YA‘Venetia Aldridge, a brilliant barrister, has "four weeks, four hours and fifty minutes left of life." By the time her murder is discovered, readers have not only met most of the suspects, but have also begun to sympathize with whomever might have done her in. Everyone in the victim's life, from her 18-year-old daughter to the retiring head of chambers, from her former lover to the cleaning woman, has cause to have wished her ill. Adam Dalgleish, James's poetry penning sleuth, and his assistants, especially Kate Miskin, investigate the many possible suspects. After much examination of the past and present, the murderer is discovered and A Certain Justice is meted out. As with many of the author's mysteries, psychology and motivation are as important as whodunit and the conundrum presented here is thought-provoking. Much of the action centers around the rebellious daughter and there is a suspense-filled scene in which she and her psychopathic boyfriend try to evade Dalgleish, only to have young Octavia discover that she needs to evade the boyfriend instead. YAs who enjoy James and those ready for a bit of a fright with their English mysteries will surely take to this adventure.‘Susan H. Woodcock, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
The incomparable James is at the top of her form in her 13th novel, successor to Original Sin. Called in to investigate the murder of barrister Venetia Aldridge in Temple Court, Scotland Yard Commander/poet Adam Dalgliesh and his team find that the death is merely the centerpiece around which swirl other crimes and the dirty little secrets of Aldridge's fellow barristers. James interweaves crimes old and new in this brilliantly plotted novel that depicts the many faces of the human psyche and contemplates the question, "What is justice?" Essential.
Crafting a classic locked-room mystery in her latest Adam Dalgliesh novel, James leads readers on a page-turning journey behind the scenes of the English legal system and along the darker, twisted byways of human intentions. Although neither Dalgliesh, Commander at New Scotland Yard, nor Detective Inspector Kate Miskin provides the most powerful presence here, readers won't mind: victims and suspects comprise an indelible cast. Introduced first is ambitious criminal lawyer Venetia Aldridge as she successfully defends a chillingly unfeeling young man named Ashe against charges that he murdered his slatternly aunt, with whom he lived after stints in a series of foster homes and institutions. Venetia is found dead in her locked office, wearing a blood-soaked barrister's wig, shortly after her 18-year-old daughter, Octavia, announced that she was in love with Ashe and planned to marry him. While questioning the lawyers and staff who shared the victim's chambers at Pawlet Court, Dalgliesh, Kate and her new partner, Piers Tarrant, probe the dead woman's past and personal history. James (Original Sin, 1995) briskly introduces a varied array of suspects and motives, drawing the reader deeper into their lives and gradually revealing a network of intersections. Another murder precedes the disappearance of Octavia and Ashe, which leads to a riveting, credible resolution. Themes of obsession, neglect, revenge and ambition fuel this emotionally powerful puzzler, which may remind readers of the author's stand-alone novel Innocent Blood (1980) and is immensely satisfying in both its intricate plot and complexity of characters. 250,000 first printing; BOMC selection; author tour; simultaneous Random House audio and large print edition. (Dec.)