“Stop Them Dead” is the latest novel in the long-running Roy Grace series by Peter James. Offering very much the same as the earlier novels, this will please fans of the series. It’s also very accessible to new readers.
The book presents a solid crime story. Although the broad form of the novel offers no surprises, there’s an interesting angle on the crimes being investigated, and the wealth of investigative detail will absorb crime fans.
Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is well used to the rhythm of major crimes, and swings into action when a local farmer is murdered in the middle of the night. However, the circumstances surprise him. The farmer was murdered while trying to stop the theft of his dogs. This leads Grace into a new world: the highly lucrative world of stealing or illegally smuggling dogs.
Grace never loses sight of the fact he’s investigating a murder, which underlines how ruthless the criminals he’s seeking are. They’re only interested in profit, and don’t care who gets hurt along the way.
I am not a dog person, but I was absolutely fascinated to learn about this emerging crime wave. It’s rooted in events around the pandemic, and James depicts it in a way that is utterly credible. If this isn’t based in fact, it sure sounds like it is.
James’ novels are notable for the great detail around the investigation. In particular, there’s a level of detail around the roles of particular police specialists, and the command structure, which I’ve rarely seen elsewhere. It adds both credibility and an interesting intellectual and practical level to the narrative.
Grace isn’t focused just on finding the murderers. He’s also focused on gathering enough evidence, of the right kind, to ensure an effective and lengthy conviction. This again leads to highlighting details some writers skim over. It sounds dry, but in fact it’s an absorbing insight into how real police officers think.
I have at times felt that this focus on the investigative details has meant some of the Grace novels are a bit lacking in emotional punch. However, here the main investigation is supplemented with a subplot involving a young family who unwittingly interacts with dog smugglers. Few readers will be able to resist their heart-rending problems.
Although the novel features ongoing characters, and their lives, there’s enough detail here for new readers to know what’s going on with them. You could step into the series here and start reading with no problems; you just might take a bit longer to engage with some characters.
This is an excellent crime novel. The wealth of technical detail around the investigation is fascinating, the new kinds of crime are interesting, and the sub-plot will emotionally engage most readers. I really enjoyed this, and I think most crime readers would too.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Stop Them Dead by Peter James. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I love sharing that joy.
I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, across all genres. There’s not much I won’t at least try. I’ve been an enthusiastic book reviewer for years. I particularly enjoy discovering writers new to me, and sharing good writing with others.
My career has included time spent writing and editing technical documents, but it’s fiction that really moves me. I’ve reviewed for a number of different outlets over the years, and have been a judge in literary competitions.
I’m now raising little bookworms of my own, which brings a whole new kind of joy to sharing books.
More of my reviews can be found on my review blog www.otherdreamsotherlives.home.blog .