Innocent Blood

Innocent Blood

3.72 (3,624 ratings by Goodreads)
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Now 18, Philippa, the adopted daughter of Maurice Palfrey, has claimed her birth certificate from the Register Office, and, with it, a terrible discovery. In another part of London, Norman Scase is steeling himself to meet Philippa's mother - the murderer of his more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 152.4 x 218.44 x 7.62mm | 113.4g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0140129596
  • 9780140129595

Review Text

An adopted child turns 18, learns the shocking story of her real parents' identity, and determines to reclaim her natural mother. A mild-mannered man vows revenge on the woman who killed his only child. No, neither of these premises is terribly original or inherently profound; but P. D. James, whose richly textured, probingly psychological approach is familiar to followers of her Dalgliesh detective series, laces up these two plot strands with crisp and gentle dexterity, resisting every melodramatic cliche that a lesser writer would lurch into. The young identity-seeker is Philippa Palfrey, who remembers nothing of her life before age eight - when she was adopted by unflappable sociologist Maurice and his shaky second wife Hilda, a compulsive cook. And, though Philippa has grown into a wildly sophisticated and intellectually sharp young lady (an aspiring writer), she's oddly detached from all feeling, aware of some great lack. So at age 18 she demands and receives her birth certificate, and after just one day of inquiries, she knows the truth: ten years ago, her father raped a little girl, her mother then killed the girl (to stop her screaming), and both went to prison - where her father died. But Philippa is only momentarily deflected: she insists on contacting her real mother - who's about to be paroled - and invites her to spend her first months out with Philippa in a London flat. And while all this is happening, retired clerk Norman Scase, father of the girl killed by Philippa's mother, is preparing to take revenge - for his daughter who was raped and killed, for his wife who died of grief/cancer. The parallel scenes are beautifully, subtly balanced: Philippa's frustrating, seedy search for an affordable two-room London flat; Norman's sad selling of his house to gain funds for his revenge mission. And by the time that Norman has quietly, shrewdly tracked down his reclusive target and chosen his modus operandi, Philippa has come to love her pleasant, attractive, child-killer mum - a love that turns to hate and triggers tragedy, however, when Philippa learns some less criminal yet more hurtful truths about her mother. The climax is superbly, unobviously timed; and throughout James provides gritty, ironic details of character and place to anchor it all firmly to reality. Less consistently satisfying: the somewhat over-explicit psychological musings, the sometimes over-formal dialogue, the occasionally over-elaborate prose. But minor flaws aside, James has made the move from straight detection to full-bodied psychological crime-novel with no loss of command or personality: a gripping, darkly moody, yet warmly moving triumph of resonant craftsmanship. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

"Immensely readable, bright...P.D. James is capable of handling her themes with astonishing clarity: not to simplify things for us, but to give us the crisp honesty of her novelistic perceptions."--"The New York Times Book Review ""Subtle, rich, allusive, and positively Shakespearean."--"The New York Times ""A superbly crafted psychological story of a search for identity, revenge and redemption."--"Toronto Star ""As suspenseful and tautly written as any of her detective stories -- the psychological twists and turns will tantalize the reader as cunningly as a well-paced clue."--"The New York Times ""P.D. James steps into territory occupied by Truman Capote, Shelby Foote, Carson McCullers, even Henry James."--"The New Republic ""A superior thriller--tingling with suspense, difficult to put down."--"Newsday ""A transfixing psychological thriller filled with searing suspense, a multi-twist plot and a remorseless eye for our sometimes monstrous needs and drives -- It packs a powerful wallop."--"Mademoiselle"show more

Rating details

3,624 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 21% (778)
4 39% (1,417)
3 31% (1,135)
2 6% (225)
1 2% (69)
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