Another doorstop of a read from Peter James. But, unlike some authors who don't know when to stop writing, the book wasn't a chore to read. I have to say that I think Peter is one of the best authors writing in the UK right now, I can't think of many who write a police procedural better than he does. I love Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride, who both have fantastic series in Tom Thorne and Logan McRae but I just feel that Grace is the most believable police officer than the other two. That said Thorne is still my favourite fictional detective.
This time the story alternates between 1997 and the present day. I thought this worked very well and it wasn't hard to keep track of both stories. We also learnt more about the relationship between Grace and his missing wife Sandy, I don't know whether Grace has dragged this out enough now but it was interesting to read more about her. However there wasn't all that much about her apart from the fact that she was unhappy about the hours Grace spent at work. I just want to know where this woman in, it does add a bit of mystery to the story but there's only so many books it can be interesting for.
There are I think three characters written about in the book who in some way could be committing the 'Shoe Man' murders which first occurred in 1997 and appear to be occurring again in the present day. I think Grace did well writing all three characters and throughout the book I kept changing my mind on which of the three I thought it could be.
Peter's books are incredibly well researched. They feel very authentic and the police aspect feels very real, Lynda La Plante is another author who I feel writes a very authentic police procedural. Grace is a fantastic officer who doesn't rely on humour or unrealistic stories/scenes to make the story a success. That's not to say there isn't humour in Peter's books it just doesn't seem to be here as much as in other authors work.
Overall I enjoyed this book a lot. As I said the 600+ pages didn't feel like a chore to read and whilst the book might be a bit long, I would struggle to choose which bits to remove to make it shorter. Which is a good thing I feel as it means the book doesn't contain any rubbish or filler, just a fantastically written crime novel with a great cast of characters. Norman Potting is a particular favourite of mine, this is where the bulk of the 'comedy' comes from but even with that it feels very real, it isn't hard to imagine a character like this in the police force.