Monday, 12 July 2010

Dead Like You by Peter James

I’m beginning to feel a little bit top heavy on crime novels lately, but I do like them and it’s summer, which is my busy season at work, so I’ve been choosing my books for fun and relaxation.

I also have to admit that I often read other reviews before I write my own, mostly because I’ve already read several other books before I get around to writing a review and I need reminding of what the book was about. Usually a word or two suffices and the memory comes flooding back, but it’s often necessary all the same. What disturbs me about this is that some of the reviews can be the exact opposite of what I think of a book. It makes me doubt my own judgement, especially if I enjoyed reading it. What bothers me most though is that it seems to me that many of the critics are judging books against others which aren’t really relevant or even against an invisible wall of criteria which don’t really apply. When I review a book, regardless whether it’s Literature, crime, YA or a children’s book, I try and review and judge it within its own genre. I don’t expect anything profound from a crime novel, just as I expect children’s books to be fun and enjoyable. I can only rate a book in comparison to others like it, even if an author has hitherto written books of a different kind. You cannot really compare an apple to an orange even if they do come from the same garden. I guess what I’m trying to say is that most crime or mysteries are never going to be Nobel Prize material, but that doesn’t change my liking, or my regard for them. My reviews might just be a bit shorter because these types of books aren’t meant to be analysed to death. They were written for enjoyment and not to compete with great literature giants.

Having said my piece (which I have the sneaking suspicion isn’t the first time I’ve done that), on to the book.

This is one of the Superintendent Roy Grace series and follows the possible re-emergence of the Shoe Man, a rapist with a fetish for shoes, who eventually became a murderer. Grace is worried that he’ll continue to be able to pray on women and that his crimes may escalate if he cannot find and stop the man. The whole scenario was enough to make me glad that I haven’t a shoe fetish, or at least not a high-class, high-heel, designer shoe fetish. I could buy walking and hiking shoes/sandals from here to kingdom come, but you won’t get me into a pair of high heels (frankly that would just end in a visit to the hospital and possible several weeks of intense pain).

Back to the book at hand, the reader is also treated to a more in-depth look into Grace’s life with his wife Sandy opening up the book to a second dimension. Until now, Sandy has pretty much been put on a pedestal while Grace searches for her and the reason for her sudden disappearance. As Grace remembers the first investigation into the Shoe Man, James fleshes out Sandy and Grace’s relationship with her, offering the reader insight into possible motives for her vanishing act. It’s another reminder that things are often not as they seem, even with inside information.

I thought this was one of the better Grace novels. The mystery held my attention, James kept up the suspense well without becoming tedious and there’s enough character connection that you care what happens to them. 4 out of 5.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with pretty much everything you say at the beginning of this post--love the line about apples and oranges from the same garden!

I've found that I can be influenced very easily by other reviews, but I definitely need to check summaries if I wait too long before reviewing.