4.0 out of 5 stars Standard James mystery is a cut above
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...
Published on Oct. 21 2003 by David W. Nicholas
3.0 out of 5 stars A Homage? (beware spoilers)
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...
Published on Oct. 17 2003
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4.0 out of 5 stars Standard James mystery is a cut above,
This review is from: Original Sin (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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first James but not my last...,
This review is from: Original Sin (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.
3.0 out of 5 stars A Homage? (beware spoilers),
By A Customer
This review is from: Original Sin (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winning mystery and surprise solution for Dalgliesh!,
This review is from: Original Sin (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!
2.0 out of 5 stars Agatha is better!,
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!
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly plotted, rich and rewarding,
While reading the book I felt like I'd worked for years at the publishing house on the Thames which is at the center of the novel. James paints her settings in vivid detail that is never boring and adds so much to the story.
She throws in just enough history of the Thames and explanation of the publishing industry to put real meat on this novel, and to draw the reader near the center of the mystery. Her resolution makes perfect sense, and leaves you wondering how you ever missed the clues that were placed so clearly before you.
I noticed that a few reviewers seemed to feel that this was not James' best effort. I hope they're right, because I'll be reading a pile of P.D. James novels in the next few months.
5.0 out of 5 stars James books no argument with this thriller!,
As one after another body is found, the pieces begin to come together, although not easily nor fast. Dalgleish and his two assistants, Kate Mishkin and Aaron Daniel, have their own personal concerns to sort out as well. James has created a host of
excellently developed characters, as she usually does, and the reader is caught up in the problems and affairs of them all. Finally to solve the case, Dalgleish and company have to look back for their answers, all the way back to World War II France. The climax comes powerfully in "Original Sin" and as usual James leaves her readers, not necessarily on a joyous note, but one that is pensive, sometimes even remorseful. But what a read. In literature, and especially with P.D. James,
there is justice after all! (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
4.0 out of 5 stars VARIATION ON A THEME,
These planned actions seem to provide plausible motives for his murder, therefore several of his associates or underlings do have motives for his murder. In addition, most of these people seem to have had the opportunity.
During the course of the murder investigation there are other murders which may or may not be related to the original murder. (Want to guess if they are?)
The one variation from this theme from the two previous P. D. James mysteries I have reviewed, DEVICES AND DESIRES and A CERTAIN JUSTICE, is that this murder victim is male instead of female.
That's the formula, here are the specifics:
Our victim, Gerard Etienne, began making significant changes shortly after taking control of Peverell Press, an old and distinguished London Publisher that had fallen upon hard times. He planned to drop less profitable authors, to do away with some positions, and to sell the Venetian style building that had always symbolized all that Peverell Press had stood for. These plans gave any number of people reason to wish him dead and, sure enough, he did turn up dead, murdered in what was supposed to look like a suicide. Oh, did I mention that there had been a suicide at Peverell Press only a few weeks before Etienne's murder? No? Well there was, and in the same room where Etienne's body was found. Aha, the plot thickens!
Because of Etienne's status in London society, Adam Dalgliesh and his team of investigative specialists are called in to investigate the murder.
The bulk of the balance of the book is dedicated to the investigation and to the activities of various suspects and future victims of the murderer, as well as dealing with the personal devils inhabiting the minds and lives of Dalgliesh and his two key investigators, Kate Miskin and Daniel Aron.
Lady James writes in a leisurely but engaging manner, never rushing things but letting her scenes unfold at their own pace. This aspect of her writing seems to bother some reviewers who prefer less description and more action. I feel that it is exactly this aspect of her writing that sets her apart from the run-of-the-mill mystery writer. She may utilize a lot of descriptive prose, but she does it so well!
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedium at its best,
3.0 out of 5 stars Great setting, disappointing denouement,
By A Customer
But the novel's denouement is a real disappointment. The reason for Gerard's murder is pretty hokey, and doesn't seem to be very much "a piece" with the rest of the novel. And the resolution of the Daniel aaron subplot comes out of nowhere. James's next novel, A CERTAIN JUSTICE, has a far more satisfying plot and resolution.
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Original Sin by P. D. James (Paperback - May 2002)
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