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Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh #8)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  7,991 Ratings  ·  322 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 ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Warner Books (NY) (first published 1989)
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James Korsmo
Mar 04, 2016 James Korsmo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mystery
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 nearby nuclear power plant that dominates the headland. Though Dalgliesh is off duty while out in the country, his ...more
Chris
Jul 02, 2009 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-british
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
...more
Sandra Danby
Nov 18, 2015 Sandra Danby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Lobstergirl
Mar 30, 2012 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  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?
Rob and Liz
Oct 10, 2012 Rob and Liz rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Ian
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 ...more
Bruce
Jun 13, 2016 Bruce rated it liked it
The edition I read of Devices and Desires was one of those tubby paperbacks with the glossy cover in bas relief which I avoid, assuming them to be formulaic thrillers, not detective novels. Ms. James does write real detective novels, and though the leisurely unfolding of the various subplots throughout 400 plus pages seemed verbose, I must admit these subplots satisfactorily dovetailed with each other, and contributed to the theme, which is the God-centered nature of human conscience. I was freq ...more
Prisca81
Dec 31, 2012 Prisca81 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned-books
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
...more
Michael A
Jan 07, 2015 Michael A rated it liked it
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
...more
Etienne Mahieux
Dec 28, 2015 Etienne Mahieux rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quand Adam Dalgliesh part en vacances, il passe souvent à l'arrière-plan de l'enquête, comme dans "Sans les mains", où il tentait une villégiature chez sa tante Jane, ici décédée, ce qui explique qu'on retrouve notre brillant fonctionnaire-poète dans le moulin désormais désert de la tantine, qui voisine avec une centrale nucléaire sur un cap imaginaire du Norfolk.
Dans la région sévit un tueur à gages aux manies à peu près identifiées, surnommé le Siffleur (en anglais "Whistler", ce qui dans un l
...more
Spuddie
Aug 09, 2012 Spuddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another of PD James's long, convoluted, cerebral, plot-driven mysteries which sometimes make you think to yourself (especially mid-book), "come on, get on with it!" but at the end leave you with a satisfied sigh. Unlike many more modern mystery series, the Adam Dalgliesh books are all about the mystery itself, not about befriending the main character. Since this is the 8th book in series, we do feel like we're getting to know Adam better, but much of the space is spent telling things from the ...more
Nicole
Mar 14, 2008 Nicole rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
I really need to stop reading P.D. James. My understanding is that plenty of people love her, but this is the third book I've read and finished only out of a sense of duty. In a twist, her hero Adam Dalgleish (or however you spell that) is on the outside of a case looking in. I'm not sure whether this was just to do something new, or to give us fascinating insights on what it's like to be involved in a murder case when you're not the police, but I wasn't impressed. For a sensitive poet such as ...more
Wendy
Sep 05, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
In this book, Adam Dalgliesh spends a holiday on the Norfolk coast, and quickly becomes involved in the investigation of some local murders. What starts out as a very straightforward police procedural quickly turns into an intricate examination of character, as we find out that most of the local residents, whether complicit in the murders or not, have hidden motives and reasons to lie to the police and to each other. In the end, the web of secrets is so complicated that even Dalgliesh doesn't ...more
Jean
Mar 27, 2009 Jean rated it really liked it
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
...more
Fanficfan44
Jul 25, 2016 Fanficfan44 rated it it was amazing
Last night I read this, Devices and Desires, which is book #8 in the series. I loved it! The plot was intricate and well done. All the characters, motives and alibis woven together in a way that kept you thinking about not just who the murder is, but also how all the other pieces were going to fit together in the end. I particularly liked the Mrs. Dennison’s story, it just resonated with me.

In this book, the author has developed a stong sense of place and this impacts the whole experience of rea
...more
Fanficfan44
Jul 25, 2016 Fanficfan44 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last night I read this, Devices and Desires, which is book #8 in the series. I loved it! The plot was intricate and well done. All the characters, motives and alibis woven together in a way that kept you thinking about not just who the murder is, but also how all the other pieces were going to fit together in the end. I particularly liked the Mrs. Dennison’s story, it just resonated with me.

In this book, the author has developed a stong sense of place and this impacts the whole experience of rea
...more
Darlene Franklin
Just started - my treat for myself for having kept up with my alphabet soup challenge. And I'm over halfway. Woo hoo!
At the end: A good reminder of why I like P.D. James. The mystery was challenging, the murderer brought to my attention at the very beginning but then carefully hidden under layers in this closed-room mystery. It's also a look at nuclear power, pro and con, with several comments on the "devices and desires" of men. "Here the present and the past fused, and her own life,with its tr
...more
Debbie Maskus
Jan 03, 2010 Debbie Maskus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
K
Jan 17, 2015 K rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Kyrie
Sep 15, 2015 Kyrie rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Definitely a good story with lots of characters to care about - lots of room for one's own thoughts.

There are a lot of subplots - about marriages, births, siblings, aging and death. And oh,yes, nuclear power plants, terrorism and bullies.

Lots of options for the killer - all very plausible.

She always makes me wish I had an old (well kept, of course) house, somewhere on a isolated stretch of the British coast.
Jane
Sep 06, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
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.
Lizzy
Aug 21, 2016 Lizzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We have the whole gamut here. Terrorists, serial killer, nuclear energy, protest groups, along with the psychology of the characters and their backgrounds. Adam is actually not the detective on the case though he is involved. Some of it is plausible, other parts are not. And it all takes place on a hauntingly, mysterious sea village with the moaning ocean and howling trees. I do love the meatiness of James' mysteries. I can hunker down and forget all about my own reality.
Russell
Apr 27, 2007 Russell rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I enjoy all of P.D.James's mysteries - well-written escape - almost makes you think you're doing something useful while you're in the hammock - and would recommend any of them to mystery-lovers. This one just happens to be my favorite - the usual intricate weave of several plots, vivid settings, particularly interesting (to me) and varied set of characters, and an ending you might not expect.
Wesley Hill
Jul 02, 2008 Wesley Hill rated it liked it
My second James novel to read. She's so unlike other mystery novelists I've read... even her minor characters are given full lives of their own, and everyone -- even, or especially -- the 'good guys' operate out of mixed motives and conflicting ambitions. Again and again I was struck by what a keen observer of human nature James is; at multiple points, I felt 'found out' by her observations.
Charlotte Smith
Jul 27, 2016 Charlotte Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had me guess right to the end about the killer. I would never have guessed. Adam dalgliesh travels to his aunt's house after she has died and is in on the M15 on what is going on. Hard to put and one I wanted to know who it was but not wanting it to end.
Margie
Dec 10, 2009 Margie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, series, u-k
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.
Beth
Dec 30, 2011 Beth rated it it was ok
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.
Katie Lawrence
Mar 26, 2016 Katie Lawrence rated it really liked it
As always, it is well-written and the characters are fully developed. The plot seems a bit convoluted toward the end, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Jennifer
Jan 15, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
Pretty decent book although I found the "main character" virtually non-existant.
ElaineY
Sep 09, 2010 ElaineY rated it it was amazing
The image of the blond killer walking along the dark, lonely road haunted me for years.
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Setting 4 19 Aug 16, 2013 09:08AM  
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P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James was the author of over 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 th
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More about P.D. James...

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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