Not Dead Enough: Roy Grace on stage.

NOT DEAD ENOUGH | Peter James dis­cusses the lat­est stage play to be based on his best­selling books star­ring Brighton de­tec­tive Roy Grace…

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By AN­DRE PAINE

“I LOVE SIT­TING AT THE BACK, WATCH­ING THE AU­DI­ENCE’S RE­AC­TION”

De­tec­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Roy Grace is one of the world’s most pop­u­lar lit­er­ary de­tec­tives – his 12th out­ing, Love You Dead, is an­other best­seller for au­thor Peter James. Yet the Brighton-based cop has never made it to the small screen, de­spite sev­eral at­tempts.

“All the orig­i­nal cast I had in mind are now sort of retired,” ad­mits James.

Al­though a TV se­ries is not im­mi­nent, the stage adap­ta­tions keep on com­ing. Grace made his theatre de­but in 2014, in an adap­ta­tion of the stand­alone novella, The Per­fect Mur­der. This year saw the first book in the Grace se­ries, Dead Sim­ple, be­come a play and Grace is set to re­turn in Not Dead Enough, a 2017 tour­ing pro­duc­tion by Shaun Mckenna, based on James’ third novel.

The new play stars Laura Whit­more (re­cently on Strictly Come Danc­ing) as Cleo Morey, while Grace is por­trayed by Eas­ten­ders ac­tor Shane Richie, who pre­vi­ously ap­peared along­side TV co-star Jessie Wal­lace in The Per­fect Mur­der.

“They’ve been fan­tas­ti­cally suc­cess­ful, amaz­ing,” James tells Crime Scene. “The Per­fect Mur­der had its sec­ond run this year, with Shane Richie and Jessie Wal­lace, and just sold out for 11 weeks. It’s great be­cause, as an au­thor, you can’t re­ally sit and watch some­one read­ing your book. But I love sit­ting at the back of a theatre and watch­ing the au­di­ence’s re­ac­tion – and I’ve learnt quite a lot from it.”

In fact, that ex­pe­ri­ence may have partly in­spired James’ lat­est book, Love You Dead, which pits Grace against a cer­tain kind of femme fa­tale — a black widow.

“I learnt from watch­ing Dead Sim­ple, two years ago, just how much peo­ple love an evil, beau­ti­ful wo­man,” he says. “There’s this gasp of sur­prise but also joy when you learn, ac­tu­ally, she’s a mon­ster.”

Not Dead Enough in­volves a seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble mur­der.

“It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing. It’s darker than the other two, we’re play­ing it more as a dark thriller,” says James, who’s also co-pro­ducer. “The whole set­ting is the mor­tu­ary. There are some good shocks in it and I’m very ex­cited.”

Cleo Morey is based on a real-life Brighton mor­tu­ary tech­ni­cian who told James about a strange ex­pe­ri­ence: “She went to make a cup of cof­fee, came back, and a body sat up and said ‘Where the fuck am I?’ – she’d taken a mas­sive over­dose of bar­bi­tu­rates, jumped in the freez­ing cold wa­ter and it slowed her heart rate right down.”

For the next stage play, James is work­ing on his ghost story, The House On Cold Hill. He also still has hopes for a Roy Grace TV se­ries, which is in long-term de­vel­op­ment at ITV.

“Part of the rea­son it’s taken so long to bring it to [ the screen] is be­cause I’m de­ter­mined that when it’s done, it’s done right,” says James, who balked at one BBC pro­posal to up­root Grace to Scot­land. “I just hope it will be worth the wait. For me it’s the most suc­cess­ful thing I’ve ever writ­ten. I feel massively close to it – I in­tend to go on writ­ing them for many years to come.”

Not Dead Enough is on tour from 25 Jan­uary: not­deade­nough.co.uk

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.