Book review: A Certain Justice

PD JamesIt is a while since I’ve read any PD James, why did I leave it so long? Reading an Adam Dalgliesh story is like slipping into a favourite pair of old jeans. It’s that feeling you get with an assured author: you are in safe hands. It is mutual trust. The author trusts the reader to make connections and ‘get’ references without having to spell everything out, the reader trusts the author to deliver a satisfying story without distractions of blind alleys. This applies, especially I think, to crime fiction.

I have read A Certain Justice before, many years ago, my paperback is old. I remembered the character of Venetia Aldridge, the murder victim, and of course know detective Adam Dalgliesh, but I had forgotten the identity of the killer. One of the pleasures of a PD James novel for me is the cultural background and the depth of knowledge she demonstrates. Dalgliesh is a poet, he is fond of architecture, of music, of the countryside. The murder of Venetia Aldridge, a barrister, takes place in her Chambers, and so as the reader I became involved in the world of law, of trial by jury, of guilty v not guilty, of revenge, of abandonment, hate and lingering resentment.

James takes her time to establish the characters involved, Venetia Aldridge herself, but also everyone around her, the other lawyers, her colleagues in Chambers, her daughter, and the people involved in her recent trials. A PD James crime novel is not short, but each character sketch is a potential murderer, accomplice, witness or, another murder victim. So it pays for the reader to pay attention. James is a master storyteller.

If you haven’t discovered PD James or her series featuring Adam Dalgliesh, a treat awaits you.
Read this interview with PD James in The Guardian, about her love for detectives.
Click here for more on PD James’s books at the Random House website, plus links to articles on mystery writing.

Read my reviews of the previous nine Dalgliesh mysteries:-
Cover Her Face #1
A Mind to Murder #2
Unnatural Causes #3
Shroud for a Nightingale #4
The Black Tower #5
Death of an Expert Witness #6
A Taste for Death #7
Devices and Desires #8
Original Sin #9

If you like A Certain Justice, try:-
The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill
Homeland by Clare Francis
Stolen Child by Laura Elliot

‘A Certain Justice’ by PD James, Adam Dalgliesh #10 [UK: Faber] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The world of law, trial by jury, guilty v not guilty: A CERTAIN JUSTICE by PD James #bookreview via @SandraDanby

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