Looking Good Dead is the second book in the Roy Grace series by the British author Peter James. I’ve recently started with the series, reading the first book, Dead Simple (review here) and I got hooked on it right away.
In this second book, Tom Bryce, a regular salesman, is on the train (heading from home to work and back) when he notices a CD laying on an empty seat which was just vacated by a rather obnoxious and annoying guy.
Tom takes the CD with him, with the intention of bringing it to Lost and Found.
You know those chilling movies where the woman is home alone at night, suddenly the lights are out and she goes down the stairs to investigate that noise down there – well all shout – don’t go down, call the police! But she goes down anyway and ends up in big trouble.
Same with our Tom. He takes the CD home, and in the night ends up watching it, and that is the beginning of all his troubles – and they’re big.
The movie he starts watching on the CD is a snuff movie, and a few seconds in, it gets cut off, his laptop dies and all his data gets erased.
Tom thinks nothing of it, so the next day he brings the laptop to work and asks a pc geek to sort it out.
And now comes the second ‘horror movie’ cliche – watching the CD once was not enough – even though we all shout in our minds, or loud: ‘don’t watch it again, just get rid of it’. But of course, again he inserts the CD in his laptop, just as we knew he would.
And again, his laptop dies, all his data erased, and if it were only that – but now he has to run for his life and that of his wife and kids, whom he adores. Because the movie he watched was indeed a snuff movie and not simply play acting, and there is someone who is not happy at all that an uninvited somebody got a peek into their world of crime.
And because we’re at cliches, here is the third one – he gets a warning to never watch the movie again and is strictly forbidden to talk to anyone about it, including the police or his wife.
And you guessed it – after talking it through with his wife, Tom goes to the police and this is where Roy Grace gets involved with the case.
Roy Grace is a local detective – and a very good one at that, with a troubled past – some 9 years ago his wife literally disappeared, and he’s been searching for her ever since. But life does go on, so while he can’t put her out of his mind, he still has to go on, with or without her.
Roy is a very interesting character, one that I got fond of right from the first book. Since his wife’s disappearance he follows every medium, psychic or anyone with some supernatural abilities, hoping that they’ll either lead him to her wife, or at least tell him something about her.
But as life has to go on, Roy gets lightly entangled with someone he works with, and even starts to feel human again. And right now he has a very strange case to solve, which involves a gruesome murder with a very badly mutilated body as evidence. Soon enough the two cased come together in a typical, but strong fashion.
This thriller is just as good as the previous book in the series. It kept me reading non-stop until late at night. As I mentioned above, there are several cliches in the book, yet despite those, I kept reading, fully engrossed. The writing is top notch, and the characters do have a complexity to them that make them human, vulnerable and flawed.
Especially the Tom Bryce family – at times I wanted to shake them to their senses – they are definitely not a very likable couple, with their dumb mistakes and weird decisions. Tom’s wife is nothing more than a spoiled shopaholic brat, and Tom himself is living in another world – at least his head does. So when everything comes crushing down on them, he has to revisit everything he thought was true about his family, his life and the world around him.
Overall this was a rewarding read, a chilling and suspenseful one. The tension is high at all times, and despite those cliches that I knew would happen, I was looking forward to see what happens next.
I’m definitely reading the rest of the books in the series, which right now includes 10 books.
The last book, Want You Dead, will be released tomorrow, Nov. 18, so I have a lot of catching up to do.
Here is a bit more about Want You Dead, courtesy of the publisher.