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1. A Taste for Death (Adam Dalgliesh
2. Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh
3. Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh
4. The Private Patient (Vintage)
5. Talking About Detective Fiction
6. The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh
7. Unnatural Causes (Adam Dagliesh
8. A Mind to Murder (Adam Dalgliesh
9. Original Sin (Vintage)
10. Death of an Expert Witness (Adam
11. Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment
12. Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam
13. The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh
14. The Children of Men
15. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
16. Three complete novels P.D. James:
17. The Lighthouse (Adam Dalgliesh
18. Innocent Blood
19. Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh
20. PD James In Murderous Company

1. A Taste for Death (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries, No. 7)
by P.D. James
Paperback: 480 Pages (2005-11-08)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.83
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400096472
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
When the quiet Little Vestry of St. Matthew's Church becomes the blood-soaked scene of a double murder, Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh faces an intriguing conundrum: How did an upper-crust Minister come to lie, slit throat to slit throat, next to a neighborhood derelict of the lowest order? Challenged with the investigation of a crime that appears to have endless motives, Dalgliesh explores the sinister web spun around a half-burnt diary and a violet-eyed widow who is pregnant and full of malice--all the while hoping to fill the gap of logic that joined these two disparate men in bright red death. . . . ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars Grim mystery
'A Taste for Death' is another fine effort from PD James. The story moves at a leisurely pace as James introduces many characters related to the mystery. The background and lives of victims, suspects, police, witnesses are all developed by James, and and pretty much everyone is miserable. It's a good book but it is almost relentlessly downbeat. In the end the mystery is solved but the reader doesn't feel that much better for it: the victims are still dead, and the living return to their drab and depressing lives.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best of hers I've read yet
I've been trying, intermittently, for several years to get into this author's highly-rated police procedurals featuring Adam Dalgliesh, now a very senior copper of Scotland Yard -- I just couldn't work up any enthusiasm for the books when I tried to read them in chronological order -- and I've finally found that the way to do it is by ignoring most of the author's early work and sticking to those produced since she really learned her trade.Ordinarily, by the time a member of the Met becomes a DCI, much less a Superintendent or a Commander -- he's going to be desk-bound, not haring off after suspects and conducting interviews. Dalgliesh, who easily could have been an Assistant Commissioner by now if he were driven by ambition, has avoided that exclusion by convincing his superiors to set up a special squad to handle "sensitive" murders, and by choosing all his own people. The death by straight razor in a church vestry of a baronet who is also a junior minister in the government is the first case to come their way, and DCI John Massingham (a member of the upper classes himself, which he sees as a burden) and the newly promoted DI Kate Miskin (the illegitimate product of a London housing project, driven by the need for independence) are both anxious that things should go smoothly and the case be fully solved. But was it actually a suicide? Dalgliesh was slightly acquainted with the victim, which gives him pause professionally, but he soon forms his opinions about what happened and who is to be included in the small group of viable suspects -- most of them members of the family by blood or marriage, or their servants. And that includes some real doozies, too. (In fact, considering the nature of the arrogant upper class, it always amazes me that the working people of Britain have never had a revolution and introduced the guillotine.) James deftly balances the back-stories of each of her characters with the investigation in the present, showing the reader just how and why the perpetrator could have been any of half a dozen people, but gradually narrowing that down with unbreakable alibis and the discovery of the involvement of other, more shadowy branches of the government. The pace is perfect, especially for a 500-page narrative, and the climax is tense and a bit startling. This is perhaps the best of the series I've read yet -- but it won't be the last.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love PD
I never get tired of the live radio broadcasts. There is nothing like a good mystery, and the price was right!

4-0 out of 5 stars Complex
Hadn't read a PD James mystery novel for many years and had nearly forgotten Adam Dalgliesh -- but upon opening -- he came back quickly -- as did Ms James very dense style of writing and amazing host of complex characters. One thing that characterizes this novel and perhaps much of PD James, Elizabeth George and Martha Grimes is that many (if not most) of the characters are so lonely and struggle with self doubt, fear and a fair amount of self-loathing -- and yet most of them become (for me) the likable and empathetic characters. In contrast, Ms. James always provides a few characters who are equally complex but not at all self critical -- or perhaps have decided they don't need to be based on beauty, money, position or power -- or just by some sort of self decree of superiority. The antagonist is just as likely to be one of the sympathetic characters -- and that is often more than I'm prepared for.

The novel builds rather slowly and I would understand if some mystery fans feel that the pace is TOO slow and the details provided for each character, each piece of clothihng, each room, each garden, estate, church apse etc. etc. is TOO much. However, for me, I enjoy the rich and detailed writing and the time Ms. James takes to introduce you slowly and purposefully to each of the characters, gradually revealing more and more.

Another thing that sets PD James and other British mystery novelists apart from their American conterparts (that I am familiar with) -- is that often, the characters' worst fears are realized. Maybe this is just my assumption or my reality -- but I am far more familiar with fearing the worst and then being spared. These characters rarely are.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engrossing
PD James writes about the people in such away that you feel they are people that you know how they feel and think. The characters have real emotions and life experiences. I even like the cat. I can read a feel like I am right there. ... Read more

2. Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries, No. 8)
by P.D. James
Paperback: 448 Pages (2004-05-11)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400076242
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
National Bestseller 

Featuring the famous Commander Adam Dalgliesh, Devices and Desires is a thrilling and insightfully crafted novel of fallible people caught in a net of secrets, ambitions, and schemes on a lonely stretch of Norfolk coastline.

Commander Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard has just published a new book of poems and has taken a brief respite from publicity on the remote Larksoken headland on the Norfolk coast in a converted windmill left to him by his aunt. But he cannot so easily escape murder. A psychotic strangler of young women is at large in Norfolk, and getting nearer to Larksoken with every killing. And when Dalgliesh discovers the murdered body of the Acting Administrative Officer on the beach, he finds himself caught up in the passions and dangerous secrets of the headland community and in one of the most baffling murder cases of his career. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great
Great book, great plot.Once you begin to read it, is impossible to let it go.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engrossing
PD James took her time to develop the characters, the atmosphere and the plot.Let's face it, usually one of those 3 elements is missing in a mystery novel, but not this one.The characters are so real that I care about some of them - and could be moved to kill one or two of them myself.No one is a cardboard cut-out and everyone has a secret to hide.What I loved about this book was that the story was not rushed.Once I was finished with the book, I felt that everyone was alive in England still going about their business...well, at least the people who survived that is.

4-0 out of 5 stars grim world
Another entry into p.d. james country, no humor or lightness, Dalgleish never cracks a smile, most of the characters detest each other, nearly every human relationship is fraught with hatred and contempt. We have the usual weak but good people being used and abused by the stronger ones. As soon as we hear of one person caring for another, we expect betrayal and heartache to follow and it does. We have the inspector and his sergeant with the latter doing the dirty work and the former despising himself for allowing it, yet allowing it because it is useful. It's not Dalgleish this time, but another two policemen. We've seen it all before from James many times.
Most of the characters can't stand themselves or anyone else. I wonder if this reflects reality in Great Britain.They believe in nothing. They are cynical. They speak in long, highly literary, multi phrased sentences. What do they say? That it's all pointless. It's all very grim. No comfort comes at the end, although the murderer is caught. Why bother, Dalgleish seems to be saying. No one cares. And yet they soldier on.
There is something to be said for Agatha Christie's good cheer. And she is not all good cheer.She had a hard headed reality about human nature. But she believed in right and wrong. She was formulaic but so is James. Christie had the advantage of writing about a society that had not yet lost its moorings, where people felt there were standards to adhere to. It was important to catch a murderer. Not so much in James' world.

4-0 out of 5 stars Descriptive, Suspenseful, Well Written, But..........
After liking "Lighthouse" with Adam Dalgliesh very much, I jumped on this one. Ms. James is masterful in her writing & description. The scene of the headland is so well laid out you can almost see it. The characters are so well described they become very real & jump out at you. The book is long & very descriptive, but pages are not wasted.

It begins quite quickly in a murder. It's end is somewhat left to speculation of what's in the characters' minds. I liked the ending, it's very true to life at times.
The twist dealing with anti-nuclear terrorists came out of the blue. Unlike the rest of the book, it's not very descriptive & seems not well thought out. It seems Ms. James reached a roadblock & didn't know where to go with the story. It just doesn't fit the novel & falls very flat.

Adam Dalgliesh is not the lead investigator here, but plays a support role until the end. His brilliant detective mind takes over & his character shines

4-0 out of 5 stars A Cycle Of Death: Less A Mystery Than A Character Study
Mystery writer Agatha Christie (1890-1976) is celebrated for meticulously crafted plots that suddenly draw themselves to a logical but completely unexpected climax: the disclosure of the criminal.P.D. James has expressed a great distaste for Christie's work, which she considers gimmicky and unreal, and although she began her writing career with a novel very much in the Christie style (the 1962 COVER HER FACE), she soon began to drift in a very different direction, emphasizing characters who move through tangles of events that are not always fully understood by those who must endure them.

Published in 1989, DEVICES AND DESIRES is in some ways very typical of James' mature work, presenting us with a collage of characters whose preconceptions prevent most of them from fully understanding both the nature of the crime and its ultimate resolution.Commander Adam Dalgliesh takes a brief holiday in Larksoken, a sparsely populated coastal area notorious for the activities of the "Norfolk Whistler"--a vicious serial killer.When Dalgliesh makes contact with local authority, however, he stumbles into a murder that seems less the work of the Whistler than of someone who would like the police to think it is.

The victim is Hillary Robarts, acting administrative office for a controversial nuclear power plant--and a woman whose arrogance has earned her both open and covert dislike in both her workplace and the community.Among those who openly dislike her are Mike Lessingham, a plant engineer who seems to blame Hillary for the recent suicide of a friend; Neil Pascoe, who has run afoul of Hillary in his anti-nuclear-power protests; and artist Ryan Blaney, a recent widower with four small children who rents a small cottage that Hillary owns--and from which she wishes to dispossess them.Those who covertly dislike her include Alex Mair, a nuclear power scientist, whose affair with Hillary has worn extremely thin; and Alex's distinctly cool sister Alice, who may be more protective of her brother than she seems.Although all are shocked when she turns up murdered, none seem particularly grieved.

As in many James novels, the solution to the crime is not so much a matter of detective work as it is grouping in the dark until instinct points the way.When the solution arrives it a mixed one, with the local authorities of one opinion and Dalgliesh of another.Unlike some later James novels, however, DEVICES AND DESIRES does indeed present a plausible solution in fine form; it tends to suffer, however, from an excess of subplots, at least one of which---concerning espionage---is extremely far fetched and smacks of exactly the sort of plot manipulation that James herself so loudly decries.

Exceptionally well written, the book is not so much a murder mystery as it is a study of the various characters and how they react to the crime, but it has enough of "classic murder mystery" going for it to appeal to fans whose tastes run in either direction.Recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer ... Read more

3. Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries, No. 1)
by P.D. James
Paperback: 256 Pages (2001-05-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$0.09
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743219570
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Headstrong and beautiful, the young housemaid Sally Jupp is put rudely in her place, strangled in her bed behind a bolted door. Coolly brilliant policeman Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard must find her killer among a houseful of suspects, most of whom had very good reason to wish her ill.

