Peter James returns with his newest Roy Grace police procedural in Dead If You Don’t, where the Brighton Detective Superintendent has a strange case to solve.

He’s at the new Amex Stadium for a highly anticipated football match with his older son when a bomb threat is called in and he’s on high alert, eventually acting in a heroic manner Auntie M won’t spoil.

Kipp Brown, seen previously as a suspect, figures as the main character when his gambling debts merge with the kidnapping of his teen son, Mungo, from the stadium.

But that’s just the beginning of the twisted tale, as Kipp contacts the police, despite being warned not to by the kidnappers. That’s when Roy’s path crosses that of Jorgji Dervishi, son of a reputed Albanian mobster. Jorgji’s son, Alek, is Mungo’s best friend, and he’s not returned home that same evening. Could both boys have been kidnapped?

The race is on to chase down those responsible while battling the bomber, whose threats continue. And when photos sent of Mungo show hi battling for his life, Roy and his team know the time they have to find the boy is fast running out.

With the action taking place over just a few days, detailed chapter headings with the time show the pressure the police are under as the plot unspools. Shorter chapters heighten the suspense and allow of points of view to change and illustrate different characters’ movements.

It all adds up to a masterful suspense procedural. One of the highlights of this series is the detailed account of how police really work, and the stumbling blocks they often come up against, from budgetary concerns to paperwork.

Of course, James’ mention of the police’s “Golden Hour” gave Auntie M a chill of delight to see her own THE GOLDEN HOUR Nora Tierney Mystery title explained.

Another winner from the CWA Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement.

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