Devices and Desires

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Devices and Desires
First edition
Author P. D. James
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Adam Dalgliesh #8
Genre Crime, Mystery novel
Publisher Faber & Faber
Publication date
2 October 1989
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 454 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN 0-571-14178-1 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 20416380
Preceded by A Taste for Death
Followed by Original Sin

Devices and Desires is a 1989 detective novel in the Adam Dalgliesh series by P. D. James. It takes place on Larksoken, an isolated headland in Norfolk.

Plot overview[edit]

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.

Major themes[edit]

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."[1]


A television version of the novel was produced for Britain's ITV network in 1997. It starred Roy Marsden as Adam Dalgliesh.


  1. ^ Crist, Judith (January 28, 1990). "A Detective in Spite of Himself". New York Times. New York. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 

External links[edit]