Cover Her Face is P. D. James's electric debut novel, an ingeniously plotted mystery that immediately placed her among the masters of suspense. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

2-0 out of 5 stars A very weak debut for a now-famous series
I've been trying for awhile to get into James's corpus of mystery stories, but with only intermittent success. However, having recently finished one of her much later works (_A Certain Justice_, 1997), I decided to go back to the beginning and witness Adam Dalgliesh's fictional birth as a detective. It's been rather an education in the changing styles of police procedurals during my lifetime. The jacket copy compares James favorably to Agatha Christie and Dalgliesh to Poirot -- not a compliment in my own opinion, but it's actually spot-on in this first work. The setting is classic Agatha: the ancient country house, home to an ancient country family, the small village in unfailing feudal support, the drawing room, the church fete in the garden, the cerebral, aristocratic-seeming sleuth accompanied by his faithful sergeant. Even the family's stiff-upper-lip response when Sally Jupp, unwed mother employed as a housemaid, is strangled in her bed behind a locked door, but with an unlocked window. (Doesn't anyone ever have hysterics, as in real life, upon discovering a murdered body?) The girl had just announced that she had received a proposal from the scion of the family, a young doctor (though neither the author nor the character are ever explicit about his emotions that led to such a socially unsuitable impulse), so there was motive enough among the residents of the house. James's style, now well established, is the extended narrative, setting the scene and describing the characters at considerable length, and she's been following that method since the very beginning, it appears. But because she hadn't become so accomplished at it yet, the pace is painfully slow. The book is barely 250 pages but it seems three times that. And it pains me to say that she actually ends it all with the horribly clichéd gathering of suspects in the drawing room where The Detective Explains All.

I have to note, too, that there are chronological problems with the series that are made apparent in this first volume. Dalgliesh has already developed a reputation as a homicide investigator and is already a Detective Chief Inspector, implying that he's at least in his mid-30s (and almost certainly older). And that's in 1962, so he was born in the late 1920s. He even has clear adolescent memories of the war. Therefore, in his most recent outing, in 2010, he would have to be in his mid-to-late 80s. Are we to believe that Scotland Yard doesn't have a mandatory retirement program for its active investigators -- even its stars?

1-0 out of 5 stars P.D.'s Dalgliesh
I read five of P. D. James' books in this series. It took that long for her protagonist to say inaccurate and truly sickening things about people who use wheelchairs for mobility. She, through Adam, portrays them as whiny, pity-seeking parasites on society. Since I use a wheelchair myself, and am none of these things, I stopped buying her books immediately. She has a right to her opinions. So do I, and I voted with my purse. She is a noted author. and millions of people read her books. Thank you Amazon, for letting me be read.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Pulp Fiction Philosopher
P.D. James combines wonderful plotting, page turning style and bits of philosophical insights centered around a rock solid protagonist, Adam Dalgliesh. COVER HER FACE is the first book of the Dalgliesh series. It has the strength of an opening book (originality) and also the weaknesses (the style is still being worked out). But, on the whole, very enjoyable.

4-0 out of 5 stars Cover Her Face
P.D. James is a little wordy, but her Adam Dalgliesh series is excellent.If you like British mysteries this is a good one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazed that there aren't more reviews for this classic
What can I say more than that this PD James novel was the most instrumental novel to keep the spirit of Agatha Christie alive.The debut of Inspector Dagleish is a must-read.And one must remember the Gilbert & Sullivan quote, "A policeman's lot is not a happy one". ... Read more

4. The Private Patient (Vintage)
by P.D. James
Paperback: 368 Pages (2009-11-03)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307455289
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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National Bestseller

Cheverell Manor is a beautiful old house in Dorset, which its owner, the famous plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, uses as a private clinic.  When the investigative journalist, Rhoda Gradwyn, arrives to have a disfiguring facial scar removed, she has every expectation of a successful operation and a peaceful week recuperating.  But the clinic houses an implacable enemy and within hours of the operation Rhoda is murdered.   Commander Dalgliesh and his team are called in to investigate a case complicated by old crimes and the dark secrets of the past.  But Before Rhoda's murder is solved, a second horrific death adds to the complexities of one of Dalgliesh's most perplexing and fascinating cases.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (109)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another fine novel from the Baroness
(Steps up to the platform, taps microphone, oops feedback, adjusts device), starts to talk:

OK, I'm going to review P.D. James's "The Private Patient" now. Umm, but before I begin, I want to tell you that while you learn who the murder victim is in the first paragraph, the murder doesn't take place for another 90 pages in a book that has 352 of them. Those who'd prefer to hear about something else might want to try room 15B where . . . (Sound of chairs scraping, scurrying, and cries of "hello---I must be going!"

Alright, for those who remain, this is another of the author's tales of the intellectual detective Adam Dalgliesh and his squad, who must discover who murdered that private patient, Rhoda Gradwyn, an investigative reporter who shows up at the Dorsetshire clinic of a plastic surgeon in order to get a scar removed. She's a private patient, which in British terms means in that the operation is on her dime, not that of the coungtry's (in)famous National Health Service.

As always with Ms. James, the novel is stuffed with background information about the many suspects, lush descriptive passages, cynical asides about the state of the modern world, and a good suspenseful plot (albeit one more impressionistic than usual, even by the author's own standards).

If you're a fan of the series, don't pass it up--it may be the last one Ms. James, approaching 90, may ever get to write. And it would appear from some of the scenes in this book that she's well aware of that.

3-0 out of 5 stars Start in the middle
The first half of the book is spent creakily wheeling the characters and plot into position.One can start at about the point where AD is interviewing the cast of possible suspects in the library without any real loss.Unfortunately that is where I dropped out, the prospect of two hundred more pages of AD plodding around being too much to contemplate.It seems, from reading the end, that most of the action and character revelation occurs in the last half.So save your energy if you are going to read this book, and start in the middle.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not her best
I have read all of P D James mysteries that I know about and while this had a very good story line, it really dragged and got caught up in details.I do not need to know when and where and what everybody had for every meal.On the other hand, when AD is called on to solve another murder, I will be there.

3-0 out of 5 stars Only So-So
As a die-hard P.D. James fan, I shrink at the task of reviewing this, her latest installment of Adam Dalgleish and his special crimes unit squad. I must say that as much as I wanted to like this book, I was disappointed with it.

As a starter, I found the story to be average, and almost entirely predictable all the way through. The location descriptions fall short of James' typical lavish details, and the content and character development normally found in a P.D. James works falls short of her best efforts to date (in order, they would be Death in Holy Orders, The Murder Room, and The Lighthouse). This was a true disappointment for me after following Dalgleish for many years. I wonder whether the Baronesse James of Holland Park is using a ghost writer now? Perish the thought!!

If you absolutely need to see the next steps in the Adam Dalgleish/Emma Levanham saga, they you must read this book. But if you are not interested in how that ends up, you can save yourself some time by passing this one over.

3-0 out of 5 stars Stale and tired
P.D. James is a grand dame of mystery writing. Her powerful and precise prose will forever be the example of crime novels at their best.
Unfortunately, this book is not in the same category. If you edit very few referencies to cell phones and computers, this novel could've been set in 1970's, 60's or even 50's. It is a stale, tired old formula that desperately needs freshening up. ... Read more

5. Talking About Detective Fiction
by P.D. James
Hardcover: 208 Pages (2009-12-01)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$7.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307592820
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In a perfect marriage of author and subject, P. D. James—one of the most widely admired writers of detective fiction at work today—gives us a personal, lively, illuminating exploration of the human appetite for mystery and mayhem, and of those writers who have satisfied it.

P. D. James examines the genre from top to bottom, beginning with the mysteries at the hearts of such novels as Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and bringing us into the present with such writers as Colin Dexter and Henning Mankell. Along the way she writes about Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie (“arch-breaker of rules”), Josephine Tey, Dashiell Hammett, and Peter Lovesey, among many others. She traces their lives into and out of their fiction, clarifies their individual styles, and gives us indelible portraits of the characters they’ve created, from Sherlock Holmes to Sara Paretsky’s sexually liberated female investigator, V. I. Warshawski. She compares British and American Golden Age mystery writing. She discusses detective fiction as social history, the stylistic components of the genre, her own process of writing, how critics have reacted over the years, and what she sees as a renewal of detective fiction—and of the detective hero—in recent years.

There is perhaps no one who could write about this enduring genre of storytelling with equal authority and flair: it is essential reading for every lover of detective fiction.Amazon.com Review
A Q&A with P.D. James

Question: What made you decide to write a book about detective fiction?

P.D. James: I wrote my book, Talking About Detective Fiction, because the Bodleian Library, one of the great libraries of the world, asked me to write about detective fiction in aid of the Library. I said I would do so when I had finished writing The Private Patient. Detective fiction has fascinated me both as a reader and a novelist for over 50 years, and I enjoyed revisiting the books of the Golden Age which have given me such pleasure, and describing how I myself set out on the task of writing a detective story which can be both an exciting mystery and a good novel.

Question: How do you explain our seemingly unending appetite for mysteries? What is it about the mystery that so engages our minds and imagination?

P.D. James: The human race has had an appetite for mysteries from the earliest writings and no doubt tales of mystery and murder were recounted by our remote ancestors round the camp fires by the tribal storyteller. Murder is the unique crime, the only one for which we can make no reparation, and has always been greeted with a mixture of repugnance, horror, fear, and fascination. We are particularly intrigued by the motives which cause a man or woman to step across the invisible line which separates a murderer from the rest of humanity. Human beings also love a puzzle and a strong story, and mysteries have both.

Question: Do you think there is (or was) a Golden Age of detective fiction?

P.D. James: The years between the two world wars are generally regarded as the Golden Age of detective fiction and certainly, in England in particular, there was a surge of excellent writing. The detective story became immensely popular and a number of very talented writers were engaged in the craft. I feel that there are so many good novelists writing mysteries today that we may well be entering a second Golden Age.

Question: Do you feel that your own Adam Dalgliesh owes anything to any particular literary detectives who came before him?

P.D. James: I don't feel that Adam Dalgliesh owes anything to a particular literary detective as the heroes of the mystery novels which I particularly enjoyed in the Golden Age were usually amateurs, and I was anxious to create a professional detective.

Question: If you were to recommend 3 or 4 books that represent the best of detective fiction in all its forms, which books would they be?

P.D. James: It is difficult to know what books to recommend as personal taste plays such a large part and modern readers may feel out of touch with the Golden Age mysteries which I so much enjoyed. Among them are The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham, Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers, and Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare.It would take a much longer list to represent the mystery in all its forms, and it would certainly include the American hard-boiled school.

(Photo © Ulla Montan)

... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Solve the Mystery of Detective Fiction
Who doesn't love the detective fiction genre? From Humphrey Bogart to Robert Downey Jr., it seems that almost every big name in movies has embraced the genre wholeheartedly. And in a genre often dominated by men (save for Agatha Christie), it is fascinating to look at the history of detective fiction through the eyes of female writer P.D. James.

//Talking About Detective Fiction// is sold in an adorable petite edition which fits perfectly into any traveling bag, though it is still nearly 200 pages. James writes on the genre as a whole, and on some of the possible reasons it has remained so popular for well over 100 years. She covers the most famous of our detective fiction authors, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett, giving some rich biographical sketches behind the men who created the modern mystery.

This is an interesting book for those who want to learn a great deal about detective fiction writing over the last 125 years.

Reviewed by Susie Kopecky

5-0 out of 5 stars A Little Treasure but see my suggestion below.....
This book is a must for all readers of detective fiction - Get your own copy to keep as a reference and referral for future reading.I would suggest that you order the new or used paperback copy published by faber and faber/Bodleian Library in the U.K. - it is a lovely copy and much easier to hold and read than the hardback published in the United States.I borrowed the hardback copy from a friend and holding it open made my hands ache because it is a small book and very tightly bound.The print is larger in the U.K. copy and much easier to hold open.

