A Certain Justice is probably my least favorite P.D. James I’ve read so far. It is certainly a complex and intricate mystery, with the usual crisp writing, which I enjoyed, but overall it felt rather uneven. There was a lot of time spent with the narrative focused on the suspects, describing things that wouldn’t be known to the detectives. Some of this is understandable in any detective story, but too much of it makes it less of a mystery than I would like. There was also an extremely long confession letter that was a bit tedious. The main detective, Dalgliesh, doesn’t really have any character to speak of – I don’t feel like I could describe him or his personality even after reading several novels featuring him. His role in the narrative is actually fairly small. It seemed like we didn’t really get to follow the detecting process in detail as much as I would expect, and then suddenly at the very end somehow Dalgliesh knows who committed the murder.
I have now read one early P.D. James and two later ones (she took a break of several years in her writing) and so far I think the early was the best. I think I will try another early one next.