James, P.D. The Private Patient.
This is the 14th novel featuring Adam Dalgliesh, and it doesn't disappoint. The first sentence announces the victim, but goes on to develop Rhoda Gradwyn's personality and gain our interest.
Most of the characters are introduced and developed before James embarks on the murder, which takes place in a wonderful old manor house that has been partially converted to house patients before and after plastic surgery. Rhoda Gradwyn is to have a terrible facial scar that she has born for over 30 years removed because she "doesn't need it anymore."
As usual, James has constructed a riveting mystery with complex characters. Dalgliesh, however, is soon to be married and is thinking of retirement and, perhaps for that reason, plays a smaller role than usual. His presence still dominates, but other characters are given more time.
James' careful plotting and intelligent prose keep the novel moving, yet at the same time, she manages to have the reader ponder various contemporary social dilemmas. The dilemmas of aging, journalism, immigrants, and education are so intertwined with the characters that they are in no way intrusive, but rather add depth to the characters and the novel. There are also plenty of literary allusions, skillfully done.
This is a police procedural that I didn't want to put down and didn't want to finish. P.D. James, at nearly 90, is still on her game and as usual, far ahead of most writers!
Other Reviews: Random Jottings, Gaelic Threads,
Fiction. Mystery/Police Procedural. 2008. 352 pages.