EXCERPT: Murderers do not usually give their victims notice. This is one death which, however terrible that last second of appalled realization, comes mercifully unburdened with anticipatory terror. When, on the afternoon of Wednesday, 11th September, Venetia Aldridge stood up to cross examine the prosecutions chief witness in the case of Regina vs Ashe she had four weeks, four hours and fifty minutes left of life. After her death the many who had admired her and the few who had liked her, searching for a more personal response than the stock adjectives of shock and outrage, found themselves muttering that it would have pleased Venetia that her last case of murder had been tried at the Bailey, scene of her greatest triumphs, and in her favorite court.
But there was truth in the inanity.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: It begins, dramatically enough, with a trial for murder. The distinguished criminal lawyer Venetia Aldridge is defending Garry Ashe on charges of having brutally killed his aunt. For Aldridge the trial is mainly a test of her courtroom skills, one more opportunity to succeed–and she does. But now murder is in the air. The next victim will be Aldridge herself, stabbed to death at her desk in her Chambers in the Middle Temple, a bloodstained wig on her head. Enter Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team, whose struggle to investigate and understand the shocking events cannot halt the spiral into more horrors, more murders…
A Certain Justice is P.D. James at her strongest. In her first foray into the strange closed world of the Law Courts and the London legal community, she has created a fascinating tale of interwoven passion and terror. As each character leaps into unforgettable life, as each scene draws us forward into new complexities of plot, she proves yet again that no other writer can match her skill in combining the excitement of the classic detective story with the richness of a fine novel. In its subtle portrayal of morality and human behavior, A Certain Justice will stand alongside Devices and Desires and A Taste for Death as one of P.D. James’s most important, accomplished and entertaining works.
MY THOUGHTS: This is only my second PD James. I did not enjoy the first at all and was reluctant to read this. But it is faster paced and more intriguing than her book I read previously. She will not become one of my favourite authors. I find her a little predictable, and her writing style too formal for my liking. Even though I say this is faster paced than my previous read by this author, it is still slower than I like.
THE AUTHOR: P. D. James, byname of Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born August 3, 1920, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England—died November 27, 2014, Oxford), British mystery novelist best known for her fictional detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard.
The daughter of a middle-grade civil servant, James grew up in the university town of Cambridge. Her formal education, however, ended at age 16 because of lack of funds, and she was thereafter self-educated. In 1941 she married Ernest C.B. White, a medical student and future physician, who returned home from wartime service mentally deranged and spent much of the rest of his life in psychiatric hospitals. To support her family (which included two children), she took work in hospital administration and, after her husband’s death in 1964, became a civil servant in the criminal section of the Department of Home Affairs. Her first mystery novel, Cover Her Face (1962), introduced Dalgliesh and was followed by six more mysteries before she retired from government service in 1979 to devote full time to writing.
Dalgliesh, James’s master detective who rises from chief inspector in the first novel to chief superintendent and then to commander, is a serious, introspective person, moralistic yet realistic. The novels in which he appears are peopled by fully rounded characters, who are civilized, genteel, and motivated. The public resonance created by James’s singular characterization and deployment of classic mystery devices led to most of the novels featuring Dalgliesh being filmed for television. James, who earned the sobriquet “Queen of Crime,” penned 14 Dalgliesh novels, with the last, The Private Patient, appearing in 2008.
James also wrote An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972) and The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982), which centre on Cordelia Gray, a young private detective. The first of these novels was the basis for both a television movie and a short-lived series. James expanded beyond the mystery genre in The Children of Men (1992; film 2006), which explores a dystopian world in which the human race has become infertile. Her final work, Death Comes to Pemberley (2011)—a sequel to Pride and Prejudice (1813)—amplifies the class and relationship tensions between Jane Austen’s characters by situating them in the midst of a murder investigation. James’s nonfiction works include The Maul and the Pear Tree (1971), a telling of the Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811 written with historian T.A. Critchley, and the insightful Talking About Detective Fiction (2009). Her memoir, Time to Be in Earnest, was published in 2000. She was made OBE in 1983 and was named a life peer in 1991.
DISCLOSURE: I obtained my copy of A Certain Justice by P. D. James, published by Ballantine Books, via Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/927662852