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A Certain Justice [Hardcover]

P. D. James
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 1997
An Adam Dalgliesh novel. When Venetia Aldridge QC defends young Gary Ashe, accused of the brutal murder of his aunt, this is just one more opportunity for her to triumph in a distinguished career as a criminal lawyer. Then Miss Aldridge is found dead at her desk, and Dalgliesh is called in.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (1 Oct 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571191649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571191642
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 512,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London.

She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.

She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Writing at the peak of her form (which is very high indeed), P. D. James has produced her best book since Innocent Blood. The ideas, energy, and artistry on display in A Certain Justice could keep other, younger writers going for most of their careers; the seventysomething James tosses them off with apparent ease. It's billed as: "An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery," but in A Certain Justice the brooding poet detective takes a backseat to the murder victim--a wonderfully complex and basically unlikeable female lawyer named Venetia Aldridge--and to the equally fascinating Kate Miskin, Dalgliesh's able assistant. Thinking of another young police officer, Kate "suspected that he found something risible, even slightly ridiculous, in the traditions, the conventions, the hierarchy of policing. She sensed, too, that this was a view which AD [Adam Dalgliesh] with part of his mind understood, even if he didn't share it. But she couldn't live her life like that, couldn't be lighthearted about her career..." A Certain Justice would be the perfect mystery to ignite the enthusiasm of people who haven't read any P.D. James. Other examples of her high art available in paperback include The Black Tower, Death of an Expert Witness, A Shroud for a Nightingale, and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. --Amazon.com


" "A Certain Justice" has all James' hallmarks: elegance of language, a stellar sense of place, exquisitely defined characters, and a skillfully rendered tale of moral justice." -The Globe and Mail
" Immensely satisfying in both its intricate plot and complexity of characters.... An emotionally powerful puzzler [and a] page-turning journey ... along the darker, twisted byways of human intentions." --"Publishers Weekly" starred review
" Meticulously-crafted, original, suspenseful ... ingenious ... A whacking great whodunit by the reigning queen of mystery.... A certain great read." --"The Calgary Sun
"" Irresistible.... Yet another sterling example of how [P.D. James] has been able to elevate the traditional mystery to something approaching literary art." --"Winnipeg Free Press
"" Gripping reading... With virtuoso ingenuity, James weaves a wonderfully intricate whodunit." --"The Times Literary Supplement
" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Story and Characters but a Tad Slow 4 Feb 2004
By Mark Baker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Venetia Aldridge is a top notch criminal lawyer. She hardly ever looses a case and is able to find the holes in any argument. Her personal life isn't so rosy, however. She is basically estranged from her daughter and considered a problem by her co-workers. Her life really begins to unravel when her daughter announces her engagement - to a man Venetia has recently gotten off for murder. But when Venetia is found dead in her office two days later, it's up to Adam Dalgliesh and his team to figure out who killed her. And with all these motives and suspects, it won't be easy.
I'd heard much about P.D. James, but this was the first time I'd actually read one of her books. I found the writing style engaging and would have a hard time putting it down once I started. On the other hand, I'd have a hard time picking it up again. The beginning especially seems to give us too much background on our characters, stuff we don't need to learn until later if at all. This really slowed the story down for me.
The more I got into it, the better I enjoyed it, however. There were some nice twists along the way with an intriguing sub-plot. The last couple of chapters did seem a little anti-climatic considering what had gone before, but I was surprised by who the killer turned out to be. Using multiple view points greatly added to the story most of the time, although it did confuse me some as far as timeline goes.
I can understand why P.D. James has such a fine reputation. She can paint a picture with words like few other writers currently writing. While she may be a tad too slow for my normal taste, I'm certainly glad to see what all the talk is about. Her reputation is well earned.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings- 19 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
PD James can write well. The problem is she writes too much in a quaint Dickensian way which I am sure pleases many of her fans. A simple walk across Fleet Street to an Inn of Court doesn't have to become a travelogue. I don't want to have research rattles shaken at me. Research needs to be worn more lightly. Descriptive writing is her forte but sometimes its long-windedness gets in the way of the story. I didn't find this book very satisfactory and the plotting was rather plodding. But setting aside my carping about over-writing, I have three concerns:

First is the character of Commander Adam Dagleish. This rank in the Met is the equivalent of an Assistant Chief Constable. It is a strategic role and largely 'non-operational' except in the most serious of circumstances. But here we have a Met Commander waltzing down to Dorset, having a picnic by the sea and then doing his "Evening all, could you answer a few questions" stuff. What's his huge army of staff doing or wondering? It's not credible.