4-0 out of 5 stars A conversation with the baroness over a cup of tea . . .
Though I read voraciously growing up (and not just YA novels and science fiction, either), I never cracked a mystery or detective story (except for Conan Doyle, who is unique) until I took a class in "genre fiction" in library school. That experience left me with an intense dislike for Agatha Christie and her ilk. Later on, I began reading certain authors on recommendation from library colleagues -- if you can't trust their opinions, whose can you? -- and I developed a taste for the more literary writers like Michael Innes/J. I. M. Stewart and Colin Dexter. These days, I'm big on Henning Mankell, Ian Rankin, and much of Michael Connelly. While I've attempted several of Baroness James's books, and while I'm fully prepared to accept that she's an important contributor to the field, her work simply has never resonated with me. Her nonfiction, however, is a different matter. This small volume (less than 200 octavo-size pages) is neither a treatise nor a study but simply an extended conversation in front of a comfortable fire, with James telling you what she has learned and observed about (mostly) English detective fiction over the past sixty years. She spends a good deal of time, naturally, on the Golden Age writers of "cozies": Christie, Sayers, Allingham, Marsh, and a few others. But she doesn't indulge in hero worship. She believes Dame Agatha was a master of the intricate plot and the reliable character but not of credibility. She sees Sayers not as a class snob (as she often accused of being) but as a very middle-class sort creating a fantasy life for herself through Lord Peter Wimsey. She knows most of the works of this period, set in a quiet village somewhere in England, are pure fantasy and that the murders committed there are almost always unrealistically tidy. In short, she's aware of the shortcomings of her predecessors, and of the fact that many of them from the first half of the 20th century have not worn well when one considers them objectively -- so why have certain ones remained in print. (Why does my wife, a very well educated woman, own the complete works of Christie and Sayers in battered paperback copies, and rereads them every couple of years?) This is not a book you would make use of in writing a research paper -- there isn't even an index -- but if you're a fan of detective novels (and especially if you're of a certain age and prefer puzzle-solving to real-world plotting) reading this slender volume is a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.

4-0 out of 5 stars Master of detective fiction discusses it in detail
Well written introduction to the process by which P.D. James crafted her well written fiction.

As a very occasional reader of detective fiction, I wasn't sure this book would interest me, but it is a quick and entertaining survey of the topic by a master. I enjoyed the compare and contrast aspects of the book ( American vs, English , amateur vs professional detectives) and her analysis of the social conditions that affect the detective novel in various time periods and countries. More focussed on the origins and " Golden Age" of the detective novel than contemporary books , it will help readers of current fiction understand the development of the genre to the present. It also inspired me to go back and reread some books ( The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) and give a few authors I'd never read a try ( Josephine Tey). Worthwhile! ... Read more

6. The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #5)
by P. D. James
Paperback: 346 Pages (2001-09)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743219619
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Just recovered from a grave illness, Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called to the bedside of an elderly priest. When Dalgliesh arrives, Father Baddeley is dead. Is it merely his own brush with mortality that causes Dalgliesh to sense the shadow of death about to fall once more?

"Splendid, macabre," wrote the London Sunday Telegraph. "The Black Tower is a masterpiece," the London Sunday Times concurred. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

2-0 out of 5 stars OK, but not great...
I did sort-of like it, but the bouncing back and forth between perspectives got to me this time. I didn't like many of the characters, and came very close to setting the book down. I pushed through, though, mainly to get to the next book in the hope that it would be better. The mystery plotline was ok, but not great - sort of anti-climactic, actually. Eh. Not one of James' better mysteries.

2-0 out of 5 stars Dreary and uninvolving
This Dalgliesh novel is a bit of a curiosity from Ms. James, because it's neither very interesting as a mystery nor does it contain particularly compelling characters. Compared to her work in general, I found it unusually uninvolving and I almost didn't finish the book, so little did I care about the plot or the people in it.

One suspects that part of P.D. James' goal was to write somewhat of a meditation on Dalgliesh in a muted mode after an illness, but while this is referred to early on, it ceases being a very useful facet of the book by the time he arrives at the Toynton Grange location where most of the story takes place. Perhaps Ms. James was influenced by Josephine Tey's THE SINGING SANDS (wherein a convalescing detective has a fairly poetic and metaphysical experience near the sea), but THE BLACK TOWER captures none of the tone or sense of "suspended reality" of Ms. Tey's far superior book.

It's hard to recommend this even to P.D. James fans. She's always a little understated, and the characters are usually a bit on the bleak side.But usually they are at least interesting.Not a single character in this book rings very true or seems very "alive" to the reader. I don't know what H.R.F. Keating could have been thinking when he called this one of the 100 greatest mysteries.It's a bigger mystery why he would have valued this slight and wholly forgettable book so highly.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Captivating Final Act
The gloomy tone that pervades this novel which seemed to turn a lot of people off was actually what I found interesting. The Inspector, recovering from an illness goes to visit an elderly priest who is a family friend at a home for people with degenerative diseases. When he arrives he's informed that the priest has died, but Dalgliesh begins to wonder if it was natural or murder. My only complaint with the story was partially to blame on my own attention span: Many of the suspects began to bleed together, and my inability to consume long passages at once left me looking back to keep the characters straight in my head. As a result I didn't find the book as absorbing as some of her others. Yet at the same time, the final forty pages was some of the most suspenseful of anything I've read thus far, and Dalgliesh's personal struggles throughout the book gave a human dimension to the character that up to now hadn't been seen.

2-0 out of 5 stars She has done a lot better
Unlike some authors (Jonathan Kellerman, Maeve Binchy, Steve Martini) who write some terrific books and then go downhill, PD James's books get better and better with time. It's her early works I can't stand. It's not just me, either. Some of her early novels were entirely rewritten for television to get people to watch. I once contacted PBS to see if I had missed some of her books that seemed so good on Mystery! They actually told me this. This book was about in the middle of her long career, but it just never captured my interest. Look at her settings--hospitals, nursing homes, monastaries, hardly the locales for a hotbed of action to keep you on the edge of your seat. This book is set at a home for the disabled with progressive diseases out in the middle of nowhere. Dalgliesh is working alone, in fact recovering from mono and pneumonia and goes there to visit an elderly priest who turns up dead of a heart attack. There isn't much to suggest crimes have in fact been committed and Dalgliesh's sudden deduction of what is going on at the end is not even remotely believable. The only interesting thing anyone does in this book is drop dead occasionally. It's not a police procedural. When I compare it to something like Death in Holy Orders, there's no reason to read this book. It isn't awful (and some of James's other books are really awful) but she has much better ones in her repertoire.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfectly crafted
This book begins in a gloomy mood and in a setting that seems hardly designed to hold a reader's attention: a nursing home. But the writing is so good that I stuck with it, and it all comes to a thrilling finale. Then I did something I rarely do: reread the book. This time I was completely bowled over by the quality of the writing. This is one of the most perfectly crafted books I have ever read. As such, I would rate it with such works as The Great Gatsby, Jude the Obscure, and Appointment in Samarra. What a surprise from a mystery novel. ... Read more

7. Unnatural Causes (Adam Dagliesh Mystery Series #3)
by P. D. James
Paperback: 272 Pages (2001-07)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$1.14
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743219597
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A famous mystery writer is found dead at the bottom of a dinghy, with both hands chopped off at the wrists. Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh, with help from his remarkable Aunt Jane, must discover who typed the writer's death sentence before the plot takes another murderous turn.

Unnatural Causes inspired Cosmopolitan to fervently hope, "if we're lucky, there will always be an England and there will always be a P. D. James." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Yet another wonderful P.D. James book!
P.D. James never fails to delight her readers. I thoroughly enjoyed Unnatural Causes. James sets her novel away from the bustling city of London (although we do visit it briefly in the novel), instead choosing to focus on a remote seaside village prone to howling winds and vicious storms. James creates an interesting cast of characters, each with various motivations for killing Maurice Seton. The book moves along at a very swift pace, and I finished it in three sittings because I simply could not put it down. My only complaint is that at one point toward the end of the novel Dagliesh realizes "whodunit" and why this person did it, but we are never privy to what it is that made him realize who the murderer actually was or why he suddenly figured it out. Apart from that EXTREMELY minor quibble, Unnatural Causes is a fast-paced, intriguing mystery that should thrill new readers of James as well as old ones.

4-0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best of her earliest half-dozen
This is only the third of this author's detective novels and already it's a considerable improvement over the first two. James was a fast learner. Chief Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh has just completed a difficult and exhausting case and he's headed for a week's holiday up in Suffolk with his spinster aunt, Jane. Being rather like Adam in various ways, she's easy to be around and he's looking forward to peaceful walks on the beach and sitting quietly by the fireside. However, the isolated neighborhood where Jane lives is also the part-time home of a gaggle of writers (detective-type, of course) and literary critics, and Adam has hardly set down his suitcase when they all turn up on Jane's doorstep, worried about one of their number who appears to have disappeared. And then a body is found adrift in a dinghy with its hands lopped off -- the missing writer. No vacation for Adam, it seems. Although he isn't even in charge of this case -- that goes to the local homicide man, DI Reckless -- he can't turn his brain off, so he becomes involved whether he wants to be or not. And things get even more complicated when it appears that the deceased actually died of natural causes. (But keep the title in mind.) James follows her pattern of introducing all the suspects at once almost on the first page (she kind of got away from that habit in her later novels, fortunately) and she also takes every opportunity to make tongue-in-cheek comments and observations about the life and psychology of an author. Dalgliesh is given more emotional depth as well, as he tries to decide what to do about the girl he met in the first novel. This is one of the better of James's early books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unnatural Cases
Although I find P.D. James' writing, somtimes, a bit outdrawn and overly descriptive, this one Unnatural Causes was to the point.
Although, once the focus was on Sylvia Kedges a bit more than usual the focus of she being the one that orchastrated the murder was clear. But, it truly was a surprise to read how she and Digby Seton did it. And, why the hands were cut off.
The one mentioning startled me calling Sylvia a "cripple". Surely this could have been worded differently.
But otherwise, I enjoyed the book trememdously.

To get to the purchase itself, I know what to expect with P.D. James, it came in perfect condition, and the packing was great.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good mystery, great character...
I've started reading my way through P.D. James (perhaps July is a month of mystery, as that seems to be what is capturing my interest now), and I really liked this book. Several books further on in the series, and this is still my favorite of the Dalgliesh mysteries.

I think I liked it because it is entirely (or almost entirely) from Dalgliesh's point of view. I like a good mystery, but part of a book is the character development. James has a tendency to write different sections/chap...more I've started reading my way through P.D. James (perhaps July is a month of mystery, as that seems to be what is capturing my interest now), and I really liked this book. Several books further on in the series, and this is still my favorite of the Dalgliesh mysteries.

I think I liked it because it is entirely (or almost entirely) from Dalgliesh's point of view. I like a good mystery, but part of a book is the character development. James has a tendency to write different sections/chapters from different points of view, and sometimes that can sort of spoil the book for me. I would rather read it all (or mostly) from Dalgliesh's perspective than bounce around so much, because sometimes, I simply don't like the other points of view. To me, the continuing development of the main character (who is supposed to be Adam Dalgliesh) is just as important as the plotline, and when he doesn't show up for almost half the book, I get bored and a little annoyed.

Anyway, this was one of my favorites. Great mystery, perfect atmosphere, and wonderful character development. Thumbs up.

4-0 out of 5 stars Solid, perhaps not her best
I really like P.D. James, so I think my review could be a bit biased.I have read four of her books and this is my second favorite so far.I thought the book had a couple of interesting twists, but it is really the feeling that I get when I read these books that I like.The descriptions are enough to put me in the place, but not get in the way of my vision of where we are.I also enjoy the characters, and don't feel they are over delveloped while their dialog seems truthful. ... Read more

8. A Mind to Murder (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries, No. 2)
by P. D. James
Paperback: 256 Pages (2001-05)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743219589
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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When the administrative head of the Steen Psychiatric Clinic is found dead with a chisel in her heart, Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate. Dalgliesh must analyze the deep-seated anxieties and thwarted desires of patients and staff alike to determine which of their unresolved conflicts resulted in murder.

