Thursday, April 15, 2010

Character Connection 1

This is an interesting meme from the Introverted Reader, where the goal is to spotlight one character of interest every week.

I have just finished reading "The Murder Room" by P.D. James, and will feature Adam Dalgliesh, her greatest creation, as my character for the week.

Adam Dalgliesh is a detective created by P. D. James and appears in fourteen of James' novels. Dalgliesh is a Commander in New Scotland Yard, very competent, and respected by his superiors and subordinates alike. He is extremely intelligent and astute and exercises his sharp intellect to solve many complex cases that baffle others around him.

He is tall, dark, and quite attractive. He is also an intensely private person who believes in clearly separating his personal and professional life. His colleagues know very little about him as a person although his intellect is never in doubt. He has authored at least one volume of poetry,"A Case to Answer and Other Poems", and is well-respected in the literary world too. He however has no desire to be a professional poet - solving crimes helps him serve society, preserves his privacy, and even inspires his poetry.

Dalgliesh has the gift of making everyone around him feel very comfortable and wanting to confide in him, a very useful gift to possess in his profession. He is conscious of this fact and at one point even ponders

"Hasn't t always been like this? People tell me things. I don't need to probe or question, they tell. It had begun when he was a young detective sergeant and then it had surprised and intrigued him, feeding his poetry, bringing the half-shameful realization that for a detective it would be a useful gift. The pity was there. He has known from childhood the heartbreak of life and that, too had fed the poetry. He thought, I have taken people's confidences and used them to fasten gyves round their wrist"(The Murder Room, 2003).

He is a widower through most of the series, his wife having died in childbirth. He has since had a fear of getting too close to women and of being in a committed relationship, although the last few books see him falling in love ( I won't give away too much here). He is, however, well aware of his shortcomings, and it is this self-awareness that makes him very endearing to me. Honestly, I can see myself falling in love with Adam Dalgliesh!

P. D. James, in my opinion, is the best at character development in the crime fiction world, and Adam Dalgliesh is her best creation. If her books are read in order, one can trace the evolution of Dalgliesh's character which is very well done indeed. Baroness James will turn 90 in August, here's to her - thanks for giving us Adam Dalgliesh and may he live long and prosper!


  1. Adam Dalgliesh reminds me loosely of Sherlock Holmes, interesting character.

    I see your reading The Scarlet Pimpernel now; I read it earlier this year and loved it, I hope you do too.

  2. Welcome to Character Connection! You've written a fantastic post! I haven't read any of James's work, but Dalgliesh sounds great. I don't read a whole lot of crime anymore, but when I did read more, it seemed like I never learned much about the detective as a person, and I think I always missed that. Dalgliesh sounds very complicated and realistic. I'm adding this to my list! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    I see that you're reading The Scarlet Pimpernel now. Whitney at She Is Too Fond of Books chose him as her CC last week. It's here, if you want to check it out.

  3. I just started The Scarlet Pimpernel and really look forward to reading it as well as Whitney's write-up on Sir Percy - what a great character!

    Thanks, Jennifer, for the interesting meme.

  4. Adam Dalgliesh sounds very interesting! I'll admit I've never read P.D. James but this post makes me feel like I should try reading one of his books :)

    And I totally agree with Whitney and Jennifer about The Scarlet Pimpernel. Fantastic book and Sir Percy indeed is a fabulous character!

  5. I only know Dalgliesh from the tv series I've seen, but this sounds like I might enjoy the books too.

  6. Kals - If you like Agatha Christie, you will probably like P. D. James- same tight plotting, and short list of characters. The character development is much stronger but the books are longer.

    Sullivan McPig - James is a very good writer indeed. Also, I liked Roy Marsden as AD, not so much Martin Shaw.

  7. +JMJ+

    I've never heard of Dalgliesh before!

    Now it seems to me that fictional detectives make some of the best characters in the world . . .

  8. Enbrethiliel - I agree - detectives are getting more complex, and since we get to see their characters develop over a series, they is so much room for the authors to be creative.