Set on the banks of the River Thames in the literary world, Original Sin is the ninth Adam Dalgliesh mystery and a brilliant work of crime fiction from P.D. James, the bestselling author of Death Comes to Pemberley.
P D James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London. She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors. She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters.
After a quick detour into science fiction with her last novel, The Children of Men (Knopf, 1993), the venerable James returns to the genre that made her famous. In Original Sin, detective Adam Dalgliesh investigates the bizarre death of a ruthless publisher.
A sprawling paean to the Thames River and its London environs, James's 12th novel and latest mystery to feature New Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgleish is set in the modern publishing world where traditions may crumble but where such timeless emotions as grief, rage and love prevail. Peverell Press, which occupies the magnificent Innocent House, modeled on the palaces of Venice and built by the firm's founder in 1792, has been plagued by the misdeeds-misplaced manuscripts, lost illustrations-of an unknown ``office menace'' since the death, nine months earlier, of managing director Henry Peverell. The stakes are upped when a senior editor, recently sacked by the new director Gerard Etienne, kills herself. When Etienne is found dead in the same room, Dalgleish is called in to investigate. He discovers that plenty of people, including the four other partners in the firm and various employees whose jobs are threatened by Etienne's plans to sell Innocent House and modernize the firm, had reason to wish Etienne dead. James (Devices and Desires) gives pride of place here to lush, leisurely descriptions of waterside London and the landscape of the Essex coast; Dalgleish and his assistants seem more observers than participants in this plot that ticks along on its own momentum, driven by the various suspects' motivations and actions to the credible, if not fully prepared for, resolution. BOMC selection; Random House Large Print edition (ISBN 0-679-76033-4); author tour. (Feb.)