Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh Series #9) [NOOK Book]


Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team are confronted with a puzzle of baffling complexity. A murder has taken place in the offices of the Peverell Press, a venerable London publishing house located in a dramatic mock-Venetian palace on the Thames. The victim is Gerard Etienne, the brilliant but ruthless new managing director, who had vowed to restore the firm's fortunes. Etienne was clearly a man with enemies - a discarded mistress, a rejected and humiliated author, and rebellious colleagues, one of whom ...
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Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh Series #9)

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Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team are confronted with a puzzle of baffling complexity. A murder has taken place in the offices of the Peverell Press, a venerable London publishing house located in a dramatic mock-Venetian palace on the Thames. The victim is Gerard Etienne, the brilliant but ruthless new managing director, who had vowed to restore the firm's fortunes. Etienne was clearly a man with enemies - a discarded mistress, a rejected and humiliated author, and rebellious colleagues, one of whom apparently killed herself a short time before. Yet Etienne's death, which occurred under bizarre circumstances, is for Dalgliesh only the beginning of the mystery, as he desperately pursues the search for a killer prepared to strike and strike again. Original Sin is a detective thriller in the grand manner, profoundly enriched by P. D. James's ability to evoke an atmosphere of suspense and to create characters whose psychology is plausible and gripping. Nothing is simple about it - the mystery, the haunting symbolism of death and the river, even the interaction between Dalgliesh and his subordinates, Kate Miskin and Daniel Aaron. P. D. James has written her most accomplished novel yet.

The Peverall Press, a venerable publishing firm occupying a mock-Venetian palace on the Thames in London, has a new managing director, the brilliant but ruthless Gerard Etienne--a man with enemies. When Etienne is found dead in bizarre circumstances, Commander Adam Dalgliesh is faced with a plethora of suspects--and a murderer prepared to kill again.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A sprawling paean to the Thames River and its London environs, James's 12th novel and latest mystery to feature New Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgleish is set in the modern publishing world where traditions may crumble but where such timeless emotions as grief, rage and love prevail. Peverell Press, which occupies the magnificent Innocent House, modeled on the palaces of Venice and built by the firm's founder in 1792, has been plagued by the misdeeds-misplaced manuscripts, lost illustrations-of an unknown ``office menace'' since the death, nine months earlier, of managing director Henry Peverell. The stakes are upped when a senior editor, recently sacked by the new director Gerard Etienne, kills herself. When Etienne is found dead in the same room, Dalgleish is called in to investigate. He discovers that plenty of people, including the four other partners in the firm and various employees whose jobs are threatened by Etienne's plans to sell Innocent House and modernize the firm, had reason to wish Etienne dead. James (Devices and Desires) gives pride of place here to lush, leisurely descriptions of waterside London and the landscape of the Essex coast; Dalgleish and his assistants seem more observers than participants in this plot that ticks along on its own momentum, driven by the various suspects' motivations and actions to the credible, if not fully prepared for, resolution. BOMC selection; Random House Large Print edition (ISBN 0-679-76033-4); author tour. (Feb.)
Library Journal
After a quick detour into science fiction with her last novel, The Children of Men (Knopf, 1993), the venerable James returns to the genre that made her famous. In Original Sin, detective Adam Dalgliesh investigates the bizarre death of a ruthless publisher.
Bill Ott
Like a poet committed to sonnets in an age of free verse, P. D. James continues to show the younger, more rambunctious crime writers (Hiaasen, Dibdin, Ellroy) that there's still some life left in the classical detective story. Of course, it helps when the sleuth injecting most of that life is the inimitable, ever-suave Adam Dalgleish, critically acclaimed poet and Scotland Yard commander. Both of Dalgleish's vocations come into play here, at least tangentially, as the murders in question take place at one of London's oldest publishing houses, Peverell Press, located on the banks of the Thames in a Venetian-style mansion called, ironically, Innocent House. A slumping frontlist is the least of the problems at this once-distinguished press: its senior staff is being bumped off faster than a copy editor can blue-pencil a dangling participle. James has created a classic country-house mystery here, with the house transported to the city and the five partners at Peverell Press taking the roles of the landed gentry. One of the surviving four, after the managing director turns up dead, is clearly a killer, and James expertly constructs believable scenarios that might convict any of them. And don't forget the subplot: in this case, the personal crises of Dalgleish's two lieutenant's, Kate Miskin, choosing career over love, and Daniel Aaron, letting his ties to his family and his Jewish heritage slip away All the pieces of the puzzle are in place, and James plays them with careful attention to the rigors of formula, yet the novel is always more than its form, just as the best sonnets are more than 14 lines of tightly controlled rhymes. As we learn about the various suspects, we're not just building scenarios and detecting red herrings; we're also learning about people, observing their frailties, recognizing their illusions, and, above all, feeling their pain. Order is always restored at the end of a James novel, as formula requires, yet it is never without an overpowering sense of loss. Perhaps that is the real mark of James' genius and her enduring popularity in a very un-classical age: she gives us the comfort of the classical detective story, but it comes at a price, a quiet reminder that order--however we crave it--rarely penetrates the human heart.
From the Publisher
“Brilliant…stellar…elegant.” -- The Globe and Mail

