Innocent Blood
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Innocent Blood

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  2,552 ratings  ·  171 reviews
An original novel of extraordinary power, Innocent Blood is the story of 18-year-old Philippa Palfrey, adopted as a child, who is plunged into a dangerous and terrifying world when she discovers the shocking truth about her natural parents - and learns that her birth mother is about to be released from prison. Innocent Blood is considered by many to be one of P.D. James' f...more
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published 1960 by Charles Scribner's Sons
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mark monday
who hasn't imagined that they were actually a child of mysterious fortune or an heir to a legacy of romantic adventure? does anyone imagine the opposite - the legacy instead one of squalid violence and tawdry misadventure, straight from tabloid headlines?

this early revelation is only the first of many disconnects between fantasy and reality that the oddly good-humored protagonist suffers. essentially a slow-burning psychological mystery depicting the uncomfortable dance between a murderess, her...more
Manny
Over the last year or so, I have met a wide variety of people who like knitting - not least the ferocious and redoubtable knitters of CERN, one of whom was even featured on a recent Swiss TV program. So, although I do not knit myself, I have come to develop some appreciation of the joy and heartbreak it can bring people.

This book is one that I would advise knitters to approach with great caution. Suppose there were a person you had thought about every day for many years, and longed desperately t...more
Lobstergirl
Aug 26, 2012 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fawns
James is a good writer - she must be considered at the top of the heap of the world's mystery writers. Most others don't come close. But her worldview is so misanthropic, most of her characters so hateful, pathetic, or disgusting (the lovely Dalgliesh is an exception, and it's why you breathe a sigh of relief whenever he appears) that all her novels are tinged and blighted by it. Soaked in it. This is a psychological thriller, not a police procedural; Dalgliesh is not a character. In this book t...more
Gwen
This is an odd and disturbing book. It's been some years since I read PD James. I was impressed all over again by her skill as a writer and her ability to deal with psychological issues. But I was also reminded how bleak her world view is. Of ccourse the story is not exactly a light one, but I found the lengthy descriptive passages a bit heavy handed, as if she were writing a guidebook to the streets of London for depressives. Even in the passages where she relects joy in her characters she make...more
Kirsty
This was my first P.D. James and I'll definitely be reading more.

Innocent Blood tells the story of Philippa Palfrey, an 18 year old who was adopted at age 8. She has decided to exercise her right to find out who her birth parents were in an attempt to discover who she really is. It doesn't all go to plan though, when she finds out the truth about her real parents - and it's not the same as the romantic fantasies she's made up in her head.

I loved this book from start to finish. It kept me engro...more
Lisa
This thriller reveals P D James to (possibly) have some particularly unpleasant victim blaming beliefs - it appearing to be the fault of victims and their parents when rape and murder is committed. At first I thought this was just the view of the particularly unpleasant fictional narrator but by the end, when these views went unchallenged, realised they were very likely the author's opinions too. I wish I had not read this book. I've always had problems with her right wing (Conservative) politic...more
KarenC
Wish we could award half stars - liked the writing, but the story dragged in places. James as always did a great job setting the scene, describing locations, and helping the reader to picture the characters. I always learn new vocabulary from her books, at least one new word each title. She writes in what I consider a typically "English" way, evoking a totally different atmosphere from the usual crime novel. While this book did not engage the reader in solving a crime, it did engage me in a comi...more
NancyHelen
As I was reading this, I really thought I would only rate it a 3. It was written in the usual, erudite, highly intellectual way of PD James, but I was thinking that it would never really work as a crime novel in the present day. Far too much time was spent on description, both physical and locational description as well as psychological description. So the story itself is quite slow. At 313 pages, it seems like a reasonable length for a crime novel, but having been published in 1981, the type in...more
Lorel
Mar 28, 2009 Lorel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of psychological studies, terrific descriptive powers and suspense, and/or Anglophiles
[Note that I listened to this book on tape. It was read flawlessly by Michael Jayston and came from Chivers Audio Books.:]

