Archives: Books

The Lighthouse

Combe Island off the Cornish coast has a bloodstained history of piracy and cruelty but now, privately owned, it offers respite to over-stressed men and women in positions of high authority who require privacy and guaranteed security. But the peace of Combe is violated when one of the distinguished visitors is bizarrely murdered.

Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve the mystery quickly and discreetly, but at a difficult time for him and his depleted team. Dalgliesh is uncertain about his future with Emma Lavenham, the woman he loves, Detective Inspector Kate Miskin has her own emotional problems and the ambitious Anglo-Indian Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith is worried about working under Kate. Hardly have the team begun to unravel the complicated motives of the suspects that there is a second brutal killing and the whole investigation is jeopardised when Dalgliesh is faced with a danger more insidious and as potentially fatal as murder.

This eagerly awaited successor to The Murder Room displays the qualities which aficionados have come to expect of P D James: sensitive characterisation, an exciting and superbly structured plot and vivid evocation of place. The Lighthouse is a subtle and powerful work of contemporary fiction.

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

A collection of 4 short stories from P.D. James, published together for the first time in a beautiful hardback edition.

As the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’, P. D. James was frequently commissioned to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the best of these have been drawn from the archives and published here. P. D. James’s prose illuminates each of these perfectly formed stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. While she delights in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at family gatherings, her Christmas stories also provide tantalizing puzzles to keep the reader guessing. 

P. D. James embraces the challenge of the short-story form, and ingeniously weaves the strands of plot, setting, characterisation and surprise to create a satisfying whole within only a few thousand words. 

From the title story about a strained country-house party on Christmas Eve, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases for James’s poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh, each treats the reader to James’s masterfully atmospheric storytelling, always with the lure of a mystery to be solved.

Devices and Desires

A beautiful new edition of one of P.D. James’s most-loved works – the ideal place to start for a reader new to P. D. James’s books.

When Adam Dalgliesh visits Larksoken, a remote headland community on the Norfolk coast in the shadow of a nuclear power station, he expects to be engaged only in the sad business of tying up his aunt’s estate. But the peace of Larksoken is illusory. Someone is terrorising the neighbourhood, and Dalgliesh finds himself drawn into the lives of the isolated headlanders in an attempt to uncover what sinister forces are at work.

Devices and Desires was adapted for television in 1991, starring Roy Marsden and Susannah York.

‘Perhaps her greatest novel.’ – Ian Sansom, Guardian

‘Magnificent . . . a compelling human drama.’ – Evening Standard 

‘P. D. James at better than her best . . . so interesting are her characters, so absorbing her depiction of time and place, so rich the texture of the tale she tells . . . She has exceeded herself.’ – New York Times

Sleep No More

The acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’, P. D. James was a past master of the short story, weaving motifs of the Golden Age of crime-writing with deep psychological insight to create gripping, suspenseful tales. The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories contained four of these perfectly formed stories, and this companion volume contains a further six, published here together for the first time.

As the six murderous tales unfold, bullying schoolmasters receive their comeuppance, unhappy marriages and childhoods are avenged, a murder in the small hours of Christmas Day puts an end to the vicious new lord of the manor, and, from the safety of his nursing home, an octogenarian exerts exquisite retribution.

The punishments inflicted on the guilty are fittingly severe, but here they are meted out by the unseen forces of natural justice rather than the institutions of the law. Once again, P. D. James shows her expert control of the short-story form, conjuring motives and scenarios with complete conviction, and each with a satisfying twist in the tail.

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

A collection of 4 short stories from P.D. James, published together in a beautiful paperback edition.

As the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’, P. D. James was frequently commissioned to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the best of these have been drawn from the archives and published here. P. D. James’s prose illuminates each of these perfectly formed stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. While she delights in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at family gatherings, her Christmas stories also provide tantalizing puzzles to keep the reader guessing. 

P. D. James embraces the challenge of the short-story form, and ingeniously weaves the strands of plot, setting, characterisation and surprise to create a satisfying whole within only a few thousand words. 

From the title story about a strained country-house party on Christmas Eve, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases for James’s poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh, each treats the reader to James’s masterfully atmospheric storytelling, always with the lure of a mystery to be solved.