Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Lighthouse - P D James

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A reminder of why I like PD James' books.

Her books are a class in their own. It is classified as a thriller, a whodunnit but each book is a lesson in the study of human mind. This book is one of the later ones and I prefer them over the earlier ones. The story has a very contemporary feel to it and builds up a great wintry atmosphere on an island.


Combe is an isolated sanctuary for those looking to escape the ills of city life and enjoys a great reputation. However, when  a famous writer, Nathan Oliver is found dead before a top official's visit, there is an urgent need to find out the cause. Enter Adam Dagliesh and his team who get down to unearthing long buried secrets in the island to solve the case.

What works:
  • The setting is great. A secluded sparsely populated island is such a haunting place to set a thriller. James lays out the plot so well. It is convincing and effective.
  • Her characters have such weird names. Mishkin and Dagliesh - with a distinct persona to match. I love the way she paints them in different colours and keeps adding dimension with each book. You get to know them better with each story as they bring their experience to the case.
  • The story. It is simple and straightforward. But you realise that only when you get to the end. The story is shown in a different light and as light falls on their entirety of the plot, parts lead you to the whole. A great way of approaching a whodunnit.
  • The unique thing about PD James is that the reader doesn't feel like she is reading just a crime story. Every story sheds some light on human behaviour, a lesson in how the minds works. Brilliant.
What doesn't:
  • The writing style. It is full of substance but unfortunately it takes a lot out of the reader. It is demanding and the paragraphs can wear ones patience thin. That is the only problem. Although I am such a huge fan, the writing style puts me off sometimes but I hang for I know there will be nuggets of great writing, titbits of wise perspective from a lady who understands human tendencies so well.
What seemed a bit different in this book is that for once Kate and Benton took the centre stage while Adam Dagliesh stayed out of spotlight when it came to the revelation. It seemed as if Dagliesh was making way for Kate and  Benton to take over the detective mantle. Just an observation.

Overall a great read from the doyen of crime writers.

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