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Commander Dalgliesh is recuperating from a life-threatening illness when he receives a call for advice from an elderly friend who works as a chaplain in a home for the disabled on the Dorset coast. Dalgliesh arrives to discover that Father Baddeley has recently and mysteriously died, as has one of the patients at Toynton Grange. Evidently the home is not quite the caring c Commander Dalgliesh is recuperating from a life-threatening illness when he receives a call for advice from an elderly friend who works as a chaplain in a home for the disabled on the Dorset coast. Dalgliesh arrives to discover that Father Baddeley has recently and mysteriously died, as has one of the patients at Toynton Grange. Evidently the home is not quite the caring community it purports to be. Dalgliesh is determined to discover the truth of his friend's death, but further fatalities follow and his own life is in danger as he unmasks the evil at the heart of Toynton Grange.


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Commander Dalgliesh is recuperating from a life-threatening illness when he receives a call for advice from an elderly friend who works as a chaplain in a home for the disabled on the Dorset coast. Dalgliesh arrives to discover that Father Baddeley has recently and mysteriously died, as has one of the patients at Toynton Grange. Evidently the home is not quite the caring c Commander Dalgliesh is recuperating from a life-threatening illness when he receives a call for advice from an elderly friend who works as a chaplain in a home for the disabled on the Dorset coast. Dalgliesh arrives to discover that Father Baddeley has recently and mysteriously died, as has one of the patients at Toynton Grange. Evidently the home is not quite the caring community it purports to be. Dalgliesh is determined to discover the truth of his friend's death, but further fatalities follow and his own life is in danger as he unmasks the evil at the heart of Toynton Grange.

30 review for The Black Tower

  1. 4 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    The first book of my 2019 P.D. James read-a-thon is done. I saw the film adaptation years ago, so it was playing along in my head as I was reading the story. So it made the book even more enjoyable. I forgot what happened in the ending, so I had a delightful surprise with the ending. Now onto the next one.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katharine

    Continuing my investigation of a new author for me, I got a couple more PD James novels at the library. I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that James is not worth reading when she tries to be deep and thought-provoking and to elucidate Serious Themes. Because she just comes across as ponderous, self-important, and well, boring. The Black Tower is an okay mystery, I guess, but I had a really hard time getting into the story and as it progressed I wasn't particularly entertained. The writ Continuing my investigation of a new author for me, I got a couple more PD James novels at the library. I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that James is not worth reading when she tries to be deep and thought-provoking and to elucidate Serious Themes. Because she just comes across as ponderous, self-important, and well, boring. The Black Tower is an okay mystery, I guess, but I had a really hard time getting into the story and as it progressed I wasn't particularly entertained. The writing is fair but James seems to be better at quick-sketch characterization than intensive studies. I don't find Dalgleish to be a very convincing detective hero, and none of the other characters were terribly sympathetic. Her style can work, as in the first James I read, if she has at least one sympathetic character and the rest are interesting if not likable. But it didn't work in this case. And what struck me as a minor flaw in the first novel I read, her obsessively detailed scene descriptions, are by now becoming irritatingly forced. I think I need to give James a break and maybe read one now and then when I'm in the mood. It all comes down to the fact that I prefer my mysteries to be entertaining, light, escapist reading, and James just isn't fitting the bill.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Piyangie