With "discernment, depth, and craftsmanship," wrote the Chicago Daily News,A Mind to Murder "is a superbly satisfying mystery." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

3-0 out of 5 stars How did she ever establish such a reputation with books like this?
This is the second in the author's now highly-regarded series of detective novels featuring homicide expert (and published poet) Adam Dalgliesh. And while I'm prepared to accept the general opinion of James's abilities -- and her later novels are, in fact, quite interesting and involving -- it's a bit difficult to understand how she ever developed the literary momentum to reach the status of a devoted readership. Her first novel, _Cover Her Face_, was quite ordinary and Agatha-Christie-ish. This one reads almost a dramatized game of "Clue," or like a West End stage play from the 1930s. The administrative officer of an NHS psychiatric clinic in London is found stabbed in the basement records room. The doors to the building all are locked except the front entrance, where a porter sits, logging in everyone who arrives and leaves. There are about a dozen doctors, therapists, and other members of staff in the clinic and it's obvious from the first page that one of them has to be the killer. Now Superintendent Dalgliesh arrives (promoted since the first book, apparently), lines up his suspects, and begins his interviews, gradually building up a picture for the reader of all the personalities and personal backgrounds involved. In the records room by Col. Mustard with a chisel? Perhaps. The only difference between this book and her first one, really, is that in the previous work, the first hundred pages was spent describing the players before the crime ever took place; this time, that section comes after the crime. But the detective and his sergeant still feel the need to stand around and explain the details of the murder to each other, and the killer and his own sidekick do nearly the same thing. While the writing is clear and dryly amusing, the plotting is hardly original, and the "giveaway" at the end is rather contrived. (It also depends on details that were common in 1960s Britain but unknown in the 21st century U.S. -- but that, at least, is not the author's fault.) In any case: there are some readers who feel duty-bound to finish any book they start, but this one might challenge them to maintain sufficient interest.

3-0 out of 5 stars A little tiresome
I enjoy PD James and her Adam Dalgliesh mysteries,but this one was tiresome. I finished, but didn't care when I got to the end.Even a tiresome PD James is better than most authors great books.The characters are a bit flat and there are too many of them.The first part was acceptably interesting, but then it seemed to rush towards an end that was of little impact.It's an early book, maybe that's why.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another good Dalgliesh mystery
PD James once again makes you think you know whodunnit, changes your mind several times, and then tidies it all up with the answer in the last few pages.

This murder takes place in a psychiatric clinic when the "Administrative Officer" (Administrative Assistant in the US) is murdered.Adam Dalgliesh from Scotland Yard is called in to solve the case, which you know he is going to do, though even he has worries about whether or not he can.

Almost the entire staff is suspect, and many of them have obvious reasons for wanting the victim dead.Some of them have alibis, many of them do not.Several of them seem to be hiding something.(Of course - this is a murder mystery - everyone is hiding something!)

This is the 3rd Adam Dalgliesh myster I've read, and the only reason I'm giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is because I liked "Cover Her Face" and "Original Sin" a lot more.This is a worthy entry in the series, though.My one real complaint is that there are so many acronyms used that the story comes to a screeching halt whenever I read one as I try to remember what it stands for.("A.O." means administrative officer, for example.)The characters speak to each other like they would normally without all that unecessary explaining that some authors put in when they use jargon unfamiliar to some people.That's great, but sometimes I wanted a glossary.:)

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
This is my second James novel. I read The Murder Room which was written by James a few years ago and I thought that it was dreadful. It is a 500 page bore or snore. The present work was written over 40 years ago by a James in her prime. It is short and compact; and, it has a nicely balanced structure with good characters. It is written with straightforward and simple prose and it is a compelling read that is hard to put down. In short, it is what one can describe as a masterpiece.

The book opens with the literary hook: a murder in a clinic basement of the Steen Psychiatric Clinic during a busy Friday afternoon in London. On discovery of the murder, the doors of the clinic are sealed, Dalgliesh is called in, and we are off on the hunt for the killer, or killers.

The novel has an interesting set of characters, but not too many characters. It appears that there are just a half dozen suspects with a motivation to be involved with the killing. The mystery unfolds slowly, and the reader is given a few clues just ahead of the Dalgliesh.

Readers will not be disappointed, and the book demonstrates the fame and ability of James as a crime writer. Most will want to keep the book and set it aside to read again in the future. Also, the book demonstrates again that more is not always better than less. In the elaborate 550 page slow moving story told in The Murder Room, the author has a 95 page introduction and no crime until around page 130. We wait as Dalgliesh does not enter the investigation until almost page 200. Thankfully, all of that type of writing is missing here. In a Mind to Murder, the story is well underway and the reader is fully engaged by page 10. James tells a well balanced and a compelling tale in half the space.

Since the book came out in 1963, it has had approximately seven printings by three different publishers including Faber and Faber, and Penguin. It is easy to understand why.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Unique Twist
Having recently read "A Certain Justice" I have set myself to reading all of P.D. James' works."A Mind to Murder" firmly validated my decision to do so.In only her second mystery, Ms. James has the strength to pull a whopper of a twist.In so doing she provides some very strong character development for her Inspector Dalgliesh.He learns something very valuable in this work and will become a stronger detective for it.

A murder mystery set in a mental health facility provides a wealth of opportunities, none of which are wasted in this volume.In reviewing mysteries, one must be cautious not to throw out any spoilers--but what the reviewer can and did note was that Ms. James' writing is exceptional.The characters come to life and the story has something meaningful to say.In a day and age where entertainment is its own reward, it is nice to find an author who is willing to allow the benefits and burdens of moral choice to take center stage. ... Read more

9. Original Sin (Vintage)
by P.D. James
Paperback: 432 Pages (2009-07-14)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307455572
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Adam Dalgliesh takes on a baffling murder in the rarefied world of London book publishingin this masterful mystery from one of our finest novelists.


Commander Adam Dalglieshand his team are confronted with a puzzle of impenetrable complexity.A murder hastaken place in the offices of the Peverell Press, a venerable London publishing houselocated in a dramatic mock-Venetian palace on the Thames. The victim is Gerard Etienne,the brilliant but ruthless new managing director, who had vowed to restore the firm'sfortunes.Etienne was clearly a man with enemies—a discarded mistress, a rejectedand humiliated author, and rebellious colleagues, one of who apparently killed herselfa short time earlier.Yet Etienne's death, which occurred under bizarre circumstances,is for Dalgliesh only the beginning of the mystery, as he desperately pursues thesearch for a killer prepared to strike and strike again.


Amazon.com Review
The hushed mock-Venetian halls of England's oldest publishing housereek of secrets.Why did senior editor commit suicide in the archives office?And who decided to kill the managing director inthe same place -- or was his death a suicide also?Adam Dalgliesh and Kate Miskin will find out, but how many more deaths will there be before all the secretssee the light of day? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

2-0 out of 5 stars Exhausting
I was roped in by the very excellent writing, but the book was way too long. I spent hours wading through it because it was indeed suspenseful.When finally the case was solved, I felt totally ripped off and ashamed that I had allowed myself to waste that many hours of my life. While the many detailed descriptions of London were superb, there were way too many of them.I found the author's vocabulary awesome but exhausting.

2-0 out of 5 stars Wasting time
I had heard the name P. D. James and I didn't know how I developed an impression that she is a great writer of mysteries. I happened to pick this up in sale on a mall (cost me about two bucks).
With great enthusiasm, I started on page one and found too much description of setting for the scenes. And most of the setting felt like personal likings of the author than relevant to the story. For example, you will read a lot of description of 'Innocent House' - a publishing house building, including how it feels like a building in Venice. And the history of Thames river, how many people drowned in which year, how many boats sank. In first forty pages, there are about twenty four characters introduced. When I opened a new chapter beginning with some character I wondered whether that character was introduced before.
In short, Mandy, a temporary secretary goes to have an interview at 'Innocent House' and while taking a tour, they find the first body of a female worker, apparently a suicide (of course). Hasn't finding a dead body in the first chapter become a cliche by now? Then Mandy disappears from the scene for next several chapters. In second chapter, the author shows Inspector Dalgliesh (hard to remember name). Then he disappears for several chapters. At the end of 80 pages, I got to know that the publishing house has five main partners, each partner is associated with some friend or relative or lover (and you've to remember their names too), each one also has past memories of some people (you have to remember their names too) and on top it the publishing house has other employees (you have to remember their names too). And I couldn't.
The story just wouldn't move. Isn't there also a derogatory remark about Agatha Christie? That put me off. The author shouldn't have done that to the Mother of all Female mystery writers. Do you think a sentence 'Cleopatra's Needle was first erected about 1450 B.C. in front of the Temple of Isis at Heliopolis, and towed to England to be erected on the river bank in 1878.' fit anywhere in any novel? And the half a page goes to describe this Needle which has no connection to the story.
To me, it felt like P. D. James wanted to write monographs on Thames river, Venice, beautiful English village houses, publishing procedural.And not a mystery. She uses adverbs and qualifiers that put me off. For example, read this sentence. "He can't go wrong," confided Dave admiringly. You write this way as a novice writer and your editor will tear you to pieces. And someone already pointed out the word 'lugubrious.' How many times it appeared. How many of you would need a dictionary and how many of you would use this word in daily life. There are few more words like this scattered all over the novel.
This is not a page turner if you're looking for one. There are some good sentences but the prose didn't keep me reading. It took me twenty days to finish first hundred pages because I had to go back to find out what happened before. A lapse of even few hours in reading and you will need to go back a few pages to get connected again. And I don't have Alzheimer's. I frequently day dreamed while reading this book. One time I fell asleep.
The Television version may be good because movie editors cut all the crap to save the money.
This was my first book from P. D. James. And the last one. I repent for wasting valuable time of my life. If you want better prose and characterization I would recommend Elizabeth George. If you want a page turner read Michael Connolly.
I respect all writers. So I give at least one star for completing the novel of this length and one more for some good sentences.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
There are parts of this novel that deserve 4 or even 5 stars, and other parts that deserve no stars at all; the "2" rating I've given is an average. Below, the good, the bad, and the ugly.The Good: Interestingly drawn characters who operate in a convincingly realized and detailed world.James evokes mid-90s London perfectly and creates fully dimensional people with realistically complex motivations.James also throws in the occasional extraneous but deeply insightful comment on human psychology and behavior.The Bad:Much time is spent in exposition of people, places, and things that have no bearing on the plot or its resolution. This might have been intentional misdirection but it seemed meandering. The plot becomes more implausible as the body count rises - as does the long-maintained device of whether the initial victim's death was accidental.The Ugly: One of the main characters, an ambitious detective working the murders, is hyper-conscious of perceived social exclusion based on his religion.[[PARTIAL SPOILER ALERT]] When the detective finds out that the perpetrator is motivated by a desire to avenge the detective's co-religionists killed in WWII, the detective tries to derail the investigation and warn the suspect - who by now has killed 4 people, all of them wholly innocent.The extreme implausibility of the detective's actions, combined with James' descriptions of him as perpetually angry and physically unattractive, come together to perpetuate ugly religious stereotypes.And that's a form of Original Sin.

5-0 out of 5 stars Original Sin
I enjoyed this book immensely.The book starts with a suicide, spends several pages establishing the motives of every character, then gets down to murdering the person everyone has reason to kill.The rest of the book involves itself with figuring out whodunnit.

