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Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh #8)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  6,349 ratings  ·  251 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cheryl
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
...more
Chris
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
Alicia
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!
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
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 no ...more
Lobstergirl
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?
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
...more
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
...more
Prisca81
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
K
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Margie
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
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
...more
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
Carolyn
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
...more
Jennifer
Pretty decent book although I found the "main character" virtually non-existant.
Robert
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
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
...more
Murray
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
Erin
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
...more
Lara
Fue el que menos me gustó de toda la serie hasta ahora. Fue una buena historia de detectives, en general, pero para ser de James me resultó desbalanceado estructuralmente y no demasiado atrapante.

Fue el único de los ocho en el que me pareció que se guardó información que hubiese estado bueno que el lector tenga, tipo Conan Doyle. No llegó a ser intelectualmente deshonesto, pero sí desprolijo.

No la leí demasiado inspirada al nivel más sutil de descripción de los personajes tampoco, no me sentí t
...more
Andrea Hickman Walker
I really enjoy PD James. She writes very well. She recently (at the age of 92) wrote a sequel to Pride and Prejudice that involves Wickham's murder, which I'd like to read. This, however, is an older book that I found in a used bookshop the other day. It's one of the Adam Dalgliesh series, which is always good.

I have to say, however, I found this book disappointing. Dalgliesh, admittedly never the entire focus of the book, usually has a greater part in it. I didn't feel that that detracted from
...more
Doreen
P D James writes such intensely melancholy novels that it's sometimes hard to remember that there's supposed to be a mystery tucked in there, too. In Devices And Desires, Adam Dalgliesh leaves London to deal with his recently departed aunt's belongings in Norwich, and finds himself embroiled in a murder that may or may not be the doing of a local serial killer, all under the shadow of a controversial nuclear power plant. Along the way, there are meditations on loss, grief, fatherhood and the tie ...more
Surreysmum
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Andrew
I found this book in a book-swap box in our neighborhood and thought a mystery novel would kick off the summer nicely. I don't read mysteries much (some classic Wilkie Collins and, more recently, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series) and don't know whether P.D. James is generally well-regarded or not. I enjoyed the book enough to get through it, but not more than that.

The story begins predictably enough with a serial killer on the prowl along a stretch of Norfolk coastline. The protagonist, Ad
...more
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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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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)
Death Comes to Pemberley The Children of Men Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh, #1) Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh, #4) The Private Patient (Adam Dalgliesh, #14)

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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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