Michael Harrison had it all: good looks, charm, natural leadership, a wicked sense of humor, and now Ashley, his fiancee. While out celebrating with a group of friends a few nights before the wedding, Michael suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself enclosed in a coffin equipped only with a flashlight, a dirty magazine, a walkie-talkie, and a tiny breathing tube. It's all in good fun — payback for the grief his buddies had suffered at the hands of his own penchant for tomfoolery — that is, until his four buddies are killed in a drunk driving accident just moments after leaving Michael buried alive in his coffin.
Detective Superintendent Grace — himself dealing with the pain of losing a wife — is brought on to the case when Ashley reports Michael missing. Suspicions are raised when Michael's only friend not at the bachelor party refuses to cooperate and Ashley's faithfulness — not to mention her increasingly mysterious past — are suddenly thrown into question. As Superintendent Grace soon discovers, one man's disaster is another man's fortune ...dead simple.
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Peter James is a noted crime writer in the UK and an internationally known film producer. He was the executive producer of the recent film adaptation of The Merchant of Venice. This is his first novel in a series to feature Detective Superintendent Grace.From Publishers Weekly:
British author James's far-fetched but terrifying thriller is the first of a new series featuring Det. Supt. Roy Grace. Michael Harrison, a successful real estate developer with a penchant for practical jokes, gets a horrible taste of his own medicine. As a prank, four of his friends bury Michael alive in a coffin equipped with a breathing tube and a bottle of whiskey and leave him, ostensibly for a couple of hours. But when their van crashes head-on into a truck and three of them are killed (the fourth dies later "in hospital"), Michael is trapped. His cell phone doesn't work, but he does have a two-way radio whose companion is in the hands of Davey, a mentally challenged young man who finds the phone near the scene of the accident. Grace, a detective with a taste for the supernatural (he uses mediums to help him solve crimes), gets on the case and discovers just how devious Michael's friends have been. The "buried alive" trope is undeniably powerful, and Grace shows promise as a hero—but the crime and the plot surrounding Michael's plight are just too cumbersome and transparent to really engage the reader.
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