This is my first Adam Dalgliesh mystery, but it won't be my last.Ms. James spends a lot of time with all of the characters, and you get a real feel for what everyone is going through.The ending is logical, and I found myself staying up late at night trying to finish the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Queen of Suspense does it again !
As in Agatha Christie novels, P>D> James has written another superb, well-plotted and thrilling novel. Her character descriptions and their development are always perfect (I recommend DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS as the prime example of her talent. One can not leave the book alone for long because the pace and developments carry you along so strongly that you MUST FINISH it as soon as possible. ... Read more

10. Death of an Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #6)
by P. D. James
Paperback: 368 Pages (2001-10-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$1.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743219627
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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An evil-tempered forensic scientist is put to death, putting many of his colleagues out of misery. Commander Adam Dalgliesh must exhume the secrets of Dr. Lorrimer's laboratory in order to lay bare the murderous motive hidden in one human heart.

Death of an Expert Witness led Newsweek to crown P. D. James "the new queen of crime." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars One of The Better In The Series So Far.
More engaging than some of the previous Dalgliesh books, Adam is called in to investigate the murder of a forensic scientist who has his fair share of enemies who would love to be rid of him. James does her usual technique of getting to know the characters before her master detective arrives, and this time reveals a bit more of Dalgliesh's past revealing a bit more of a human side to a detective who at times, can be a bit of a pill.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent British Mystery
One of P.D. James heralds is her character development. She loves to mold & describe them as much as create excellent suspense mysteries. She has the ability to do it well
Originally written in the late 70's this has none of the fancy DNA & CSI technicalities. It's good old fashioned police work that takes the reader through the mystery.
Ms. James writes in a classic British style which is very refreshing. Her descriptions make for very good story telling which keeps the reader turning pages without boring them.
I was quite surprised by the ending. She leads up to & carries that off very well

3-0 out of 5 stars Good...
I liked this one a lot - still went back and forth between points of view, but the story was really good and I enjoyed reading each characters' perspective. The ending surprised me, which I always like, and Dalgliesh was perfect. I would have liked a bit more with Dalgliesh, but then, I usually do...

4-0 out of 5 stars Not CSI
As in all of P.D. James' books, the characters are at least as important as the mystery.This one may not hold up as well as some of her other books due to advances in forensic science and widespread information about them from television shows like CSI.The story is set in a forensic lab in a traditional English village, but they don't even have computers, much less access to the DNA tests that would have solved the mystery within a couple pages of the murder.But then, where would the fun have been?

5-0 out of 5 stars Death of an Expert Witness
What can I say.I have read everything by P. D. James.Excellent author.
The Adam Dalgliesh mysteries are my favorite. ... Read more

11. Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography
by P.D. James
Paperback: 288 Pages (2001-02-27)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$5.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345442121
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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On the day she turned seventy-seven, internationally acclaimed mystery writer P.D. James embarked on an endeavor unlike any other in her distinguished career: shedecided to write a personal memoir in the form of a diary. Over the course of a yearshe set down not only the events and impressions of her extraordinarily active life,but also the memories, joys, discoveries, and crises of a lifetime. This enchantinglyoriginal volume is the result.

Time to Be in Earnest offers an intimate portraitof one of most accomplished women of our time. Here are vivid, revealing accountsof her school days in Cambridge in the 1920s and '30s, her happy marriage and thetragedy of her husband's mental illness, and the thrill of publishing her first novel,Cover Her Face, in 1962. As she recounts the decades of her exceptional life, Jamesholds forth with wit and candor on such diverse subjects as the evolution of thedetective novel, her deep love of the English countryside, her views of author toursand television adaptations, and her life-long obsession with Jane Austen. Wise andfrank, engaging and graceful, this "fragment of autobiography" will delight and surpriseP. D. James's admirers the world over.Amazon.com Review
"At seventy-seven it is time to be in earnest," wrote Samuel Johnson, and bestselling crime writer P.D. James took this maxim as a challenge, setting out to record "one year that otherwise might be lost." The result is a fascinating and reflective account, part diary and part memoir, of one very full year of Baroness James's life, interspersed with her memories and intelligent analysis of "what it was like to be born two years after the end of the First World War and to live for seventy-eight years in this tumultuous century." P.D. James grew up in Cambridge, England, between the wars and worked in the home office of the forensic and criminal justice departments, which sparked her interest in that area, though she did not become a published novelist until 1962 with Cover Her Face. She began to write full-time after her "retirement" in 1979, and along the way became a governor of the BBC before taking a seat in the House of Lords in 1991. Time to Be in Earnest is a lucid and penetrative work by one of the most influential figures currently involved with the arts in Britain. James reveals her vast scope for enjoyment, interest, and simply getting on with life (her husband, Connor White, died at the age of 44 in 1964 after years of mental illness), whether it be spending time with her children and grandchildren, musing on the hideous British architectural mistakes of the 1960s, or giving her view of the controversies continually surrounding the running of the BBC. At an age when many people would be considering slowing down, James seems constantly on the move, recording her day-to-day existence and her past with an alert and judicious eye. "I am sustained by the magnificent irrationality of faith," she states. "I inhabit a different body, but I can reach back over nearly 70 years and recognise her as myself. Then I walked in hope--and I do so still." --Catherine Taylor, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

4-0 out of 5 stars Time To Be In Earnest
Strange as it is, I read James' fragment of an autobiography before I read any of her fiction.My father had met her aboard an ocean liner and as they got to know one another, James recommended that he give me a copy of Time to Be In Earnest.I enjoyed it because it gave me ideas of how an autobiography might be shaped, should I ever want to write one myself.The approach James took, that of keeping a diary that then led her when appropriate to comment on past events of her life, was interesting and made perfect sense.I did enjoy reading about the daily activities of such a famous personage, the meals out, the talks given, the places visited.I appreciated how her approach to autobiography allowed her complete control over what she chose to share and what she chose to keep private.Her musings on the art of fiction were also thought-provoking.

5-0 out of 5 stars Time to be in Earnest
I've never read a P.D. James book before; I've only seen the adaptions on TV of her Adam Dalgliesh mysteries, however since reading this fragment of autobiography I am a new and loyal fan of her writing.This book takes one year of Ms. James's life and lets us in to know her points of view, her dislikes, insights into how she writes and what she thinks are the key elements for creating a detective story, along with the busiest schedule I've ever seen for a 77 year old (although she is now 89 and still writing bestsellers).

Ms. James's love of Victoriana and all things connected with that era comes through both in her writing and speech but also in her thoughts on the world.As a fellow fan of this era I immediately knew I'd found an inspirational and wonderful writer from whom I can glean a better look into the human psyche through her insightful words and observations.During the writing of this book, Ms. James was promoting her newest novel at the time, "A Certain Justice". This is where I have started in reading her works and as a gentle warning, once you pick them up, they are very hard to put down!

5-0 out of 5 stars And She Is
Samuel Johnson famously said that 'at 77 it is time to be in earnest' and P.D. James is.She has not been a diarist but for this book she forced herself to become one.The book consists of a year's worth of diary with flashbacks and memories of the past.Structuring an autobiography is far more difficult and far more problematic than it may at first appear.Her solution here is certainly novel.Superficially, the book is an account of a year's events--speeches, book tours, lunches, and so on, but ultimately it explores the key events and key individuals of her life, with all the tears and joys attached.She evokes a vivid sense of the war and what it was like to bear and protect infants then; she speaks of her beloved husband's struggles with mental illness, the fact that she was forced to support the family and do so by wending her way through a government career after taking what Americans would think of as a continuing ed program at the City University in London.She is so literate, so polished, and so well educated that it is hard to believe that she lacks a formal college education.Her success as a writer came relatively 'easily', though that is always a relative term.It came early, but it did not come without great labor.

Time to Be in Earnest includes wonderful reflections on the craft of writing and the specific culture of crime writing and interesting anecdotes about such household names as Ruth Rendell and Iris Murdoch.Phyllis James/Baroness James knows everyone and speaks of them honestly and in detail.She also tells us about her cat (named for Johnson's cat, Hodge), which I found more interesting than I expected.I loved her comments on modern culture--on travel, on cell phones, on education, on political correctness, political personages (including the Blairs) and such unexpected pleasures as an account of what it is like to spend the night at Chatsworth.In all of these matters she is scrupulously honest and scrupulously frank.The impact on her of Johnson and of the Jane Austen of the letters as well as the novels is clear.

This is a delightful book and you do not need to be a fan of P.D. James's crime fiction (she would say detective fiction) to enjoy it.It is a very English book in every way, but it is also pure Horatio Alger--relatively poor woman hungry for butter during the war becomes Baroness James of Holland Park and doesn't change a great deal in the process.I had the great pleasure of meeting her once and talking to her for a few minutes.She is absolutely the genuine article--kind, direct, real with a capital R and authentic with a capital A.The book conveys that, without any arrogance and without any pretense.Read it and love her.

3-0 out of 5 stars Ms. James is better at fiction.
I've enjoyed all of P. D. James' fiction works, but found the fragment of autobiography interesting, but a bit tedious. The book is interesting in that her life is filled with drama, trials, and turmoil; tedious in the multiple social and literary events that are recited. I can only surmise that the author herself really was not interested in keeping the diary and found it tiresome.

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
As a long-time fan of PD James, I was eager to read her fragment of an autobiography.Upon finishing it, I regretted reading it.This esteemed author reveals a bit too much about her extremely right-wing politics, her puzzling infatuation with rank and privilege, and her obsessive nature.I didn't count the number of speeches and signings she did in her 78th year, but the number would be staggering.She seems unable to refuse any request to be honored and fawned over.Of course, her obsessive nature is useful in crime fiction, I suppose.And her prose remains the model of clarity.I still love her work and will go on reading it, but I will have to make an effort to separate my negative impression of the woman. ... Read more

12. Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #4)
by P. D. James
Paperback: 368 Pages (2001-09)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$1.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743219600
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

The young women of Nightingale House are there to learn to nurse and comfort the suffering. But when one of the students plays patient in a demonstration of nursing skills, she is horribly, brutally killed. Another student dies equally mysteriously, and it is up to Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard to unmask a killer who has decided to prescribe murder as the cure for all ills.

The New York Times called Shroud for a Nightingale "mystery at its best." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

4-0 out of 5 stars The setting will be esp "foreign" for U.S. readers, but a good story nevertheless
Having now read half a dozen of James's novels featuring Adam Dalgliesh, senior homicide specialist from Scotland Yard (including some of the earlier works and some of the more recent) I'm beginning to get a handle on her style. She started out writing "cozies" -- her first effort, _Cover Her Face,_ could almost have been a more literary Agatha Christie -- but she soon decided there was no reason to omit the unpleasantness of the real world that Christie went to such lengths to avoid. She follows the "limited pool of suspects" method that most detective writers adopt almost by necessity. In real life, of course, things are seldom that neat; the killer may turn out to be someone completely unconnected with the early investigation. But if that were to happen in a novel, the reader would be justified in complaining. However, some authors (Michael Connelly comes to mind) introduce the suspects gradually over the first half of the book. James prefers to bring them all in at once: "Here are all the players and you're on notice that one of them dunnit. But which one?" This book is her fourth and it's already far more sophisticated in style and language than her first. It's set in a nurses' training school in a market town not too far from London and the focus is on the half-dozen third-year students preparing to graduate, on the Matron (director) of the school, and on the handful of professionals associated with the school (teaching sisters, a particularly egotistical surgeon, the pharmacist, a couple of techs and cleaners). The first murder is pretty gruesome: Someone has substituted a corrosive cleaning agent for the milk in the intragastric feeding tube during a student demonstration (they all take turns as guinea pigs for the benefit of the class). It obviously wasn't an accident, but was the victim herself the target? Because it seems she took the place of another girl who was taken ill during the previous night. But when a second student nurse turns up dead -- in her bed this time -- Dalgliesh is brought in to find and arrest the culprit in a hurry before the school itself is tainted. Even though all the suspects (including the killer) are present almost from the first page, James leaves the motive itself until the last couple of chapters, which isn't exactly playing fair with the reader; for reasons that are immediately apparent, this discovery automatically eliminates half the suspect pool, and would have done much earlier if she could have found a way to introduce the relevant facts. Still, the characters are very fully developed and the writing itself will weave itself around you, which makes the book well worth reading. One warning though: I have seen occasional complaints from lazier (or less observant) readers that the British police and court system is "too hard to understand." I've never had any problem with that, personally. But the world of British medicine, both of doctors and nurses, is far more foreign than that, especially under the National Health System, and James assumes her audience knows all about it. (Well, her British readers will, of course.) Since no explanations of terms like "set" and even "Sister" are provided, the American reader may have to simply *bleep* over some of the jargon.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting plot, guessed the murderer...
I did like this one, even though it bounced between points of view more than I usually like. The funny thing with this mystery was that I guessed who the murderer was before the book was halfway done. I don't usually guess that (and I don't usually try, liking to just follow the book's revelations), but I knew very quickly who it was. I'm not sure if it means James let it slip early, or if I was just quick to pick up on things. Or if it was a lucky guess.

