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Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Private Patient

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.


  1. I simply have to read some PD James! What's a good one to start with?

  2. Jenny - I've enjoyed all of the Adam Dalgleish series that I've read. They can all stand alone, but some people like to begin with the first in the series and watch the characters evolve. The first in the series is Cover Her Face.

    I have always read whatever my library had to offer. I've read 5 or 6 of the 14 Dalgleish novels and have liked them all. I'd like to begin at the beginning, though, and read straight through.

  3. Thanks for reminding me that I need to pick up #2 in the Dalgliesh series. It's sitting on the shelf waiting for me.

  4. Cathy - So you've started at the beginning and are working your way through the series? When things settle down, I'd like to to do that!

  5. I tend to have a touch of OCD when it comes to reading series books in order! :)

    Have a Happy Fourth of July!

  6. I am glad this series continues to be good. I need to jump back into it.

  7. Isn't it great that she's still writing? I hope there's still more Dalgliesh novels to look forward to.

    I've read several in the series and just really enjoy them. I think what's great is that her books are not just about finding the murder but getting to the bottom of the reasons why. This is another one I'll be looking forward to!

  8. Cathy - So many of my books come from the library, and often they don't have the complete series. Some series are worth the effort though!

    LF - It is comforting to know that a series you enjoy continues to be good! I'm already looking forward to the next one!

    Iliana - And writing well! I hope there are more to come, too.