Book Reviews

Dead at First Sight – Peter James | Book Review

dead at first sight book review

My name is Vanessa and I work as Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at World of Books Group here in Goring-by-Sea. I love reading and enjoy crime thrillers, romance, and classic novels so I am really lucky to work at World of Books! I like to read a variety of genres otherwise it can get a little boring if you read the same type of books all the time, but my favourites are crime thrillers and whodunnits.

A master of crime thrillers

I have just finished reading Dead at First Sight by Peter James, which is a nail-biting page-turner and I couldn’t put it down. Peter James is a UK no.1 best-selling author and has written 35 crime thrillers to date. In 2016, he won the CWA Diamond Dagger Award. His 2019 novel Dead at First Sight is the 15th of the series of books which involves the character Superintendent Roy Grace, following his investigations and his life in the Brighton and Sussex area.

The world of Superintendent Roy Grace

Dead at First Sight is about internet dating and how easy it is to scam vulnerable and lonely people who are looking for love. A woman is murdered in Munich and Roy Grace is investigating a suspicious suicide in Brighton. What is the link?

‘ “From our intelligence, the lady you are waiting for, Frau Ingrid Ostermann, does not exist.” ’

Dead at First Sight, Peter James

The novel follows Roy Grace and the Brighton detective team working closely together. It is ultimately a sad story. People are internet dating in the belief that they’re meeting their lifelong partners. They plan to spend the rest of their lives with these imaginary partners. They are fooled into giving away large amounts of their savings as the internet daters spin incredible stories of how they need money to help them out of hardship, promising that they will pay them back when they get it together. This can lead to them losing everything they have and still not finding love.

Exploring cyber-crime

peter james dead at first sightThe scammers even use real photographs of other people when hiding behind their persona. Once the money is sent, the vulnerable people are cut off without any further correspondence. Some of these victims begin to become suspicious and ask too many questions. One by one, they are killed off in very gruesome ways.

Roy Grace is always just too late to save them. It becomes a race against time to find the culprits and save future victims. The detective team begin to use ‘Google Reverse Image Search’ which is an interesting tool. The story does well to reveal how very different an investigation on cyber-crime is from ordinary crime.

‘ “What we know so far from our investigations is that this lady had discovered her identity is used by a “romance fraud” gang. She confided in a friend of hers, recently, that she was suspicious of a man she had met online after joining a dating agency herself. She told her friend that she was going to meet the man and confront him. Then she is found dead, missing half of her tongue.” ’

Dead at First Sight, Peter James

A crucial work-life balance

Roy Grace finds it difficult to work with his boss, the power-crazed, Cassian Pew. Despite this, he still runs a tight ship and investigates with precision. The operational details and personality clashes in the office add realism to the story. Roy and his wife Cleo have difficult times with Roy’s son, Bruno, from his first marriage to Sandy; Sandy is his first wife who disappeared and then returned years later, died, and left Roy with a son he never knew he had. He has another son, Noah, with Cleo so the dynamics of family life and being a detective clash throughout the story.

I found Dead at First Sight a truly fascinating book. I was on the edge of my seat hoping Grace would get there in time to save the victim. The subject matter of the book is very current. We regularly hear stories in the press about people being scammed out of thousands of pounds due to fake internet dating partners. The practice is known criminally as ‘romance fraud’ and culturally as ‘catfishing’. You can read this novel on its own or as part of the series, making it very accessible for those new to James’ work. Peter James is skilled at increasing the suspense before racing towards the climax. I can’t wait to read the next one.

– Review by Vanessa Connell, Executive Assistant

Get your own copy of Dead at First Sight here, or check out more Peter James books. Love crime thrillers? Our selection is to die for. Browse our second-hand crime thriller books here.

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Have you read any Peter James novels? What’s your favourite crime fiction book? Let us know in the comments below.

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