Dead Tomorrow, another in the Roy Grace series, was intended to be another one of my good reads in Dec., but it turned out to be an almost harrowing read. Good, but harrowing.
Grace is called upon to investigate the death of a young man sucked up by a dredger off the coast of Brighton who appears to have had all his internal organs before being sewn back up and dumped in the ocean. At first, Grace has little to go on and the investigation doesn’t look like it will really take off, but James cleverly sucks the reader in by paralleling Grace’s search with the stories of several other people, one a man with a motorcycle, one a girl with chronic liver disease, and another of children living on the street in Bucharest. As Grace begins to make the connection between each of their lives, he discovers that evil is alive and well in the hearts of men.
Even though it’s fairly clear from an early stage where James is taking the story, the book sucks you in as you see each person’s standpoint and feel with them as they search for the right path to take. There were times while reading the book that I wanted to yell at the characters to just stop and think about what they were doing. It seemed amazing to me that they couldn’t see the danger they were in, but that too is a part of what makes the book such a good read. The people who find themselves in these situations are either desperate or have no access to vital information, or both and it’s easy to forget that when you live in a warm, comfortable world where more or less everything is all right.
The most shocking thing about the story is that it’s not beyond the realm of belief. I can thoroughly imagine the scenario taking place in the real world since man is so adroit at the justification of evil deeds in the search to fulfil his own wants. Also, if we place ourselves in these people’s positions and ask to what lengths we would go to given the ability or desire that drives James’ characters, can we honestly say we would behave differently than they, or do we really understand them, even if we know their actions to be wrong? How evil does this understanding make us? Does evil begin with the action or in the understanding of the action? Is the understanding and compassion we feel for and with the characters cancelled out by not taking the path of wrong or is it still there just waiting to surface in a situation where we no longer have the power or will to counter it?
These questions make no sense really unless you’ve read the book, but they are things I’ve thought about since reading it, which means this book fulfils one of my criteria for being called and excellent book. You can’t just put it down and forget about it. You find yourself thinking about the dilemmas days later even though you know how the story ends. Therefore, this one gets 5 out of 5 from me.