Although A Certain Justice begins with news of a murder, the victim isn't set to die for another four weeks. Publicly respected but privately loathed, Venetia Aldridge has far more enemies than a brilliant London criminal lawyer should--and at least one of them is determined to do her in. Venetia plies her superior trade in courts that harbor "the illusion that the passions of men were susceptible to order and control," but her past and private life are exceedingly unruly. Her married lover is intent on giving her up; her daughter loathes her; her fellow barristers are determined that she not become the next head of chambers. Even the cleaning women seems to have something on her.
The outline alone of this complex novel would take pages (as would the eclectic inventory of players), but P. D. James makes us admire far more than her brilliantly developed plot. James in fact creates a crowded gallery of surprisingly decent suspects, along with one suitably vile creature--who happens to be Aldridge's last client.
A superior murder mystery, A Certain Justice is also a gripping anatomy of wild justice. James's characters can be overcome by hate, but she is equally concerned with love's manifestations--human, divine, destructive, and healing.
I was ready to murder the victim myself by the time it happened. At least four people (in every age range) had good motives. Loved learning about the personalities of the team, (Kate, Piers, and Robbins), and learning more about Dalgliesh. A real whodunit.
P.D. James writes classic crime-writing novels that are highly literate, filled with complex characters and labyrinth plots. Her mysteries are dark, filled with awful characters and base motives. All these traits are what make P.D. James' novels so fascinating. I read this book awhile ago so I've taken the liberty of writing what's on the back cover:
A young, lower-class tough is accused of murdering his prostitute aunt. His lawyer, Venetia Aldridge, is a woman known for her large talents and small personal charm who works at a venerable London firm. We learn that Venetia is in a position of ruining a number of professional lives and has the temperament to do it. Then she is murdered, discovered in her locked chambers in a gruesome tableau. Dalgliesh is put in charge of the case. He moves with grace and acumen through the blood-soaked crime scene, guiding his more volatile staff through the interviews that unweave the tangled web of multiple deceit and mixed motive.
I remember liking this book as the pieces come together. It's truly like a puzzle. Most of P.D. James' books are dark, filled with heavy atmosphere and irritating characters. Of course what makes the books so entertaining is not just the dark tale itself but also the eccentric, nasty characters
Dalgliesch has to deal with. But he keeps his cool when questioning these characters when I would of probably smacked each and everyone of the creatures. This book is a whodonit and it takes all of Dalgliesch's powers of observation and listening skills to find the answer to that question.
"A certain justice, the latest James, has all her hallmarks: Elegance of language, a stellar sense of place, exquisitely defined characters, and a skillfully rendered tale of moral justice....A novel of power and grace." The Globe and Mail
"Venetia Aldridge is a criminal lawyer of large talents and personal charm, working at a venerable London firm....As she tries to save a young lower-class tough who is accused of murdering his prostitute aunt, we learn she is in a position to ruin a number of professional lives, and is of precisely the temperament to do it....[Then] the lawyer is murdered-discovered in her locked chambers in a particularly gruesome tableau....Dalgliesh moves with grace and acumen through the blood-soaked crime scene, guiding his more volatile staff through the tangled web of multiple deceit and Mixed motive." The Washington Post Book World
It begins,dramatically enough,with a trial for murder.The distinguished criminal lawyer Venetia Aldridge is defending Garry Ashe on charges of having brutally killed his aunt.For Alridge the trial is mainly a test of her courtroom skills,One more opportunity to succeed-and she does.But now murder is in the air.The next victim will be Aldridge herself,stabbed to death at her desk in her chambers in the Middle Temple,a blood stained wig on her head.Enter commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team,whose struggle to investigate and understand the shocking events cannot halt the spiral into more horrors,more muders...
It begins, dramatically enough, with a trial for murder. The distinguished criminal lawyer Venetia Aldridge is defending Garry Ashe on charges of having brutally killed his aunt. For Aldridge the trial is mainly a test of her courtroom skills, one more opportunity to succeed--and she does. But now murder is in the air. The next victim will be Aldridge herself, stabbed to death at her desk in her Chambers in the Middle Temple, a bloodstained wig on her head. Enter Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team, whose struggle to investigate and understand the shocking events cannot halt the spiral into more horrors, more murders.
my first pd james was the much more recent "Murder Room" which i loved. this was apparently an older one of hers - like 9 years old? - but really great. i love the character development and the intelligence behind her books.
This book is about a criminal lawyer with large talents and small personal charm. She tries to save a young lower-class tough who is accused of murdering his prostitute aunt. Then the lawyer is murdered. A good story.
What would you do if you were a lawyer who successfully defended a murderer and just found out that this man is dating and wants to marry your daughter? Venetia Aldridge has this problem ... but it is not her former client who is now found murdered, but she herself. Her future son-in-law is not the only suspect, though - apparently, Ms. Aldridge was a very fine lawyer, but did have a certain lack of "people-skills"
As usual a great book, with great characterizations, by PD James.
In a masterful new Adam Dalgliesh mystery, P.D. James enters the labyrinthine world of the law, forging a deeply compelling human drama from the complex passions that lie behind both murder and justice.
I can't really add much to the other reviews here.
James writes a good story, but sometimes she has me wondering if most of the people living in Britain are twisted in some way. Most of the characters appearing in her stories have a dark side. Even the ones who are not murderers. Can't Britain's national health system provide psychological counseling for everyone?