    This is the longest winding murder-mystery I've ever read. The story is based on a good plot, no doubt; but for the readers to comprehend this, they have to wait till the very end. The problem with this particular installment, I believe lies in the execution of the plot. The too detailed descriptive trend that the author uses on scenes, the thoughts and actions of suspects, and even of Dalgliesh makes the main murder-mystery stray from its course. In this particular installment, two men includin This is the longest winding murder-mystery I've ever read. The story is based on a good plot, no doubt; but for the readers to comprehend this, they have to wait till the very end. The problem with this particular installment, I believe lies in the execution of the plot. The too detailed descriptive trend that the author uses on scenes, the thoughts and actions of suspects, and even of Dalgliesh makes the main murder-mystery stray from its course. In this particular installment, two men including a reverend father are dead, and a couple of deaths take place during the course, but all I read was the descriptions of events, scenes, suspects' minds and actions, and Adam Dalgliesh's disinterestedness. It was one long tedious reading. This was not an official case for Commander Adam Dalgliesh. He arrives at the scene (which is a sort of institution for the patients with disabling diseases) by an invitation of the reverend father attached to the place and finds him dead and buried. It is only Dalgliesh's hunch that something was amiss. But Dalgliesh, being convalescent, is at a point of indecision as to continue his work with the police force or not. His indecision makes him reluctant to involve himself and he proceeds with his hunch only in disinterested curiosity. This isn't a flaw of course, but I prefer Dalgliesh in his official capacity when his authority and force of character come out to his advantage. The story wasn't interesting. There is no suspense, none at all, except in the final two chapters. But even then it was a feeble attempt at that, for the ending was predictable. The setting is becoming repetitive. This is the third time in five books that the author took us into a medical institution. The characters were intolerable and I dislike the whole set of them. Of Adam Dalgliesh, I didn't like the particular character portrayal of his in this installment. After five books, I'm still not drawn into this series. But for some reason, I don't feel like quitting yet.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I had an extremely hard time falling into this work, and I struggled initially to continue reading it. The story eventually lured me in at the halfway point and made sticking with it worthwhile. I’m on to the next in this series and I am hopeful that it will be more to my liking.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is the fifth in the Adam Dalgliesh series and sees him needing to recuperate, after a stay in hospital, which has led him to question his career in the police. Having received a message from the old curate, of his father’s, asking him to visit, he decides to take him up on his offer and heads off to Toyton Grange, a home for the disabled. He is not sure why Father Baddeley wanted to see him, but, by the time he arrives, the old family friend is already dead. Before long, and despite his att This is the fifth in the Adam Dalgliesh series and sees him needing to recuperate, after a stay in hospital, which has led him to question his career in the police. Having received a message from the old curate, of his father’s, asking him to visit, he decides to take him up on his offer and heads off to Toyton Grange, a home for the disabled. He is not sure why Father Baddeley wanted to see him, but, by the time he arrives, the old family friend is already dead. Before long, and despite his attempts not to get involved, Dalgliesh is questioning events at the Grange. Who wrote the poison pen letter that Dalgliesh finds among Father Baddeley’s papers? Was the recent death of one of the patients an accident, or is there something to investigate? Obviously, the detective in Dalgliesh still lurks and, before long, he is asking questions and uncovering more strange events, among the assorted group of people who live, and work, at the home. Meanwhile, the Black Tower, on the grounds, looms over the countryside; used mainly by the warden, and owner, Wilfred, who opened Toyton Grange after experiencing a personal cure, which he sees as a miracle. Author P.D. James spent much of her life working in the health service and many of her books have a setting revolving around doctors, nurses, hospitals or clinics. Dalgliesh, disenchanted by his career, also finds himself vaguely uncomfortable around the inhabitants of the home. This is a personal trait which has occurred in previous books and, although it may be realistic, it is quite uncomfortable for the reader. It makes the dour detective seem both cold and judgemental. His distaste of the odours, his discomfort around the patients, his analytical nature, all tend to make you aware of the faults of the man. The fact he is also aware of them, is cold comfort at times. Overall, this is not my favourite of the Dalgliesh mysteries so far. I do not mind when such books are slow, and winding. However, these are not, frankly, a cast of characters which excite much interest, despite the schemes and plotting beneath the surface, and the plot takes too long to conclude. It has something of the feeling of a waiting room, where you always have the sense that something might happen, but that, probably, you are in for the long haul… I look forward to reading on, despite my difficulties with this novel. I loved the previous book in the series – I hope I will love the next as much. Rated 3.5.

