I’m just a tiny bit excited (understatement of the year…!) to be the first stop on the blog tour to celebrate the release of Need You Dead, the thirteenth in the award-winning Roy Grace series by Peter James, out in hardcover on 18th May (Macmillan, £20.00). I’m not a big crime reader, and very rarely get hooked by a series, but I’ve enjoyed the Roy Grace series so much from the very beginning, loving Roy himself and the team he’s part of, the vividly drawn and immaculately researched Brighton setting, and totally fascinated by the continuing thread around his absent wife, Sandy.
I’m not quite up to date yet, having just read You Are Dead (number eleven in the series), and I really don’t want to miss a single step in the developing story. But here’s a little more about Need You Dead:
Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.
When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalizingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined.
But to kick off the tour, I’m going to go back to where it all started, with an extract from the very first book, Dead Simple…
Roy Grace sat in the dark, in his ageing Alfa Romeo in the line of stationary trafﬁc, rain drumming the roof, his ﬁngers drumming the wheel, barely listening to the Dido CD that was playing. He felt tense. Impatient. Gloomy.
He felt like shit.
Tomorrow he was due to appear in court, and he knew he was in trouble.
He took a swig of bottled Evian water, replaced the cap and jammed the bottle back in the door pocket. ‘Come on, come on!’ he said, ﬁngers tapping again, harder now. He was already forty minutes late for his date. He hated being late, always felt it was a sign of rudeness, as if you were making the statement, my time’s more important than yours, so I can keep you waiting…
If he had left the ofﬁce just one minute sooner he wouldn’t have been late: someone else would have taken the call and the ram-raid on a jewellery shop in Brighton, by two punks who were high on God-knows-what, would have been a colleague’s problem, not his. That was one of the occupational hazards of police work – villains didn’t have the courtesy to keep to ofﬁce hours.
He should not be going out tonight, he knew. Should have stayed home, preparing himself for tomorrow. Tugging out the bottle, he drank some more water. His mouth was dry, parched. Leaden butterﬂies ﬂip-ﬂopped in his belly.
Friends had pushed him into a handful of blind dates over the past few years, and each time he’d been a bag of nerves before he’d shown up. The nerves were even worse tonight, and, not having had a chance to shower and change, he felt uncomfortable about his appearance. All his detailed planning about what he was going to wear had gone out of the window, thanks to the two punks.
One of them had ﬁred a sawn-off shotgun at an off-duty cop who had come too close to the jewellery shop –but luckily not quite close enough. Roy had seen, more times than he had needed, the effects of a 12-bore ﬁred from a few feet at a human being. It could shear off a limb or punch a hole the size of a football through their chest. This cop, a detective called Bill Green who Grace knew –they had played rugger on the same team a few times – had been peppered from about thirty yards. At this distance the pellets could just about have brought down a pheasant or a rabbit, but not a ﬁfteen-stone scrum prop in a leather jacket. Bill Green was relatively lucky – his jacket had shielded his body but he had several pellets embedded in his face, including one in his left eye.
By the time Grace had got to the scene, the punks were already in custody, after crashing and rolling their getaway Jeep. He was determined to stick them with an attempted murder charge on top of armed robbery. He hated the way more and more criminals were using guns in the UK – and forcing more and more police to have ﬁrearms to hand. In his father’s day armed cops would have been unheard of. Now in some cities forces kept guns in the boots of their cars as routine. Grace wasn’t naturally a vengeful person, but so far as he was concerned, anyone who ﬁred a gun at a police ofﬁcer – or at any innocent person – should be hanged.
The trafﬁc still wasn’t moving. He looked at the dash clock, at the rain falling, at the clock again, at the burning red tail lights of the car in front – the prat had his fogs on, almost dazzling him. Then he checked his watch, hoping the car clock might be wrong. But it wasn’t. Ten whole minutes had passed and they hadn’t moved an inch. Nor had any trafﬁc come past from the opposite direction.
Shards of blue light ﬂitted across his interior mirror and wing mirror. Then he heard a siren. A patrol car screamed past. Then an ambulance. Another patrol car, ﬂat out, followed by two ﬁre engines.
Shit. There had been road works when he’d come this way a couple of days ago, and he’d ﬁgured that was the reason for the delay. But now he realized it must be an accident, and ﬁre engines meant it was a bad one.
Another ﬁre engine went past. Then another ambulance, twos-and-blues full on. Followed by a rescue truck.
He looked at the clock again: 9.15 p.m. He should have picked her up three-quarters of an hour ago, in Tunbridge Wells, which was still a good twenty minutes away without this hold-up.
Terry Miller, a newly divorced Detective Inspector in Grace’s division, had been regaling him with boasts about his conquests from a couple of internet dating sites and urging Grace to sign up. Roy had resisted, then, when he started ﬁnding suggestive emails in his inbox from different women, found out to his fury that Terry Miller had signed him up to a site called U-Date without telling him.
He still had no idea what had prompted him to actually respond to one of the emails. Loneliness? Curiosity? Lust? He wasn’t sure. For the past eight years he had got through life just by going steadily from day to day. Some days he tried to forget, other days he felt guilty for not remembering.
Would you believe that this first book is currently just 49p for kindle?! If you haven’t discovered this wonderful series yet, do give it a try – and the first book is such a great place to start…
There are so many great bloggers taking forward this tour and the Roy Grace story – you will follow, won’t you? My thanks to Alice Geary at Midas PR for inviting me to be part of it.
About the author:
Peter James is one of the UK’s most treasured crime and thriller novelists. His Roy Grace detective novels have sold over 18 million copies worldwide in total. The series is now published in 37 territories. Peter’s Roy Grace novels have had 11 consecutive Sunday Times No 1s. In the Autumn of 2012, Not Dead Yet toppled the 50 Shades Of Grey trilogy off the No 1 paperback fiction slot, ending its 25 week domination of the chart and in May 2015, You Are Dead, derailed The Girl On The Train’s 3 month chart domination going straight in at No 1 in the Sunday Times bestseller charts.
Peter’s novella, The Perfect Murder (2010) went straight in at No 1 in the iBooks chart and spent 40 consecutive weeks in the iBooks Top 10. It was adapted into a play called The Perfect Murder which did its first, smash hit tour starring Les Dennis in 2014 and is touring again with Shane Ritchie and Jessie Wallace in Spring 2016. The original run was followed by the play of Dead Simple in 2015, starring Tina Hobley and Jamie Lomas which was an equally big success during its 6-month nationwide run. Not Dead Enough, the third of Peter’s books to be translated to stage, is currently touring the UK to critical acclaim, starring Shane Ritchie as Roy Grace and Laura Whitmore as Cleo Morey.
Peter, an established film producer, was educated at Charterhouse then at film school. He has produced numerous films, including The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino. He has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Brighton in recognition of his services to literature and the community, is Patron of Neighbourhood Watch nationwide, Patron of Crimestoppers in Sussex, Patron of Brighton & Hove Samaritans, and Patron of Relate, among many other charitable posts he holds. Peter has been two-times Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and has won many literary awards, including the publicly voted ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards People’s Bestseller Dagger and he was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize. As popular internationally as in the UK, he won the US Barry Award, for Best British Crime Novel in 2012. Last year, 2015, he was voted by WH Smith readers as The Best Crime Author of All Time.
Born and brought up in Brighton, Peter divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill, London and Sussex. Find out more about Peter James at www.panmacmillan.com and Peter’s website and follow him on: