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Devices and Desires par [James, P. D.]
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The Whistler’s fourth victim was his youngest, Valerie Mitchell, aged fifteen years, eight months and four days, and she died because she missed the 9.40 bus from Easthaven to Cobb’s Marsh. As always, she had left it until the last minute to leave the disco, and the floor was still a packed, gyrating mass of bodies under the makeshift strobe lights when she broke free of Wayne’s clutching hands, shouted instructions to Shirl about their plans for next week above the raucous beat of the music and left the dance floor. Her last glimpse of Wayne was of his serious, bobbing face bizarrely striped with red, yellow and blue under the turning lights. Without waiting to change her shoes, she snatched up her jacket from the cloakroom peg and raced up the road past the darkened shops towards the bus station, her cumbersome shoulder-bag flapping against her ribs. But when she turned the corner into the station she saw with horror that the lights on their high poles shone down on a bleached and silent emptiness and, dashing to the corner, was in time to see the bus already halfway up the hill. There was still a chance if the lights were against it, and she began desperately chasing after it, hampered by her fragile, high-heeled shoes. But the lights were green and she watched helplessly, gasping and bent double with a sudden cramp, as it lumbered over the brow of a hill and like a brightly lit ship sank out of sight. “Oh no!” she screamed after it, “Oh God! Oh no!” and felt the tears of anger and dismay smarting her eyes.
This was the end. It was her father who laid down the rules in her family, and there was never any appeal, any second chance. After protracted discussion and her repeated pleas, she had been allowed this weekly visit on Friday evenings to the disco run by the church Youth Club, provided she caught the 9.40 bus without fail. It put her down at the Crown and Anchor at Cobb’s Marsh, only fifty yards from her cottage. From 10.15 her father would begin watching for the bus to pass the front room where he and her mother would sit half-watching the television, the curtains drawn back. Whatever the programme or weather, he would then put on his coat and come out to walk the fifty yards to meet her, keeping her always in sight. Since the Norfolk Whistler had begun his killings, her father had had an added justification for the mild domestic tyranny which, she half-realized, he both thought right in dealing with his only child and rather enjoyed. The concordat had been early established: “You do right by me, my girl, and I’ll do right by you.” She both loved him and slightly feared him, and she dreaded his anger. Now there would be one of those awful rows in which she knew she couldn’t hope to look to her mother for support. It would be the end of her Friday evenings with Wayne and Shirl and the gang. Already they teased and pitied her because she was treated as a child. Now it would be total humiliation.
Her first desperate thought was to hire a taxi and to chase the bus, but she didn’t know where the cab rank was and she hadn’t enough money; she was sure of that. She could go back to the disco and see if Wayne and Shirl and the gang between them could lend her enough. But Wayne was always skint and Shirl too mean, and by the time she had argued and cajoled it would be too late.
And then came salvation. The lights had changed again to red, and a car at the end of a tail of four others was just drawing slowly to a stop. She found herself opposite the open, left-hand window and looking directly at two elderly women. She clutched at the lowered glass and said breathlessly: “Can you give me a lift? Anywhere Cobb’s Marsh direction. I’ve missed the bus. Please.”
The final desperate plea left the driver unmoved. She stared ahead, frowned, then shook her head and let in the clutch. Her companion hesitated, looked at her, then leaned back and released the rear door.
“Get in. Quickly. We’re going as far as Holt. We could drop you at the crossroads.”
Valerie scrambled in and the car moved forward. At least they were going in the right direction, and it took her only a couple of seconds to think of her plan. From the crossroads outside Holt it would be less than half a mile to the junction with the bus route. She could walk it and pick it up at the stop before the Crown and Anchor. There would be plenty of time; the bus took at least twenty minutes meandering round the villages.
The woman who was driving spoke for the first time. She said: “You shouldn’t be cadging lifts like this. Does your mother know that you’re out, what you’re doing? Parents seem to have no control over children these days.”