  6. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    The best I've read by James yet. Not sure if James or Inspector Dalgliesh are growing on me. Both are acquired tastes I'm convinced of that. The fact that James is a subtle writer and Adam is a not very charming sleuth don't really explain anything...or do they? In this story, we catch a few more glimpses into the mysterious character of our detective. I find myself liking Adam in spite of himself, or is it because I feel sorry for him? He's brilliant, cold, aloof, calculating and a born investi The best I've read by James yet. Not sure if James or Inspector Dalgliesh are growing on me. Both are acquired tastes I'm convinced of that. The fact that James is a subtle writer and Adam is a not very charming sleuth don't really explain anything...or do they? In this story, we catch a few more glimpses into the mysterious character of our detective. I find myself liking Adam in spite of himself, or is it because I feel sorry for him? He's brilliant, cold, aloof, calculating and a born investigator, but a rather sorry human being. He solves his crimes but he doesn't always come out on top like Poirot or other serial detectives, which makes him and the stories more interesting.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Counterintuitively, I enjoyed this more as a novel than as 'crime fiction'. In terms of the latter, it's another story, like Unnatural Causes, where Dalgleish is off-duty. It's not even clear what needs investigating till way past the halfway mark. James suddenly seems to wake up and crams a whole lot of crime-y stuff into the final chapter including the Detective's Burst of Intuition, the Cornered Killer Climax, the Jeopardy on a Clifftop, and the Last Minute Rescue! But before we're recalled to Counterintuitively, I enjoyed this more as a novel than as 'crime fiction'. In terms of the latter, it's another story, like Unnatural Causes, where Dalgleish is off-duty. It's not even clear what needs investigating till way past the halfway mark. James suddenly seems to wake up and crams a whole lot of crime-y stuff into the final chapter including the Detective's Burst of Intuition, the Cornered Killer Climax, the Jeopardy on a Clifftop, and the Last Minute Rescue! But before we're recalled to the crime tropes, there is much to enjoy in the weird setting (those monks' habits!), and, especially, the characterisation. After the way James trashed a disabled character in Unnatural Causes I was wary, but here she conveys a sense of the horror of a degenerative neurological disease like MS and gives her characters the dignities of rounded personalities. I don't think I'm ever going to warm to chilly, cerebral Dalgleish, but this story has more depth than we might typically see in this style of crime fiction.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John

    I enjoyed this outing with Commander Dalgliesh. Recovering from an illness he goes to visit an elderly friend in Dorset at Toynton Grange a private institution that looks after disabled people. On arrival he finds his friend Father Baddeley has died. The Commander stays on in his cottage to sort out some books that were left to him in the will. Mysterious deaths occur and Wilfred the owner and manager is reluctant to involve the police. Julius an owner of a cottage on the grounds keeps popping u I enjoyed this outing with Commander Dalgliesh. Recovering from an illness he goes to visit an elderly friend in Dorset at Toynton Grange a private institution that looks after disabled people. On arrival he finds his friend Father Baddeley has died. The Commander stays on in his cottage to sort out some books that were left to him in the will. Mysterious deaths occur and Wilfred the owner and manager is reluctant to involve the police. Julius an owner of a cottage on the grounds keeps popping up when something happens. Is he the murderer or is it one of the many able bodied suspects. Dr Eric, Helen or Millicent. I like the detailed descriptions of the landscape and the flawed characters. The setting on a windswept headland close to the sea with a Black Tower that may be haunted all add to the atmosphere.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julie Durnell

    3.5 stars for the wonderful writing and intricate plotting, but oh my there are so many characters!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    P.D. James and I have a history. It's fraught with frequent absences and long periods of silence. Then I get it into my head that I need to reacquaint myself with one of the grande dames of mystery. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. The Black Tower is one of my unsuccessful outings with James. Commander Adam Dalgliesh receives a letter from a priest who was a family friend. Father Baddley requests that Dalgliesh visit him to provide professional advice. As Dalgliesh is recovering from a P.D. James and I have a history. It's fraught with frequent absences and long periods of silence. Then I get it into my head that I need to reacquaint myself with one of the grande dames of mystery. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. The Black Tower is one of my unsuccessful outings with James. Commander Adam Dalgliesh receives a letter from a priest who was a family friend. Father Baddley requests that Dalgliesh visit him to provide professional advice. As Dalgliesh is recovering from an illness, he sees it as an opportunity to convalesce in the countryside. Upon arrival, he finds that the priest has passed due to heart failure. Father Baddley has been the religious adviser to a home for disabled people; his cottage is located on their property. Dalgliesh finds himself drawn into the community and soon it appears something is amiss. However, it took about 300 pages for the book to get interesting. It's a 2.5 for me rounded up to a 3 because there is no question James can write. The path to the big reveal was just a little ponderous for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I don't understand how anyone can like this book. Take the spitefulness of Melrose Place, add the sex appeal of Confederacy of Dunces, and sprinkle on the inanity of a Jane Austen heroine (none of it in a good way) and you've got The Black Tower. Who would ever do any of the things that the characters do in this book? And they do boring things, by the way, nonsensically boring - the worst kind of boring. Let's eat together every night in silence except for we'll take turns reading boring stuff a I don't understand how anyone can like this book. Take the spitefulness of Melrose Place, add the sex appeal of Confederacy of Dunces, and sprinkle on the inanity of a Jane Austen heroine (none of it in a good way) and you've got The Black Tower. Who would ever do any of the things that the characters do in this book? And they do boring things, by the way, nonsensically boring - the worst kind of boring. Let's eat together every night in silence except for we'll take turns reading boring stuff aloud. Tonight is my turn, I'll read the phone book while you slouch in your wheelchair and masticate your food. Since half the potential suspects are in wheelchairs, the inspector has to keep the reader guessing by constantly speculating that this or that criminal act could not have been committed by a resident in a wheelchair EXCEPT if they had an accomplice - ooooh! The worst is at the climax... (spoiler alert) At the exact moment that the inspector finally figures out what is going on - not by good sleuthing but by having everything suddenly occur to him, it turns out that the bad guy has simultaneously figured out that he figured it out and disconnects the phone lines. The climatic confrontation is almost laughable. When the good guy tries to make the phone call, the bad guy pops out and with no other preamble, asks 'How did you know it was me?' It was like the start of a Laurel and Hardy routine: Um, how did you know that I know that it was you?? except it wasn't supposed to be funny. The writing was fine, but the characters, the narrative, the action - not so great.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew L.

