Picks and Pans Review: Innocent Blood

updated 05/12/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/12/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by P.D. James

The noted British mystery writer has no police inspector in this book, so her publishers tout it as a "nondetective" novel. But James' books always offer more than a conventional mystery plot. The young heroine of Innocent Blood uses a new British law to get access to her adoption papers and learns that her real mother is a murderess, about to be released from prison. The tale is both violent and burdened by a lot of stumbling around in the rain amid bloody symbolism. But the best moments come from the self-absorbed professor who, for his own questionable reasons, adopted the girl. A bright sociologist, he is—except for two brief moments—incapable of love. Innocent Blood has at least three twists of plot at the end. Its pretentiousness shouldn't discourage readers who enjoy a good, gory Gothic. (Scribner's, $10.95)

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