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Innocent Blood Paperback – August 2, 2001

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Innocent Blood + Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries, No. 1) + Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #4)
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Editorial Reviews


“One of the finest, most absorbing craftsmen of the profession.” (The Washington Post)

“One of the most chilling crime writers around.” (Observer)

"The greatest contemporary writer of classic crime." (The Sunday Times (London))

“As a crime novel it is a peak of the art.” (The Times (UK))

"P. D. James has burst the bounds of her territory . . . and written a novel that is subtle, rich, allusive, and most cunningly plotted. . . . We are held in tingling suspense." (The New York Times)

From the Inside Flap

An original novel of extraordinary power, Innocent Blood is the story of 18-year-old Philippa Palfrey, adopted as a child, who is plunged into a dangerous and terrifying world when she discovers the shocking truth about her natural parents - and learns that her birth mother is about to be released from prison. Innocent Blood is considered by many to be one of P.D. James' finest novels. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction edition (August 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743219635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743219631
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. D. James is the author of twenty previous books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. 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. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, 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.

Photo credit Ulla Montan

Customer Reviews

Very complex, great character study, and a page-turning story.
I finished the book just to see how it ended and also because I couldn't believe that it would never come together in some meaningful way.
B. McEwan
The plot was disappointing because it was predictable except for a few embellishments.
Hermit Lady

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Mark on August 28, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James is a great writer of detective/crime fiction. Her Adam Dalgleish series of novels are excellent, very readable and enjoyable.
She surpasses herself with "Innocent Blood", this 'stand alone' (i.e. not part of a detective/crime series) novel of crime and revenge. James tells the story of a young adoptee who, upon her 18th birthday, applies for the right to see her birth certificate and learn the identity of her birth parents. She discovers that her mother is in jail, convicted of murder, but is soon eligible for release. Someone else is aware of the impending release -- the father of the murder victim -- is waiting to exact revenge.
The character of the adoptee, her fantasies about her birth parents and her difficulties with her adoptive parents, is very well written. One aches at her adolescent self-assuredness which we suspect will lead her to painful revelations. The father of the murder victim seeking revenge is developed slowly and carefully so that one begins to wonder who is the criminal mind at work in the novel. His pursuit of his daughter's killer becomes the life-changing and animating event of his life.
The birth mother/murderer/revenge target is less well drawn -- and justly so. The action of the novel is driven by the fantasies, resentments and expectations that her daughter and father of her victim have about this enigmatic woman. It's apparent that who she really is is ultimately and tragically immaterial to those who so desperately seek her.
A great read and very well crafted and written novel. A must for crime fiction readers -- but a recommended read for anyone looking for a well-wrought compelling piece of contemporary British fiction.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By "cobblehill" on August 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
INNOCENT BLOOD is one of the most gripping books I have ever read. PD James takes a common childhood fantasy ('what if I were adopted?') and crafts a tale of a complex young woman on a thrilling, frightening, and ultimately empowering journey of self-discovery. Philippa Palfrey <was> adopted, but under circumstances far more grim than the Victorian melodramatics of her imagination. She locates her birth mother in prison and convinces her to live with her upon her release. Waiting for that very day is the father of a child Philippa's mother was convicted of killing. That man, named Scase, is truly creepy; James doesn't try to hide that yet still manages to evoke sympathy for him. The author builds the suspense to a shattering moment when mother, daughter, and Scase are brought together in a bizarre triptych; one is mad enough to kill, one is trying to kill, and one wants to die. Philippa is one of the most psychologically-complex characters ever to spring from James's vast imagination. Some readers will be shocked by the turn taken in Philippa's relationship with her adoptive father in the final chapters, but not a moment in this book rings false. I cannot praise INNOCENT BLOOD highly enough. Here, PD James is at the height of her awesome ability to set a scene -- you will see the drops of water on the laminated table in the adoption records office and smell the oranges in the grocery below Philippa's apartment. Thank you, PD James, for this thrilling read.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Neal J. Pollock VINE VOICE on December 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm amazed at the range of reactions to this book, but I liked it best of the 16 books of hers I've read. And there's no Dalgleish! This is a pretty heavy duty mystery with fantastic characterization and the equivalent of an airshow's twists and turns. Some may very well be put off by the ending, but if they all end the same, where's the mystery? But, like some of Block's Scudder novels, this mystery edges into the regime of real literature through the author's characterizations -- looking into the depths of humans. Enjoy.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By mayday on June 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
P.D. James is a contemporary novelist with a Victorian sensibility, a style that puts some readers off, especially those of us who want writers to get right to the point. "They lived in a house that cost big bucks" says it much quicker than four pages that describe the dwelling's lush gardens and opulent furnishings.
Yet this is a beautifully crafted work with profound psychological insight. The author isn't just skilled, she's wise.
Philippa is a complicated, cerebral, self-absorbed young woman. Giving and receiving affection are hard for her. When she re-connects with her birth mother, though, she falls quickly, simply and deeply in love. Then the truth about her mother's early rejection of her surfaces. Philippa, feeling betrayed, responds by rejecting her mother. By the time Philippa figures that out that what she's lost isn't love but love's illusion and that her love for her mother is real and true despite the earlier betrayal, the inevitable words have been spoken and the unavoidable tragedy has struck.
James could have opted for a cheerful ending. Philippa and her mother could have reconciled. The homicidal stalker could have been foiled. Philippa could have made peace with her adoptive parents or left them in a nice way. But circumstances conspire to teach Philippa that falling in love and the happiness that comes from it are only the surface of love. If it's a truer love that Philippa is after, her will must be broken. She'll need to experience pain, loss, grief and sacrifice to begin to attain the humility and poverty of spirit that James seems to feel are the prerequisites of a deeper or higher love. The compassion that Philippa feels for her mother's murderer and the actions that flow from it show that Philippa has begun to love in earnest.
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