Large Print Reviews

A Certain Justice
An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery
By P. D. James

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A Certain Justice

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A Certain Justice
Large Print Edition
By P. D. James
Random House Large Print, (1997)
ISBN: 0-679-77452-1
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - February 11, 2002

A Certain Justice is a chilling Adam Dalgliesh Mystery that will make you an instant fan of P.D. James - if by some chance you are not already! This is the tenth novel by James that features the lovable, quiet, and reserved Police Detective, Commander Dalgliesh, who writes poetry in his spare time. Per usual, Dalgliesh is called in to investigate a murder. In this case it is the brutal murder of the respected and brilliant, but hated, criminal lawyer named Venetia Aldridge, who is killed in her chambers.

James uses an interesting technique to open this novel. She tells you from the onset that Aldridge is going to die, in fact she tells you in the very first paragraph, that "...she had four weeks, four hours and fifty minutes left of life." At the time of her death, Aldridge was in the process of defending a sinister young man, Garry Ashe, from the crime of having killed his aunt. She was also having to deal with the fact that Ashe was dating her own daughter! As she was a criminal lawyer, the police immediately suspect that the killer may have been one of Aldridge's clients. But as the investigation deepens, Dalgliesh discovers that there are others, besides criminals, that might have wanted to see Aldridge dead, ranging from Octavia, her daughter, to her fellow lawyers.

In A Certain Justice, James as crafted a well-wrought mystery that will have you guessing until the end, just who did indeed do the deed. Along the way, James presents the reader with a plethora of likely suspects. And she lets you play detective along with Dalgliesh, as she provides the reader with all the information that she allows Dalgliesh to uncover. Consequently, odds are that you will not know who the culprit is any sooner than Dalgliesh does. Red herrings abound, but they are rational herrings, and you never feel that James has tricked you.

James is noted for her complex, intense plots, and fast-paced stories. If this is what you expect, A Certain Justice will not disappoint you. Be forewarned, however, that this is a murder mystery, and at times the story gets somewhat gruesome with explicit descriptions of violence, murder, and sex. A Certain Justice is James at her best, she grabs your attention the moment you start reading, and your gaze will never falter from the page until you are done with the book. Her characters are true-to-life, vibrant and full of emotion, and her story chillingly lifelike. Calling A Certain Justice a page-turner would be an understatement!

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