I’ve always rather liked Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh of London’s Criminal Investigation Department – he is exactly what a fictional detective should be: tall, dark and handsome, well-read, a published poet, and with the tragic dead wife in his past. So when I came across an old P.D. James novel that I hadn’t read before, I was quite delighted.
I hadn’t gotten too far when I needed to flick back to the start to check the publication date: 1963. It’s actually quite surprising how well James’ books have aged – the language does not feel dated nor the stories lacking in any way, but there were some seriously archaic elements to this book. The fact that a murder occurs in a psychiatric clinic seemed less shocking to me than the fact that they were treating their patients with LSD. I also kind of missed the importance of a theft of £15, as I assumed that amount was change someone had left in a drawer. And don’t even get me started on the comical rents for Hampstead back in the day, that were intended to shock at £12 PER WEEK! I must admit these were among the things that stopped me becoming too caught up with the story itself, and I pretty much skim read most of the book just to find out whodunit.
James wrote 14 Adam Dalgliesh novels – this being the second. If you were interested in trying them I would suggest being rather counter-intuitive and starting with the more recent ones, otherwise you might never get to realise what a great writer P.D. James is.