BOOK REVIEW: The Victim by P.D. James

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Though I do love crime and have read a fair bit of it, I had to confess that I had never read P. D. James until I was sent the exquisitely tight and suspenseful “The Victim”. Some can pack quite a bit in, in just a few pages it would seem. What great talent P.D. James is!


Though The Victim’s plot is pretty basic and explored by the likes of Dostoieveski, Gogol, Wilde, Du Maurier, Bronte or Dumas – revenge is a dish best served cold and extremely well prepared – its character’s psychology is very interesting and the twist, masterful.

The protagonist, an unnamed assistant librarian, punches well above his weight when he marries the very young and gorgeous Elsie Bowman. “I was assistant librarian at our local branch library and 15 years older, a thirty-two-year-old-virgin, a scholar manque, thin-faced, a little stooping, my meagre hair already thinning. “

When his marriage breaks a few years later after Elsie leaves him for the affluent Rodney Collingford, he starts plotting his revenge, the murder of the man that stole his wife, allowing himself a year of minutious planning in order to accomplish the perfect crime.

“I was in no hurry to kill Collingford. I knew that I must take my time, must be patient, if I were to act safely.”

Though he initially comes across a bit of a deluded fool for thinking his marriage would sustain, his, calm, clever and cold-blooded approach to his revenge changes completely the perception the reader has of him, as he turns into this precise, tough and vicious person.

The Victim is published by Faber & Faber for more information about their Faber Stories and 90th Anniversary click here.


P.D. James


Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL, known professionally as P. D. James, was an English crime writer. She rose to fame for her series of detective novels starring police commander and poet Adam Dalgliesh.

Reviewed by Barbara F. Jones




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