    Hoo boy. This book is the definition of the word slow. It is a convalescence book about a character to whom I had little to no connection. I wonder if I would have felt differently if I had read any other books starring Adam Dalgliesh, but I didn't and I found the references to the case he was recovering from kind of irritating. Like an in-joke to which I wasn't privy. I loved the sense of the solitude and reduced speed of Dorset, but it took too long to get to the action and I had very little att Hoo boy. This book is the definition of the word slow. It is a convalescence book about a character to whom I had little to no connection. I wonder if I would have felt differently if I had read any other books starring Adam Dalgliesh, but I didn't and I found the references to the case he was recovering from kind of irritating. Like an in-joke to which I wasn't privy. I loved the sense of the solitude and reduced speed of Dorset, but it took too long to get to the action and I had very little attachment to the story. I also found the characters generally confusing and not terribly well fleshed out. The last 80 or so pages picked up, but it took me a long time to get through this mere 350 page novel. I'd not recommend it, unless you like lurid descriptions of flowers and stories viewed through a mist. I'm inclined to try another of her books as I feel I may have just picked up the wrong one for starters and I'd give it a star and a half. The writing isn't bad, but when I feel like I'm slogging through a book I'm reading for pleasure, there is something amiss. Beh.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    The book opens with Dalgliesh in the hospital, learning that he isn't going to die. But he has had mononucleosis and needs to convalesce. From the beginning, and throughout the novel, Dalgliesh wonders whether he really wants to continue as a policeman. Since there are 9 more installments in the series, it's not a mental leap to know his decision. But while in the hospital he had a letter from his father's curate of 30 years ago asking to see him, professionally, and so Dalgliesh takes himself t The book opens with Dalgliesh in the hospital, learning that he isn't going to die. But he has had mononucleosis and needs to convalesce. From the beginning, and throughout the novel, Dalgliesh wonders whether he really wants to continue as a policeman. Since there are 9 more installments in the series, it's not a mental leap to know his decision. But while in the hospital he had a letter from his father's curate of 30 years ago asking to see him, professionally, and so Dalgliesh takes himself to the Dorset coast. I think I prefer the detectives to stay on the job and not operate off duty. This is the second in the series where Dalgliesh has been on scene unofficially. Further, it takes a very long time in this one for us to know with certainty whether previous deaths are murders or from natural causes, as was assumed at the time. As this is a murder/crime novel, it's easy for the reader to jump to conclusions, but I sort of like things a bit more obvious. There is enough guess and conjecture in these things anyway. In this, there are a *lot* of named characters. The setting is a home for the disabled - all wheelchair bound. Although that population is small, each is named and with a backstory. There is also the small staff. For nearly the first half of the book I had a hard time remembering which were able-bodied and which were not. As we are purportedly talking about a murderer, knowing which was which was pertinent. This is my least favorite of the series so far. If I weren't reading with a group, and planning to read one a month for the rest of the year, I might throw my hands up and move on. But I like the prose, and despite complaining about too many characters, James does a better job of characterization than I find usual for the genre. I will persevere, but this was a not-very-good 3-stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Romi || Romi Reads

