Continuing Mystery & Crime Fiction Month…
Innocent Blood by P.D. James is not strictly a crime thriller – there is no detective putting together clues and evidence to get to the bottom of a mystery.
But there is crime, thrill, mystery, revenge and excitement enough for this to qualify. It is more a psychological thriller, keeping us wanting to know which way the protagonist will go – what choices she will make and how that will affect her life and the lives of the people around her…
Synopsis: Philippa Palfrey was adopted when she was eight years old into a wealthy family. Not knowing who her parents are, she fantasizes that she is the daughter of an aristocrat and a parlor maid. The truth is hardly that innocent or romantic.
When she finds out the truth about her parents and their involvement in the murder of a 12 year old girl, it is only the beginning of a series of unsavory truths that she uncovers. Philippa has opened the sluice gates and the waters are about to get very murky.
Review: The story doesn’t go by at breakneck speed, but I was turning the pages, wanting to know what happens to each of the characters.
Philippa is not a lovable character at all – dry and unemotional, but she is intriguing and eccentric, reason enough to root for her. The other characters are also not lovable. Philippa’s adoptive father, Maurice is cold and academic, but we learn the reason for him being closed off from all emotional contact. Hilda, her adoptive mother is the one that I really felt for, thrust into a position where she is not comfortable and surrounded by emotionally unavailable people.
The story is also a sort of comment on genetics versus environment and how that affects a child. Does knowing the truth about one’s family or parents affect the choices we make in life?
Verdict: One of P.D. James’ best known novels, this is worth a read. This is not a super quick read, though, and less patient readers might not care to wade through the detailed storytelling that James is well known for.