Silly old cow, she thought, what business is it of hers what I do? She wouldn’t have stood the cheek from any of the teachers at school. But she bit back the impulse to rudeness, which was her adolescent response to adult criticism. She had to ride with the two old wrinklies. Better keep them sweet. She said: “I’m supposed to catch the nine-forty bus. My dad’ud kill me if he thought I’d cadged a lift. I wouldn’t if you was a man.”
“I hope not. And your father’s perfectly right to be strict about it. These are dangerous times for young women, quite apart from the Whistler. Where exactly do you live?”
“At Cobb’s Marsh. But I’ve got an aunt and uncle at Holt. If you put me down at the crossroads, he’ll be able to give me a lift. They live right close. I’ll be safe enough if you drop me there, honest.”
The lie came easily to her and was as easily accepted. Nothing more was said by any of them. She sat looking at the backs of the two grey, cropped heads, watching the driver’s age-speckled hands on the wheel. Sisters, she thought, by the look of them. Her first glimpse had shown her the same square heads, the same strong chins, the same curved eyebrows above anxious, angry eyes. They’ve had a row, she thought. She could sense the tension quivering between them. She was glad when, still without a word, the driver drew up at the crossroads and she was able to scramble out with muttered thanks and watch while they drove out of sight. They were the last human beings, but one, to see her alive.
She crouched to change into the sensible shoes which her parents insisted she wear to school, grateful that the shoulderbag was now lighter, then began trudging away from the town towards the junction where she would wait for the bus. The road was narrow and unlit, bordered on the right by a row of trees, black cut-outs pasted against the star-studded sky, and on the left, where she walked, by a narrow fringe of scrub and bushes at times dense and close enough to overshadow the path. Up till now she had felt only an overwhelming relief that all would be well. She would be on that bus. But now, as she walked in an eerie silence, her soft footfalls sounding unnaturally loud, a different, more insidious anxiety took over and she felt the first prickings of fear. Once recognized, its treacherous power acknowledged, the fear took over and grew inexorably into terror.
A car was approaching, at once a symbol of safety and normality and an added threat. Everyone knew that the Whistler must have a car. How else could he kill in such widely spaced parts of the county, how else make his getaway when his dreadful work was done? She stood back into the shelter of the bushes, exchanging one fear for another. There was a surge of sound and the cat’s-eyes momentarily gleamed before, in a rush of wind, the car passed. And now she was alone again in the darkness and the silence. But was she? The thought of the Whistler took hold of her mind, rumours, half-truths fusing into a terrible reality. He strangled women, three so far. And then he cut off their hair and stuffed it in their mouths, like straw spilling out of a Guy on November 5th. The boys at school laughed about him, whistling in the bicycle sheds as he was said to whistle over the bodies of his victims. “The Whistler will get you,” they called after her. He could be anywhere. He always stalked by night. He could be here. She had an impulse to throw herself down and press her body into the soft, rich-smelling earth, to cover her ears and lie there rigid until the dawn. But she managed to control her panic. She had to get to the crossroads and catch the bus. She forced herself to step out of the shadows and begin again her almost silent walk.
She wanted to break into a run but managed to resist. The creature, man or beast, crouching in the undergrowth was already sniffing her fear, waiting until her panic broke. Then she would hear the crash of the breaking bushes, his pounding feet, feel his panting breath hot on her neck. She must keep walking, swiftly but silently, holding her bag tightly against her side, hardly breathing, eyes fixed ahead. And as she walked she prayed: “Please, God, let me get safely home and I’ll never lie again. I’ll always leave in time. Help me to get to the crossroads safely. Make the bus come quickly. Oh God, please help me.”
And then, miraculously, her prayer was answered. Suddenly, about thirty yards ahead of her, there was a woman. She didn’t question how, so mysteriously, this slim, slow-walking figure had materialized. It was sufficient that she was there. As she drew nearer with quickening step, she could see the swathe of long blond hair under a tight-fitting beret, and what looked like a belted trench coat. And at the girl’s side, trotting obediently, most reassuring of all, was a small black-and-white dog, bandy-legged. They could walk together to the crossroads. Perhaps the girl might herself be catching the same bus. She almost cried aloud, “I’m coming, I’m coming,&rd...