That said, it was an interesting plotline, and a good book. I do think I like her writing more as the series progresses - I can't tell if that means her writing is getting better (I'm going from her earliest books on), or if I'm just getting more used to her style.

Am liking it, though, and definitely continuing the series.

4-0 out of 5 stars 'Demonstration of Death'
Student Nurse Pearce dies while playing the part of a patient during a nursing demonstration of the oesophageal feeding technique.There are many witnesses to her death but it is not clear who killed her and why.Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve this murder and quickly finds that there is more than one mystery to examine at Nightingale House.

When another nurse is found dead, the tempo of the investigation increases: is this second death murder or suicide?In the relatively closed community of Nightingale House, it seems highly likely that the murderer is one of the staff.It seems that almost all of the residents of Nightingale House have secrets to hide.Adam Dalgliesh must quickly decide what is relevant to the investigation and why.

All of the factors relevant to solving the case are contained within the novel and everything falls into place quite neatly at the end.Still, I doubt that I was the only reader who hadn't worked it out completely before the closing pages: there are a number of aspects to consider.This is the fourth novel to feature Adam Dalgliesh, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest.While some of the earlier novels may not be quite as polished as the later ones, I believe that each is worth reading in order to obtain a more complete understanding of Adam Dalgliesh.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shroud for a Nightingale
The book's story line is a mystery. It is a good read and keeps your attention to the end.This is an excellent mystery writer.

4-0 out of 5 stars Staged Murder
Adam Dalgliesh, P.D. James' signature detective, is a consummate sleuth, able to use his intelligence to solve the most puzzling of crimes."Shroud For a Nightingale", only the fourth bok to have featured Dalgliesh, is a bit dated, but it offers a case that Dalgliesh is able to solve but may find impossible to prove.It is a classic closed-scene murder mystery, with the few suspects living together in a place where privacy is closely guarded.

Nightingale House, an old mansion, is in use at John Carpendar Hospital as the dormitory of nurses in training and the Sister nurses in charge of them.On the morning of a General Nursing Council inspection, a student demonstration goes horribly wrong; while demonstrating how to do intragastric feeding on one of their fellow nurses, the students and observers watch as the young nurse screams in agony, poisoned to death.Was it an accident or murder?That answer is surely cleared up when another young nurse is found dead in her bed, a possible suicide, but Dalgliesh is called in, and he knows for certain that these two murders are connected.And that quite possibly, the mystery surrounding Nightingale House goes further back than these two murders.

P.D. James has crafted an ingenious mystery in this fourth novel, although it has some similarities to a later Dalgliesh mystery, "Original Sin".The first murder is almost too gruesomely described, setting the stage for the twists and turns that follow."Shroud For a Nightingale" is a fast-paced mystery, but shows signs of being dated in its precise descriptions of nursing uniforms and medical jargon.The fact that Adam Dalgliesh is not quite yet fully formed as a character is evident, and he makes a fitting comment about fictional detectives, yet it is still a trademark enjoyable P.D. James. ... Read more

13. The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #12)
by P. D. James
Paperback: 432 Pages (2004-11-09)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$1.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400076099
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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National Bestseller 

Murders present meet murders past in P.D. James’s latest harrowing, thought-provoking thriller.

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is already acquainted with the Dupayne--a museum dedicated to the interwar years, with a room celebrating the most notorious murders of that time--when he is called to investigate the killing of one of the family trustees. He soon discovers that the victim was seeking to close the museum against the wishes of the fellow trustees and the Dupayne's devoted staff.  Everyone, it seems, has something to gain from the crime.  When it becomes clear that the murderer has been inspired by the real-life crimes from the murder room--and is preparing to kill again--Dalgliesh knows that to solve this case he has to get into the mind of a ruthless killer. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (94)

3-0 out of 5 stars A solid entry in the Dalgliesh series, but not her best effort.
First things first, this is a good book. I'll come to the "but" part in a minute, but for the most part this is yet another solid entry in the long-running Dalgliesh series. With the private Dupayne Museum's future uncertain, one of the trustees is determined to see its closure. So when he soon turns up murdered in horrific circumstances, there is no shortage of suspects; nervous staff, Dupayne family members, and a mysterious unknown man seen fleeing the scene of the crime. But is the murder really connected to the closure of the museum, or is there a more personal motive?

Long-term P D James fans will find plenty to like here, and all of the standard James devices are in place: a self-contained institution on the verge of radical shake-up, a ruthless agent of change making an obvious victim, a surprisingly brutal murder, plenty of plausible suspects, a number of clever red herrings, and some dark personal secrets that may or may not be relevant. Another positive is that there is plenty of personal development for the main characters; we follow Dalgliesh's complicated new relationship with Emma Lavenham, and there are hints of upcoming promotions for Kate Miskin and Piers Tarrant.

My problem with the book is that the motivation for the murder (once revealed) feels quite weak. Compared to the motives the other suspects had, the final revelation seems the least likely, and to be honest is a bit unconvincing. Perhaps this is because the relationship that apparently drove the killing was not well developed or explained. And the revelation that Dalgliesh and his team know who the murderer is, without yet revealing this information to the reader, adds to the sense of frustration and confusion. The conclusion does make sense, but compared to the powerful endings of 'A Taste For Death' or 'Original Sin', this one did feel a bit underwhelming.

Another potential issue is that the plot and structure of the book feel very familiar after 'Original Sin' and 'Death In Holy Orders'. The set up in the first 100 pages basically follows 'Original Sin' to the letter; swap the small, antiquated publishing house for the small, antiquainted museum and it could be the same book. While James' fans may appreciate the consistency in her approach, it would be nice to see her change the formula a bit.

Dedicated P D James fans, of which there are many, will still want to read this, and 'The Murder Room' certainly is not a bad book. But it's not one of her best either, and that ending really is quite lacklustre.

4-0 out of 5 stars Somebody Wants to Close the Murder Room
The lease is due for The Dupayne museum and it may not be renewed. Then the burnt body of trustee Neville Dupayne (whose vote will close the museum) is discovered in a flaming car, a crime that resembles one committed by Alfred Arthur Rouse back in 1930 and commemorated in the museum's Murder Room, an exhibit dedicated to sensational murders. Two more murders follow, each resembling a famous case. Commander Adam Dalgliesh is asked to investigate.

The crime wouldn't normally be assigned to Dalgliesh and his Special Investigation Squad, but his bosses have their reasons for calling in the big guns. They say it's because someone at the museum has dealings with MI5. More murders occur, copy cats of crimes chronicled in the Murder Room. While trying to sort out all the suspects and their hidden stories, Dalgliesh patiently interviews people, sifts evidence, checks alibis and, of course, solves the case.

Nobody delves as deeply into a character as Ms. James and she's at her absolute level best here in this book that is full of twists, turns, red herrings and mystery. Well, maybe there were just one or two, too many red herrings for me, and maybe a hundred pages or so, was just a bit too long to keep me waiting for that murder. But still, as usual, from P.D. James, a very fine book.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Murder Room Murders
The Murder Room is an Adam Dalgliesh murder mystery in which the stalwart detective and his team investigate a horrible murder at a small, family-owned museum.One of the unusual displays is called the Murder Room detailing information about infamous murders that occurred throughout English history.The first museum murder bears a resemblance from an earlier murder then another body turns up which points to a copycat theory.After a series of complications and twist, Dalgliesh manages to solve the cases.

I have been reading P.D. James series for over twenty-five years; I was introduced to the Dalgleish series through the PBS drama.After these many years, I still savor her work and enjoyed this book as much as her previous novels.Ms. James is a superb and masterful storyteller and at 83, she is still one of the finest mystery writers ever.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Murder Room
As with all P.D. James books, especially the Adam Dalgliesh series, this was excellent.She is a fantastic writer.I have read many of her books, this one is a re-read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A return to reading an old favorite
PD James has been writing murder mysteries with Dalgliesh as her main character since the 1960s. I've owned this book for several years, but only just got around to reading it.

The book and the series is not about Dalgliesh or his life. The book is about solving a series of ugly murders. His life, and the lives of his team are the background. I enjoy the fact that the ending of these books arrive with a reasonable, and fair conclusion.

But mostly you read PD James for the language. If there are literary books out there, this certainly is one of them. And it is a very good example of a book where you are reading, at least part of the time, for the language. ... Read more

14. The Children of Men
by P.D. James
Paperback: 256 Pages (2006-05-16)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307275434
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Told withP. D. James’s trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and rivetingstorytelling, The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future.

The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is nowadult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace.Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spendsmost of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractivewoman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Wardenof England. She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desireto live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (121)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good, but no where near as good as the movie
I'm a big fan of the Children of Men, the movie, so when I saw the audiobook at my local library, I grabbed it. Probably 90% of the time someone compares a movie and the book it was based on, they're going to think the book is better. It's just the nature of written and filmed works that you can't pack the same detail into a film as you can a novel. But at least for me, The Children of Men is one case where the movie was better than the book, much better.

Both the book and the movie share the same basic outline, and some of the same characters. About 20 years previous, babies stopped being born, as all males in the world became infertile. In that time, society has changed, become authoritarian, and dissident groups have sprung up to protest the increasing power of the government.

But while the plot of the movie seemed to make perfect sense, that of the book kept me wondering how or why things were happening the way they were. For example, characters fall in love after meeting each other only a few times for a few minutes, and I couldn't understand why so much emphasis was being placed on the child, when it seemed to me that the father of the baby would be much more important. If the child was a girl, then what? There would still be no way of propagating the human race, and even if it was a boy, they'd have to wait 13 or so years for him to be able start attempting to produce offspring.

And in any case, is one human male, when paired with an unlimited number of females, enough to re-start the race? Wouldn't that involve a lot of inbreeding? So the fact that a woman is pregnant is definitely cause for celebration, but it really only matters if other males are becoming fertile again as well. The movie is able to sidestep these issues by simply stating that the father is unknown, and focusing on the child as a miracle in itself, not necessarily as hope for the human race to survive.

The book is also very different from the film in that it's not anywhere near as action oriented. A third of the way through the book basically nothing has happened. It's full of backstory between Theo and his cousin, Xan, who has now become Warden of England, and their childhood together. It is Xan who wants the child for himself, to cement his power as leader, and Theo must overcome his feelings of friendship for his cousin and protect the baby.

