Often authors become famous for inventing a strong character which they flesh out over many years and many novels with an entire and believable personality. The world these fictional heroes and heroines inhabit becomes as real to fans as any other universe they engage with on a daily basis – which is one reason why instalment-based genres such as the Harry Potter series become such smash hits and addictive reading with millions of worldwide fans.
On a slightly smaller scale, successful British author Peter James has carved out such a loyal, devoted niche following for his series of thrillers and murder mysteries written around his protagonist Roy Grace, of which there are a dozen or so published and well-sold books. So it comes as something of a surprise to see the author has recently dared to step outside the confines of Grace’s world and leave him behind altogether; his new novel is a stand alone work featuring new characters, called Perfect People.
But it is the Roy Strong series that attracts most attention, and it is easy to see why. Each novel uses the seaside town of Brighton and its surroundings as the stage where the characters and plots are set.
This perhaps adds a realistic, believable air to the author’s stories, which often start with the domestic mundane, allowing readers to identify and get to know the cast, before plunging them into a spiralling script of drama and intrigue. For example, the novel ‘Dead Tomorrow’ starts with the female protagonist reading the local newspaper looking for flats to rent in Brighton … and ends with her daughter’s life in peril as she fights for her life on a kidney dialysis machine.
There is a gruesome twist as dead bodies with missing internal organs that are washed up on the Brighton beach are linked with sinister Eastern European drug and organ trafficking crime syndicates. Through his detective hero Strong, Peter James explores the lengths a devoted mother will go to in order to rescue her daughter’s life, even if it means breaking the law and dashing her morals against the rocks on Brighton beach.