Want You Dead (Det. Superintendent Roy Grace)
by Peter James
Cover Artist: Shutterstock / Arcangel Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250030207
Date: 18 November 2014 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Agonizing, fiery deaths threaten many characters in Peter James' intense thriller, Want You Dead (following Dead Man's Grip and Not Dead Yet). The residents of Brighton are living in terror of this insane arsonist. Bryce Laurent's targets are not random; they all involve his deadly obsession with his ex-girlfriend, Red. First, he burns down a restaurant, Cuba Libre; Red and he dined there on their first date. Next, he rigs her beloved car, a vintage Volkswagen Beetle, to catch fire. Bryce is insane and ingenious, a horrifyingly deadly combination. If he wants you dead, then most likely you are going to die.
Roy Grace is not the tortured, wounded hero you often find in other mysteries. He is a very successful detective who has risen up through the ranks by means of hard work and dedication. Consequently, his first marriage to Sandy fell apart. She mysteriously disappeared and has recently been declared dead. Now, he will soon be marrying his live-in girlfriend, Cleo Morey, who performs autopsies at Brighton & Hove Mortuary. Unknown to Grace, his wife is still alive. Though Sandy and Bryce don't know each other, both are determined to upset Grace's wedding plans.
There are numerous tense moments in Want You Dead when the killer is pursuing Red. She lives to regret having placed a personal ad on the internet. I have always refused to participate in an internet dating service. Years ago, I read Mary Higgins Clark's Loves Music, Loves to Dance--a suspenseful mystery in which a serial killer was targeting women who were searching for romance through the classifieds. Want You Dead also reminded me of such Hollywood horror classics as The Fan (1981), Fear, Play Misty for Me, and Fatal Attraction.
Want You Dead has definitely made me swear off internet dating for all time. Through the internet, it is very easy for predators to falsify their identities in order to attract certain types of victims. Pedophiles use the internet to deceive and lure minors. Let this novel serve as a warning for those searching for a dream love. They may find a nightmare in the form of Bryce Laurent, one of the vilest villains I've encountered in literature. He is a sociopathic egomaniac who has no qualms about hurting those around him; in fact, he enjoys human suffering.
Like all of the other Detective Superintendent Roy Grace novels, reading Want You Dead was like reading nonfiction. It is packed with medical and police procedures. Peter James provides enough detail about golfing, yachting, firefighting, etc., to convince readers he has actively participated in them all. James knows how to build suspense with numerous cliffhangers; interwoven subplots; human drama; graphic, gory violence; and a diversity of realistic characters. My only disappointment was that the body count wasn't higher; there was a potential for many more victims. Nevertheless, I highly recommend Want You Dead for anyone who wants to read an outstanding, action-packed thriller.