Original Sin Mass Market Paperback – Feb 24 2004
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|Mass Market Paperback, Feb 24 2004||
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The hushed mock-Venetian halls of England's oldest publishing house reek of secrets. Why did senior editor commit suicide in the archives office? And who decided to kill the managing director in the same place -- or was his death a suicide also? Adam Dalgliesh and Kate Miskin will find out, but how many more deaths will there be before all the secrets see the light of day? --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
A sprawling paean to the Thames River and its London environs, James's 12th novel and latest mystery to feature New Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgleish is set in the modern publishing world where traditions may crumble but where such timeless emotions as grief, rage and love prevail. Peverell Press, which occupies the magnificent Innocent House, modeled on the palaces of Venice and built by the firm's founder in 1792, has been plagued by the misdeeds-misplaced manuscripts, lost illustrations-of an unknown "office menace" since the death, nine months earlier, of managing director Henry Peverell. The stakes are upped when a senior editor, recently sacked by the new director Gerard Etienne, kills herself. When Etienne is found dead in the same room, Dalgleish is called in to investigate. He discovers that plenty of people, including the four other partners in the firm and various employees whose jobs are threatened by Etienne's plans to sell Innocent House and modernize the firm, had reason to wish Etienne dead. James (Devices and Desires) gives pride of place here to lush, leisurely descriptions of waterside London and the landscape of the Essex coast; Dalgleish and his assistants seem more observers than participants in this plot that ticks along on its own momentum, driven by the various suspects' motivations and actions to the credible, if not fully prepared for, resolution. BOMC selection; Random House Large Print edition (ISBN 0-679-76033-4); author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2003
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). Read morePublished on March 9 2002 by Reinhart Frosch
For Superintendent Adam Dalgleish, there are just too many coincidences, too many "practical" jokes, too many deaths, and too many suspects. In P.D. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2000 by Billy J. Hobbs
In ORIGINAL SIN, Lady James has followed a formula similar to one that she has succesfully used in other novels. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2000 by Loren D. Morrison
The best moments of this novel come in its opening lines. Unfortunately, it appears to stop dead after the first paragraph. Read morePublished on Feb. 2 2000 by Fred Titwilder
For once one of James's elaborate architectural fantasias seems both exciting and appropriate, and the mock-Venetian splendour of Innocent House adds a wonderful Gothic atmosphere... Read morePublished on July 19 1999
Original Sin provided me with further confirmation (as if I needed it) of why P.D. James is among my favorite authors. This book is well plotted and written beautifully. Read morePublished on Nov. 23 1998 by Allan J. Oster
I've read all of P.D. James's mysteries and Original Sin is by far her weakest effort. It's slow and unimaginative compared to her previous works. Read morePublished on Aug. 23 1998