I don't want to make it sound like the book is horrible, it's really pretty good; I had no problems sticking with it to the end. But just be warned that if you go into it having already seen the film, don't expect the book to be similar, or you may find yourself disappointed.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Eulogy for Mankind
I have been reading P.D. James for over twenty years and enjoy her writing style. In Children of Men, the author has created a dystopic vision of a futuristic society that is childless, hopeless, devoid of faith and belief.

Mankind is facing oblivion because worldwide, women are unable to conceive and as a result not one baby has been born in over twenty years. Inasmuch as there are no children to care for and no future to hope or, the spark of life is gradually extinguishing, resulting in the rise of dictatorial, dogmatic leaders.

Comparison the book against the movie version is a true disservice to the novel. A movie is based upon the ideas outlined in the book and is not exact representation of the author's creation. Each medium stands upon its own merits and I found both versions to be entertaining, engrossing and well-executed.

P.D James is a vivid and descriptive storyteller who is thorough in her presentation of the subject matter. Children of Men is as intriguing, disturbing, engrossing, and compelling as Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. Very nicely done and highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars Liked the movie better
Having seen the movie first, maybe I was expecting too much - because the novel was very different than the movie. The novel had some interesting ideas, but they seemed rushed and unfulfilled. The story seems much smaller in scope, and I wanted to find out more of the world PD James had created.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking story
This is a book that will make you think about it afterward. It was a page turner driven by the characters - flawed human beings. Their country crumbles into police state yet a small, powerless group of people strive for change. Some are driven by ego, some inspired by faith in God, some simply can no longer ignore what is wrong. Is this how all rebellions start? The story highlights ordinary people doing extraordinary things - good & evil. The ending doesn't make any promises. The movie is great but modifies the plot to emphasize the visuals.

5-0 out of 5 stars Service, not product
I gave 5 stars bc the seller was prompt. Everything with the purchase and shipping went well. I haven't read much of the book yet so I can't comment on that.
Thanks ... Read more

15. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray Mysteries, No. 1)
by P.D. James
Paperback: 256 Pages (2001-04)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$0.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743219554
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Handsome Cambridge dropout Mark Callender died hanging by the neck with a faint trace of lipstick on his mouth. When the official verdict is suicide, his wealthy father hires fledgling private investigator Cordelia Gray to find out what led him to self-destruction. What she discovers instead is a twisting trail of secrets and sins, and the strong scent of murder.

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman introduces P. D. James's courageous but vulnerable young detective, Cordelia Gray, in a "top-rated puzzle of peril that holds you all the way" (The New York Times). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not a bad departure for James
Having now read several of James's Adam Dalgliesh police procedurals -- a couple of earlier ones and a couple of the far superior later ones -- I decided it was time to dip into her non-Dalgliesh work. This is the first one featuring Miss Cordelia Gray, private detective. Isn't not a long story, only a bit over 200 pages, but it's not bad. Cordelia, having been taken on by Bernie Pryde as an apprentice detective, suddenly finds herself the sole proprietor when Bernie offs himself because of terminal cancer. Bernie was an ex-Met cop, fond of quoting methods and principles learned at the knee of then-DCI Dalgliesh (who later had him sacked for lack of basic competence), and who had drilled those same principles into Cordelia, . . . who wonders sometimes if her boss's old boss is a mythological creature. Now she's been invited to Cambridge to look into the suicide of the son of a nationally known microbiologist; or, actually, Bernie was invited, but Cordelia now has the case. Young Mark, an idealistic university student, hanged himself for no discernible reason and his father wants to know why. Cordelia, of course, soon has reason to think Mark actually was murdered. The narrative follows her through her investigations as she comes up with reasonable hypotheses, and reasonable ways of determining their validity (or not). She owns a gun (illegally) but she's not about to use it, so she has to rely on her considerable wits. Cordelia is an appealing character, filled with idealism herself, and somewhat more interested in justice than (necessarily) in truth. And she eventually discovers some of the truth about Dalgliesh, too.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Ending is a Surprise, Only Because It's So Inane
Cordelia Gray is on her own with her detective agency.She has bills to pay and no new cases in sight.Then an elegant woman turns up and asks if Miss Gray will assist in her employer's quest to determine what caused his son to kill himself.

It took me quite a long time to determine what era this book was meant to be placed in.Until Cordelia mentioned having grown up watching television, I assumed from the situations, attitudes and styles of the characters that it was somewhere between the Wars.How "unsuitable" (a word from the title which is repeatedly drummed into our heads via the text) is detecting for a woman in the 1970s, anyhow?But yet, that's where this story, strangely, is set.

I met a variety of characters, but don't get to know any of them particularly well, and when the mystery is "solved," I was deeply annoyed.The person who did it would have absolutely NO reason to do what they did earlier in the story; it was only placed there to propel the plot and manipulate the reader into turning the pages.After the solving the mystery, there is yet another fifty pages or so of unnecessary and dull exposition.This was my first experience with the mysteries of P.D. James.If this is indicative of her style and characters, I think I can safely remove her from my list of authors to follow.

3-0 out of 5 stars Reading Cordelia is not quite an 'ordealia', but 'P.D'. should stand for 'Pedestrian Detection'!
I'm going to have to agree with the poster called Gray Wolfe, who gave this book a slightly lower-than average 3 stars. The similarities to 1930s-vintage Agatha Christie are obvious.
The previous P.D. James/Dalgiesh novels I've read were from the '90s, by which time she had updated her storytelling, at least somewhat. I'm less familiar with her earlier novels, but if they're all like this, I'll probably pass on them. I only vaguely knew of the Cordelia Gray character, and assumed she was a 1930s detective. Tying her in with Dalgliesh's 'universe', comes off asan unnecessary nod, and a rather blatant bid to get her old fans to follow what promised to be a new series, perhaps pre-empting the expected requests from readers that the two should meet.(A departure from Christie, who never gave in to the temptation to have Poirot meet Miss Marple!)

The Superindentant's role is, in fact, a big cheat, as he merely takes a case that Cordelia has turned into hopelessly knotted ball of string, and ties a semi-neat bow on most of the case...while conveniently not picking up on the details he's not supposed to pick up on, therefore not upstaging Cordelia in 'her' story. Frankly, she does very little, other than force us to pay attention to the rambling drivel of a lot of "'70s " college brats who acted suspiciously like characters in an 'Edwardian/Georgian' era detective story!

The frequent repetitions of the title as an 'underlying' theme are a bit heavy-handed, too...but perhaps, at least as far as the 'woman' in question is concerned, they're right!

The premise is certainly interesting, but James doesn't tell us as much about Cordlia as one might expect. (This is one story that might work better with first-person narration, a device James rarely, if ever uses, but which might give her writing a less 'stuffy' feel.)

Another review quoted James as saying Cordelia didn't 'speak' to her as much as Dalgliesh (and, more likely-and, in keeping with the tone of the story, cynically- the publishers and sales figures) did.
I find that James has a sort of detached, standoffish, style(which I can take in small doses), and as a result, she puts a bit too much emphasis on the setting(and especially on size, style, and color of home furnishings!), and shrouds the characters in a lot of 'mystery', which is really just an excuse not to develop them very much.
Even when she gets around to letting the readers into the characters' heads, they just never seem very engaging. Colin Dexter's 'Morse' series, while similar in style, has far more 'light moments' that the average reader can grab onto while the story is moving along. Of course, the blandness of this story's characters only accentuates the slow pace.

This more literate,flowery, type of story, with its flawed and brooding characters on both sides of the sectrum, has just about defined British crime/mystery fiction(for good and bad) since James' heyday in the '70s, while,ironically, the Christie influences have been left behind. If nothing else, it's interesting to see how James develops her own 'voice'...even if that voice finds it difficult to stop butting in!
'An Unsuitable Job...' is a good change of pace, but readers unfamiliar with James may prefer an author who'll 'pick up the pace' when this one is finished!

4-0 out of 5 stars A Suitably Good Mystery Novel
This book, originally written in the 1970s, follows the exploits of a young female PI named Cordelia Gray as she inherits her partner's detective agency and embarks on her first case.When the son of a prominent British scientist commits suicide, he hires Cordelia to find out why.Soon Cordelia is wrapped up in the case where everything is not quite as it seems - from living in the deceased's home to interviewing his friends to embarking on increasingly dangerous interviews and following suspicious leads.

Although the book may seem a touch dated at times, it provides a captivating whydunnit as opposed to a whodunnit that will keep you guessing until the end - as any good mystery novel should.This is the first Cordelia Gray novel (as far as I know) but I believe there are sequels as well if you're interested.A nice change of pace from the modern detective novel, this book is both quaint and enjoyable as Cordelia's guesswork seems perfectly logical most of the time, rather than far-fetched and unprobable as many modern books tend to be.

3-0 out of 5 stars An Unsuitable Book for P D James
James who is most famous for her books of Inspector Dalgleish, takes time to create a female PI in 1970s London.This book which was written in 1972 and later revised by James an set in 1977, should have been set in 1937.By the time this book was written, Agatha Christie had written ten Miss Marple books and the Avenger's Mrs. Peel had been a spy for eight years.Cordelia Gray's character is so much out of the thirties, and the 'young' people she meets seem to be part of the 'lost generation' from between the wars.

James' late 1970s London, seems never to have heard of the 1960s or The Beatles or Carnaby Street, etc.I'm not english, but, as an example, how many young people in 1977 went 'punting' on the Thames around Cambridge.You would think that it was something for 'old' people to do.And the french woman, Isabel, is something out of the 1920s, with her rich Papa back home lending her money and the occasional Renoir (as small one!) to hang in her rooms.

The story itself is interesting, a sort of locked room suicide that turns out to be a homicide.She even gets in a few digs at Dalgleish (she had written five of his novels by then) and what a 'fuss pot' he was for details.But the book just hasn't aged well like Christie, and seems to be done by a 'hack'.Too bad. ... Read more

16. Three complete novels P.D. James: Murder in Triplicate
by P.D. James
Hardcover: 683 Pages (1992-04-08)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0517072289
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Product Description
The incomparable, bestselling mystery writer P.D. James displays her brilliant English detective skills in a triple-scoop of murder novels written in the grand tradition and featuring the dashing detective Adam Dalgliesh: Unnatural Causes, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, and The Black Tower. Reissued edition. 6 x 9. ... Read more

17. The Lighthouse (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #13)
by P. D. James
Paperback: 400 Pages (2006-10-10)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307275736
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A secure and secluded retreat for the rich and powerful becomes the setting for an unsettling series of murders.

Combe Island off the Cornish coast is a restful haven for the elite. But when one of its distinguished visitors is found hanging from the island’s famous lighthouse in what appears to have been a murder, the peace is shattered. Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called in to handle the sensitive case, but at a difficult time for him and his depleted team. He is uncertain about his future with his girlfriend Emma Lavenham; his principle detective Kate Miskin is going through an emotional crisis; and the ambitious Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith is not happy about having a female boss. After a second brutal killing, the whole investigation is jeopardized, and Dalgliesh is faced with a danger even more insidious than murder. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (104)

5-0 out of 5 stars Review of The Island
I received the audio cassettes for this book and I have really enjoyed it.I like the plot, descriptions of the locale and the reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Read
There are 102 reviews of this book which detail the plot, so I don't feel it is necessary to repeat it.

I have been reading P.D. James since her first book, "Unsuitable Job for a Woman", was published back in the '70's.Unlike writers such as Elizabeth George, P.D. James has stood the test of time. There isn't a P.D. James book I wouldn't recommend and I certainly recommend this as a must have for collectors.

