Devices and Desires

Devices and Desires - P.D. James [These notes were made in 1991:]. Every time P.D. James puts out a new novel, I think it's her best yet. This is no exception. She has chosen a particularly atmospheric setting - a bleak Northern English headland dominated by a nuclear power plant, and inhabited by a small group of people, most of whom have secrets. Dalgleish inherits a mill among them, and gets unwillingly caught up in the hunt for a local serial killer. However, the last murder victim - a strong-minded, rather unpleasant woman named Hilary, turns out to have been murdered after the police find the serial killer - and so the stories come out - the schoolteacher recovering from accusations of racism, the gay love affair, the anti-nuclear activists, innocent on terroristic, the power-hungry administrator, and the blackmail that is practised on him. In the end, we find out that it is not Hilary's lover, Alex, but his obscurely possessive and protective sister Alice, who killed Hilary. And Alice, who lives in Martyr's Cottage, dooms herself to die by the flame as the ancient witch-woman died after whom the cottage was named. (Dalgleish, being a Hero, gets himself badly injured trying to save her). There is also a quite terrifying scene in a boat, where radical principle operating in innocence (Amy) encounters betrayal in the person of Caroline, who is radical principle operating by terrorism. And both are eventually betrayed by an even more radical & powerful force. I can't wait for the next one!