Excerpt of The Lighthouse by P.D. James
(Page 6 of 6)
Printer Friendly Excerpt
The call could hardly have come at a less convenient time. After a month
of working a sixteen-hour day tiredness had caught up with him and,
although he could manage tiredness, what he longed for was rest, peace
and, for two blessed days, the company of Emma. He told himself that he
had only himself to blame for the spoilt weekend. He wasn't compelled to
undertake a possible murder investigation, however politically or
socially important the victim or challenging the crime. There were
senior officers who would have preferred him to concentrate on
initiatives with which he was already closely involved, the
complications of policing a multiracial society in which drugs,
terrorism and international crime conglomerates were the major
challenges, the proposal for a new detective force to deal with serious
crimes best investigated nationally. The plans would be bedevilled with
politics; top-level policing always had been. The Met needed senior
officers who were at ease in that duplicitous world. He saw himself as
in danger of becoming one more bureaucrat, a committee member, adviser,
coordinatornot a detective. If this happened, would he any longer be a
poet? Wasn't it in the rich soil of a murder investigation, in the
fascination of the gradual unveiling of truth, in shared exertion and
the prospect of danger, and in the pitiableness of desperate and broken
lives that his poetry put out its shoots?
But now, with Kate and Benton-Smith on their way, there were things to
be done and quickly, meetings to be tactfully cancelled, papers to be
locked away, the public-relations branch to be put in the picture. He
kept a bag always packed for these sudden emergencies, but it was in his
Queenhithe flat and he was glad that he needed to call in there. He had
never yet phoned Emma from New Scotland Yard. She would know as soon as
she heard his voice what he was about to say. She would make her own
arrangements for the weekend, perhaps excluding him from her thoughts as
he was from her company.
Ten minutes later he closed the door of his office and for the first
time with a backward glance, as if taking leave of a long-familiar place
he might not see again.
from The Lighthouse by P. D. James Copyright © 2005 by P. D.
James. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House,
Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or
reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.