“One of those perfect English autumnal days” by P.D. James

“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring, and the air was a sweet evocation of all Dalgliesh’s boyhood autumns: woodsmoke, ripe apples, the last sheaves of harvest and the strong sea-smelling breeze flowing water.

The Thames was running strongly, under a quickening breeze. It flattened the grasses fringing the river edge and eddied the stream into the little gulleys which fretted the bank. Under a surface iridescent in blues and greens, on which the light moved and changed as if on coloured glass, the blade-like weeds streamed and undulated. Beyond the clumps of willows on the far bank, a herd of Friesians were peacefully grazing.

Opposite and about seventy yards downstream he could see a bungalow, little more than a large white shack on stilts, which he guessed must be their destination. And he knew too, as he had known walking under the trees of St. James’s Park, that here he would find the clue he sought. But he was in no hurry. Like a child postponing the moment of assured satisfaction, he was glad that they were early, grateful for this small hiatus of calm.

And suddenly he experienced a minute of tingling happiness so unexpected and so keen that he almost held his breath as if he could halt time. They came to him so rarely now, these moments of intense physical joy, and he had never before experienced one in the middle of a murder investigation. The moment passed and he heard his own sigh.”

–P.D. James, A Taste for Death (New York: Vintage Books, 1986), 356.

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Filed under Literature, P.D. James, Quotable Quotes, Writing

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