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Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh #8)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  6,825 ratings  ·  266 reviews
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 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, and getting nearer to Larksoken with every killing. And when Dalgliesh discovers th ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Warner Books (NY) (first published 1989)
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In a 1995 interview in the Paris Review, P.D. James gave celebrated American crime writer Dashiell Hammitt credit for the vigor of his language, the wise-cracks and one-liners. She was sure from childhood she wanted to be a writer because of her tendency to think in the third person, always telling her siblings original stories from her narrative thought-life.

Because of her love of detective novels, she chose the genre to begin her writing career when she was in her early forties. She preferred
This is not the best James book. It's not a bad book, but it's not the best. There is one plot development that does seem to come a bit out of left field.

Outside of that, this is still good James. She takes time with her characters, and this is really her strength as a writer. She shows people as human, and not a classic bad guy and good guy way. Even if we don't like a character, James still makes the reader feel something for the character, perhaps pity. This makes the people in the books hum
James Korsmo
This twenty-year-old novel proves once again that P. D. James is truly a master of the mystery genre. In this installment of the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series, her protagonist finds himself on England's sparsely populated headlands to attend to matters of his deceased aunt's estate. Meanwhile England's latest serial killer is on the loose. And his latest victim is an employee at the near-by nuclear power plant that dominates the headland. Though Dalgliesh is off-duty while out in the country, hi ...more
Jul 03, 2007 Alicia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, philosophers
Great character development, lots of side-plots, philosophical discussions, wonderful descriptions on the land & geography. thoroughly engrossing as well as a fantastic mystery!
This is so much more than a whodunnit.... It's just beautifully written - some great observations on human character, and really well structured. There is a dinner party near the beginning, and the book then follows each of the attendees in turn as they evolve from first simply the main characters in the book into the main suspects in a murder. This could have been a clumsy device, but somehow, PD James makes it work really well. I've not read any other Dalgliesh novels, but in this one he is no ...more
Rob and Liz
I now remember why I don't read mystery novels all of the time. I have been staying up late every evening for the last week trying to finish this great book. I actually find great mystery novels like this one more addictive than good TV shows or movies. I started it when I had severe diarrhea a couple of weekends ago and was essentially in the bathroom for the day. I finished it today when I was home again with severe laryngitis. TMI, I know. But TIA (This Is Africa!).

I have always enjoyed PD Ja
Sandra Danby
Perhaps of all the Adam Dalgliesh books so far, and this is the eighth in the series by PD James, this is the one with the strongest sense of place. The East Anglian coast: a bare, windswept, desolate landscape, its coastline dominated by Larksoken nuclear power station, it is a tight-knit community where there are few secrets and no hiding places.
The power station’s staff, its purpose and existence are at the centre of this murder mystery. Dalgiesh’s Aunt Jane has died and he visits her house,
Mar 30, 2012 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Udonis Haslem
P.D. James's characters are so uptight. It makes you cringe, how uptight they are. Dalgliesh, going through his deceased aunt's old photos, comes across some of her with her young fiance, and feels like a voyeur looking at them. Why? They have their clothes on. What normal person would feel like a voyeur? Then he burns the photos. What normal person burns old photos?
Michael A
I'm binging too much on PD James recently. This will be the last one for a couple of weeks.

I'm a bit frustrated because I couldn't read this series in order. You see, this particular book was written close to fifteen years after the last PD James novel I read. Since the 70s, I see she has come to favor more of a psychological approach. She has moved from Christie like puzzles to puzzle novels with self-reference and one highly introspective detective to this. I'm trying to figure out why she thi
Jean Brodahl
My best friend Diane got me hooked on James, an English author with many, many writing accolades.