From Publishers Weekly

James ( A Taste for Death ) sets her 11th novel on Larksoken, a remote windswept headland in Norfolk, where the presence of a huge nuclear energy plant serves as a metaphor for the power of the past to rule over her characters. Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, in Larsoken to settle an estate left him at the death of a relative, is drawn into the investigation of a serial killer, the Whistler. Dalgliesh's neighbors include the power station's director, Alex Mair; his elegant sister Alice, a cookbook author; acting administrator--and Alex's former lover--Hilary Robarts; and anti-nuclear activist Neil Pascoe. The next signature killing , of the widely disliked Robarts, turns out to have occurred hours after a young man who firmly establishes his identity as the Whistler commits suicide. The question of who murdered Robarts, then, centers around motive. This intricate, layered mystery may be read as parable: we can escape the consequences of our choices, political and personal, no more than we can shed our private histories. This is dark James, plotted with a slight unevenness but utterly faithful to her deeply and sympathetically plumbed characters. 175,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB main selections.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
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  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 706 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 1400025095
  • Editeur : Faber & Faber; Édition : Export - Airside ed (20 novembre 2008)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B002RI9YEQ
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.1 étoiles sur 5 170 commentaires
53 internautes sur 54 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Another Intelligent and Realistic Mystery from James 9 juillet 2004
Par Gypsi Phillips Bates - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Adam Dalgliesh has come to the Norfolk headland, Larksoken, to finalize the property left to him by his recently deceased aunt. He is on unofficial business, and not there to help the local officials sort out the case of the serial killer known as The Whistler. Though touted as "An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery", it is not really. He is a minor character, there more to give continuity than to contribute to the novel.
Dalgliesh stumbles on a murdered victim, copycat-killed to look like The Whistler's work and becomes the sounding block for Inspector Rickards as he sorts through the likely candidates and motives. The victim is not well-liked and therefore the list of suspects would be rather large except for one thing: The Whistler's particular signature was known by only a few people.
As is unique in this genre and yet typical of all P. D. James novels, the characters are well-rounded and well-known before the actual murder takes place. (It was page 154 before the crucial murder was committed.) James delves deep into the mind of these people, and I felt I knew them--even cared for some of them--and was disturbed as I saw bits and pieces of evidence. There were several characters that I just did NOT want to be the murderer!
Also typical of James is the realism and complexity of the plot and characters. I have yet to have read a mystery by her that did not satisfy me as a reader, and yet at the same time stirred my emotions in some fashion. I vividly remember one of her novels, in which the perpetrator did not come to justice. I agonized over that one for days. Devices and Desires does not have anything that traumatic, but still left me hung-over in the plot for a day or two later.
On a side note, in this novel Larksoken is home to a nuclear power plant. Written in 1989, James uses this as her vehicle to air both sides of the nuclear power question. It is intelligently done and she reaches no conclusion, gives neither side her full approval.
I can not recommend P. D. James highly enough to anyone who enjoys mysteries. She writes an intelligent, entertaining, realistic novel involving characters that come alive. Devices and Desires was no different and despite a lack of Dalgliesh persona, was another excellent read that kept me turning pages well past midnight.
24 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Highly original fare 3 juin 2005
Par Ellis Bell - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Many people want Hilary Robarts dead. First of all, there's Ryan Blaney, the struggling artist and single father who she has been trying to evict from his cottage. Then there's Alex Mair, her former lover, who won't marry her and wants her out of the way so he can move to London. And finally, there's Neil Pascoe, against whom Hilary Robarts has drawn up a libel lawsuit. Which one of these people, if any, actually killed her?

On September 25th, Robarts' body is found on the beach by no less than Adam Dalgiesh, in Norfolk to deal with the personal effects of his aunt, who has recently passed away. The death is suspiciously simlar to the deaths of several other young women killed by someone dubbed "The Whistler." However, Hilary's death is different- someone has broken into her cottage.

"The Whistler," so called because he (or she) has been known to whistle after the deaths of his victims. He stalks only at night, and kills only young women. The manner in which he kills the women is too graphic to be discussed here. It is soon obvious that the Whistler has a mission and a goal- and that is the Larksoken power station, an anathema to many people in the Larksoken community. Are the Whistler's killings related to the death of Hilary Robarts? Or is her death a more personal matter?

P.D. James is one of my favorite mystery writers because she pays attention to the histories of each of her characters- from Adam Dalgliesh, who lost his wife at childbirth, to Alex and Alice Mair, brother and sister, who share a very dark secret between them. James knows her characters inside and out, which makes her books such a joy to read. She also knows the complexities of human nature, so that the death of a character is no surprise- for example, in Devices and Desires, James set it up so that we would all know beforehand who would be killed. Yet the way in which the crime is solved is intricate. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read mysteries.
19 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Cycle Of Death: Less A Mystery Than A Character Study 7 décembre 2007
Par Gary F. Taylor - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Mystery writer Agatha Christie (1890-1976) is celebrated for meticulously crafted plots that suddenly draw themselves to a logical but completely unexpected climax: the disclosure of the criminal. P.D. James has expressed a great distaste for Christie's work, which she considers gimmicky and unreal, and although she began her writing career with a novel very much in the Christie style (the 1962 COVER HER FACE), she soon began to drift in a very different direction, emphasizing characters who move through tangles of events that are not always fully understood by those who must endure them.

