Book Review: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

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“We are neither of us the people we were then. Let us look on the past only as it gives us pleasure, and to the future with confidence and hope.”

At school I’m going to be studying crime in my English class and so have decided I ought to read more of the genre. As a huge fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice -and it’s multiple adaptations- when I saw Death Comes to Pemberley written by the acclaimed crime writer P.D. James I knew that this would be a good place to start.

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Overall I enjoyed it, however I was left a little disappointed. The well known and much loved characters such as Elizabeth and Darcy – who have by this point been married for 6 years – felt a little worn out. Elizabeth lacked the feistiness, wit and general presence that was present in the original and Jane was just a bit annoying; taking kindness to the extreme and only really having care for her husbands’ well being despite the tragic events that are occurring.  If I’m totally honest I’d say the only characters that had any depth and real likability were Darcy and Lydia. Okay maybe Lydia wasn’t exactly likably but she held onto her characteristics from the original book and provided humour through her extreme and fickle personality without ever going over the top, I’d have liked her to have played a bigger role in the story. Darcy on the other hand was very likeable.  He knew what to do, when he was needed and when he could hand responsibility over to others; all of which helped ensure he didn’t become overbearing and in fact presented him as a rather sensible, respectable gentleman – which we all know he definitely is! Saying they were the only good characters is a little fib if I’m honest, there were some others who played lesser roles in the story but remained engaging. I just…may have forgotten their names… It’s been a while since I actually finished this books!

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Knowing how celebrated P.D James is as a crime writer I wanted to be wowed by the plot of this book. I wanted to be hooked, to want to stay up late and speculate who the culprit was. But ,although the plot wasn’t non-existent or  uninteresting, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. The tension and suspense that I was hoping for was very much lacking. The plot felt more like a saunter than a sprint; a fair number of things happening but just at a very slow pace in arm with something almost…nonchalant. Which is definitely unexpected within a crime novel! Ignoring this I do have to admit the plot was quite good. There were enough mysteries and events to entertain me and all of which were very well written. There was the occasional random puzzle that seemed a bit out of place, but all answers were revealed! You just had to wait until the final pages. The actual resolution to the murder was a bit of a let down; it was in my opinion a deus ex machina ( which is a very cool phrase that was spoken in my current read – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd ) . Saying that, the solutions that then follow I really enjoyed. They were very logical and interesting to read; if I’m honest this very last section was the most compelling to read, if only it lasted a little longer!

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Reading this back I seem to be quite negative which I really don’t like nor mean to be! I admit I had some issues with this book but did thoroughly enjoy it! I look forward to reading more of P.D James’ work but I think I’ll keep away from Pride and Prejudice sequels and/or re-tellings (although a re-telling does sound quite pleasing!)

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

    • Aw thank you Mara! Although I did enjoy this book I sort of wish I hadn’t read it as it just didn’t do justice to Pride and Prejudice and I felt so guilty for getting annoyed by some of the characters who I normally adore! 💛

      Liked by 1 person

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