From Google Books: 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
P.D. James was a gifted author who happened to create complex mysteries. I'm working my way through all of the Adam Dalgliesh series. Many of them are set in either Suffolk or Norfolk. Her characterizations are splendid. Dalgliesh is a noted poet as well as the best detective at Scotland Yard.
This one had to do with rural natives and the people from the new nuclear energy plant on the shore near them. Extremely great mystery! Dense with setting and unique characters.
I found this book quite boring.
The main character, Adam, was hardly metioned. I would have hoped he would have a bigger role in the book, but he was hardly in it.
Instead I was served long, boring and uninteresting character descriptions, metaphors etc. that went on page after page. I quickly forgot one characters history/descprtion when reading about the next one.
That lost my interest immediately.
I want to see things move forward, but it all just went too slowly. Until near the end. When everyth
This is a delightfully complex story insofar as it involves so many plausible suspects. I enjoyed this more than the admittedly few others by P. D. James that I've read thus far. The only real disappointment for me was that for an Adam Dalgliesh mystery, he played rather a minor role and I had expected him to fill the chief inspector slot in solving the mystery. Nevertheless, I shall continue reading in this series,as I love James' rich use of language and vocabulary. A thinking man's writer ind ...more
Debbie Maskus
This is an Adam Dalgliesh mystery set in an imaginary setting on the north-east coast of Norfolk, complicated by the presence of a nuclear plant. The setting and the multitude of characters provide a delightful story with amny twists and turns. The story begins with a serial killer on the loose, the Whistler, who strangles women. He has killed 5. Dalgliesh is in the area to settle the estate(a windmill) that an aunt has left him. James is not an author that allows a quick read, the book is to be ...more
Panu Mäkinen
Tiiliskividekkaristi P. D. Jamesilla on lukuisia teoksia, joiden nimi ei juurikaan kuvaile itse kertomusta, kuten Pahuuden palkka (Original Sin), Oikeus on sokea (A Certain Justice) ja Dalgliesh ja kuolema (The Black Tower).

Totuus ja toiveet ei ole siinä suhteessa poikkeus. P. D. James rakentaa tavattoman huolellisesti tarinan jokaisen keskeisen henkilön ympärille, mikä näkyy kohtuuttoman runsaana sivumääränä. Kirjan miljöö on ankea: puuton niemi jossain Koillis-Englannin rannikolla, ja ni
Bill Rogers
Adam Dalgliesh has a bit of the Jessica Fletcher Disease. Anywhere he goes, people die.

Of course it's not his fault, especially not in this case. The Norfolk Whistler, a serial killer, has been busy killing women long before Dalgliesh comes to the Larksoken Headland to stay at the old windmill he has just inherited from his beloved aunt, Jane. It is not Dalgliesh's fault that Rikards, a detective who holds a grudge against Dalgliesh, hasn't been able to catch The Whistler. Nor is it Dalgliesh's
Jill Hutchinson
The late PD James ranks as one of the greatest British mystery writers and I usually am fascinated with her books featuring Cmdr. Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard. He is an intelligent, sensitive man who also is a popular poet (although he doesn't like to talk about that part of his life.) But this book did not capture my attention like others in the series have. First, Dalgliesh has a rather secondary part as the murders are not on his turf.....he is only visiting the area. So the story concentr ...more
I think this was one of the first P.D. James books I read. It's good, but a bit different from some of her other Adam Dalgleish stories because A.D. is only a minor character. Not my favorite of hers, but even her worst is pretty darn good.
While I mostly enjoyed the story, I found the writing itself distracting. It seemed overwrought and overambitious--too many clumsy metaphors and cliché similes and character descriptions that contradicted themselves.
Bev Taylor
inspector dalgliesh again - but a minor part

a murderer is on the loose in a remote area of the norfolk coast. known as the whistler it is possible that he is the same as a murderer in london

dalgliesh is in the norfolk village sorting out the affairs of his aunt and the bodies are mounting.
a nuclear power station blots the landscape and it is very difficult to believe that one village can house so many characters with secrets they wish to keep hidden

excellent characterisation and also landscap
Katherine Clark
Wow--this was the best P.D. James book I've read so far. I'm trying really hard as I read to figure out what works and what doesn't for me. In this book, James does what she always does so well, and then some. She is a master at 3rd person narration. I love how she creates wonderful back stories for all of the important characters. In this book in particular, even though Dalgleish was important to the story, he wasn't the detective solving the crime, so there was an interesting shift in focus; a ...more
Well-characterized, thoughtful, and beautifully descriptive, as with any PD James mystery. But the fact that Adam Dalgleish is in the background for much of the novel and the wrap-up to the mystery is (to me, at least) over-complicated and unbelievable, out of character with her small-town focus, meant that I enjoyed it less than usual.

