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My first James but not my last...
on October 28, 2002
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.