Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Devices and Desires by P.D. James

Protagonist: Adam Dalgliesh
Setting: East Anglia
Rating: 4.4
Dalgliesh's aunt Jane has died, leaving him a windmill on the remote windswept headlands of Larksoken, also home to a nuclear plant. On a visit to the mill to settle her estate, he checks in with local police, who are hunting a serial killer named "The Whistler," a man preying on young women in Norfolk. When the nuclear plant's acting administrator, Hilary Robarts, is killed, in a murder made to look like the Whistler's, Dalgliesh finds himself pulled into the investigation. Robarts was reviled both within and outside the nuclear plant, so there are plenty of suspects.

This is, however, not entirely a Dalgliesh novel (although it is 8th in the series). Chief Insp. Terry Rickards of Norfolk CID is the main investigator, although he does rely on Dalgliesh, with whom he used to work, for advice. There's domestic drama going on in Rickard's life, as well, which makes him even more interesting -- but takes away from any storyline we might have had with Dalgliesh. And when the real killer is revealed, it is neither Rickards nor Dalgliesh who uncovers the truth. This is a well-written, well-plotted whodunnit -- but if you're looking for the usual Dalgliesh investigation, this one isn't it.

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