In the High Peaks

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Obsessed by Original Sin by P.D. James

I am so deeply, wondrously engrossed in the Adam Dalgliesh novel Original Sin by P.D. James. This one was published in 1995, and, as some critics noted at the time, James was at the height of her powers in this grand mystery. This novel is so fine a work of literature that I find I must read slowly, deliberately, and must reread at times to make sure I've caught all the slightest of nuances. What a mind James had at the age of 75 when this book was published! That is what staggers me--the intricate complexities, the turns, the twists.

I've been putting off reading this for a really stupid reason. I don't want to ever come to the end of the novels she's written. At this rate, however, I had better hurry up while my mind is still sharp enough to appreciate her devilry.

I think I love P.D. James the most for her exquisite handling of atmosphere and setting. Every setting is described in intricate detail. I love that. Notice that there really are six exclamation points after that last statement, although you may not be able to see them.

I haven't read her novels in at least two years, maybe three, so I'm going to move forward now. Yes, I'd better, while my brain is not too far gone!

Oh, and if you're contemplating reading
it, consider skipping that glass of wine before delving into her mysteries, or read her only in the mornings with coffee. Even 3 ounces of wine muddles her acutely drawn mysteries.


  1. You've just made me wonder why I haven't read anything by her for years, apart from her Pemberley book which I wasn't too crazy on.I saw her being interviewed not long before she died and her mind was still razor sharp.

    1. Katrina,
      Sorry for taking two days to reply to your comment--finally some spring weather here.
      When the Pemberly book was published, I decided I would pass on it until I've read everything else she's written.
      I find it encouraging, too, that most of the Dalgiesh novels are complex enough and, goodness knows, wonderful enough to be reliably reread with none of the pleasure lost. I'm trying to collect her novels in hardcover now, except for the two or three earliest. I have Cover Her Face in paperback, for example.
      I know I'm gushing, Katrina, but this reading week has been a joy because of Original Sin.

      I'll have to search for interviews with her that are archived online.