Written by Peter James — Dead Man’s Time is the ninth novel in the multi-million copy bestselling Detective Roy Grace series, which is usually set in and around the author’s favourite town: Brighton. However, this novel begins is Brooklyn, USA, in February 1922. A young boy lies in bed, having just been kissed goodnight by his father, when he hears the unfamiliar sound of breaking glass. He lies motionless as the door to his room opens and a group of men enter his bedroom asking after his mother and father. The boy points them in the direction of his parents’ bedroom and the men leave. Moments later there are screams, and five loud bangs. After a while he climbs out of bed in the darkness and goes to their room. Feeling around he locates the light switch and flicks it on, to be greeted with the terrible sight of his mother on the floor beside the bed, blood everywhere. His father is nowhere to be seen.
The boy and his sister are later taken to Dublin, for safety, by their aunt. While waiting to board their ship a messenger hands the boy a piece of paper with four names and 11 numbers written on it, a gun and his father’s pocket watch. As the ship sets sail the young lad makes a promise. One day he will return and find his father.
Now we skip forward in time to Brighton, England in 2012. A vicious robbery has taken place which has left 98-year-old Aileen McWhirter fighting for her life. When the old lady dies and the case becomes a murder inquiry, the hero of the series Detective Roy Grace is called into investigate. After consulting with the woman’s brother Gavin Daly it becomes clear that £10 million worth of antiques have been taken in the robbery, including a rare vintage pocket watch. This pocket watch that is all Aileen and Gavin had to remember their father by, from all those years ago. Aileen later dies of her injuries.
Grace is soon involved in the shady antiques world in an investigation that leads him from Brighton, across Europe and back to New York in a chase to both solve the crime and prevent Gavin from taking the law into his own hands. He’s on the trail of the five thugs who broke into Aileen’s home and robbed, tortured and murdered her. But is there another dimension to the crime – were they acting on their own, or under the instructions of someone else?
Although enjoyable this isn’t the best book in the Detective Roy Grace series. The storyline is overcomplicated at times, there are too many thugs, and too much unnecessary violence. During the story, Grace’s missing wife Sandy re-appears, adding further to the complexity of the novel. Perhaps the Sandy storyline needs to come to a conclusion. It seems a little unrealistic that a 95-year-old man would be able to avenge his sister’s death.
As with the other Roy Grace novels this can be read as a stand-alone novel, however, due to the development of the characters and particular storylines it would help to have read the previous eight books. Dead Man’s Time is an enjoyable crime novel, and as with James’ previous novels the storyline is clever and detailed. You don’t just follow the crime investigation but Roy’s personal life which helps you to engage and empathise with the character.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars