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Devices and Desires


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While the serial killer known as the Whistler goes about his grisly business in the area around the Larksoken Nuclear Power Station, Commander Adam Dalgliesh comes to Norfolk to settle his aunt's estate. Slowly, through masses of dialog and ruminations by most of the characters, the complex plot unfolds into the usual Jamesian tangle of human relationships and subplots. The story takes shape as James unwraps each nuance of personality, each intricate piece of the puzzle. Though not as fast paced as Shroud for a Nightingale (LJ 1/1/72) nor as finely plotted as A Taste for Death ( LJ 10/1/86), this latest novel demonstrates just how well James commands the English language and illustrates her considerable ability to craft and write a novel. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/89; BOMC and Quality Paperback Book Club main selections.-- Jo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Heights-University Heights P.L., Ohio

" Taut. . . . Absorbing. . . . Better than her best." - "The New York Times Book Review" " I have often thought of mysteries as the sorbets of literature, something light and tangy to clear the palate between more serious courses. The books of P.D. James, however are more substantial fare, fulfilling as well as delicious, and Devices and Desires is no exception." - "The Washington Post Book World" " A masterful writer . . . Devices and Desires seems to be that highly prized work- a terrific tale suspense and detection that also delivers the satisfaction of a mainstream novel." - "The Wall Street Journal" " Brilliant . . . wonderful. P.D. James does it again." - "USA Today" " Her stories are so engrossing that it is difficult to read slowly enough to pay attention to the remarkable writing. But in Devices and Desires, she is so at the top of her form that to rush though would itself be a crime." - "The Kansas City Star" " Undiluted pleasure." - "Newsday" " Vintage P.D. James. . . . Devotees of Britain' s Queen of Crime will be enthralled . . . showcasing lyrical prose abounding with vivid imagery, suberbly delineated characters, and a labyrinthine puzzle. . . . It' s impossible to resist this haunting, dark tale." - "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" " We' re glued to P.D. James' s beautifully spun whodunit. . . . The master' s shivering touch is intact." - "Glamour" " A cleverly crafted book that readers may very well stay up all night to finish. . . . She exposes themurderously repressed rage beneath the clam surface of typical middle-class Britishers." - "Boston Herald" " The greatest living mystery writer . . . weaves a dazzling array of psychological profiles into a gently ironic examination of human life and the ' relative value' we ascribe to it." - "People" " James at her best . . . a superb tale of murder." - "Booklist" " Devices and Desires may be her best yet. . . . The plot is superb, with the larger moral issues of a nearby nuclear power station and the thickly interwoven lives of characters lending measured gravity to the sensational murder story. And the prose style is a dream." - "The Seattle Times" " Un-put-downable. . . . P.D. James is never content with just a formulaic detective story. She takes the whodunit to deeper levels." - "New Woman" " James is one of Britain' s best writers in the genre. . . . Devices and Desires brings the classic whodunit as far as it can go." - "The Detroit News" " The best book she' s written. It has literary merit that detective works seldom attempt . . . everything fits beautifully." - "The Sacramento Bee" " No other mystery writer- and few writers period- offers such a rich bounty. . . . Devices and Desires is superb. It is what good writing- and reading- is all about. James has used all her powers to produce her best work yet. Her fans- old and new- will be overjoyed." - "Fort Worth Star-Telegram" " James once again gives us a convincing portrait of contemporarysociety, while at the same time she scrupulously observes- and smartly updates and complicates- all the mystery genre conventions." - "San Diego Magazine" " Demonstrates just how well James commands the English language. . . . The complex plot unfolds into the usual Jamesian tangle of human relationships and subplots. The story takes shape as James unwraps each nuance of personality, each intricate piece of the puzzle." - "Library Journal" "From the Trade Paperback edition."

James ( A Taste for Death ) sets her 11th novel on Larksoken, a remote windswept headland in Norfolk, where the presence of a huge nuclear energy plant serves as a metaphor for the power of the past to rule over her characters. Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, in Larsoken to settle an estate left him at the death of a relative, is drawn into the investigation of a serial killer, the Whistler. Dalgliesh's neighbors include the power station's director, Alex Mair; his elegant sister Alice, a cookbook author; acting administrator--and Alex's former lover--Hilary Robarts; and anti-nuclear activist Neil Pascoe. The next signature killing , of the widely disliked Robarts, turns out to have occurred hours after a young man who firmly establishes his identity as the Whistler commits suicide. The question of who murdered Robarts, then, centers around motive. This intricate, layered mystery may be read as parable: we can escape the consequences of our choices, political and personal, no more than we can shed our private histories. This is dark James, plotted with a slight unevenness but utterly faithful to her deeply and sympathetically plumbed characters. 175,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB main selections. (Feb.)

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