Brighton author Peter James talks about Roy Grace’s new book

PETER James has opened up about what he sees as Brighton’s ‘criminal pedigree’ at the launch of his new book.

James says the city suits crime fiction like his Roy Grace novels and gives him an especially rich backdrop to work against.

Ahead of his next entry in the series, Picture You Dead, the novelist has spoken about the importance of having Brighton in his books to fully illustrate his relatable but troubled protagonist.

James said: “If you were a criminal and you wanted to design your perfect city, you would choose Brighton.

“I think Brighton lends itself well to crime thrillers. I grew up in Brighton and it was a pretty seedy place in the 60’s. I know that many locals like that they also recognize places.”

The Argus: Peter James, author of the new book Picture You DeadPeter James, author of the new book Picture You Dead

James’ use of the Brighton setting in his Roy Grace stories is something that will be familiar to both readers and viewers of the television adaptation of the novels starring John Simm as the detective.

The author, who has always been close to The Argus, having gained work experience as a youngster and later shadowing crime reporters and even working as a guest editor, tells how a battle with ITV over using real Brighton stores in Grace led to the newspaper in it the show appeared.

Brighton’s influence on James’ writing continues in the eighteenth installment in the detective thriller series, which takes inspiration from a Saltdean art forger.

Elements of the text are based on David Henty, considered one of the world’s finest art forgers, seamlessly mirroring paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh and LS Lowry.

Henty, a good friend of James, took up his craft in prison and has been exhibiting his fakes ever since.

The author said: “He discovered that he had a real talent for copying artists. The book is about this art forger who is David Henty in everything but name.”

From the conversation with Henty, Peter adds how the artist can imitate artists to such an extent that world-renowned experts would not notice his forgery. These elements of the criminal world become the focus of his latest novel.

The synopsis of Picture You Dead follows Freya and Harry Kipling who, after attempting to have a priceless painting forged, “soon find themselves embroiled in the shady dealings of the art world.” It’s up to Roy Grace to help the couple who, after linking the painting to a cold case, are concerned for their safety.

For those who have read previous works in the series, the book builds on the detective’s complex, troubled character. For those meeting Roy Grace for the first time, James adds that readers will discover “an amazing, fresh character who’s a very human guy” and “will be immersed in a crime-fiction world.”

Picture You Dead is out on Thursday 29th September and James will be doing book signings across Sussex over the following days including at City Books in Hove on the day of release and at Waterstones in Brighton on Friday 30th September.

Read exclusive excerpts in the print newspaper The Argus all next week. Brighton author Peter James talks about Roy Grace’s new book

Fry Electronics Team

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