Devices and Desires by P.D. James (Adam Dalgliesh)

1 Nov

Devices and DesiresGenre: Crime fiction

Publisher: Warner Books

Source: Purchased

My love affair with P.D. James’ books continues with this Adam Dalgliesh mystery, the 8th in the series. While the first book in this series did not have a completely fleshed out Dalgliesh, in this book he has many more facets. His book of poetry has been recently published and we get some sense of his history with the police department and some other characters.

This is one of those books that you want to curl up on a sofa with, hot cuppa and samosas close at hand. That’s not to say there is nothing gory or disturbing about the murder(s), far from it, but the setting, the language and the protagonist come together wonderfully to make this an extremely enjoyable read.


Adam Dalgliesh has inherited a windmill and cottage on the coast of Norfolk from his eccentric aunt. While he is there to settle the inheritance and make some decisions, there is also a serial killer at work on this lonely coast-land. The killer targets women at night and the entire community is living in fear, hoping for the Whistler (as the killer is known) to be caught soon.

The atomic power station casts a shadow over the community and is also the source of many concerns and controversies.

Crimes are being planned and murder is being committed. “The motive for all these crimes is desire, but as Dalgliesh discovers, the devices for achieving each are as complex as the hopes, hurts and fears that enmesh themselves in the human heart.” (from the blurb)


One of James’ strengths is that each character she puts into her story is clear and memorable. I was reading another crime thriller at the same time and kept switching back and forth between the two books, but each time I had no problem picking up where I left off. Each character is so well-defined and the creator really cares about them, so that as a reader, you can easily slip back between the covers and continue following their lives.

There are many political motives, personal clashes, sexual preferences and economic issues at work here.

Adam Dalgliesh is not the detective on this case, but becomes involved in the investigation as he is taking care of personal business in the area. He brings his intelligence, empathy and quiet and sensitive energy to the story.

A book is much more memorable when the murderer is a character that the reader hates or really likes. While there are clues throughout as to who it could be, I found myself hoping I was wrong!


Heartily recommended for any crime fiction fan.

This post is part of my Mystery & Crime Fiction Month. Find more reviews and recommendations.


3 Responses to “Devices and Desires by P.D. James (Adam Dalgliesh)”

  1. mike draper November 2, 2010 at 4:50 am #

    Enjoyed this review, informative, well written and analytical.

  2. Rebecca Glenn November 9, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    Great review. Thanks for sharing it on The Book Frog’s Reading Roundup. Remember-this is a regular feature. I hope you’ll share another post this coming Saturday!



  1. Mystery & Crime Fiction Month « Stargazerpuj's Book Blog - November 1, 2010

    […] P.D. James – Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh series) – read my review. […]

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