2007: 46. Devices and Desires

“The Whistler’s fourth victim was his youngest, Valerie Mitchell, aged fifteen years, eight months and four days, and she died because she missed the 9.40 bus from Easthaven to Cobb’s Marsh.”

Devices and Desires, P.D. James

This book takes places on the isolated Norfolk coastline.  Adam Dagliesh’s last remaining relative, his aunt Jane, has died, and he has inherited her cottage on the coast.  In need of a vacation, he takes time off from his Scotland Yard duties to relax and deal with his new possessions.  However, his resting is cut short by the presence of a serial killer, a copy-cat crime, and of course, the Larksoken nuclear power plant, looming over the headland and lurking over them all.  


This is a pretty good murder mystery.  Once you suspend your disbelief that a police detective on a holiday would naturally fall into a social situation where there was a murder (shades of the old Jessica Fletcher problem!), it is nice and atmospheric, with lots of possible suspects, and a satisfying solution.  There is one silly subplot that unnecessarily pops up at the end, and adds little to the story (without giving too much away, what was the point of the Caroline and Amy bit?), but all in all a good mystery.  The best part is how James sets up the location and makes it part of the plot - almost a character on its own.  The sweeping coastline, the hulking power plant, the dark sea.  Very nice.


Recommended for:  People who like mystery novels; modern environmentalists wondering how nuclear power was written about in 1989 - there is a nice bit about how people get all het up about nuclear power, but don’t consider greenhouse gases, which seems nicely current.


Date/Place Completed: 4/6/07, D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Re-Read; PD James Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017