    I remember watching the TV series adaptation of this book when I was younger and I found it quite ... mysterious and dark. It wasn't like any other detective series I'd seen and it stuck with me ever since. I took some of the mysterious feelings with me when I started reading The Black Tower and soon I discovered that it also read differently from any other murder mysteries I've read so far. P.D. James goes deeper than, for instance, Agatha Christie does: Dalgliesh is much more of a round charac I remember watching the TV series adaptation of this book when I was younger and I found it quite ... mysterious and dark. It wasn't like any other detective series I'd seen and it stuck with me ever since. I took some of the mysterious feelings with me when I started reading The Black Tower and soon I discovered that it also read differently from any other murder mysteries I've read so far. P.D. James goes deeper than, for instance, Agatha Christie does: Dalgliesh is much more of a round character than Poirot. The Black Tower starts off with a lot of descriptions of Dalgliesh's thoughts and these descriptions stay throughout the whole book. I really liked this! The solution to the mystery wasn't that original, though, and I soon knew who the killer was. It just couldn't have been anyone else, really! This is now the fourth murder mystery by P.D. James, with Dalgliesh as the main character, I've read, but The Black Tower stood out more than the other three. However, I think that's mainly because of the nostalgic feelings, of watching the adaptation, I link to it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Divya

    I picked up this book hoping to find another murder-mystery author I could enjoy as much as I do Christie. This book takes place in a nursing home for the invalid. Where people are killed off one after the other is what seem like accidents. Inspector Dalgliesh slowly tries to pu pieces together and get to the bottom of the killings. The plot is tedious. The narrative creaks and groans and whimpers and almost left me in a stupor. And having reached the end of the book I'm surprised I made it till t I picked up this book hoping to find another murder-mystery author I could enjoy as much as I do Christie. This book takes place in a nursing home for the invalid. Where people are killed off one after the other is what seem like accidents. Inspector Dalgliesh slowly tries to pu pieces together and get to the bottom of the killings. The plot is tedious. The narrative creaks and groans and whimpers and almost left me in a stupor. And having reached the end of the book I'm surprised I made it till the last page. I was thinking of trying another of her books - a more popular one - and then I read this article : where she thinks of Christie as "such a bad writer" : "http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian..." I don't think I'd enjoy P.D. James - her sensibilities about what makes a good murder-mystery are obviously starkly different from mine.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    I've lost track of how many P.D. James mysteries are set at medical facilities, but it's getting ridiculous. This one is pretty tedious up until the last 30 pages or so. We have a bunch of convalescents, some seriously ill or dying, in wheelchairs (this makes pushing them off cliffs easier). Commander Dalgliesh, himself convalescing from mono that the doctors at first thought was leukemia, serendipitously ends up among them, as they begin to die, apparently from suicide or natural causes. It tak I've lost track of how many P.D. James mysteries are set at medical facilities, but it's getting ridiculous. This one is pretty tedious up until the last 30 pages or so. We have a bunch of convalescents, some seriously ill or dying, in wheelchairs (this makes pushing them off cliffs easier). Commander Dalgliesh, himself convalescing from mono that the doctors at first thought was leukemia, serendipitously ends up among them, as they begin to die, apparently from suicide or natural causes. It takes Dalgliesh 253 pages to figure out that there is something more sinister going on - and since he has decided to quit the police force, he keeps pretending he isn't going to get involved anyway. Tiresome! Honestly, the most interesting part was when Dalgliesh was sorting through an old pile of books.