a lonely, socially challenged, middle age man, who is in charge with the case. In parallel with his efforts to find the missing person, we are showed what really happened to the young man, subjected to a bad prank gone wrong, buried in a coffin God knows where and left only with a walkie-talkie and bottle of whisky to keep him company. The fact that the other walkie-talkie ends up in the possession of a retarded young man doesn’t work in his favor. The clock is ticking and there isn’t much time left.

This could be the basis of a good story, but wait, there’s also a less so good part in it. While there are many more or less plausible twists and turns, the story feels like dragging because of the big amount of descriptions and focus on Roy’s life, or more exactly lack of it. The really bad part is Roy’s habit of using a medium’s help, something very unlikely to happen in real life, and the way things are precipitating towards the end, like an avalanche, pulling the villain out of the hat at the very end. After the chaotic turns of the situation up until that point, this feels like bad plotting or not enough plotting to say at least.

There’s also the unfinished plot of the detective’s wife, who’s been missing for the past nine years creating a sort of Great Expectation déjà-vu, and nothing really happens with the hot medical examiner from the morgue he has a thing for but he’s too shy to act upon.

One in all it’s not a bad book but it’s not a stellar one either. If you have a problem with claustrophobia, then this might add to it and give you an uncomfortable feeling not solely related to the confinement inside the coffin. The world today is not an easy place to live in.

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Written for Nemira “La limita suspansului“ campaign:
“Aceasta recenzie face parte din campania La limita suspansului”

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