“Exquisitely plotted, crammed with excellent characters and Dickensian in its passion for detail and setting.” -- The Ottawa Citizen

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307822529
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/23/2012
  • Series: Adam Dalgliesh Series , #9
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 63,521
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

P. D. James

P. D. James is the author of twenty-one books, most of which have been filmed for television. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Departments of Great Britain's
Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. The recipient of many prizes and honours, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 and was inducted into the International Crime  Writing Hall of Fame in 2008. She lives in London and Oxford.


Few writers have left so indelible an impression on crime fiction as P. D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James, an author whose elegant, bestselling novels have found an appreciative audience among readers and critics alike. James's intricately plotted books are filled with macabre events and shocking twists and turns, yet they are so beautifully written and morally complex that they cannot be dismissed as mere murder mysteries...although, in James's view, there's nothing "mere" about mysteries!

In James's native Britain (home of Wilkie Collins, Graham Greene, and the redoubtable Agatha Christie), the mystery is a time-honored form that has never been considered inferior. James explained her feelings in a 1998 interview with Salon.com: "It isn't easy to make this division and say: That's genre fiction and it's useless, and this is the so-called straight novel and we take it seriously. Novels are either good novels or they're not good novels, and that is the dividing line for me."

Although she always wanted to be a novelist, James came to writing relatively late in life. Her formal schooling ended at 16, when she went to work to help out her cash-strapped parents. In 1941 she married a doctor assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps. He returned from WWII with a severe mental illness that lasted until his death in 1964, necessitating that James become the family breadwinner. She worked in hospital administration and then in various departments of the British Civil Service until her retirement in 1979. (Her experience navigating the labyrinthine corridors of government bureaucracies has provided a believable backdrop for many of her books.)

James's first novel, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962. An immediate success, it introduced the first of her two longtime series protagonists -- Adam Dalgleish, a police inspector in Scotland Yard and a published poet. Her second recurring character, a young private detective named Cordelia Gray, debuted in 1972's An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Both Dalgliesh and Cordelia went on to star in a string of international bestsellers.

James has only occasionally departed from her series, most notably for the standalone mystery Innocent Blood (1980) and the dystopian sci-fi classic Children of Men (1992), which was turned into an Oscar-nominated film. In 2000, she published a slender "fragment of autobiography" called A Time to Be Earnest, described by The New York Time Book Review as " deeply moving, and all too short."

Good To Know

  • In television mini-series that have aired in the U.S. on PBS, British actors Roy Marsden and Martin Shaw have portrayed Adam Dalgliesh and Helen Baxendale has starred as Cordelia Gray.

  • James explained the essence of a murder mystery in a 2004 essay for Britain's Guardian: "E. M. Forster has written, 'The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died and the queen died of grief is a plot. The queen died and no one knew why until they discovered it was of grief is a mystery, a form capable of high development.' To that I would add: the queen died and everyone thought it was of grief until they discovered the puncture wound in her throat. That is a murder mystery and, in my view, it too is capable of high development. "

  • In 1983, James was awarded the OBE. In 1991 she was made a Life Peer (Baroness James of Holland Park).

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      1. Also Known As:
        Phyllis Dorothy James White (full name)
      2. Hometown:
        London, England
      1. Date of Birth:
        August 3, 1920
      2. Place of Birth:
        Oxford, England
      1. Education:
        Attended the Cambridge High School for Girls from 1931 to 1937 and later took evening classes in hospital administration

