Femme Very Fataleby Deepa Gahlot October 21 2016, 5:50 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 14 secs
There have been dangerous women in popular fiction, a few serial killers too, but Jodie Danforth is in a class apart. It is a generalisation, perhaps unfair, that women are afraid of insects and reptiles, this woman collects the deadliest of the species. In Love You Dead, the twelfth book of the Roy Grace series, popular crime writer Peter James, creates a heroine/vamp for whom you can’t help having a grudging admiration, even though she is a ruthless killer.
As a child, Jodie Danforth was the ugly duckling of her family, constantly being compared to her pretty sister, Cassie. The sister dies in a mysterious fall off a cliff. And with this sly murder, Jodie embarks on a life in the pursuit of wealth, for which she takes the ‘con’ route. Plastic surgery takes care of her looks, and her already devious brain does the rest.
When the book begins, she cleverly kills her elderly husband on a ski slope, making it look like an accident. Her modus operandi is to look for rich lonely old men on the net, ensnare them with her beauty and then kill them. At her secluded home, she has a hidden room full of deadly reptiles and insects; these creatures that would frighten the bravest, are her hobby.
Detective Inspector Roy Grace, is at a relatively peaceful stage of his life with loving wife Cleo and infant son, Noah, when his nemesis, a serial killer, Ed Crisp escapes from prison. To add to his woes, his ex-wife Sandy, who had walked out on him years ago, surfaces in a hospital in Berlin, in battered condition.
Meanwhile as Jodie kills husband number three with snake venom and plans the next hit, a British assassin called Tooth, working for a brutal Russian gang is on her trail, because she stole money and a memory drive from a gangster. The drive contains secrets that cannot fall into the wrong hands, and Jodie does not know that her life is in danger.
When a petty burglar and car thief dies with symptoms that look like snake poison, Roy Grace is called in to investigate and the various strands of the story start coming together. Grace makes a plan to trap Jodie, which involves the kind of subterfuge that would beat even her Machiavellian plots.
The subplots are not too interesting, and tie up rather too neatly, but the book is readable because of the smart and fearless Jodie; this femme fatale makes Roy Grace look like a rather tepid hero, as he plods away at his investigation and copes with the emotional turbulence in his life.
Love You Dead
By Peter James