Devices and Desires
|Author||P. D. James|
|Series||Adam Dalgliesh #8|
|Genre||Crime, Mystery novel|
|Publisher||Faber & Faber|
|2 October 1989|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||454 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||0-571-14178-1 (first edition, hardback)|
|Preceded by||A Taste for Death|
|Followed by||Original Sin|
Commander Adam Dalgliesh, having published his second volume of poetry, retreats to the remote Larksoken headland where his recently deceased aunt, Jane Dalgliesh, left him a converted windmill. However, a psychopathic mass murderer, known as the Norfolk Whistler, is on the loose and seems to have arrived at Larksoken when Dalgliesh finds the body of the nearby nuclear power plant's Acting Administrative Officer during an evening stroll on the beach.
The book deals at length with such issues as nuclear power and its dangers/benefits; the loss of a wife and the effect it has on a family; the bond of siblings; the use and manifestations of both psychosis and duty; and, finally, the love among family members. The book is also notable in that Dalgliesh himself does not actually solve the crime; the book instead begins with different characters carrying on their lives with the bleak backdrop of a controversial power station and a prowling serial killer. Soon, however, after the copycat murder that propels the book along, we watch the characters interact, react, and strike out at one another, although very little actual detecting takes place.
In a 1990 book review for The New York Times, Judith Crist wrote "Her newest mystery, 'Devices and Desires,' is P. D. James at better than her best... She has not failed us, and she has exceeded herself."
- Crist, Judith (January 28, 1990). "A Detective in Spite of Himself". New York Times. New York. Retrieved April 12, 2017.