    Read an Excerpt

    1For a temporary shorthand-typist to be present at the discovery of a corpse on the first day of a new assignment, if not unique, is sufficiently rare to prevent its being regarded as an occupational hazard. Certainly Mandy Price, aged nineteen years two months, and the acknowledged star of Mrs. Crealey's Nonesuch Secretarial Agency, set out on the morning of Tuesday 14 September for her interview at the Peverell Press with no more apprehension than she usually felt at the start of a new job, an apprehension which was never acute and was rooted less in any anxiety whether she would satisfy the expectations of the prospective employer than in whether the employer would satisfy hers. She had learned of the job the previous Friday, when she called in at the agency at six o'clock to collect her pay after a boring two-week stint with a director who regarded a secretary as a status symbol but had no idea how to use her skills, and she was ready for something new and preferably exciting, although perhaps not as exciting as it was subsequently to prove.Mrs. Crealey, for whom Mandy had worked for the past three years, conducted her agency from a couple of rooms above a newsagent and tobacconist's shop off the Whitechapel Road, a situation which, she was fond of pointing out to her girls and clients, was convenient both for the City and for the towering offices of Docklands. Neither had so far produced much in the way of business, but while other agencies foundered in the waves of recession Mrs. Crealey's small and underprovisioned ship was still, if precariously, afloat. Except for the help of one of her girls when no outside work was available, she ran the agency single-handed. The outer room was her office, in which she propitiated clients, interviewed new girls and assigned the next week's work. The inner was her personal sanctum, furnished with a divan bed on which she occasionally spent the night in defiance of the terms of the lease, a drinks cabinet and refrigerator, a cupboard which opened to reveal a minute kitchen, a large television set and two easy chairs set in front of a gas fire in which a lurid red light rotated behind artificial logs. She referred to her room as the "cosy," and Mandy was one of the few girls who were admitted to its privacies.It was probably the cosy which kept Mandy Faithful to the agency, although she would never have openly admitted to a need which would have seemed to her both childish and embarrassing. Her mother had left home when she was six and she herself had been hardly able to wait for her sixteenth birthday, when she could get away from a father whose idea of parenthood had gone little further than the provision of two meals a day which she was expected to cook, and her clothes. For the last year she had rented one room in a terraced house in Stratford East, where she lived in acrimonious camaraderie with three young friends, the main cause of dispute being Mandy's insistence that her Yamaha motor bike should be parked in the narrow hall. But it was the cosy in Whitechapel Road, the mingled smells of wine and takeaway Chinese food, the hiss of the gas fire, the two deep and battered armchairs in which she could curl up and sleep, which represented all Mandy had ever known of the comfort and security of a home.Mrs. Crealey, sherry bottle in one hand and a scrap of jotting pad in the other, munched at her cigarette holder until she had manoeuvred it to the corner of her mouth, where, as usual, it hung in defiance of gravity, and squinted at her almost indecipherable handwriting through immense horn-rimmed spectacles."It's a new client, Mandy, the Peverell Press. I've looked them up in the publishers' directory. They're one of the...

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    Table of Contents

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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 13 )
    Rating Distribution

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    Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
    • Posted November 23, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      Another triumph for Lady James

      I don't think there can ever be such a thing as a bad P. D. James mystery. Lady James is just too good a writer to have that happen. <BR/><BR/>"Original Sin" continues her series featuring the man I consider the world's most erudite policeman (the word "cop" just doesn't apply) - Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard. This time the scene of the crime is, according to the novel, the oldest publishing house in Britain - Peverell Press. <BR/><BR/>In this entry in the series, enough red herrings are tossed out that I was thoroughly in the dark until the very end - and then I remembered the actual murderer's alibi in the first killing and wondered how I could have forgotten it. <BR/><BR/>Sadly, I cannot give this book five stars, but not because of Lady James' usual excellent writing. My review is of the audiobook from Recorded Books, and the narrator needs to improve on his craft. At times, in conversations between two or more characters, I couldn't tell which one was speaking - they sounded almost exactly alike. And other points in the narration were flat and toneless; I almost felt as though I were listening to "Original Sin" as told by Mr. Spock. <BR/><BR/>I'm willing to give this narrator another chance, but I'm seriously considering getting the actual book for my next P. D. James.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 28, 2013

      I recently read Original Sin and I was very disappointed in the

      I recently read Original Sin and I was very disappointed in the book. If you like detailed descriptions of characters and physical locations,
      then you will probably like the the novel. However, if you are looking for a mystery which keeps you wondering/guessing what is going to
      happen next only to discover that what you had anticipated was wrong; you, like I, will be disappointed. Ms. James is a competent writer
      capable of delivering prose that is elegant, but to call Original Sin a mystery is a stretch of the imagination.. CondorDC

