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Saturday 18 July 2020

‘Find Them Dead’ by Peter James

Published by Macmillan,
9 July 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-5290-0431-1 (TPB)

The Roy Grace series by one of Britain’s best-selling authors, Peter James, is well known and well loved. Find Them Dead is a departure from previous books in the series in that he does not feature in the main story line which concerns Meg Magellan.
Meg is picked for jury service and much of the action in the story is focused on the trial making this more of a courtroom drama than a murder mystery.

The man in the dock is local lawyer Terence Gready. He is the mastermind behind a sizable drug smuggling and distribution network. The drugs are brought into the country hidden inside replica top of the range sports cars. His front man Mickey Starr is caught red-handed by Border Force Officers with six million pounds worth of cocaine hidden in the panels of a replica Ferrari, and he has little choice but to plead guilty. Mickey has worked for Gready for twenty-five years but the wily lawyer has made sure that he has never been seen at the motor company where Mickey works as the manager to which the imported cars are delivered and neither is his name on any of the documents related to it.

Roy Grace attempts to persuade  Mickey Starr to turn Queen's evidence and to ensure that he continues to deny all association between them in court, Gready arranges for Mickey’s younger brother who suffers from Downs Syndrome to be beaten up a little to keep Mickey in line. However, when the boy dies it has the opposite effect and Mickey agrees to testify against Gready.

Despite all the evidence against him, Gready remains confident and arranges to fix the jury. Meg’s daughter is taking a gap year with a friend in South America and it is made very clear to her that if she wishes to see her daughter again she will have to persuade the jury to come to a not guilty verdict. No matter how much she wants to do the right thing, her daughter’s life and that of her friend have to take priority. Much of the action in the novel takes place in the jury room as Meg attempts to sway the verdict.

The character of Meg Magellan is well draw and the reader will feel moved by her dilemma. Villain though he is, I also enjoyed the character of Rickey Starr. Though our justice system in Britain is rightly admired, the book does make the reader appreciate how one or two articulate voices can sway opinion.
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick

Peter James was educated at Charterhouse and then at film school. He lived in North America for a number of years, working as a screen writer and film producer, before returning to England. His multiple award-winning, Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling novels have been translated into thirty-three languages. His writings reflect his deep interest in medicine, science and the world of the police. He has produced numerous films, including The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes. He also co-created the hit Channel 4 series Bedsitcom, which was nominated for a Rose d'Or. Peter James won the Krimi-Blitz 2005 Crime Writer of the Year Award in Germany, and Dead Simple won both the 2006 Prix Polar International award and the 2007 Prix Cœur Noir award in France. Looking Good Dead was shortlisted for the 2007 Richard and Judy Crime Thriller of the Year award, and has been shortlisted for both France's SNCF award and Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policère. He divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill in London and Sussex.

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to work teaching Geography in a large comprehensive. It was only after leaving her headship that she was able to take up writing again in earnest. Judith teaches Tai Chi, and line dancing, yoga, Pilates and Zumba. Her other hobbies include reading and travelling. She is lucky enough to be a cruise lecturer. You can read some of her adventures – the Ups and Downs of Being a Cruise Lecturer on her September 2014 blog on her home page. Judith’s latest book is Blood Flows South to read a review click on the title

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