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE AND HER PEERS BOOK 63 - 1975 Please, is this to be the P.D.James book that explains her popularity to me? CAST - 2 stars: Big problem here. The voice of the author is right up front, on the first page. She hasn't introduced a character yet, but writes about medical students: "... with their long hair and short white coats, they looked like a gaggle of slightly disreputable bridesmaids..." Darn those Beatle- inspired haircuts from 1965 infecting a 1975 crop of doctors! Then the DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE AND HER PEERS BOOK 63 - 1975 Please, is this to be the P.D.James book that explains her popularity to me? CAST - 2 stars: Big problem here. The voice of the author is right up front, on the first page. She hasn't introduced a character yet, but writes about medical students: "... with their long hair and short white coats, they looked like a gaggle of slightly disreputable bridesmaids..." Darn those Beatle- inspired haircuts from 1965 infecting a 1975 crop of doctors! Then the author writes that one character has an "unfortunate predilection for little girls." But wait, what's even worse? Adam Dalgiesh says (to a handicapped gay young man who has just lost his one great love): "He [a separate character outside the gay relationship] might have made himself useful instead of behaving like a hysterical queer." So, in James' universe, a pedophile is "unfortunate" but being gay is the worst thing ever. OK, Boomer! 1 star for the cast, plus another star for the best 2 characters in the book: Father Micheal Baddelay and Victor Holroyd, both dead when the book opens but both drive the rest of the story. ATMOSPHERE - 1 star: This kind of nursing home/orphanage/home to the misfits of the world may have worked nicely at first, maybe in the early 1900's when the first full-length murder mysteries hit the shelves. By 1975 this is a worn trope, and rather hilarious at times. This big old house is by the sea, and the doctors and nurses favorite place to park their patients is half-way down a slope to the sea. Yea, James likes to kill off her handicapped patients this way, and often. Fun times for James I guess. There is the ominous Black Tower, true, all tall and dark and strong...and just like I like 'em. Problem is, the Black Tower has nothing at all to do with the story, but does make for a good cover. CRIME - 1 star: Basically, people in wheelchairs wind up down on the rocks by the sea. Fun times, right? INVESTIGATION - 1 star: You'll know the villain early, way before Adam even has a clue. (Hint: it's the one person who has no reason to be in this story at all.) SOLUTION - 1 star: Like I say, you'll know the 'who' early. But as to the 'why', the one thing you MUST know, just one single word, pops up on page 316 of 346. 300 pages and not a single clue as to what's really going on. Back in the day, people were hung for less offenses than this author commits. SUMMARY: 1.2 stars. No, I still don't get James' popularity. This homophobic, hateful, hold-the-BIG-CLUE for 316 pages, kill-off-handicapped-people, queers-are-worse-than-pedophiles is a seriously bad novel, stupendously outdated. P.D.James proves again she isn't a writer for me. But this novel won a Silver Dagger Award: I can only assume for very, very bad taste.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This is possibly one of James's most introspective and well-handled mysteries. Recovering from a severe illness and newly aware of his mortality, Adam Dalgliesh makes the decision to leave the police force. Before returning to tender his resignation, however, he decides to visit an old friend who has written him alluding to a need for advice. Father Michael is the chaplain at Toynton Grange, a home for the "young disabled" in Dorset, and it seems like as good a place as any to convalesce. When D This is possibly one of James's most introspective and well-handled mysteries. Recovering from a severe illness and newly aware of his mortality, Adam Dalgliesh makes the decision to leave the police force. Before returning to tender his resignation, however, he decides to visit an old friend who has written him alluding to a need for advice. Father Michael is the chaplain at Toynton Grange, a home for the "young disabled" in Dorset, and it seems like as good a place as any to convalesce. When Dalgliesh arrives, however, he finds a morass of a mystery. This mystery shares a lot of characteristics with James's later Death in Holy Orders; both are excellent, but I'd recommend not reading them in quick succession, as I found the similarities somewhat distracting.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Rather disappointing. I picked this book up at a book sale for a song, mostly because the cover advertised the book as "Agatha Christie's Crown Princess" and being a Christie fan I thought I'd try it out. The story was long, boring, and the mystery easy to figure out. Very few of the characters had any appeal to me and quite honestly, I skipped parts just to get through to the end. Sorry to say, I don't think I'll try any more of PD James's books.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kyrie

