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Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh #8)
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PD James Challenge/Buddy Reads > August 2020: Devices and Desires (1989) by P.D. James

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Susan | 10103 comments Mod
Welcome to our August Challenge Read - the eighth in the Inspector Dalgliesh series, Devices And Desires Devices And Desires (Adam Dalgliesh, #8) by P.D. James

After a long gap between the sixth and seventh in the series (1977 and 1986 respectively) there is only three years between the previous, A Taste for Death and this title.

The now, Commander Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard, is taking a brief respite from publicity (after publishing his second volume of poetry) on the Norfolk coast, in a converted windmill left him by his Aune Jane, who we met in a previous book. However, he cannot easily escape murder - a psychopathic strangler is at large in Norfolk.

This novel takes place on Larksoken, a fictional isolated headland in Norfolk. The title comes from the service of Morning Prayer in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer : "We have followed too much the devices, and desires of our own hearts".

Please do not post spoilers in this thread. Thank you.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9054 comments Mod
This discussion is now open - thank you to Susan for creating the threads and opening them up,

Who is reading this one? I've only read the start so far, which is very dramatic and certainly makes me want to read on.


Roman Clodia | 826 comments I just finished this so will go straight to the spoiler thread.


Susan | 10103 comments Mod
I have started this, but only a few chapters in so far. Very atmospheric and a bit creepy so far!


Susan | 10103 comments Mod
I have started this, but only a few chapters in so far. Very atmospheric and a bit creepy so far!


Pamela (bibliohound) | 368 comments I'll be reading later in the month. Ive found I need to be in a certain mood to enjoy James.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9054 comments Mod
I've read 25% now and would have to say that so far I'm struggling with it a bit after enjoying the previous book - I miss Dalgliesh's team in London. Hoping they will soon join him in Norfolk!


Lesley | 384 comments I'm about half way through and find myself not paying attention! I quite like the beginnings of the book getting a different aspect to Dalgliesh out of his work setting, but now I am struggling with all the various happenings. I find myself wondering if James thought this was likely to be her last book in the story of Dalgliesh as she seems to be throwing all manner of plots she might have in planning into this book. I'm not sure I'd finish it if it wasn't a group challenge, so I'll plod on in the meantime.

I might also have a look at the TV depiction to see how they managed it for screen.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9054 comments Mod
I see Dalgliesh's fame as a poet is growing in this book, and his publisher even wants him to go on a publicity tour by bus - a shame in a way he didn't agree, as I feel this would be an interesting set-up for a mystery, though maybe a cosier one than the world of PD James!

This had me wondering if James's publishers made similar suggestions to her - the whole musing about fame as an author combined with another job seems like something drawn from James's own life as a crime writer and her work at the Home Office.


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9054 comments Mod
Lesley, I'll be interested to hear what you think of the TV version if you watch it - I remember seeing this at the time and that some parts were filmed at Sizewell Power Station in Suffolk.


message 11: by Sandy (last edited Aug 02, 2020 07:23AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sandy | 2833 comments Mod
I started last night, read book 1 (ten chapters) so not very far really. Looking at the time kindle says I have left is rather daunting.

Hopefully James' publishers never suggested anything quite as outrageous as Dalgliesh's but it may be her way of preventing future requests.

Anyone wondering who is the one person Dalgliesh wishes would read, and enjoy, his poetry? I suspect someone. (And if I knew how to do spoilers I would say whom. But don't tell me if you know!)


message 12: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9054 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "Anyone wondering who is the one person Dalgliesh wishes would read, and enjoy, his poetry? I suspect someone. (And if I knew how to do spoilers I would say whom. But don't tell me if you know!)..."

I don't know and am also wondering the same - whether maybe a new love interest will turn up later in the book? But, like you, I will wait to find out. :)


Elizabeth (Alaska) Sandy wrote: "Anyone wondering who is the one person Dalgliesh wishes would read, and enjoy, his poetry? "

I would think it would be his deceased wife.


message 14: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2085 comments I thought it was his wife and son.


message 15: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Aug 02, 2020 12:08PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) Jill wrote: "I thought it was his wife and son."

