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Book Review: DEVICES AND DESIRES by P. D. James

When Adam Dalgliesh heads to the remote Larksoken headland to clean out the converted windmill left to him by his aunt, he was expecting a quiet, reflective few days on the Norfolk coast. Instead, the Scotland Yard detective finds himself entangled in a series of murders by a serial strangler who is targeting the young women of the area.

DEVICES AND DESIRES by P. D. James is the eighth book in the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series, and is vintage James through and through. It is full of complex characters, marvelous settings, and sinister motives. By this book, Dalgliesh is a well established character and his stories all share a thoughtful and low-drama but atmospheric approach. DEVICES AND DESIRES departs from others in that Dalgliesh is involved but is not the detective on the case and not working with his usual team. Yet, he remains central to the plot of the book.


The mystery in DEVICES AND DESIRES is engrossing, but it is the detailed characterization and atmospheric descriptions that elevate this novel to a true James classic. This book is more than just a mystery. It is a study of persons caught up in a difficult and unknowable situation. The complexity of social issues, personal issues, ambition, greed and desperation is engaging, and on occasion, disturbing.


DEVICES AND DESIRES is a worthy addition to the Adam Dalgliesh series and is an excellent and entertaining story.