Brought up in Motherwell, Professor James Grieve graduated in Medicine from Aberdeen University in 1977. After Pathology training in Aberdeen, a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) saw him spend time in London, Washington DC and Germany, before returning to Aberdeen University in 1989 as Senior Lecturer in Forensic Medicine, and senior forensic pathologist in the Region. In that role, he performed post-mortem investigations into around 550 sudden unexpected deaths each year, including cases of sudden natural death, accidental death, suicide and homicide Although initially retired in 2014, when he was appointed Emeritus Professor in Forensic Medicine at the University, he soon thereafter returned to practice, finally retiring in 2018. He has regularly given evidence in the Courts, particularly in homicide trials.
Advising crime fiction authors and participating in crime writing events has been a regular pastime and has been a source of great enjoyment and fulfilment over the last couple of decades. Appearances at Theakstons Old Peculiar Harrogate International Crime Writers Festival, Bloody Scotland, Granite Noir and with Ann Cleeves in Shetland, as well as many other smaller book and science festivals and book launches have always been a great entertainment and pleasing diversion from the tragedies of everyday work as a Scottish Forensic pathologist. In professional terms, he considered particular achievements to be in the field of genetic causes of sudden death, and meetings with bereaved relatives to explain causes and circumstances of deaths.
James is married to Nicola, a retired paediatrician, they have four children, and five grandchildren.