Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unnatural Causes

Now I can't seem to resist picking up a P.D. James book when I see one, despite the fact that she and I have a tumultuous relationship. But, I'm beginning to think that if I feel like reading a decent British mystery, she's my gal. I think.

Unnatural Causes features Adam Dalgliesh, her steadfast detective, who, Murder She Wrote-style, goes on what he thinks will be a relaxing vacation to visit his aunt when a murder changes his plans. The suspects are the denizens of aunt's tiny sea-side village and for some reason they all start behaving like suspects right away, spilling the beans about their alibis to anyone who will listen.

I thought it was a decent little mystery that kept me guessing - by coincidence I happened to watch Murder on the Orient Express, by another acknowledged queen of mystery-writing and thus went through several They ALL Did It! moments.
James is a clever writer and a good one. Here's a passage that made me laugh and also sent me to the dictionary (I LOVE being sent to the dictionary, don't you?):
...The exclusion of women means that some of the best crime writers are unrepresented but this worries no one; the Committee take the view that their presence would hardly compensate for the expense of putting in a second set of lavoratories. The plumbing at the Cadaver has, in fact, remained virtually unaltered since the Club moved to Tavistock Square in 1900 but it is a canard that the baths were originally purchased by George Joseph Smith.

I was all, canard? Isn't that a duck?

James's 1967 book is a bit dated with an oogy reference or two to "colored people" and some 1960's pre-PC references to a "cripple". Blech.

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