A suspenseful tale of murder, rape, revenge and (I believe, above all) personal growth, PD James’ “Innocent Blood” artfully navigates one of my favorite territories: the physical and psychosocial geography of England – from the grottiest of urban dives with shifty-eyed denizens, to the sadly middle-class suburbs, to the self-conscious upper-middle class districts of the well-...more
Mary Ellis
May 08, 2013 Mary Ellis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, people who like in-depth characterization
Recommended to Mary by: no one
P.D. James is known for deeply-explored motivations and deft characterization. This gives her mystery novels a special plus. Still, I'm not a great fan. The endings are supposed to be thrilling, but are more often mindless, such as: otherwise intelligent girl having heard noises must go down unarmed into dark cellar and be rescued from ultimate horror by savvy police detective. Said detective is usually this poet-cop, Dalgleish, whose angsty ruminations and above-it-all manner I find intrusive a...more
Endre Barath
I have been collecting quietly PD James novels, but time and other books took priority. So finally I read my first PD James novel.
I decided Innocent Blood would be my first read. PD James is an amazing writer. This is not just a Murder Mystery that I was accustomed to reading. What I found fascinating and in a strange way it was interesting, that I learned to like characters that I should have despised rather than like.
This is a story of revenge, atonement, forgiveness and at the same time a...more
Shireen McQuade
One of the best books I've ever read, but not for the feint-hearted. This is a story of revenge on many levels. It starts off with a young English woman wanting to learn the identity of her natural parents, for whom she has created romantic fantasies to explain their decision to place her up for adoption. The truth is slowly revealed but so are so many questions about the human condition, nature versus nurture, the essence of good character and human frailty. The story asks the question of how f...more
Hlogan
I wanted to like this book because my friend is such a fan of the author, but I had a hard time doing so. I didn't find many of the characters relatable - I just can't relate to a protagonist who doesn't care that her mother strangled the life out of an innocent child; and indeed only gets upset when (SPOILER ALERT) she finds out that her mother abused her too as a child....or to an adoptive family who doesn't have any love for her or each other....or her adoptive father (SPOILER ALERT) wanting...more
Kristensilvermoore
I really liked this book, until the very end, when there is a disturbing revelation tossed off like it's not a big deal. It was all far too Freudian for me! That said, on the whole I enjoyed the read. Just when I thought I knew all the answers, the author reveals that not all is as it seems. Also, even though I had big issues with the novel's protagonist, I did end up feeling sympathy for her--or really just sad for her. She's one mixed up young woman with serious daddy issues! Overall, I liked...more
Keith
To say that P.D. James is a genre-defying writer is an understatement. Yes, crime is involved and once again murder is involved but in a fashion that few writers, falling into the genre of “mystery writer”, are capable of attaining. Her talent for detail in describing the setting, as well as in the development of characters, is absorbing and compelling. Here, we meet well-educated and socially advantaged Philippa Palfrey, a clever, confident and coldly intelligent young woman, aware that she was...more
Kim Horning
Inspire of the fact that none of the characters are likeable, this is compelling disturbing, and unique suspense story.
Philipa is a spoiled, cold hearted 18-year-old who was adopted when she was eight. She decides to find her birth parents, and learns they raped and murdered an 11-year-old girl. In spite of this revelation she decides to move out of her adoptive parents' home and rent a flat in London where she an her mother, who is soon to be paroled from prison, can live for the summer. At th...more
Genki
Not quite what I was expecting, rather than a traditional murder mystery, this follows a young woman as she discovers the truth about her biological mother and her past. Concurrently, it features a man obsessed with revenge. P.D. James focuses on the emotions and thoughts of these two people and made me think about how our upbringing and our past can affect our actions in our future. It is still quite suspenseful and there are definitely crimes that take place, though no traditional detective ch...more
Mimi
I had a hard time staying with this book in the beginning but as it went on, I was hooked. The main characters are not as likeable as I would like them to be but they are authentic as to their types and descriptions. Philippa was adopted and at 18 wants to get her birth certificate and find her birth parents. Turns out they were killers and her mother is in jail. The father of the girl they killed seeks justice for his dead daughter when he finds out the jailed mother is getting out. His life ch...more
Consuelo
“Innocent Blood” is a psychological thriller by P.D. James. The protagonist, Philippa Rose Palfrey, who has experienced a privileged life with her adopted parents, just turned 18 years old. She is looking forward to attending Cambridge University with a scholarship in the fall. However, in the meantime, she starts out in a journey of self-discovery by searching for her biological parents, Martin and Mary Duction. She learns that Martin is dead and that Mary is in prison for a murder. Mary will b...more
Sarah
I have been on a PD James "jag" on and off for the past 6 months, and have not-quite-wanted-to-review-anything. I have been reading her because I am fascinated by her psychological profiles, and particularly the way she digs into the ways in which human beings justify darkness. Yet at the same time I am repelled by some of the horrors and twisted thinking that she writes about, some of which are too graphic for me. There is some of that in this book, but it has the advantage of being a "stand al...more
Catherine Thompson
Phillipa Palfrey learns that she is the daughter of convicted child murderer Mary Ducton, who is about to be released after 10 years' imprisonment. Deciding that she must learn who she really is, Phillipa leaves her adoptive parents and takes a flat with her mother once her mother is released from prison. Meanwhile, the father of the dead child is bent on revenge...

