From the third line in PD James’ A Certain Justice, the listener knows that they are following a doomed character. Narrator, Michael Jayston, informs us that barrister, Venetia Aldridge, has “four weeks, four hours and fifty weeks of life left,” drawing us into a novel that is very different from anything that the author has written before or since.
While Inspector Dalgliesh does appear, it’s around two-thirds of the way through this audiobook for MP3. Until that point, James invests the story in setting up the life and character of the victim so that, by the time she is murdered, we are in no doubt as to whom she was. Too often in crime-fiction, the only source of information about the victim comes from the testimonies of those interviewed during the investigation. Here, James turns the tables, muddying the waters for us as we are privy to just what it is that might make someone a target for a killer. Fortunately, Dalgliesh acts as our moral compass as James weaves plausible reasons as to why someone ‘deserves’ to die.
Michael Jayston is a voice that most will recognise; a stalwart of TV and radio campaigns. His stark delivery is used to great effect, allowing us to sit back and soak up the finer points of James’ argument. A riveting audiobook that will leave the listener questioning their own right to judgement.