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Original Sin Mass Market Paperback – Feb 24 2004


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Books (Feb. 24 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 077042953X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0770429539
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.7 x 4.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #825,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
P.D. James is one of the best novelists alive, and she has gained a considerable reputation as a mystery writer. It's to the point that she was created Baroness James of Holland park a dozen years ago. She writes these Adam Dalgliesh mysteries, which are complex, textured stories that have multiple points of view, and involving, engaging characters that act in interesting ways, for intelligent motives.
In this volume, Dalgliesh is consulted about a series of practical jokes that have occurred at a venerable publishing house that's situated in a large mansion on the banks of the Thames River. He declines to get involved, and two weeks later there's a murder on the premises. The partners of the firm are from two extended families, though the leadership has recently passed from a pair of elderly men to a younger generation, dominated by the first victim, a vigorous man with a somewhat distasteful personality.
Dalgliesh steps into this mystery with his assistant Kate Miskin and a new one, Daniel Aaron, and he spends most of this book trying to disentangle the various threads of the crime and the things that are going on. The plot thickens, more murders occur, and the plot speeds up as things proceed.
James is somewhat like Christie, but different in one significant way that makes her a considerable improvement. Christie's novels were very plot-driven, with characters that didn't come to life much. The one exception was the main detective, and then you had to read several books to get into their character and get to know them. James by contrast writes a good plot---her books are almost as complex as Christie---but they are equally populated with characters that are memorable in and of themselves.
This is one of James' better books, and I only give it four stars as opposed to five because it gets a bit slow in the middle, and the murderer turns out to be a bit improbable. Other than that, the story is fine and I enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alex Nichols, author of Shadow Rock on Oct. 28 2002
Format: Paperback
Not since I saw "The Sixth Sense" a few years ago has the solution of a mystery so satisfied me as P.D. James's "Original Sin". It is one of those resolutions that makes you close the book with a satisfied snap, wondering and admiring a style that can lead you to so obvious a conclusion without giving it away too soon.
Themes of sin and justice weave in and out of the plot of this mystery, which is set at a London publishing house. The publisher has been murdered, gassed to death by a fireplace accident, with a stuffed snake wrapped around his neck. Suspicion centers around the publisher's various employees and a disgruntled midlist author whose contract has been cancelled. The publisher's death comes close on the heels on on on-site suicide of a longtime employee of the firm. By the novel's end, several more corpses make an appearance, maybe one more than is necessary.
Then there's the solution. I won't say anything about it except that it has been perfectly set up, and yet somehow the conclusion is just outside the grasp of the reader's mind, giving you one of those "Of course!" reactions.
Well worth the read... I can now see why James is considered the best in her field.
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By A Customer on Oct. 17 2003
Format: Paperback
A publisher dies of carbon monoxide poisoning in a locked room at the firm's offices. The denouement of the mystery takes place on the Essex marshes and the word "lugubrious" is bandied around. A lost work by Margery Allingham combining Flowers for the Judge and Mystery Mile? Or a homage from one great dame of mystery to another? Apart from spotting the Allingham references, I mainly liked this book, especially the atmosphere and exposure of character types. Also Allingham-esque is the understated theme: Original Sin? "Innocent" House? Is that a snake in the Garden of Eden? And, as someone else pointed out, old sins have long shadows. I found the solution forced, though, and the ending melodramatic.
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Format: Paperback
~ - ~
P.D. James gets better and better! You do not have to be a Dalgliesh fan to read this book. Each of her mysteries stand alone as a complex study of the disasters that happen when the wrong mix of characters and motives come together.
In this story Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh, (who is also a poet, and lost his wife and baby son in a long ago tragedy), and his assistant Kate Miskin, investigate a murder at a publishing house on the brink of closing.
As always, James paints such well-described portraits of all the characters that make up the closed community around the murder. It is very easy to get swept away by this story. The characters are all so three-dimensional: each has motives for their different actions that are unique to them. As in all James, mysteries, we do get to see the action through the eyes of the other characters, not just the detectives. It's only in re-reading that you'll realize the view from the murderers eyes was carefully limited by the author, to keep us in suspense.
~ - ~
The solution to the mystery was quite a surprise. (Being such a mystery fan, many books are now transparent) As always-, James has a clever, unexpected solution, and a dramatically satisfying ending.
If you've heard of P.D.James - this is a great mystery to jump into! James fans- Don't miss it!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
After having read 30 pages of "Original Sin" I felt a strong desire to stop. I had read "Death in Holy Orders" before (from beginning to end). However, the derogatory remarks made by the author about my favourite queen of crime, Agatha Christie, caused me to be sceptical. There is a Latin saying: "De mortuis nihil nisi bene". Mrs James ought to go by that saying.
While "Holy orders" are more or less OK (during the lecture, negative experiences tend to be just barely compensated by positive ones), "Original Sin" is definitely below the limit.
So, conclusion: Agatha is (much) better!
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