    Dalgliesh is recovering from a serious illness and gets a letter from an old family friend who's working at a home for the disabled? Permanently ill? Not sure exactly what to call the place - it's not a nursing home for the elderly, but it's definitely a care place. Anyhow, the writing was difficult for me. It was like being ill along with Dalgliesh and not being able to quite grasp things or wondering if I had a fever again or what. I don't usually care for the list of characters at the beginning Dalgliesh is recovering from a serious illness and gets a letter from an old family friend who's working at a home for the disabled? Permanently ill? Not sure exactly what to call the place - it's not a nursing home for the elderly, but it's definitely a care place. Anyhow, the writing was difficult for me. It was like being ill along with Dalgliesh and not being able to quite grasp things or wondering if I had a fever again or what. I don't usually care for the list of characters at the beginning of a book. In this one, it would have been helpful, as there were a lot of recurring people and they sometimes called people by their first name, sometimes their last, and I often wasn't sure just who we were discussing. They were never distinct to me. Which one was a nurse, which one an aide? Which of the older men were we discussing? Which of the police? Which of the people who died before the tale began? It sorted itself out in the end, but I was frustrated throughout and not really certain it was worth the effort to figure it out. If the intent was to make the reader feel as Dalgliesh felt,then it was a rousing success.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jan C

    Maybe ★★★ 1\2. Adam Dalgliesh learns a little something about false diagnoses. Then he goes to visit a friend who apparently died just before he arrives. The friend was working as a counselor/priest at a nursing home (?) for quadriplegics at a converted estate. But the bodies keep falling and they all appear to be natural causes. There were too many for natural causes to have killed them all. All this while Adam is considering leaving the Met. This was okay but as I was listening to this today, I Maybe ★★★ 1\2. Adam Dalgliesh learns a little something about false diagnoses. Then he goes to visit a friend who apparently died just before he arrives. The friend was working as a counselor/priest at a nursing home (?) for quadriplegics at a converted estate. But the bodies keep falling and they all appear to be natural causes. There were too many for natural causes to have killed them all. All this while Adam is considering leaving the Met. This was okay but as I was listening to this today, I kind of think I dozed off for a couple of chapters because when I woke up he was solving it. And facing other problems. I've been working my way through the Adam Dalgliesh stories and with James' recent passing, I will continue.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    I think that some of P.D. James' best books take place at remote locations or on islands. While this book is on the mainland, it's in a hospital for handicapped adults on the coast high on a cliff by the sea in Dorset, very similar to the island location in The Lighthouse. Dalgleish goes to the clinic to visit his father's old curate, but finds that the man has died before he arrives. There are mysterious staff members who wear hooded robes and some of the patients clearly dislike some of the st I think that some of P.D. James' best books take place at remote locations or on islands. While this book is on the mainland, it's in a hospital for handicapped adults on the coast high on a cliff by the sea in Dorset, very similar to the island location in The Lighthouse. Dalgleish goes to the clinic to visit his father's old curate, but finds that the man has died before he arrives. There are mysterious staff members who wear hooded robes and some of the patients clearly dislike some of the staff and the other patients, so lots of potential murders. The ending is a surprise.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cokey Cohen

    James can write a well-constructed mystery but comparisons to Sayers (as found on the cover of my edition) are ludicrous, mostly because her writing lacks any of the humor and even levity that makes Sayers so endearing. Depressed, allegedly “poetic” Dalgliesh is a far cry from shell-shocked but determinedly, delightfully witty Peter Wimsey. I find James’s books pretentious and sometimes sloggingly depressing—but, again, she writes a good mystery, which is hard enough to find that I put up with t James can write a well-constructed mystery but comparisons to Sayers (as found on the cover of my edition) are ludicrous, mostly because her writing lacks any of the humor and even levity that makes Sayers so endearing. Depressed, allegedly “poetic” Dalgliesh is a far cry from shell-shocked but determinedly, delightfully witty Peter Wimsey. I find James’s books pretentious and sometimes sloggingly depressing—but, again, she writes a good mystery, which is hard enough to find that I put up with the rest of it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nanosynergy

    Long....

