James picks up the threads of the Roy Grace saga with You Are Dead. Grace and the Surrey and Sussex Major Crimes Unit
are faced with an unusual mystery that may link a thirty-year-old murder with a contemporary spate of kidnappings in Brighton, England. When Logan Summerville calls her fiancť from their underground parking garage, she is frightened by a lurking figure. Before he can reply, she screams and the call is disconnected. When police and Loganís fiancť arrive, she is nowhere to be found.
On the same day as Loganís disappearance, a construction crew uncovers a dead body that appears to have been buried for years. Detective Superintendent Grace assigns Detective Inspector Glenn Branson to that case while he focuses on Logan Somervilleís disappearance. Eventually Grace will suspect that, however unlikely, the two cases are connected. Both investigations get complicated when another young woman disappears and recovery of another long-buried body suggests these crimes might have begun years before, the work of a sophisticated killer. Long before the older deaths assume resonance in the investigation, the public reacts to Loganís disappearance.
The pressure from superiors to find the girl makes Graceís job more difficult--especially after another woman is abducted. Grace is already chafing under the new supervisory position of his nemesis, now-Assistant Chief Constable Cassian Pewe.
Surrounded by familiar faces (a recurring cast from former Grace novels), Roy perseveres as Detective Sergeant Norman Potting grieves the loss of one of their team: Bella Moy, the woman he planned to marry. Not only do the investigations begin scant days before the Christmas holiday, but Grace and his wife, Cleo, are about to move to a new home, his current duties interfering with plans to assist with the packing and care of their baby son, Noah. Roy is devoted to this marriage, a rare chance at happiness since the disappearance of his first wife, Sandy, years before.
That mystery has yet to be solved, a secondary theme in the mystery series. Roy has no choice, really, a born detective who will pursue a case to the end once he has caught the scent.
The Roy Grace mysteries are as comfortable as a pair of favorite slippers yet always fresh and engaging.
They follow a protagonist with human flaws and secrets, respected by his team, bedeviled by his nemesis, and instinctive in his approach to solving cases. The personalities of his team are woven into each new investigation, adding texture to the drama.
The suspects are predictably wily, especially in this case, where links to the past suggest a sophisticated serial murderer, his accelerating kidnappings suggesting the likelihood of more dead victims. Sly and prepared for every contingency, this is a predator that plans every move carefully, anticipating Graceís moves and changing the game in a frantic pursuit to rescue the missing women from excruciating death.
You Are Dead presents James at his best, a thriller layered with complications, twists, and the acuity of an above-average killer enjoying the chase as much as his heinous deeds. Eventually Grace has cause for celebration, but itís short-lived when he learns that this elusive murderer hasnít tired of the game.