HE HAS entranced millions of people all over the world with his crime stories but Peter James could not resist a touch of the dark side even while celebrating his wedding.

The bestselling author and his new wife Lara chose the Mexican Day of the Dead horror festival as the theme for their party to celebrate their wedding, thrilling guests with skulls, stilt-men and fireworks.

The cross-over with his books did not end there, as the real-life retired detective who inspires his most famous character served as one of his ‘good men’.

Mr James explained: “I decided that instead of having a best man I would have four ‘good men’ and the real life Detective Roy Grace [ex- Sussex CID’s David Gaylor] was one of them. He was keeping everybody on the straight and narrow.”

The 66-year-old author met his new wife, 36, on a ski lift in the French resort of Courchevel two years ago and they got together after she came to one of his events back at home.

He said: “It was just totally random. I was skiing with this mate of mine and she got on the lift with three guys and they were all from Horsham or Brighton.

“We just got chatting and ended up skiing with her. It is strange: had I taken a lift earlier or she had not got on that lift we would never have met.”

The pair were married at Jeremy’s Restaurant in Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath, in a ceremony officiated by Trevor Love from Brighton and Hove Register Office. The party and blessing was held later at their home near Henfield.

More than than 300 guests attended, including Coronation Street actor Les Dennis, who starred in a theatre adaption of Mr James’ novel The Perfect Murder.

For the party and blessing Mr James and his wife Lara, previously Lara Loveys, chose Day of the Dead – the Mexican festival celebrating the lives of people who have died – after spotting people dressed for the day while visiting the country.

True to form, Mr James made sure to give his audience a little fright during the big day.

He said: “The man who did the fireworks came up to me and said: ‘Do you want to scare the hell out of everyone?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ He had this control panel and said: ‘Press this button,’ and so I did and there was a massive explosion.”