Published in 1989, DEVICES AND DESIRES is in some ways very typical of James' mature work, presenting us with a collage of characters whose preconceptions prevent most of them from fully understanding both the nature of the crime and its ultimate resolution. Commander Adam Dalgliesh takes a brief holiday in Larksoken, a sparsely populated coastal area notorious for the activities of the "Norfolk Whistler"--a vicious serial killer. When Dalgliesh makes contact with local authority, however, he stumbles into a murder that seems less the work of the Whistler than of someone who would like the police to think it is.

The victim is Hillary Robarts, acting administrative office for a controversial nuclear power plant--and a woman whose arrogance has earned her both open and covert dislike in both her workplace and the community. Among those who openly dislike her are Mike Lessingham, a plant engineer who seems to blame Hillary for the recent suicide of a friend; Neil Pascoe, who has run afoul of Hillary in his anti-nuclear-power protests; and artist Ryan Blaney, a recent widower with four small children who rents a small cottage that Hillary owns--and from which she wishes to dispossess them. Those who covertly dislike her include Alex Mair, a nuclear power scientist, whose affair with Hillary has worn extremely thin; and Alex's distinctly cool sister Alice, who may be more protective of her brother than she seems. Although all are shocked when she turns up murdered, none seem particularly grieved.

As in many James novels, the solution to the crime is not so much a matter of detective work as it is grouping in the dark until instinct points the way. When the solution arrives it a mixed one, with the local authorities of one opinion and Dalgliesh of another. Unlike some later James novels, however, DEVICES AND DESIRES does indeed present a plausible solution in fine form; it tends to suffer, however, from an excess of subplots, at least one of which---concerning espionage---is extremely far fetched and smacks of exactly the sort of plot manipulation that James herself so loudly decries.

Exceptionally well written, the book is not so much a murder mystery as it is a study of the various characters and how they react to the crime, but it has enough of "classic murder mystery" going for it to appeal to fans whose tastes run in either direction. Recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Silly Plot Device 5 novembre 2015
Par Yarnover Chicago - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I've been reading the Dalgliesh series in order. The first six were wonderful. The seventh - not so much. This book, Devices and Desires, was also something of a disappointment. First, there were, I felt, too many suspects; it was difficult at times to keep each of their histories straight. I thought maybe that was my own inattention at work, but then toward the end of the novel, two of the suspects were neatly disposed of by throwing an international eco-terrorist organization into the mix. The organization hadn't been mentioned or even hinted at anywhere in the narrative. Once it was introduced, the author hastily created back stories to explain how each of the two characters to be disposed of by the organization had become involved with it in the first place. Neither the back stories nor the existence of the organization were credible. To me, that particular plot twist caused a huge break in the willing suspension of disbelief that one must have in order to enjoy a novel. I immediately thought to myself, "oh this is just ridiculous." And that thought ruined the denouncement for me. After that, I became too aware of the author, and therefore no longer invested in the characters, in who really was the murderer, or in what happened to everyone after the dust settled. This novel adds nothing to the ongoing story of Adam Dalgliesh, other than that his elderly aunt has passed away. So, if you're reading the books in order, I'd recommend that you skip this one.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 One of her best 6 août 2001
Par R.J. - Publié sur
Format: Poche
P.D. James is not simply a "whodunit?" type of writer, she adds so much cynicism and insight that her books have so much depth as a result. Adam Dalgleish is visiting his late aunt's windmill and cottage and is drawn into a murder spree revolving around the East Anglian seaside. The nuclear power plant dominates the scene, and casts a gloomy shadow over the setting of the novel. James is as incisive as ever, studying the motivations of all the suspects involved, but also peering disturbingly into their personal lives and all the inner demons which haunt many of them. Certainly there are many red herrings in this book, it adds to the enjoyment, and the ending was unexpected (which is something I always expect from P.D. James!) James is unsentimental in her portrayals; the misguided Hilary Robarts, the secret between the Mair siblings, Meg's escaping from the political correctness of her previous life, Blaney's wretched existence with four children, the somewhat pathetic anti-nuclear pamphleteer, and so on. The minor characters, from some of the early victims of the Whistler, to the Sgt. Oliphant of the local police who would be a scary fellow to be interrogated by, come to life in these pages and again add much depth to this novel. If one is starting out with P.D. James, this book is a great place to start. It's where I did, and I've read them all since I was captivated this first time.
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