I haven’t read a novel in weeks and I was getting desperate; so when I picked Dead Simple, all I knew was that it was crime fiction (you can rarely go wrong with crime) and the name Peter James rang a bell.
Four men are dead, one is missing and the sixth is not telling. The plot was engaging enough that I read the book in two sittings. In the first sitting, I read chapter one – two; in the second, I read chapter two to the very very end, including the excerpt from the next novel in the series. Needless to say, this novel is unputdownable! I haven’t been so tempted to skip to the end of a chapter in a long time, perhaps this is due to the fact that the position the victim was in, is my number one on my list of ‘worst ways to die’. He handled his situation a lot better than I would have done (screaming).
I’d give the plot an 8/10. I am keeping the remaining two points because I actually got a little less engaged towards the end. In James’s effort to up the pace and tension, I think the plot got a little weaker. But just a little.
Regarding the title, Dead Simple is ‘dead simple’. The word ‘dead’ does the job of informing the potential reader of the genre and the phrase was used a number of times in the novel. Other than that, the title is not particularly unique or outstanding – 5/10.
The characters in Dead Simple were vivid and I was invested in what went on with the detective in his private and public life as well as what was happening to the victims. There was, however, a certain character who did a sudden turnabout in the narrative and it seemed surreal but it in no way sullied the plot. 8/10.
“Maybe I’m the Man With No Name.”
“Listen, Davey, this joke’s gone on too long, OK? Too fucking long. Please get me out here.”
“You gotta be impressed with two hundred rabbits, right?”
Michael stared at the walkie-talkie. Had everyone gone totally insane? Was this the lunatic who had just taken out the breathing tube? Michael tried desperately to think clearly.
James flits between past and present and several different scenes within the present in his narrative. As tough as this no doubt is to achieve and still maintain simplicity and ease, James manages it beautifully. Sometimes it is hard to recognize beauty in the storytelling of a crime novel, because you are usually too caught up in the thrills to pay much attention (and I suppose that’s clue enough). I would have to give his style a 9/10.
I will certainly be reading more of the books in this series.