Who would be able to read his poetry? There was a reference to just one person who Dalgliesh wished could read his poetry. But yes, both his wife and son died.


message 16: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9054 comments Mod
I will have to find the reference again, but I had the impression it's someone he knows now and he is wondering whether she has read his poetry or not. Interesting to have people's different readings of the mention, though.


Roman Clodia | 826 comments I thought it was the woman who we met in the earlier books who went to New York because he wouldn't commit - at which point he wanted her back! Was her name Deborah?


Elizabeth (Alaska) Yes, her name was Deborah. But Deborah had read the poetry he'd written up to that time.


Sandy | 2833 comments Mod
As long as we're speculating, I'm guessing Kate, his second in command, whose very neat office he visited and whose painting was growing on him.


Lesley | 384 comments Sandy wrote: "As long as we're speculating, I'm guessing Kate, his second in command, whose very neat office he visited and whose painting was growing on him."

I think Kate too. He was developing a definite interest in her in the last book I thought.


Roman Clodia | 826 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Yes, her name was Deborah. But Deborah had read the poetry he'd written up to that time."

She had, but now he's just had a new book published after some time. Hence the bus tour.

I didn't see his interest in Kate as romantic at all - just friendship and professional mentorship.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I think he's still too much in love with his wife and continues to grieve the loss.


Susan | 10103 comments Mod
I thought it was Deborah, who we met in the first book. He seems to have seriously thought of marriage with her in a later novel.

I agree, though, that he genuinely still seems to grieve the loss of his wife and son.


Roman Clodia | 826 comments As an aside and just out of interest, how old do we think Dalgleish is now?


message 25: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9054 comments Mod
I'm guessing mid 40s, since he is referred to as middle aged, but I haven't noticed any more definite references.


Sandy | 2833 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "I think he's still too much in love with his wife and continues to grieve the loss."

While I agree he still deeply grieves, it is mentioned that he has trouble remembering his wife's face.


Sandy | 2833 comments Mod
I'm finding this book too long and I end up skimming. I particularly noticed this as I skimmed yet another reference to Dalglish's childhood, which is very unfair of me as I complain that he has little personality. So I'm wondering how I can get to know the man without trying my patience.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Why do you feel as if you need to know him?


Sandy | 2833 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Why do you feel as if you need to know him?"

I enjoy series much more when I'm interested in the on-going characters. They don't have to have a lot of development and I don't care for personal problems, but I want to enjoy visiting with them.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I very much like Dalgliesh's competence and that's what I want in a detective.


message 31: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9054 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "I'm finding this book too long and I end up skimming. I particularly noticed this as I skimmed yet another reference to Dalglish's childhood, which is very unfair of me as I complain that he has li..."

I find the glimpses of his childhood quite interesting, but I am once again feeling there is quite a lot of padding in this novel, such as long descriptions of every room mentioned, sometimes with an offputtingly snobbish note.

I'm just up to the description of the guesthouse called "Balmoral" after the Queen's home in Scotland, and the narrator really goes to town on lengthy descriptions of the "lurid" floral carpets and clashing wallpapers. I suppose it's probably meant to be humorous but it doesn't really work for me.


Susan | 10103 comments Mod
Her books are long compared to a lot of mysteries. I don't mind all the descriptions and, I also don't really mind that we don't learn too much about Dalgliesh. I think that, sometimes, some series become too much about the detective and the crime element becomes less important. That's just me, I mean I do understand that some readers find Dalgliesh a little dry and I can see why.


Tara  | 812 comments I assumed he meant he wanted Deborah to read his poetry, although given how much he clearly still grieves the lose of his wife and son, perhaps that is not the case.
I can't put my finger on why I find Poirot so charming, despite all of his foibles, but Dalgliesh is insufferable to me. Maybe because he is so brooding and humorless. The one word that seems to stick in my mind from this book was sour. Also the phrase demented demons, which was used twice in short order, and seemed an odd descriptor to keep referring back to.


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