A group of well-healed twenty-somethings are out on a pub crawl/ stag night to celebrate Michael’s forthcoming marriage to the beautiful Ashley. Michael is well known for his merciless practical joking and so his friends are determined to come up with something extra-special for him. They do – in the form of burying him in a coffin with a breathing tube, a walkie-talkie, a bottle of whisky and a porn mag. They are all quite drunk when they actually carry out the plan, leaving Michael while they head off for another round of drinks. Then disaster; the rest of the lads are involved in a car crash that leaves two dead at the scene and the remaining one critically injured – and no one knows where Michael is.
There are no spoilers in the above description as all this information is made available in the blurb. I found this absolutely intriguing. A very extreme and clearly stupid prank, that had nevertheless meant no harm, had turned into a tragedy for the pranksters, leaving Michael to a slow death if no one was able to piece together that he has been buried and needs to be urgently disinterred!
Enter Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, a man who knows what it is to have a loved one go missing and never know what had become of them. Grace is determined to find out what happened to Michael and his first enquiry is with the business partner who had arrived home late and not been able to attend the stag night. Even so, surely, being the closest of the group to Michael, he would have had known what the plan for the evening was? Apparently not.
Peter James has written a book full of intrigue that really kept me guessing. As the true characters of Michael’s friends and fiancée begin to be revealed the plot takes twists and turns, some I saw coming but others were less obvious. The book kept me page turning the whole way, wanting to know just that little bit more.
However – and this is a big one – the end , just literally the last few pages, was a huge disappointment for me. I would still highly recommend this book. I love Peter James writing style and he has created a great set of circumstances with this story. For some, I suspect, the ending would add to the intrigue and drama but for me it was a big, fat let-down and, please excuse the pun, a cop-out.