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Black Tower [Hardcover]

P. D. James
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1975
An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery 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. ‘More expertise from P. D. James. The writing is excellent, the pitch of final terror beautifully sustained.’ Evening Standard ‘She writes like an angel. Every character is clearly drawn. Her atmosphere is unerringly, chillingly convincing. And she manages all this without for a moment slowing down the drive and tension of an exciting mystery.’ Marcel Berlins, The Times
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (April 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571107311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571107315
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,028,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London.

She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.

She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Product Description


"People"P. D. James is "the greatest living mystery writer." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Stunning paperback repackages celebrating the world's pre-eminent crime writer and over forty years of detective fiction. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent modern gothic 30 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Set on a lonely stretch of the Dorset coast in the mid-Seventies, The Black Tower is an unusual crime thriller. Although it functions perfectly well as a conventional whodunit, it's also a modern gothic, and, like its predecessors in that genre, it's a meditation on mortality and human frailty. Much of the book's power derives from James's scrupulous exploration of the character and states of mind of her hero. The poet-policeman, Commander Adam Dalgleish, is a subtle and compelling creation, and his substantiality helps to ground a plot that might otherwise seem to teeter on the brink of melodrama.
The tone is set with the 'resurrection' of Dalgleish, who as the book begins is recovering from a serious illness, which initially had been misdiagnosed as mortal. This brush with death has had a profound psychological impact on Dalgleish, and his decision to make his convalescence coincide with a duty visit to an old acquaintance seems from the first an attempt to postpone a confrontation with his own unanswered questions.
Disenchanted with policing Dalgleish may be, but when he is confronted with the merest suspicion of foul play, his instincts reassert themselves in spite of his inclinations. The atmosphere of illness, frustrated hopes, and impending disaster gathers force with every page as Dalgleish, against his will, is drawn deeper into the poisoned community of Toynton Grange.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle vs book 24 Sep 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
The novel is certainly well written and is an intelligent thriller. As one would expect from PD James, the characters are intereting and well rounded. I particularly liked the ending where she plays a little game with the reader, casting just a scintilla of doubt about whether Dalgleish really did experience it all. But what I did not like was the continuous stream of typographical errors, many of them originating from what I assume was the scanning of the text into the kindle format. For example, cliff might become diff and so on. It is this sort of irritating error that makes one prefer the real, paper artefact.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The plot is absorbing and the setting very unusual and atmospheric. The Dalgleish in this book is not the usual one either, but a weakened character recovering from a serious illness and considering leaving the police force. The theme of frailty is mirrored in the main characters and where most of them live - in a home for the disabled not far from a ruined tower.
The frustration felt by Dalgleish at not being his usual, masterful and confident self and his general disillusionment comes across well, but some of the main characters were rather eccentric, straining credulity a bit. Also, the method used for the murders and the motive for them (no spoilers here) seemed a bit dated as the book was written in the seventies.
While this is not her best book in terms of plausibility, it deserves four stars for being well written and just as much of a "page-turner" as her other books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of suspects... 1 Jan 2013
I have just finished reading The Black Tower and found it a most interesting book that I had to go back to and finish as I wanted to know all the facts. This book is full of well painted pictures and the characters do come off the page. The story is full of detail and I could see the cottage and the tower and the different rooms within the institution. I don't think I would have stayed a night in a place like that but the cottage seemed less threatening. I had not guessed about the real source of income being gained from the trips to Lourdes and so that was a good twist. These P D James stories are very much about people and their influence over others or interactions and that is why I enjoy them. This is definitely worth reading and I am sure will encourage a further selection...
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3.0 out of 5 stars A decent, if a little dated, read. 4 Jun 2014
This book, the 5th in the Adam Dalgliesh series, wasn't a bad read. It's set in a private nursing home where terminally ill patients and their Church of England priest die semi-unexpectedly within a few weeks of each other. Dalgliesh happened to be there because he was a friend of the priests, and happened to be invited to come and stay just before the priest died.

I've said this about a number of early James books, and it bears repeating here. The book themselves aren't bad, but they do feel dated. They're set in England at a certain time in history (the late 1960s, and early 1970s), and speak to a certain style that we're probably not that interested in any more. If you can put up with that, you'll enjoy these books. If you can't I wouldn't bother reading them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Black Tower 9 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
PDJ returns to Adam Dalgliesh after the first Cordelia Gray book and it is rather different from the earlier books. It is set in a private nursing home and Dalgliesh is there in a private capacity as a guest. The story unfolds slowly and there is a great deal of time spent on the individual characters, most of whom are rather unsympathetic. The ending is rather unsatisfactory as Dalgliesh has a flash of inspiration, which has little to do with what has gone on before. Not a typical Dalgliesh but worth reading despite the sleight of hand.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite 22 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Began in expectation of the Black Tower being of the same quality as the previous ones (I am reading all in chronological order) - but not this time. Confusing characters, plodding pace until the last 4% when murderer revealed and conclusion reached. Annoying typos throughout.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
PD James always worth reading
Published 15 days ago by Josie Surgenor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great as usual
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Tower
As expected a tale that has you guessing right to the end. P D James never fails to confuse the reader./
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. E. C. Lovesey
4.0 out of 5 stars Dalgleish with a difference.
Another great story fom the author which see the main character acting more on his own rather than with colleagues. Read more
Published 16 months ago by P. Loveday
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good to listen to
Always loved PD James Books and now I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to "The Black Tower" read by Michael Jayston. Excellent voice. Great to listen to when doing jobs.
Published 16 months ago by Barbara Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Tower.
This is a very good read, I live in Dorset and could relate to the places that Adam Dalgliesh visited in pursuit of the killer.
Published 17 months ago by Mrs Imogen Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful reading
P.D. James is such a wonderful author. She has a gift for getting the reader engrossed in her highly intelligent and ingenious plots right from the word go. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Malcolm Gillett
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite Dalgliesh novel
This was the one P D James novel missing from my collection hence my reason for purchasing. I found the story rather tedious and missed the murder team who usually accompany... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Frody
5.0 out of 5 stars mystery
This is a very interesting mysery, an excellent read. P D James never disappoints and she keeps you hooked all the way.
Published 18 months ago by A. Monerasinghe
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