4-0 out of 5 stars LIGHT HOUSE

5-0 out of 5 stars The Lighthouse
I have not read this one yet, but I have never read a P.D. James/Adam Dagliesh that I did not thoroughly enjoy.So I am quite confident I will also love this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars `Whatever is not forbidden is allowable.'
In this novel, Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve the murder of a distinguished visitor on the privately owned Combe Island, which is situated off the coast of Cornwall.Dalgliesh and his team, Kate Miskin and Francis Benton-Smith have some individual concerns of their own which add to the challenges posed by the murder.

It quickly becomes clear that a number of residents on the island dislike the murdered man and a number of them could be considered to have motives for murder.The team has barely begun to unravel these complicated motives when a second murder occurs.I found this novel very enjoyable, and it took me a little while to work through all of the red herrings to ascertain who the murderer really was.The characters are well drawn and it is easy to picture some of the tensions between the individuals because of the complexity of their shared history.

I am reading the Adam Dalglieshmysteries out of order.This is a shame because it means that I have not yet acquired a complete picture of Adam Dalgliesh.However, it does not in any way diminish my enjoyment of the individual novels.I recommend these novels to all readers who enjoy well written mysteries.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
... Read more

18. Innocent Blood
by P. D. James
Paperback: 400 Pages (2001-07-31)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$2.31
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743219635
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Adopted as a child into a privileged family, Philippa Palfrey fantasizes that she is the daughter of an aristocrat and a parlor maid. The terrifying truth about her parents and a long-ago murder is only the first in a series of shocking betrayals. Philippa quickly learns that those who delve into the secrets of the past must be on guard when long-buried horrors begin to stir.

"As a crime novel," wrote the London Times, Innocent Blood is "the peak of the art." "Flawlessly crafted...profoundly, masterfully moving," Cosmopolitan concurred. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

4-0 out of 5 stars Strangely moving
First of all, in case anyone is unclear: this isn't a mystery. I was surprised about that, just because I didn't do my research and assumed that any book written by PD James and entitled "Innocent Blood" would be a whodunit. This book does involve crime, but no search for the killer. It's also lacking in the sort of forensic science-specific details that are usual for James. And it's set in London, not in some cold, windswept hamlet or isolated island! A very unusual novel for James in some respects.

I think of James as "entertainment reading", not serious reading, and this book likewise does not qualify as great literature. But, that said, I found it moving, with more emotional depth than most of her books. She's always had a gift for offering little wrenching details, inviting you to reflect a little on the tragically pathetic aspects of the human condition. In her mysteries, though, she sprinkles these fairly lightly (as befits a mystery, which really *should* be the sort of thing you can forget fairly quickly after you've read it.) Here she gives a much heavier dose. It makes for rather a lovely novel, though you shouldn't read it for a pick-me-up.

Many people have complained that they didn't like the characters in the novel. Actually, I thought that was one of the good things about it; while James obviously makes a point of filling the book with unlikable people (and tells you explicitly just how unlikable they are), she brought me to feel compassion for them. Unlike some readers here, I did care what happened. Usually her books are set in physically desolate places; this book is set in emotional barrenness, and yet ultimately finds a place for love in a loveless world. The ending was in some respects disappointing, but on the whole I was happily surprised by this little book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Wrong choice
In all innocence and as a lover of P.D. James' works, I purchased "Innocent House,"and was astonished when I received a thin paperback.I was even more astonished to learn that this paperback was simply an EXCERPT from a novel and not the novel itself.True, I did not pay much for it, but I would not have bothered to waste even that sum and time if I had known what "Innocent House" really was.I had already read the original novel, but even if I hadn't I don't know what that excerpt would have accomplished.

The seller should have alerted buyers to what s/he was offering.

4-0 out of 5 stars But that was in another country
The phrase "ferocious intelligence" always occurs to me when I read (or in this case, listen to) a PD James novel. Ms. James' intelligence, her eye for detail, and her ability to surprise are always present in her novels. But this book is quite unlike any of her detective stories that I've read, and what strikes me most about it is how unlikable all the characters are. The characters are either murderers, would-be murderers, or the merely self-absorbed and heartless. The only feeling characters are portrayed as stupid or ugly or both. On some level, I admired the author's choice to write a novel that leaves the reader with no one or nothing to root for, but that admiration didn't make me like the story any better. It was absorbing and, well, ferociously intelligent, but not my favorite by Ms. James by a long shot.

4-0 out of 5 stars Innocent Blood
The story is very good and extremely well written as is the case with P. D. James.The complaint I have is that it is listed as an Adam Dalgliesh mystery and it is not.A. Dalgliesh is not in the story at all.

4-0 out of 5 stars A failure of love
Written in 1980, Innocent Blood is the first of P.D. James's few stand alone novels. No detectives here, and more secrets than mysteries. Philippa Palfrey is the spoiled adopted child of a wealthy, emotionally barren couple. Although she was eight years old at the time she was taken in, Philippa retains only hazy impressions from her early childhood, and now determines to meet her birth mother, Mary Ducton, whom she believed was dead. But she doesn't let the truth, when she discovers it, to hamper her in her quest to find answers to"who I am," not even upon learning that her mother murdered a child and is about to be paroled. Philippa sets up housekeeping with Mary, ignorant of the fact that her mother is being stalked by the father of the murdered child, who intends to commit a revenge killing.

The story bounces between these two plots, which are deftly designed and written with James's usual skill and elegance. It is the characters that propel this novel out of the crime genre and into the realm of literary fiction. Philippa has more than her share of the arrogance and self involvement that define late adolescence, which makes her less sympathetic than expected. Mary Ducton is much a victim of her own emotions, and adoptive mother Hilda is well meaning but ineffectual.Philippa's birth father, a rapist, is dead, and her adoptive father Maurice is a sociologist, very supercilious for a man who had to acquire his status by marrying money, and coolly amoral to boot. The prospective murderer, James Scase, has been paralyzed since losing his daughter, and now becomes a most wily and cold-blooded stalker.

None of the characters, including the minor ones, is particularly appealing, yet such is the power of the writing that the reader is compelled to keep turning the pages. There is a most definite denoument to this novel, for the reader. The characters, however, still have much to learn. ... Read more

19. Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #11)
by P. D. James
Paperback: 448 Pages (2007-01-09)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812977238
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From the award-winning master of literary crime fiction, a classic work rich in tense drama and psychological insight.

On the East Anglian seacoast, a small theological college hangs precariously on an eroding shoreline and an equally precarious future. When the body of a student is found buried in the sand, the boy’s influential father demands that Scotland Yard investigate. Enter Adam Dalgliesh, a detective who loves poetry, a man who has known loss and discovery. The son of a parson, and having spent many happy boyhood summers at the school, Dalgliesh is the perfect candidate to look for the truth in this remote, rarified community of the faithful–and the frightened. And when one death leads to another, Dalgliesh finds himself steeped in a world of good and evil, of stifled passions and hidden pasts, where someone has cause not just to commit one crime but to begin an unholy order of murder. . . .

“Gracefully sculpted prose and [a] superbly executed mystery . . . Death in Holy Orders is among [James’s] most remarkable and accomplished Dalgliesh novels.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

“An elegant work about hope, death, and the alternately redemptive and destructive nature of love.”
The Miami Herald

“Absorbing . . . [James’s] plotting and characterization [are] impeccable.”
Orlando Sentinel

“P. D. James is in top form.”
The Boston Globe

Open the exclusive dossier at the back of this book, featuring P. D. James’ essay on penning the perfect detective novel.Amazon.com Review
Despite challenges from Ruth Rendell and (more recently) Minette Walters, P.D. James's position as Britain's Queen of Crime remains largelyunassailable. Although a certain reaction has set in to her reputation (and there are those who claim her poetry-loving copper Adam Dalgliesh doesn't correspond to any of his counterparts in the real world), her detractors can scarcely deny her astonishing literary gifts. More than any other writer, she has elevated the detective story into the realms of literature, with thepsychology of the characters treated in the most complex and authoritativefashion. Her plots, too, are full of intriguing detail and studed withbrilliantly observed character studies. Who cares if Dalgliesh belongs morein the pages of a book than poking around a graffiti-scrawled councilestate? As a policeman, he is considerably more plausible than Doyle'sHolmes, and that's never stopped us loving the Baker Street sleuth.Death in Holy Orders represents something of a challenge from Jamesto her critics, taking on all the contentious elements and rigorouslyreinvigorating them. She had admitted that she was finding it increasinglydifficult to find new plots for Dalgliesh, and the locale here (atheological college on a lonely stretch of the East Anglian coast) turnsout to be an inspired choice. We're presented with the enclosed setting sobeloved of golden age detective writers, and James is able to incorporateher theological interests seamlessly into the plot (but never in anydoctrinaire way; the nonbeliever is never uncomfortable). The body of astudent at the college is found on the shore, suffocated by a fall of sand.Dalgliesh is called upon to reexamine the verdict of accidental death(which the student's father would not accept). Having visited the Collegeof St. Anselm in his boyhood, he finds the investigation has a strongnostalgic aspect for him. But that is soon overtaken by the realizationthat he has encountered the most horrific case of his career, and anothervisitor to the college dies a horrible death. As an exploration ofevil--and as a piece of highly distinctive crime writing--this is James ather nonpareil best. Dalgliesh, too, is rendered with new dimensions ofpsychological complexity. --Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

Customer Reviews (130)

5-0 out of 5 stars Can't be Topped
P.D. James is one of the best writers living on the planet.This book truly lives up to her reputation. The plotting is tight, the characters drawn out.I have been a fan of hers for years and will continue to enjoy her work long after she retires.Although part of a continuing series, it stands on its own and can be read separately.I highly recommend this one.

2-0 out of 5 stars PDJ at her worst-not an inspired plot
I love P D James normally and love her descriptive writing, but this plot was ridiculous. The murderer turns out to be a character with no real motive for the crime-actually none of the characters have much of a motive for the crime. Oh well...bad day for PDJ. Book held my attention, but mostly from the descriptions of the places and characters and the hope of a clever ending which unfortunately never materialized.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Dalgliesh Mystery
Having read nearly every P.D. James novel - and many of them more than once, I continue to come back to this as my favourite by far of all her books. Adam Dalgleish as a character shows more sensitivity here than in any of her other works -- partly because of the introduction of love interest Emma Levanham. The plot is well written, the characters complex, and the setting marvelous. Reading a P.D. James book to me is like reading Rosamunde Pilcher - only with murder, macabre and mystery. Her descriptions carry so much detail, you can feel the sea spray on your face, smell the earth and sense the cold clamminess of stone walls and floors. No other writer comes close to creating a world of reality within her books. The fact that not all her murderers gets caught shouldn't bother her readers -- because James' books are as much about the chase as they are about the solution of the crime.

Like Winter Solstice is an annual Christmas read for me -- so is Death in Holy Orders during a holiday at the seaside. Sand, salt water and P.D. James -- it doesn't get much better that that for me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and Well-Written
I'd never heard of P.D. James before, but this "book on tape" was really cheap at the book exchange so I decided to give it a listen. Charles Keating was a pleasure to listen to. P.D. James weaves an extremely intriguing mystery and creates very interesting characters. Her descriptions are so vivid I could almost see, smell and hear everything her characters experienced. Her main character, detective Adam Dalgliesh, is very likable. I will certainly be checking out more of P.D. James' work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Death in Holy Orders
This is another re-read for me.Fortunately, it's been a long time since I read it the first time so I really don't remember "whodunit".Half the fun of a mystery is trying to figure it out before getting to the end. ... Read more

20. PD James In Murderous Company
by P.D. James
 Hardcover: 683 Pages (1988-11-30)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$7.86
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0517659948
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