Thus we have the basis for the latest Peter James Roy Grace crime thriller. Tim Ruddle and his wife fed up living in London buy a farm in Sussex.
The Ruddles begin breeding dogs to make money and are delighted when a litter of five French bulldogs are born but one night a gang arrive in the middle of the night to steal their new puppies.
Tim Ruddle is woken by the noise of vehicles in his yard and when he goes down to investigate he is crushed to death by two vehicles as the thieves make good their escape.
Grace and the team become involved in investigating the murder.
Meanwhile, Grace and his second wife Cleo are interested in getting another dog and take their young son Noah to see a puppy. However, alarm bells ring when the Graces go to see a new potential pup.
A few books back, I was convinced that Roy’s German son Bruno was going to kill Humphrey, the Graces’ black lab.
When Bruno was killed, I was happy that Humphrey would be safe.
Some time, after Bruno’s death, Peter James told me that one thing his readers would not accept was cruelty to animals.
Peter James does have a talent for creating grotesque characters and in this book, it is Gecko who likes to place live spiders in his mouth to shock and scare people.
Gecko works for Terry Jim, a thug who owns a farm, and is the head of a crime family.
He sells puppies that he has illegally imported from Eastern Europe.
His stepdaughter is a kennel maid along with two other young girls. The three are suspicious of Jim’s behaviour and one, a Ukrainian, disappears.
The third, Lindsay Cheetham, decides to contact the police but does Jim know of her plan?
To add to the drama, Bluebell Fairfax, the young daughter of a local lawyer pesters her parents for a puppy and they buy one from a man in a pub car park.
As she admires the dogs, one of them nips her on the nose but it is only a scratch – isn’t it?
While Roy tries to find out who killed Tim Ruddle, crime strikes the Graces closer to home and can Bluebell survive a disease that hasn’t been seen in Britain for more than a hundred years?
Peter James writes big books – this one has 447 pages – but the story zips by and Stop Them Dead is no exception.
In the story arc, Sandy Grace, Roy’s first wife, vanishes before the story begins but now we can find out what happened to her in the next book They Thought I Was Dead – Sandy’s Story (out on May 23, 2024).
I am looking forward to seeing if my latest theory will pan out. I got Humphrey wrong so, please, no one put any money on it but I reckon Roy wasn’t Bruno’s father but the boy was sired by Roy’s bitter enemy Cassian Pewe.
We know he had an affair with Sandy and when she vanished, he ordered the Graces’ garden to be dug up.
Exciting things are in the works for the Grace series.