Second is characterisation. Describing someone well (as James does)is not the same as getting beneath the skin of the person. The reason we like Morse and Wallender is they struggle with both the mystery in front of them and with their own human frailties. With James I find the characters barely rise above well-described pieces of cardboard. I yearned for more depth.

Third is the writing style. It is very even and this is both its strength and weakness. A long letter written by a character is in the same descriptive tone as the rest of the book. In other words, it's PD James through and through and not a 'letter' at all. Dialogue is often long with few interruptions as the characters talk the story generally in the same tone. I wanted more change of pace and variety of style and, for me, it wasn't there
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James shows there's justice for all! 19 Nov 2000
By A Customer
P.D. James purists may argue that "Devices and Desires" is her best work to date, but "A Certain Justice" is certainly a close second! Granted, while James seems to devote less time to her leading man, Adam Dalgliesh, she nevertheless succeeds in making a more complete story--concentrating more on other characters and events (almost as if she's saying "you already know enough about Adam"!). Still, Commander Dalgliesh is in command and it is through his brilliance that the case is solved (or in this case, "cases"!).
Basically, Venetia Aldridge, a brilliant, up-and-coming criminal lawyer is found murdered (there can be no other explanation). As Scotland Yard becomes more involved (after all, it is a murder investigation and the victim is quite prominent in London legal circles), facts begin to emerge that picture a not-so-ordinary past. Venetia is no angel (not yet, anyway!)--there are suspects a-plenty and the motives run rampant, from her cleaning lady to colleagues in and out of court and to her own family members. She has a past that certainly has cut some crucial corners. She is also a woman with an attitude--an attitude that seemed not to care about making enemies. she is also the mother of a teenaged daughter, and their relationship, too, has been a bit tumultuous--dicey at best.
Venetia is found stabbed to death at her desk, and a barrister's wig placed, askew, on her head. Her body is soaked in blood. A convenient suspect is hurriedly identified (a sociopath whom she'd successfully defended in a murder trial a few years back!) but, alas, he comes up with an alibi and Dalgliesh must look to others, especially some of her jealous colleagues, for his culprit. James' plot is, indeed, convoluted and for the casual reader may be hard to follow.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite up to my expectations
I found this book somewhat confusing.Not as good as usual for this author.Will try others in due course and hope for something more to my taste.
Published 1 month ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars A cetain justice
I am very pleased with the excellent condition of this book. It looks like a new book. I look forward to reading it.
Published 1 month ago by U. Simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars atmospheric
brings to life the world of barristers with a double plot. You need to keep track of the characters . Read more
Published 4 months ago by meryon
1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I hadn't read it
When I was younger I loved PD James and would look forward to her books being made for TV. Wish I'd left her there in the past. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Galning
5.0 out of 5 stars PD James at her best
A really well written story. Vintage PD James. She has really made the world of legal chambers come to life. strongly recommended.
Published 10 months ago by AOR
5.0 out of 5 stars PD James A Certain Justice
P D James writes so good I need to keep turning the pages, at the same time it's never TOO gorey
Published 10 months ago by Rajj
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Another good read. If anything the culprit was even more difficult to pick out as the reader progressed through the book. One of her better books.
Published 10 months ago by Tricia Browning
5.0 out of 5 stars A Certain Justice
Always enjoy P. D. James books and this was no exception. Thrilling all the way through to the end. I think P. D. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mrs JM Nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars A certain justice
I thought I had the guilty party sussed out from the beginning, so why wasn't I surprised that I had got it completely wrong. As always a fabulous story and absorbing.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs. E. C. Lovesey
5.0 out of 5 stars A certain justice
Brilliantly written, as ever. Enjoyed reading this book. Never yet managed to work out who the killer will be in any of them.
Published 12 months ago by Janet Kimberley
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