on 1 December 2009
Having read many of the more recent thriller writers, (including the well known forensic 'genre') I was totally gripped by this book, not only by the story but with the realisation that I was reading a writer whose command of the English language is formidable and that my previous reads were OK but nothing in comparison with the sheer enjoyment of PD James's skill. I shall be reading all her books now.!
on 4 March 2016
Haven't read a PDJ for years and this one reminded me what a genius she was. Chilling, really brutal in its stark portrayal of damaged human beings and their effect on life. Downloading another one ....
Being spread over 12 discs and being over 15 1/2 hours long, this (A Certain Justice (BBC Audio)) is a mighty collection.
Most of my audio collections are either abridged plays or dramatisations so this was my first step into the realm of the unabridged (large) audiobook. When reading, I love long books and 1200 pages is considered to be nothing unusual, but 15 hours of listening????
I should never have worried. P.D.James is described by the Mail on Sunday as '....one of the national treasures of British fiction....' and I cannot deny that statement. Her books are always well researched and are told in a non-emotional way that holds the reader's attention to the storyline and not to one character's moods or feelings. I found the time went past very quickly and, at one stage, even listened for 5 hours non-stop. I cannot compliment the reader, Michael Jayston, enough for keeping me so enthralled - an excellent reading.
The story of the death of a distinguished barrister has been done by many writers, but none can tell a tale of this type as well at this author. The twists are ingenious and the way the book is written is beautiful as well as being impressive.
I have read a number of the Adam Dalgliesh stories and, probably like many review readers, have seen the TV productions (of which 'A Certain Justice' was one). In my view, this story and it's reading is up amongst the best.
Can I recommend 'A Certain Justice' ? - A Certain Yes (although one may need a few stamina bars) - A definite 5 stars
I didn't know who PD James was, or even that the writer was female, I didn't know who Commander Adam Dalgliesh was, but thought I'd give this audio book a go.
I'd just trawled through an Aurelio Zen 9 CD story, which was tough going to start with but picked up. This is a 12 CD set!!! 12 CD's! It takes about 15 hrs to get through. I listened to it whilst creating 3D graphics on the PC.
Unlike the previous audio book I mentioned, this was easily accesible. It starts with a courtroom battle and then branches into the chambers comings and goings. This goes on for chapters, revolving around Venetia Aldridge, and her skill and future...and then just when you are really enjoying all this...she's murdered!
It is a long haul, but it's very good. The narrator is superb,you easily distinguish the different characters he makes voices for, and he's very easy to listen to.
At 12 CD's I don't know how easily you would listen to it all again, but it's definatley worth an initial hearing.
on 27 February 1999
Not having read P D James for some considerable time, I had almost forgotten how good her work is. From the first page, I was intrigued by the characters and to the exclusion of all else, found I was reluctant to put this book down and completed it over a two day period. An excellent mystery with believable characters and a plot that was easy to follow. The author's writing is uncomplicated but never simplistic. A lot of "if's and's & but's" culminating in a satisfying ending. Highly recommended.
on 8 February 2014
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.
Written in 1997 this book would have been dated even then, because of the way the author writes. Having read another of her books a few months back I've realised that her formula tends to be that the first 30% or so of the book is a kind of character assassination of the person who's going to be murdered.
You're set up with "too busy to have time for her daughter" - tick "brooding ex husband" - tick "someone from her childhood who may bear a grudge" - tick.
So that when Venetia eventually gets what's coming to her - there is a plethora of characters who could have "dun it".
The writing plods and meanders (I did finish it - but only be skipping over pages and pages) and, unfortunately, it reads like it was written in the 50s.
I think what upset me more (and hence the pretty harsh review for someone I once admired) was the AWFUL ending. Dalgliesh appeared to just give up and, to be honest, I wish I had too.
on 17 February 2016
It is a while since I’ve read any PD James, why did I leave it so long? Reading an Adam Dalgliesh story is like slipping into a favourite pair of old jeans. It’s that feeling you get with an assured author: you are in safe hands. It is mutual trust. The author trusts the reader to make connections and ‘get’ references without having to spell everything out, the reader trusts the author to deliver a satisfying story without distractions of blind alleys. This applies, especially I think, to crime fiction.
