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Devices and Desires

Cover of Devices and Desires

Devices and Desires

Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Series, Book 8
Featuring the famous Commander Adam Dalgliesh, Devices and Desires is a thrilling and insightfully crafted novel of fallible people caught in a net of secrets, ambitions, and schemes on a lonely...More
Featuring the famous Commander Adam Dalgliesh, Devices and Desires is a thrilling and insightfully crafted novel of fallible people caught in a net of secrets, ambitions, and schemes on a lonely...More
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  • Featuring the famous Commander Adam Dalgliesh, Devices and Desires is a thrilling and insightfully crafted novel of fallible people caught in a net of secrets, ambitions, and schemes on a lonely stretch of Norfolk coastline.

    Commander Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard has just published a new book of poems and has taken a brief respite from publicity on the remote Larksoken headland on the Norfolk coast in a converted windmill left to him by his aunt. But he cannot so easily escape murder. A psychotic strangler of young women is at large in Norfolk, and getting nearer to Larksoken with every killing. And when Dalgliesh discovers the murdered body of the Acting Administrative Officer on the beach, he finds himself caught up in the passions and dangerous secrets of the headland community and in one of the most baffling murder cases of his career.


    From the Trade Paperback edition.
 
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  • From the book

    Book One
    Friday 16 September to Tuesday 20 September


    1


    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. As always, she had left it until the last minute to leave the disco, and the floor was still a packed, gyrating mass of bodies under the makeshift strobe lights when she broke free of Wayne's clutching hands, shouted instructions to Shirl about their plans for next week above the raucous beat of the music and left the dance floor. Her last glimpse of Wayne was of his serious, bobbing face bizarrely striped with red, yellow and blue under the turning lights. Without waiting to change her shoes, she snatched up her jacket from the cloakroom peg and raced up the road past the darkened shops towards the bus station, her cumbersome shoulder-bag flapping against her ribs. But when she turned the corner into the station she saw with horror that the lights on their high poles shone down on a bleached and silent emptiness and, dashing to the corner, was in time to see the bus already half-way up the hill. There was still a chance if the lights were against it, and she began desperately chasing after it, hampered by her fragile, high-heeled shoes. But the lights were green and she watched helplessly, gasping and bent double with a sudden cramp, as it lumbered over the brow of a hill and like a brightly lit ship sank out of sight. "Oh no!" she screamed after it, "Oh God! Oh no!" and felt the tears of anger and dismay smarting her eyes.

    This was the end. It was her father who laid down the rules in her family, and there was never any appeal, any second chance. After protracted discussion and her repeated pleas, she had been allowed this weekly visit on Friday evenings to the disco run by the church Youth Club, provided she caught the 9.40 bus without fail. It put her down at the Crown and Anchor at Cobb's Marsh, only fifty yards from her cottage. From 10.15 her father would begin watching for the bus to pass the front room where he and her mother would sit half-watching the television, the curtains drawn back. Whatever the programme or weather, he would then put on his coat and come out to walk the fifty yards to meet her, keeping her always in sight. Since the Norfolk Whistler had begun his killings, her father had had an added justification for the mild domestic tyranny which, she half-realized, he both thought right in dealing with his only child and rather enjoyed. The concordat had been early established: "You do right by me, my girl, and I'll do right by you." She both loved him and slightly feared him, and she dreaded his anger. Now there would be one of those awful rows in which she knew she couldn't hope to look to her mother for support. It would be the end of her Friday evenings with Wayne and Shirl and the gang. Already they teased and pitied her because she was treated as a child. Now it would be total humiliation.

    Her first desperate thought was to hire a taxi and to chase the bus, but she didn't know where the cab rank was and she hadn't enough money; she was sure of that. She could go back to the disco and see if Wayne and Shirl and the gang between them could lend her enough. But Wayne was always skint and Shirl too mean, and by the time she had argued and cajoled it would be too late.

    And then came salvation. The lights had changed again to red, and a car at the end of a tail of four others was just drawing slowly to a stop. She found herself opposite the open, left-hand window and looking directly at two elderly women. She clutched at the lowered glass and said breathlessly:...
Reviews-
  • The New York Times Book Review

    "Taut. . . . Absorbing. . . . Better than her best."

  • The Washington Post Book World "I have often thought of mysteries as the sorbets of literature, something light and tangy to clear the palate between more serious courses. The books of P.D. James, however are more substantial fare, fulfilling as well as delicious, and Devices and Desires is no exception."
  • The Wall Street Journal "A masterful writer . . . Devices and Desires seems to be that highly prized work--a terrific tale suspense and detection that also delivers the satisfaction of a mainstream novel."
  • The Kansas City Star "Brilliant . . . wonderful. P.D. James does it again." --USA Today

    "Her stories are so engrossing that it is difficult to read slowly enough to pay attention to the remarkable writing. But in Devices and Desires, she is so at the top of her form that to rush though would itself be a crime."
  • Newsday "Undiluted pleasure."
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Vintage P.D. James. . . . Devotees of Britain's Queen of Crime will be enthralled . . . showcasing lyrical prose abounding with vivid imagery, suberbly delineated characters, and a labyrinthine puzzle. . . . It's impossible to resist this haunting, dark tale."
  • Glamour "We're glued to P.D. James's beautifully spun whodunit. . . . The master's shivering touch is intact."
  • Boston Herald "A cleverly crafted book that readers may very well stay up all night to finish. . . . She exposes the murderously repressed rage beneath the clam surface of typical middle-class Britishers."
  • People "The greatest living mystery writer . . . weaves a dazzling array of psychological profiles into a gently ironic examination of human life and the 'relative value' we ascribe to it."
  • Booklist "James at her best . . . a superb tale of murder."
  • The Seattle Times "Devices and Desires may be her best yet. . . . The plot is superb, with the larger moral issues of a nearby nuclear power station and the thickly interwoven lives of characters lending measured gravity to the sensational murder story. And the prose style is a dream."
  • New Woman "Un-put-downable. . . . P.D. James is never content with just a formulaic detective story. She takes the whodunit to deeper levels."
  • The Detroit News "James is one of Britain's best writers in the genre. . . . Devices and Desires brings the classic whodunit as far as it can go."
  • The Sacramento Bee "The best book she's written. It has literary merit that detective works seldom attempt . . . everything fits beautifully."
  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram "No other mystery writer--and few writers period--offers such a rich bounty. . . . Devices and Desires is superb. It is what good writing--and reading--is all about. James has used all her powers to produce her best work yet. Her fans--old and new--will be overjoyed."
  • San Diego Magazine "James once again gives us a convincing portrait of contemporary society, while at the same time she scrupulously observes--and smartly updates and complicates--all the mystery genre conventions."
  • Library Journal
    "Demonstrates just how well James commands the English language. . . . The complex plot unfolds into the usual Jamesian tangle of human relationships and subplots. The story takes shape as James unwraps each nuance of personality, each intricate piece of the puzzle."
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Devices and Desires
Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Series, Book 8
P.D. James
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P.D. James
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