Devices and Desires

P. D. James, Author Alfred A. Knopf $19.95 (433p) ISBN 978-0-394-58070-8
James ( A Taste for Death ) sets her 11th novel on Larksoken, a remote windswept headland in Norfolk, where the presence of a huge nuclear energy plant serves as a metaphor for the power of the past to rule over her characters. Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, in Larsoken to settle an estate left him at the death of a relative, is drawn into the investigation of a serial killer, the Whistler. Dalgliesh's neighbors include the power station's director, Alex Mair; his elegant sister Alice, a cookbook author; acting administrator--and Alex's former lover--Hilary Robarts; and anti-nuclear activist Neil Pascoe. The next signature killing , of the widely disliked Robarts, turns out to have occurred hours after a young man who firmly establishes his identity as the Whistler commits suicide. The question of who murdered Robarts, then, centers around motive. This intricate, layered mystery may be read as parable: we can escape the consequences of our choices, political and personal, no more than we can shed our private histories. This is dark James, plotted with a slight unevenness but utterly faithful to her deeply and sympathetically plumbed characters. 175,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB main selections. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Hardcover - 978-0-517-07898-3
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-446-67919-0
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