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Dead Like You: Roy Grace Series #6    by Peter James order for
Dead Like You
by Peter James
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Peter James brings back Detective Superintendant Roy Grace (in this sixth in the Dead series) to deal with a serial rapist, dubbed the Shoe Man who had stopped offending for a long time. As new cases arise in Brighton, Grace is haunted by the cold case of twenty-two year-old Rachael Ryan, who disappeared a decade earlier in 1997, and who Grace believed to be the Shoe Man's last victim in the previous rampage.

The first new case occurs on New Year's Eve when a woman is attacked at the Metropole Hotel, where senior police officials had also attended a party. Her shoes, used in the attack against her, are taken by the perp. As the novel shuttles back and forth between 1997 (when Rachael disappeared) and the present, readers learn how Grace's personal life has changed since his wife Sandy (who was vocal about her dissatisfaction with his career) disappeared over nine years before. Now Grace is happily in a new relationship with mortician Cleo, who is pregnant with their child and accepts the demands of his job. He also has a new boss, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Rigg.

The mystery of Rachael's fate (James tantalises the reader by revealing it very gradually) - and the possibility of a connection to the new rapes (the MO is not quite the same) - drives both Grace's investigation and the reader's fascination with the story. At the same time the author lays plenty of trails - do they lead readers astray or to a villain? There's Yac, the autistic taxi driver with a shoe obsession; Garry and Denise Starling, whose sex life involves expensive shoes; and Darren Spicer, just released from prison, where he spent time 'dreaming of what he would do when he was back out'. And why are pages missing from Rachael's file?

Peter James does a very good job of portraying the long term damage done by rape in this excellent police procedural. He makes Roy Grace, his colleagues, the villains and their victims all seem very real people, flawed in credible ways. The story ends with a race against time to save a final victim, and with the surprising revelation of the rapist's identity. If you like Bitish mysteries, this series (which Lee Child dubs 'Sinister and riveting') is a must read.

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