A Taste for Death
P.D. James is considered as a worthy successor to Agatha Christie and is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our generation. But, in spite of all that I have never enjoyed reading her books. I mostly found them boring and bland.
Now, the book. The edition I was reading was a TV tie-up, with faces of two actors who played character parts in the dramatization of the novel and it was 552 pages long.
Paul Berowne who is an MP and a former cabinet minister is found dead in a church, with his throat slit with his own razor, along with fellow victim, Harry Mack, a homeless tramp. This incident brings Commander Adam Dalgleish, poet and detective into the scenario to find out who was responsible for the dirty deed. He, with his team sets about his task and in the process involves Berowne’s mother, his wife and her lover, daughter, his mistress and others. The plot and the motive was very simple. It all came down to money and jealousy. So, my problem with this book was that 552 pages were too much for this book. According to me the whole matter could and should have been condensed to a maximum of 350 pages.
I like my mystery novels with a liberal dose of clues and twists. I do like the psychological part, but an abundance of it turns the whole novel boring. In this case, there was serious lack of clues and twists, with an abundance of psychology. Every character was thinking, even the police was thinking, and amidst all these thought process, I could hardly find any useful bit related to the murder or the investigation. And there were conversations, long long boring conversations. The whole thing seemed that everyone was chatting, instead of providing clues or pointing out suspects they were all busy chatting!!!
The ending when it came, almost seemed a blessing!!! Literally it dropped out of the sky. All those pages, full of room descriptions and insightful chats and detailed characterisations etc etc were just there to fill up the pages. I felt cheated. 552 pages and I get this???? And, there was my nemesis to deal with, super long paragraphs!!!!