P.S. Incidentally, I noticed some discussion of the downward spiral of civilization, prodded by humanity's hedonistic tendencies. Given that this novel was publis
it's always a challenge to keep up with the characters in a Dalgliesh novel and certainly this is no exception. The number of main characters (most of them suspects) is high and the complexity of their relationships is extreme. It's a shame, though, that our poor Commander just can't get a break -- expecting a quiet, reflective visit to his recently-deceased aunt's home, he encounters instead a psychopathic serial killer, a group protesting a nuclear power plant, and a dead body on the beach. Al ...more
An Odd1
Title phrase is used when Meg asks if the small voice could be ours, not God. "Can we ever break free of the devices and desires of our own hearts?" p 400. Later Meg realizes Alice, Hilary's killer, intended Meg to die too. "Here the past and the present fused, and her own life, with its trivial devices and desires, seemed only an insignificant moment in the long history of the headland" p 433.

Boring, meanders, sidetracks. Suddenly terrorist Operation Birdcall causes Caroline to panic when admi
Pretty decent book although I found the "main character" virtually non-existant.
In my opinion, P.D. James was a stellar writer whose specialty was the crime novel. This work is part noir--desolate location in East Anglia; not one but two blonds; gruesome murders; imaginative plot twists. I have read several of the author's crime novels and I think this is the best. It is all here--beautifully crafted prose (the three pages describing the interrogation of the publican and his wife captures the colloquy of a 50 year marriage spot on); great character development and descripti ...more
Interesting mystery published 25 years ago, with a marvelous setting on a fictional headland in Norfolk, England. A nuclear power plant looms within view of the residents, and an employee is found dead on the beach, her death a copycat of recent serial killer murders. A lot is going on as we learn the secrets and motives of the characters, and it's hard to say how much may be the author's own politics and opinions. The plot of the book was sometimes a little dull, but the dramatic locale kept me ...more
C.C. Yager
Every time I read a P. D. James novel, I wonder why I don't read them more often. They are the reading equivalent of luxuriating in a deep, soft, pillow-top bed and eating chocolate covered cherries. I love James' writing, her insistence that the mystery genre can be literary and still adhere to the genre's requirements. Devices and Desires was no different.

But it was different. An Adam Dalgliesh novel, this detective is not the lead detective on the case in Larksoken, East Anglia. Dalgliesh is
I was introduced to James by Lyndsay, my British sister-in-law. I met her at university and introduced her to my cousin. She was quite brilliant and always led me to good reads and we both shared a fondness for mysteries. I soon after picked up a book called The Black Tower and found it impossibly obtuse and full of painstaking pretensions. The detective that populates her mysteries is a respected, published poet in his off hours so you get a lot of snoot. He is not Jim Chee from the Hillerman b ...more
Devices and desires would have gotten 4 stars except that I personally did not like the ending of the book. One the other hand it was well written and used a lot of words that you do not often read or hear in everyday use. A

The characters in this novel were well developed and well described there was very little left to the imagination which left the reader more time to get into the mystery and wonder what was going on. The story itself took many different paths and did not just follow the one s
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P. D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James was the author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BB
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Other Books in the Series

Adam Dalgliesh (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh, #1)
  • A Mind to Murder (Adam Dalgliesh, #2)
  • Unnatural Causes (Adam Dalgliesh, #3)
  • Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh, #4)
  • The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh, #5)
  • Death of an Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh, #6)
  • A Taste for Death (Adam Dalgliesh, #7)
  • Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh, #9)
  • A Certain Justice (Adam Dalgliesh, #10)
  • Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, #11)

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“Success in moderation was no doubt better for the character than failure, but too much of it and he would lose his cutting edge.” 2 likes
“The very old, he thought, make our past. Once they go it seems for a moment that neither it nor we have any real existence.” 1 likes
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