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 . . .
Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is feeling the pressure from his superiors, his previous case is still giving him sleepless nights, there have been major developments with his missing wife Sandy, and an old adversary is back. But worse than all of this, he now believes a Black Widow is operating in his city. One with a venomous mind . . . and venomous skills. Soon Grace comes to the frightening realisation that he may have underestimated just how dangerous this lady is.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Peter James and the “Roy Grace” series, and yes I’ve read everyone of the twelve books in the series! Now I wouldn’t blame you for thinking as I did that come this point in a series something usually gives, detail to characters, poor plot construction it can sometimes feel the author has written another book in a series because “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, fortunately this isn’t the case with Love You Dead it has all the hallmarks of a crime thriller that you would expect from such a well known author. In fact it’s another gripping read in one of my very favourite series.
I did have some reservations when I started reading this novel as the star of the series DS Roy Grace doesn’t feature much in the earlier part of Love You To Death, but I was willing to put my faith in Peter James and as usual he delivered on both plot and characters. The first half of the novel is concentrated on Jodie Bentley a femme fatale who wants it all, looks, money and a lifestyle that most people can only dream about, she’s known as “the black widow” as her unfortunate husbands would bear testament to, if they were still alive! What a piece of work Jodie is, manipulative to the core, with a heart made of ice she wasn’t a character I was drawn to, in fact she was very unlikable but that’s not a criticism. I always think an author is doing his job well if I have strong feelings either way about a character. As for DS Roy Grace his character has been perfected throughout the series, so you feel like you are meeting up with an old friend. Life doesn’t get any easier for Roy in Love You To Death, but it certainly gets more interesting.
Love You Dead has many plots running through it, a black widow looking for her next victim, old adversaries of Roy Grace who are back on the scene and to cap it all and one that readers of the series will have been waiting for the saga of Roy’s ex wife Sandy is finally bought to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion, WOW I never saw that coming! In part this novel reads like a black comedy, which made for a fun read rather than a thrilling one, as I prefer a crime read to be darker and more of an intense read. One thing I always find particularly outstanding is Peter James research, its second to none whether it be police procedures, venomous reptiles or his settings, which add a unique feel to his tale, he’s perfected the inner workings of police procedures which make for an authentic read.
As I would expect the complex plot is neatly tied up by the end of Love You Dead, and although I wouldn’t describe this novel as gripping I did find it a very enjoyable read. Personally I don’t think this is the best book in the series as I did find the plot predictable in parts, but it is a worthy contender for the series. Do I think this series has run its course? Hell no I still think it has plenty Life in it, will I be reading the next book in the series? Of course but I’m hoping the next one is darker like the earlier books in this series.
4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️out of 5
Hardcover: 448 pages