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    On with my reread of PD James’ Adam Dalgliesh series. This is the first book that really starts to resemble her more modern day writing and also starts to showcase her own writing style. Before, we have followed an Agatha Christie type format and this was good, but not great. This novel gives us far more background and characterisation of Adam Dalgliesh and is bound up in his past. This, as always, is a great way of giving us a more detailed and rounded character, without just saying it. Commander On with my reread of PD James’ Adam Dalgliesh series. This is the first book that really starts to resemble her more modern day writing and also starts to showcase her own writing style. Before, we have followed an Agatha Christie type format and this was good, but not great. This novel gives us far more background and characterisation of Adam Dalgliesh and is bound up in his past. This, as always, is a great way of giving us a more detailed and rounded character, without just saying it. Commander Dalgleish is visiting the home of an old friend whilst he is convalescing, instantly he is thrown into intrigue, much of which is hard to solve. Not so hard that I lost interest, but just challenging enough to want me to continue to journey. Dalgliesh is cleverly shown to be on less than top form, as you would expect from someone so recently very ill. He is also having an identity crisis. Does he wish to continue as a Police Officer or not? This all complicates his thought processes and we are with him on the ride. All motives for crime fall into just a few categories. So what is the motive here? Are we dealing with love, greed or hate? It is not easy to work out, but I urge you to give it a try. PD James is really coming into her own with this novel and I am really inspired to move on with my year long reread of this series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shabbeer Hassan

    As the year comes to an end, I returned to one of my favourite gentleman detectives, Adam Dalgliesh. PD James paints a vivid picture of a remote coastal town where Adam finds himself one foggy morning in search of meeting an old friend, who he finds to be dead. What follows then is a cat and mouse game between Adam the sleuth, his convalescing self hell-bent on leaving the Yard and the crafty villain who preys more on people's psyche than their wallets. The plot is made more memorable by James' As the year comes to an end, I returned to one of my favourite gentleman detectives, Adam Dalgliesh. PD James paints a vivid picture of a remote coastal town where Adam finds himself one foggy morning in search of meeting an old friend, who he finds to be dead. What follows then is a cat and mouse game between Adam the sleuth, his convalescing self hell-bent on leaving the Yard and the crafty villain who preys more on people's psyche than their wallets. The plot is made more memorable by James' deft and sublime writing, character arcs and her capability to make the reader imagine the Dorset coast setting in all its beauty and gloom. Seldom in detective fiction writing, has anyone reached James' writing calibre and of late, I can only see Louise Penny approaching that prowess. My Rating - 4.5/5

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Heckendorn

    It was a pleasant hearing, although I would not classify this Dalgliesh book as excellent. Dalgliesh is in a recovery phase and visits an old friend at his request. Unfortunately, he is late because his friend died a few days ago. It is striking that Dalgliesh is always a tad too late in this book. He realizes that there is something bad at work, but there are dead before he finds out anything.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    A short take: James writes sensual prose, while Dalgliesh continues to pull me in. I didn't go for his resolution to leave police work, but then, I know that 9 more books follow this volume, so there were no stakes in this prospect for me. As usual, the mystery, itself, is secondary to the character histories that manifest during the ensuing investigation. James is very good at writing about people and the complicated muddle they make of their lives. Murder is nasty; reading this book was pleasan A short take: James writes sensual prose, while Dalgliesh continues to pull me in. I didn't go for his resolution to leave police work, but then, I know that 9 more books follow this volume, so there were no stakes in this prospect for me. As usual, the mystery, itself, is secondary to the character histories that manifest during the ensuing investigation. James is very good at writing about people and the complicated muddle they make of their lives. Murder is nasty; reading this book was pleasant. More thoughts: Would a murderer continue killing people in the middle of an active investigation, let alone an investigation in which a renowned officer is living within 200 meters of the victim? So far, the last three Dalgliesh books have featured this trope, without which, hypothetically, Dalgliesh would be left short of needed evidence to resolve the facts of each crime. But to keep killing in the vicinity of an officer is stupid. This judgment does not detract from my enjoyment of the book, but it does keep the plot strong attached to fiction--which is fine by me: Dalgliesh and his adventures do not need to be true-to-life for me to like them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The who with the what now? Now I know that P.D. James' character Adam Dalgliesh is known for suddenly having an ah-ha moment that brings all of the clues together and solves the crime. Ordinarily, I'm fine with that. But in this book, there are so many characters, so many crimes that Adam isn't even working on solving (he is visiting an old friend who lives in the compound of a convalescent home) and yet, at the end, he totally pulls the solution out of thin air! Worst denouement ever!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I liked this one with the exception of a couple of problems. They'll seem major but since I tend to like characterization more than plot, for me they weren't. The first is how did Dagliesh come to his conclusion (and how did the murderer for that matter know he had?)? Did I miss something? The second is the long-winded confession that seems to happen a lot in these books.

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