Saturday, May 24, 2008
A Certain Justice by P.D. James
This is one I read for the A to Z Challenge. It was given to me by a friend who is a mystery writer. It is the second Adam Dalgliesh book I' ve read. I read The Lighthouse last summer. The review on that one is here.
This book revolves around the murder of Venetia Aldridge, a criminal defense attorney, who is in line to become the head of chambers, which is an honor in the British legal system. Venetia has a rebellious daughter, Octavia, who announces her intent to marry the man her mother recently successfully defended in the murder of his aunt. Dalgliesh and his team are called in to solve the murder and get wrapped up in Octavia's story as well as her mother's family history. This history includes a suicide at the boy's school run by Venetia's father and charges of an improper relationship between a student and teacher.
STRENGTHS OF A CERTAIN JUSTICE: I enjoy the Dalgliesh character. He is witty without being over the top. Once the plot of this one got going, it was a very enjoyable ride. I liked how the author kept a number of suspects viable until the very end of the story. I also liked how James was able to veer off into the secondary story surrounding Octavia and create a whole new set of problems and tensions. In some books, the secondary plot moving to the forefront near the end of the book would have been frustrating. In this one, James built the tension and suspense so well that I really wanted to know how it was all going to end. This is one where I was kept guessing until the very end. I really didn't figure the whole thing out until it was presented to me. James did an excellent job holding the layers of the murder together in a responsible way.
WEAKNESSES OF A CERTAIN JUSTICE: James spent the first 100 pages of the book setting up all the main characters and suspects before the murder even happened. It took longer than that for Dalgliesh to appear. I almost stopped reading at page 50 because there was just so much detail and very little plot development going on. All of this information ended up being relevant to the final plot, but it took too long to get there for my taste.
Overall, I'd give this one 3 stars. If you enjoy British mysteries, then go ahead and take a dip into this one. I'd love to know what anyone else thought of this one, or if anyone has read another James book they would recommend.