Rating: 2 stars
I’m happy to pigeonhole myself slightly and say that Crime is my favourite genre. Police or Detective fiction about solving murders. Golden Age, Nordic, Noir. Agatha Christie, Henning Mankell, Derek Raymond. I jokingly say I enjoy it because it stops me committing crimes myself. Most of the time it’s a joke. I don’t suffer fools, though, so sometimes I wonder if I am joking.
Anyway, I’d read all the Wallander and the Erlendur books, worked my way through Derek Raymond’s Factory novels, was bored of waiting for David Peace to bring out his next Tokyo Series book, needed someone to translate some more Higashino books, and decided I’d try to find someone else to tide me over.
Peter James was a name that cropped up. In particular his Roy Grace books. Rave reviews. Best selling. And so it was that I bought a copy of Dead Simple.
The clue was in the title. In James’s previous life as a film producer, he would probably describe it as high concept. It made me think of the serialisations I used to read as a child in my great aunt’s copies of Women’s Weekly and People’s Friend.
It’s not bad writing, but it’s not good literature. I imagine it’s how Richard Hammond would write a novel – a bit cheeky, a bit blokey, a bit misogynist. The repeated references to big tits, the surprise of the main character when a woman is good at her job followed swiftly by him reducing her to how fuckable she is, the separation of women into fuckable nymphs and ball breaking bunny boilers, gets in the way of what is a fast running story. It’s detective mystery by numbers – the world weary detective with relationship problems, the cliff hanger at the end of each chapter, the scheming girlfriend, the betraying best friend and business partner, the oddballs who hold the secret to cracking the crime. It would get you through waiting for a plane, or lounging by a pool, or taking a long train journey. Maybe. It made me want to commit a bad murder, though.