Thursday, February 25, 2010
Unnatural Causes by P.D. James
Protagonist: Supt. Adam Dalgliesh
Setting: Monksmere, England
No, this is not a new book. This is the third in a series (I'm reading those P.D. James books I haven't read yet). In this novel, there's no rest for Dalgliesh, even on vacation in Monksmere (Suffolk). While Dalgliesh is visiting his aunt Jane, writer Maurice Seton's body is found floating nearby in a dinghy, his hands cut off. Not only is this gruesome, but the death mimics what would have been the opening chapter of Seton's new book -- suggested by another writer who lives in the community. Then the postmortem shows that Seton's death was of natural causes, despite the chopped-off hands. Dalgliesh, of course, still suspects murder. James gives us a clever plot, but what's most interesting about this early book is that James begins to develop Dalgliesh. We see Dalgliesh, a widower, struggle as to whether he should give up the single life he enjoys for marriage to Deborah Riscoe (who we met in the first book), and we get a snatch of his poetry.