I have read ‘A Certain Justice’ before, many years ago, my paperback is old. I remembered the character of Venetia Aldridge, the murder victim, and of course know detective Adam Dalgliesh, but I had forgotten the identity of the killer. One of the pleasures of a PD James novel for me is the cultural background and the depth of knowledge she demonstrates. Dalgliesh is a poet, he is fond of architecture, of music, of the countryside. The murder of Venetia Aldridge, a barrister, takes place in her Chambers, and so as the reader I became involved in the world of law, of trial by jury, of guilty v not guilty, of revenge, of abandonment, hate and lingering resentment.
James takes her time to establish the characters involved, Venetia Aldridge herself, but also everyone around her, the other lawyers, her colleagues in Chambers, her daughter, and the people involved in her recent trials. A PD James crime novel is not short, but each character sketch is a potential murderer, accomplice, witness or, another murder victim. So it pays for the reader to pay attention. James is a master storyteller.
If you haven’t discovered PD James or her series featuring Adam Dalgliesh, a treat awaits you.
on 6 September 1999
Having been rather disappointed by PD James's last couple of detective novels I approached "A Certain Justice" with some reluctance. But from the first page I was completely absorbed. The novel opens with a court-case, in which we see the eventual murder victim, barrister Venetia Aldridge, conducting an inspired defence on behalf of a particularly repugnant client. Over the next few chapters we learn about Venetia's childhood, and what lay behind her ambition to become a criminal barrister. PD James then goes on to present to the reader Venetia's various colleagues. This is done in her usual customary detailed and sympathetic manner, so that the reader becomes absorbed by the personalities described, their inter-relationships and their secret anxieties. Once the murder occurs, we are quickly reacquainted with our old friend Commander Adam Dalgliesh, with Detective Inspector Kate Miskin in tow. Then follows the usual series of police interviews with the several suspects, and, after some unexpected but credible twists and turns,including a second murder, Dalgliesh succeeds (as always) in identifying the culprit. In this novel PD James' narrative and descriptive skills are at their best, and felt both the setting and the denouement to be more convincing that than those of her last novel, "Original Sin". PD James' many fans are in for a treat.
What a pleasure it is to read a complex, carefully constructed, and well-written ‘traditional’ thriller with a total absence of serial killers massacring their victims in ever more bizarre and repellant ways, with blood oozing from every page. There are of course murders in this book, two in fact, but the first only appears on page 120, a quarter of the way through the book, and the second much later, at the start of the final quarter. Those 120 pages are used to build up a detailed picture of the first victim, Venetia Aldridge, a very successful divorced QC. She is arrogant and disliked by many people, including her work colleagues and her troubled daughter Octavia, who lives in a basement flat in her house. Relations between them get worse when Octavia becomes romantically involved with an amoral, odious young man called Ashe, who Venetia has just very recently successfully defended on a charge of murdering his aunt. The author uses these pages to explore Venetia’s relations with her friends and acquaintances and to ‘plant’ a number of plausible potential suspects for the murder when it later happens.
It is at this point that the author’s famous detective, Commander Adam Dalgliesh, enters, accompanied as usual by DI Kate Miskin. But this time the third member of the team is DI Piers Tarrant, a rather laid back character with a degree in theology, and Kate has to adjust to a new relationship. The investigation proceeds methodically, but slowly, until a second murder occurs. The challenge is then to uncover the relationship between the two crimes. When it is revealed, it leads to the killer of the second victim, and indirectly to the killer of Venetia, although in this case the outcome is very unexpected.
There have been some negative comments in other reviews. For example, although Kate’s humble and troubled background is mentioned from time to time, the personal lives of none of the three detectives are explored in any depth. This is in contrast to the other characters in the book, where we learn more about their reactions to the daily challenges of life, which makes them more real. Also it has been commented that a policeman of the rank of Commander would not be carrying out a murder investigation ‘on the ground’, and the ending is too abrupt. While these criticisms are true, I think they are minor, and I enjoyed the book.
on 26 July 2012
For me personally I didn't enjoy listening to Michael Jayston. This pace of his reading is fine and he speaks clearly, but he falls down when it comes to dialogue. The thoughts and words of all the different characters are delivered in the same dour voice, which I found a bit tiring and confusing.
The plot I did not find was at all believable. The principal characters seem to be people who are tired of their unhappy lives, yet we are expected to accept that they had the heart and desire to exact complex acts of revenge. I also found it impossible to care about any of the characters, they were all too self-interested for my liking.
Other reviewers have described the story as slow paced. I don't think that is true. The real problem is that it is too bitty. We are given he taste of an idea then it isn't developed any further. There is a lot of beginning and an end, but the lengthy middle is just froth.
The worst thing of all was the ending. It would seem that even the inspector was so fed up of the story that he didn't do his job.