Peter James

Pan Macmillan £7.99 pbk

Released: 14th October 2010

Reviewer: Adrian Magson


Adrian Magson is the author of five crime novels set in London. Two new series begin in 2010 with ‘Red Station’ (Severn House) and ‘Death on the Marais’ (Allison & Busby). See for more information.


The sixth in the Roy Grace series begins with regrets on a cold, wet December night in 1997, and ends in prolonged terror for one young woman. Then it jumps forward to now, with our introduction to the creepy world of a taxi driver seemingly more than healthily interested in high-end ladies’ shoes.

Meanwhile, in the Now, DS Roy Grace is looking into the front end of another New Year’s eve, and regretting that once again he hasn’t managed to clear his desk. But on the bright side, his lover, Cleo, is pregnant and due to give birth in June. And then they can be married… providing he can declare his missing wife, Sandy, declared legally dead. 

It is time to forget the past and look to the future. 

Then the past comes back with a vengeance and Roy Grace is forced to confront the case of the Shoe Man back in 1997, when a rapist was on the prowl in Brighton, assaulting women and stealing their panties and one shoe. But only if the shoe was a high-end model. 

This time, a reported rape had occurred in Brighton’s Metropole Hotel, and the rapist had taken the victim’s shoes. 

Once again we are taken on a journey of Brighton’s seedier side as Roy Grace investigates a crime with no obvious suspect, unless it’s the return of a rapist from over a dozen years ago. Can it be the same man? And what if it is – they never caught him anyway? He has the worst of all worlds: a case with no suspects and bosses with short fuses. 

But this story has two prongs. Alternating between 1997 and today, we are in effect on two journeys; one accompanying Rachel Ryan, a victim all those years ago, and the present day involving fresh victims being stalked by someone who wants them - and their shoes. Snapping back and forth, we have on one hand the terror of a girl in dire peril, not knowing what will become of her, and on the other, victims who aren’t even aware of their danger until it is too late. 

This is familiar territory for fans of Roy Grace, balancing the personal past which haunts him, and his lugubrious present, where duty and conflict seem to follow him around like a dark cloud, setting him at odds with colleagues and his own inner demons. For Grace is his own worst taskmaster and refuses to let go, even when everyone else – and his private life – seem to be telling him that enough is enough. But he is aware that time is running out and he must try and save the life of this latest victim. 

Another complex and thrilling story from the pen of someone who never fails to find another stomach-clenching journey to take us on, this will have you guessing, re-guessing and never certain until the very end.







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