Thursday, 27 February 2014

a taste for death

One of the books which I would pick up in preference to Gardens of the Moon was PD James' A Taste For Death, which I finished yesterday. I like her a lot, and I really enjoyed this one. It's well-written and well-constructed, of course, and it's of the procedural kind that I really prefer, all about the case and not the personal lives. Also of the kind where you are always kept pretty much up to speed with exactly what the detectives are thinking, rather than infuriating ones like Agatha Christie's detectives who are always making cryptic remarks and never giving anything away and then unveiling everything at the end, always leaving you with the sense that they could have given you half a dozen other alternative solutions to fit the vague clues scattered along the way. Always makes me think of the riddles in the game show 3-2-1, where the contestants had to choose out of all the rhyming clues the one which was the best prize - they all represented a prize or a booby prize, but could all be explained equally well to be the best or the worst prize, so there was really no way of knowing.

There aren't usually particular quotes to note from PD James books, but I did note this one, which I took as a possible self-reference, a description of a set of photos in a photographer's room (p241) of my 1989 Penguin paperback:
'The left of the board displayed what had probably been a more lucrative commission: a line of portraits of well-known writers. Some of the photographer's concern with social deprivation seemed to have infected even her work here. The men, unshaven, fashionably under-dressed in their tieless open-necked shirts, looked as if they had either just taken part in a literary discussion on Channel Four, or were on their way to a 1930s labour exchange, while the women looked either haunted or defensive, except for a buxom grandmother noted for her detective stories, who gazed mournfully at the camera as if deploring either the bloodiness of her craft or the size of her advance.'

I'm running out of PD James to read (and she's running out of time to write them). I'll be sorry when I'm done.