I think I read this book more out of a sense of completion and duty rather than out of any enjoyment. I've read pretty much all of P...more
Surreysmum
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie Howell
This is probably a four-star book in terms of the writing, but it's three stars in terms of my personal enjoyment. This is an interesting, complex, but gloomy book--imagine if one of the Bronte sisters had written a crime novel. In Innocent Blood, P. D. James departs from her detective novel format, instead writing a crime novel that examines the psychology of murder, revenge, and identity. The main character is a young woman who has grown tired of her adoptive parents and initiates a search for...more
Susan
P. D. James has been one of my favorite authors for a long time, and I thought I'd read all her books. So I don't know whether in fact I read this a long time ago or somehow missed it. In any case, it felt fresh and new to me, and I didn't anticipate everything that would happen until the very end.

As always with James' books, the strengths and weaknesses of the main character are a big part of what makes the book interesting. In this case, it's Philippa Palfrey, who was adopted at the age of 8 a...more
Tammy Boyd Perlmutter
Jul 31, 2007 Tammy Boyd Perlmutter rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of British mysteries
Shelves: mystery
P.D. James has been called "the reigning mistress of murder" and "greatest living mystery writer." While I have seen some of her mysteries made into BBC movies, this was the first actual book I had read of hers, and I liked it enough. I was pretty disappointed by Book Four: Epilogue at Evensong. If you read this book, don't read that part. It could ruin the story for you. It almost did for me.

"There came to her in the darkness no blinding revelation, no healing of the spirit, only a measure of...more
Pamela
I put this on my to-read list because somewhere I read it was the first Adam Dagliesh mystery. Not so!

However, I figured, hey, P.D. James is famous, she is now a Peer of the Realm, let's go!

I would actually go with 2.5 stars if I could, as I didn't feel completely "meh" about it, and some parts were quite good. However, it is a bit rambly at its length, and some passages were just so crammed with really unnecessary detail and/or exposition that I found myself wondering, "What was that all about...more
Ant Harrison
This is one of PD James's best books, although for some reason it is not held in the same high esteem as her other detective-led novels. It concerns the search by an adopted daughter for her mother, and her mother turns out to be a convicted murderer.

There's an intensity and urgency to the writing here that, however well stylised and characterised her other books, is sometimes lacking in her other work. I think this is to do with the fact that the device used to bring the protagonists together...more
Pat
PD James is a fabulously gifted writer, who happens to have chosen murder mysteries as her genre. This book actually deals with the aftermath of a murder and its wide-ranging reprecussions. It is a coming-of-age story, examination of the the nature of love, and blasts away at our traditional ideas about atonement, forgiveness and punishment.
James shamelessly and skillfully jerks around the reader's sympathy for characters who are entirely unsympathetic; everyone here is reprehensible in differe...more
Jessi
I think this psychological thriller was more about the question of whether we are a product of our environment or our heredity, nature versus nurture, than the story of a young woman who reunites with her birth mother after 10 years. I was immediately enthralled by the story, wondering if Philipa's biological mother really committed the murder for which she served 10 years, whether the father of the dead girl will finally enact his revenge, and where was Philipa when the rape and murder occurred...more
L.
A well-written mysetery, even if it does meander a bit. The premise is simple and believable. Phillipa Palfrey knows she was adopted at age eight. Now eighteen, she is legally allowed to ask for her adoption records. The identity of her birth parents sets the story in motion. Phillipa has lived in a world of privilged English academia, raised by a housewife and socioloigist father. James dedicates a great deal of time to small details that lend depth to the main characters. She also uses languag...more
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P. D. James is 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 has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she...more
More about P.D. James...
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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