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 4, 2012


      Yo its meh. I've been doing the pj rp since Feburary around Valentines day at the greece results. I am 19/15 (dumb time warp). My full name is Courtney Loranne Zuino. I have a twin brother named Jake(he's annoying) and I am a daughter of Zeus and I have an evil stepmother named Hera. Sometimes i loose my memory cuz of a lethe gas that hit me when I was 15/18. Its not permanent but its pretty bad. I have a three back and i'm very athletic, a rebel, and a tomboy. I have shoulder lengh black hair that has purple streaks going through it. I have eletric blue eyes and a MAJOUR FRECKLE PROBLEM ON MY FACE. My weapons are a silver braclet that my half brother Mike made me that turns into any weapon I need and my luck dagger, Bolter. I have like five gazillion half brothers and like two half sisters. So ya. BAI!!!!

      0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 3, 2012


      I have golden blond hair and amber eyes. I dont remember where i started pj. But my story from before then is an interesting one. I was one of the royal triplets of avalon. Then a demon attacked and killed mother. My brother blamed me and tried to kill me i fled and arrived at pj

      0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 3, 2012

      Prism and Sparky

      Prism- I joined when it was still in the PJ books!!! Sometime in July. 2011. My name is Loyal "Prism" Sonya, and I'm a daughter of Apollo and Athena. I was a goddess back when it wasn't considered godmodding to be one. -3- I have brown hair, glasses, olive skin, and wear a pink shirt under an unzipped hoody and jeans+tennis shoes. I use a huge battle-axe that turns into a leather snap bracelet. I'm goddess of light and creativity. Sparky- I joined Pris sometime in December (2011). We're identical, except I wear a sweater vest, khakis, and loafers. I use a bow and arrows, and, rarely, a one-handed sword. I'm a daughter of Ares.

      0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 3, 2012

      Maddie and britt

      Maddie tl red head with funny personality britt tall dirty blonde with a scr on her forehead* both : joined in the greek rp at greece results and then moved to pool results thwnto scarlettletter

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 3, 2012


      Im kat ive been here since last christmas. Go to mountain result one or something to see my description.

      0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 4, 2010

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Original Sin (The NEW Eerie Coterie)

      This is The Eerie Coterie's February "Goremet" selection by our featured author for 2010, P.D. James. I read this book many years ago and it remains one of my personal favorites by James. What I think readers will love the most is that the setting of the murder is a publishing house! This was James' first book after her wonderful "The Children of Men" and it was definately a return to form. It is more than just the writing style, but the nostalgic feel her books have - even though they are contemporary. James writes classical detective stories, which nowadays no one really does and that is a shame. People read detective fiction as a wal to escape real life, which is funny considering there is a terrible murder at its core. With "Original Sin" it starts up with a slow introduction to the spublishing house and its characters and then hits you with the murder!! Visit BN Bookclubs to discuss this book with The Eerie Coterie.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 9, 2000

      James triumphs again!

      Dire straits has caught up with Peverell Press, financially and mortally. This prestigious London publishing house is sinking fast and the five surviving partners of the venerable old firm have to make some dire choices! In P.D. James¿ ¿Original Sin,¿ we find that justice may really be blind, after all. First, one of the five partners, the managing director, is found dead. What looks like a suicide, however, is not. Superintendent Adam Dalgleish, master that he is, determines that, indeed, it is not suicide, but murder. The suspects are a-plenty, as is motive. At the same time, someone is playing not-so-funny practical jokes around the offices. Another body is found, and the investigation grows. James and Dalgleish are at their best here, and the myriad avenues that the killer (or killers) seem to be taken are not much help. Everything seems so calculated. But Dalgleish soon learns that this case involves a systematic approach and he must expand his investigative horizon, which eventually extends all the way back to World War II France. Hatred, revenge, jealousy--all the ¿evils¿--abound and when the perpetrator is revealed, James does so with control and finesse. Faster paced than normally, this James book is one not easily put down, to coin a phrase.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 20, 2000

      Original Sin: Not like the original James

      While a fan of P.D. James, this books creates the feeling that the author was off her game a bit. The usually enthralling bits of history that are usually brisk bits that move the plot along were more like long, rambles leading you to a place where you look around and realize you've gone a block too far and nearly become lost. The lack of crispness defeats the bold approach of the overall structure, presenting a landscape of figures and plot information before the crime investigation heats up. On the whole, Original Sin is a tough read, for while the overdense early stages of the book may cause the reader to rush along, you must not, or you lose too much that is important later. A good, tightening edit would have vastly improved this book.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 29, 2009

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted April 25, 2010

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted June 14, 2014

      No text was provided for this review.

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