A single gal meets a single man. Instant attraction. Declarations of love. Both start having dreams of the future. Everything should be great .... but not for Red. Her dream man, Bryce, turned into a nightmare. Now, long after they've broken up Red begins to wonder if he will ever let her go. It seems highly unlikely in Peter James' latest thriller Want You Dead.
The action starts right away. Dr. Karl Murphy, a widower with two children, is finally getting back into the dating scene. He is finally starting to love and trust again. So is his girlfriend, Red. After enduring a verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive relationship with Bryce, Red wants to open her heart again. But her fear of Bryce has never gone away. From a distance, Bryce has managed to maintain a close watch over Red. He has taken stalking to a new level. Listening devices and cameras are just a small part of his arsenal. As a former magician, Bryce has become a master at showing up and disappearing from the least likely spots, including Red's "secure" apartment.
Bryce has no intention of letting Red and Karl live happily ever after. In his mind, Red belongs to him and no one else. He is obsessed with Red. Everything would have been just fine if she didn't listen to her awful parents. Her meddling mother had a private detective investigate Bryce. Her meddling mother found out that Bryce lied about his squeaky clean past. Red didn't really need her mother's help, the signs had been there all along. There was always something not quite right about Bryce. But now, he will make everyone pay for ruining their relationship, including Karl, Red's family, and Red herself! I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that Karl is murdered by Bryce. It happens very early in the book. The rest of the book is devoted to Bryce's evil deeds and the efforts of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his staff's attempts to stop him.
This is the 10th book in the Roy Grace series, but I don't think that matters. It can be read as a standalone. Detective Grace has his own storyline, but it didn't hold as much interest for me. He's about to get married again, several years after his first wife has been declared dead. Is she alive or isn't she? That could have been intriguing, but I have a feeling that's a storyline that was started in earlier books and won't be resolved for a while. As a character, Grace is definitively intuitive and caring. He was the first to suspect that there was more to Karl's death than meets the eye. He knows there is a larger story. He is willing to disrupt his own life to catch a killer.
The chapters are very short, which I like. As a plot device, there is less anticipation with short chapters. You know the payoff is coming soon. Although my Goodreads account might say otherwise, when I was actively reading I was speed-reading. Bryce is an extremely arrogant, annoying, creepy, disgusting, and all the other bad words one can think of. He's clearly a bad guy, and readers are supposed to have no sympathy for him. You just want the police to wise up and catch him. I was torn between liking and hating Red. Her sense of powerlessness comes through. Life might never be normal if the police don't catch Bryce. Who couldn't sympathize with that? I could, but in the last few chapters Red started to lose me. I don't want to give too much away but.... She had the opportunity to make a very smart decision but instead she makes a very dumb one. She has the opportunity to be fully protected by the police. Instead she opts for the "safety" of her apartment. She doesn't know it's not safe, but Red's actions go against what the average person would do. If you want to know what I'm talking about, read the book!
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received a copy of the book from Wunderkind PR in exchange for an honest review.